Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Maternity of the Holy Anna




Given that yesterday honored the Maternity of the Holy Anna (a.k.a. the Immaculate Conception and the Conception of St. Anna)I think it is appropriate to unveil my new painting here as well as on my studio blog.

My friend David O'Neil, scholar of classical languages, helped me in titling this painting. Our exchange follows.

Dear Dave,

So, Theotokos - a title of Mary - is Greek for "God-bearer" - correct? If I wanted to say "Bearer of the God-bearer" (indicating Mary's mother Ann), what would I say? Theotokostokos?

In Christ,
John

To avoid the neologism, I would rather add a second word. At first I was thinking of something like "tokos tEs theotokou" which would be a simple "bearor of the god-bearer", but 'tokos' doesn't really mean "bearer" by itself, but more like "the giving forth", so that wouldn't work. I kind of like "hE tiktousa tEn theotokon", lit. "the woman bringing forth the God-bearer"). There's precedent for 'hE tiktousa' meaning "mother" and it retains the cognate with 'tokos'. By the way, the capitals represent long vowels.

I don't know if you want something shorter than this. I doubt there's any precedent for the word you suggest, but the Greeks did like to make up big long words like that, and I think it would be understood. I'd take out the first 's', though, just like how the 's' is removed from 'theos' in the original compound--so 'theotokotokos'.

Dave

Dave,

As you can see, desirous of a title rather than a phrase, I went with the neologism. I find the use of a neologism appropriate given that the image is a "neologism" of it's own. Icons are often described as having been "written" rather than "painted." An icon is an image of the invisible Logos. This painting is an innovation and violates all sorts of iconographic canons, therefore it is a "new word."

In Christ,
John

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