Monday, September 07, 2009

Mary: What`s in a Name ?

Melchior Broederlam (active 1381-1409)
The Annunciation (detail)
Tempera on wood
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon

We know her as Mary:

"26 And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin's name was Mary." (Luke Chapter 1, verses 26-27)

The name of "Mary" seems to have attracted a great deal of scholarly attention

See: Maas, A. (1912). The Name of Mary. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved September 7, 2009 from New Advent

Wikipedia on Mary (mother of Jesus) states:

"Mary (Aramaic, Hebrew: מרים, Maryām Miriam Arabic:مريم, Maryam), usually referred to by Christians as the Virgin Mary or Saint Mary, was a Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee, identified in the New Testament [Matt. 1:16,18-25] [Lk. 1:26-56] [2:1-7] as the mother of Jesus of Nazareth. Muslims also refer to her as the Virgin Mary or Syeda Mariam which means Our Lady Mary. In Islam she is the mother of the Prophet Jesus, Issa عيسى in the Arabic language. The New Testament describes her as a virgin (Greek parthénos)[2]

Christians and Muslims believe that she conceived her son miraculously by the agency of the Holy Spirit. This took place when she was already the betrothed wife of Saint Joseph and was awaiting the concluding rite of Jewish marriage, the formal home-taking ceremony.

Mary is also described in the Qur'an, the 19th sura (chapter) of the Qur'an Sura Maryam (Arabic: سورة مريم‎, Sūratu Maryam. It is named after Maryām, the Semitic name for Mary, Mother of Jesus (Issa)."

"Maryam or Mariam (Arabic: مريم‎) is the Arabic name of Mary the mother of Jesus (Arabic Isa), mentioned in the Qur'an [1]. The name has the same form in Judeo-Aramaic, Armenian, and Georgian. The Hebrew variant of the name is Miriam.

The name may have originated from the Egyptian myr "beloved" or mr "love"[2] or the derived ancient Egyptian name Meritamen or Meri-Amun, "beloved of the God Amun".[3] It was incorporated in the Exodus narrative as Miriam, the name of Moses' sister. It became common in ancient Israel, hence its appearance in the Gospel narrative as the name of Jesus' mother and several other women. It is also believed that the name means 'rebellious'

The name is very common among in Arab, Iranian and other Muslim cultures. In modern Persian, it is the name of the flower tuberose."

Pope Pius XII in his Encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam (On the Queenship of Mary) (11th October 1954) had this to say:

"13. In one of the homilies attributed to Origen, Elizabeth calls Mary "the Mother of my Lord." and even addresses her as "Thou, my Lady."[14]

14. The same thing is found in the writings of St. Jerome where he makes the following statement amidst various interpretations of Mary's name: "We should realize that Mary means Lady in the Syrian Language."[15] After him St. Chrysologus says the same thing more explicitly in these words: "The Hebrew word 'Mary' means 'Domina.' The Angel therefore addresses her as 'Lady' to preclude all servile fear in the Lord's Mother, who was born and was called 'Lady' by the authority and command of her own Son."[16]...

14. Hom. in S. Lucam, hom. Vll; ed. Rauer, Origenes' Werke, T. IX, p. 48 (ex catena Marcarii Chrysocephali). Cf. PG XIII, 1902 D.
15. S. Hieronymus, Liber de nominibus hebraeis: PL XXIII, 886.
16. S. Petrus Chrysologus, Sermo 142, De Annuntiatione B.M.V.: PL Lll, 579 C; cf. etiam 582 B; 584 A: "Regina totius exstitit castitatis." "

On the detail of the left wing of the Dijon Altarpiece above, the artist may have had some of these thoughts in mind.

From 1381 the artist was court painter to Louis de Mâle, Duke of Brabant, and from Louis's death in 1384 worked for his son-in-law and successor, Philip the Bold.

Conventions of Court, names, titles, metaphors  and symbols would be second nature

The lily with four flowers, which stands between Mary and the angel Gabriel in the foreground is a well-established symbol of virginity.

Commentators have drawn attention to the angel bowing before Mary, with his curly hair and elegant figure, as if he were a heavenly troubadour pledging allegiance to his lady.

Mary's ultramarine cloak and her brocade dress of blue and gold, with its details picked out in red, are of the style which was favoured at that time by ladies of the Burgundian court.

The Angel`s salutation  is: "Hail Mary, full of grace".

Note Mary`s book rests on the eagle, the symbol of power

The architecture of the buildings at the rear are Romano-Byzantine: old - the symbol of the old dispensation of the Old Testament.

Mary is in the simple and elegant three sided Gothic structure, the symbol of the Trinity: new architecture- new dispensation, New Testament

The Middle Ages placed great emphasis on Mary's royal descent

Panofsky notes that Broederlam’s Annunciation is a transitional piece in which the iconography of the manual Virgin and the iconography of the literate Virgin intersect:
"As in most contemporary renderings of the scene, the main attribute of the Annunciation is a prayer book, here placed on the lectern before her. But, in contrast to all these representations, she holds in her left hand a skein of purple wool . . . In Early Christian, Byzantine, and High Medieval art, the Annunciate is, therefore, often represented with a spindle. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, however, allusions to her manual occupation had normally disappeared from renderings of the Annunciation"
(Panofsky, Erwin. Early Netherlandish Painting: It’s Origins and Character. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1958. )

The altarpiece was for the Charteuse de Champmol, formally the Chartreuse de la Sainte-Trinité de Champmol,, a Carthusian monastery in Dijon, now in France, but in the 15th century the capital of the Duchy of Burgundy. The monastery was founded in 1383 by Duke Philip the Bold to provide a dynastic burial place for the Valois Dukes of Burgundy, and operated until it was dissolved in 1791, during the French Revolution

Erwin Panofsky described Broederlam as ‘the greatest of all pre-Eyckian panel painters insofar as their work has been preserved’