Analysis of Non-Christian Elements and Their Integration with Liber Iuratus Honorii
Though I argue for the Christian nature of Liber Iuratus Honorii, I will first address the obvious non-Christian references and elements that exist in the text. I propose that they do not take away from the Christian standing of the text but support the text and ritual system as a whole, as well as reflect the complex nature of religious thought at the time.
The majority of non-Christian elements in Liber Iuratus Honorii are drawn from Jewish sources; some of these elements are borrowed and adapted, while others are taken completely without any effort to synthesize them into Iuratus. One such element includes that the fact that in order to obtain divine vision the creation of a seal is required, on which the operator writes the “Shemhamphoras” around the edge . The Shem ha-Mephorash is a Jewish name for YHWH that is recognized as being in 72 parts. To get the name one must read Shemot (Exodus) 14:19-21 in a special way which reveals 72 three letter names of God . This name was very important in the study of the Jewish Qabalah so it initially seems an unusual inclusion in a supposedly Christian text. The use of seals and god names were a prominent part of Judaism, specifically Qabalistically inspired branches. The seal also includes other god names, some that are Christian such as Christos, Alpha and Omega; but others are Jewish again like El, Adonai, Saday, and On . Some names are even Greek like Sother, and a variety are from no easily identifiable source . If the names came from Greek or Hebrew roots then, by the time they have reached the manuscript they have been corrupted beyond my ability to decipher, and others assert the names are “deformed Greek and Hebrew” though some appear to be “pure gibberish.” This use of Hebrew names is a pattern that continues throughout the text. In one case a Hebrew name is used, and then clarified “IF ADONAY, that is to say, almighty God ” which is an unusual moment, as if the inclusion of Adonai (Adonay) was important, but the reader being Christian, and not Jewish, would not understand the use of the name.The integration and use of Jewish sources is more complex than just the use of names of god. The text is perfused with angels. The Qabalah had a large proliferation of angels and angel names; in fact the Shem ha-Mephorash is sometimes interpreted to be 72 angel names. While the Catholic Church at that time recognized very few named or individual angels, and as Liber Iuratus Honorii mentions well over three hundred , it is reasonable that the author would have to borrow some angels to have such a large amount. It is more than just angel names that are borrowed; when the months are listed they are given Hebrew names instead of their Latin names, as are the planets. In Christianity at the time angels were largely conceptualized as impersonal and interchangeable, with no distinguishing features between each other (save Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel), and they were undeniably good. Yet not only are a great variety of angels addressed by name in Liber Iuratus Honorii, but there are also differences recognized between them. For example the angels of Saturn in Liber Iuratus Honorii are “long and slender, pale or yellow” and angels of the Sun are “great and large, full of all gentleness.” The angels of each planet —of which several are named— are distinct from each other, they perform different tasks, their personalities are different, and they appear differently from one another. This was not a conceptualization of angels that had root in Christianity yet, but was a common factor in Jewish views of angels. The angels of the Sun are said to “give love and favor and riches to a man, and power, also … to give dews, herbs, flowers” which could be seen as the “positive” actions one might expect from an angel, but the angels of Saturn “cause sadness, anger, and hatred” while the angels of Mars “cause and stir up war, murder, destruction, and mortality of people.” War, hatred, murder, and sadness are not the commonly accepted sphere of angels from the Christian perspective, and seems contrary to the view of angels as wholly good. Though once more if we look at the Jewish tradition we find a view of angels that fits; angels were not seen as good or evil, but their alignment was more neutral and ambiguous in many cases. Some were good, some were malicious, and many were in-between. Having angels who could do what we would consider good and evil is more in line with the contemporaneous Jewish viewpoint than the Christian one, showing where some of the framework or inspiration of the text came from.