Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Advisors of King Herod the Great

Alexis Master (active 1121-1146)
The Three Wise Men before King Herod
Miniature on manuscript made in St Albans
Albani-Psalter and the Psalter of Christina of Markyate, Saint Albans
Dombibliothek, Hildesheim

The St Albans Psalter, also known as the Albani Psalter or the Psalter of Christina of Markyate, is an English illuminated manuscript, one of several Psalters known to have been created at or for St Albans Abbey in the 12th century

It was probably owned by Christina of Markyate (born circa 1098, died perhaps between 1155 and 1166),anchoress and later prioress of Markyate

The University of Aberdeen website has a transcription, translation, commentary, interpretative essays, bibliography, etc. The website has a commentary on the above page

The website of the Dombibliothek Hildesheim also has a section on the Psalter

The above image from the Albani Manuscript is a conflation of two separate scenes. In the first, Herod consults the prophecy of Micah with the scribes, to locate Bethlehem as the birthplace of the Messiah. In the second episode, Herod tells the kings where to go.

In his homily on this year`s Feast of the Epiphany, Pope Benedict XVI considered the role of King Herod the Great in the Story of the Epiphany (see the post below)

He then went on to consider the role of the experts on Scripture, the servants of King Herod, who advised King Herod as to what the appearance of the Star meant and where to find the Messiah leading to Herod`s decision to massacre the Innocents in Bethlehem. He criticises them. Presumably he has certain modern counterparts in mind

"The Magi then meet with the scholars, the theologians, the experts that know everything about the Sacred Scriptures, who know the possible interpretations, who are able to recite by heart every passage and hence are a precious help to those who wish to follow the way of God.

But, Saint Augustine affirms, they love to be guides for others, showing the way, but they do not walk, they remain immobile.

For them the Scriptures become a sort of atlas to read with curiosity, an ensemble of words and concepts to examine and to discuss learnedly.

But again we can ask ourselves: is there not also in us the temptation to hold the Sacred Scriptures, this very rich and vital treasure for the faith of the Church, more as an object for study and the discussions of specialists, than as the Book that indicates to us the way to reach life?

I think that, as I indicated in the apostolic exhortation "Verbum Domini," the profound disposition must always be reborn in us to see the word of the Bible, read in the living Tradition of the Church (No. 18), as the truth that tells us what man is and how he can realize himself fully, the truth that is the way to follow daily, together with others, if we wish to build our existence on a rock and not on sand."