AN OLD GUY AND A YOUNG GUY

Two prophets, apparently from an iconostasis:

(Courtesy of Jacksonsauction.com)

On the left, we have the old guy — and here is his title inscription:

It reads:

СВЯТЫЙ ПРОРОК IЕЗЕКIИЛЬ
SVYATUIY PROROK IEZEKIIL’
“HOLY PROPHET EZEKIEL”

Let’s take a look at him:

The Svodnuiy Ikonopisnyi Podlinnik says that he should be painted with grey hair, and like the Prophet Elijah in hair and beard, and that the end of his beard should be divided in two.  Also that he wears a prophet’s garments, the outer svyetlobagryanaya (bright scarlet/crimson), and the under zelenaya (green).  We can see that the painter of this example has reversed them.

Ezekiel carries a svitok — a scroll — and as I often say, you never know what text will be on a given prophet’s scroll, no matter what this or that podlinnik may say.  Here is Ezekiel’s scroll:

It begins,

АЗЪ ВИДЕХЪ …
AZ”  VIDEXH”
“I SAW …”

Remember those Church Slavic words, because they come in handy in reading inscriptions.  You may not recall it, but you have seen them already in icons of John the Forerunner, who often holds a scroll beginning “I saw and witnessed ….”

Here is the inscription as arranged on the scroll:

АЗЪ ВИ
ДЕХЪ НА
ВОСТОКЕ
ВРАТА ЗА
ТВОРЕНА
И НИКТО
ЖЕ ИМИ
ПРОИДЕТЪ
ТОКМО

АЗЪ ВИДЕХЪ НА ВОСТОКЕ ВРАТА ЗАТВОРЕНА И НИКТО ЖЕ ИМИ ПРОИДЕТЬ ТОКМО …

AZ VIDEKH NA VOSTOKE VRATA ZATVORENA I NIKTO ZHE IMI
PROIDET TOKMO …

“I SAW IN THE EAST [A] DOOR CLOSED AND NO ONE SHALL ENTER THROUGH IT EXCEPT ….”

Now if you are long time reader here, and sitting at your computer bleary-eyed with coffee stains splattering your screen and cookie crumbs in your lap, you may recall that in Eastern Orthodoxy that closed door in the East is an often repeated (oh, so very often repeated!) prefiguration of the birth of Jesus through the virgin womb of Mary.  The account is found in Ezekiel 44:1-2.  So Ezekiel’s scroll here is actually understood to be a Marian reference, though of course the text was not so originally.

And here is the young guy’s title inscription:

СВЯТЫЙ ПРОРОК ДАНIИЛЪ
SVYATUIY PROROK DANIIL”
“HOLY PROPHET DANIEL”

Where the Svodnuiy Podlinnik says Daniel is to be painted “with a young face” and curly hair, the Bolshakov Podlinnik says he is to be painted “like the martyr George,” with a kinovar/cinnabar-red cap on his head.

Let’s look at his scroll:

Well, there is that Church Slavic АЗЪ/AZ”/”I” again.  But instead of following it with videkh/”saw,” Daniel’s scroll says АЗЪ ТЯ ПРОЗВАХЪ/AZ” TYA PROZVAKH” — “I you have called,” or in normal English, “I have called you …..”  In King Jamesy English — which oddly enough is favored by modern Eastern Orthodoxy in translating liturgical texts into English today — tya would be “thee.”

Daniel’s scroll reads:

Азъ тя прозвахъ дѣво чистая гору отъ нея же отторжеся камень без …
Az” tya prozvakh” dyevo chistaya goru ot” neya zhe ottorzhesya kamen’ bez …
I have called you, pure virgin, a mountain out of which was cut a stone without …

The writer has cut the text short, as in common in scrolls, which often makes it seem that the viewer was not intended to read and understand them, and in fact many Russians in early days simply could not read.  In any case, the inscription text would continue “… was cut a stone without hands” — meaning no human hands cut the stone.  This again (yawn!) is an oft-repeated Marian reference.  In Daniel 2:34 we find this mention of a stone cut from a mountain without hands, and that, in Eastern Orthodoxy, is considered another prefiguration of Mary giving birth to Jesus without a human father. Of course that too is a later Christian interpretation projected back onto a Jewish text that originally had nothing whatsoever to do with Mary.

All in all, it is a well-painted and attractive icon, and makes me wish I had a cap like Daniel is wearing.

 

 

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