Iuratus: Christian Elements, the Depth of Knowledge, and Authorship and Audience Continued

Start at the beginning

See the previous instalment in case you missed it

To reiterate and expand an earlier point, a variety of Christian texts are incorporated into or referenced by Liber Iuratus Honorii. A partial list drawn from Mesler’s work on the text includes: “passages from scripture, the baptismal rite, the preface for Easter, the Ave Maria, the Salve Regina, the Apostle’s Creed, the Pater Noster, the Sanctus, and the Creed of Athanasius” as well as Jerome’s letters and Pseudo-Augustine. It is obvious that Honorius is very well read in matters of Christianity, and educated in general. Mathiesen attests “the Sworn Book is clearly not a translation from Arabic, Hebrew or Greek, but an original composition in Latin by a person who was fully conversant with the liturgy and ritual of the Roman Catholic Church” and more than that “it is clear that the author had some knowledge of the liturgy of the Greek Orthodox Church.” We are dealing with an author who knows Latin, Catholic and Greek Orthodox ritual, Greek, and at least some Hebrew. His knowledge is not just appropriated; it permeates the text in overt uses of prayers, to subtle references and even hidden messages. When the pope and his cardinals decided that books like Liber Iuratus Honorii had to be eliminated, Honorius said that a council of 811 “masters” came together to decide what should be done to preserve the tradition. The idea that there were 811 masters using texts like this seems odd, as well as the specificity of the number, but 811 is the numerological value of IAO (ΙΑΩ), a Greek name for God, the equivalent of the Hebrew YHWH. This, Mathiesen suggests, is a mirroring to the Council of Nicaea having 318 members, as that is the same numerological value as “the name of Jesus and his Cross.” The author is trying to validate the nature of the book as coming from God himself by having as many masters as the value of IAO. Knowing the Greek numerical value of a name though is not a matter of simple information or appropriation, but seems to show more understanding and a broader knowledge base as well as an ability and desire to integrate this knowledge into the text.

Having looked at the knowledge of the author, the character of the practitioner should be examined. The text itself recognizes that there are “three kinds of men that work this art: Jews, Christians, and pagans.” Honorius asserts that only Christians can use the rituals of this book properly. The pagans do not “constrain or bind” the spirits, and the spirits pretend to help the pagans but are in actuality deceiving them farther away from Christianity. The Jewish people are in the same predicament. The spirits will not obey them for they are not Christian, for they are not “signed with the sign of God…the cross” which is another way of saying they are not baptized . Even worse they are accused of not using the text for Divine vision, and are barred from entering Heaven for not recognizing Jesus. It seems unusual to condemn Jewish people more heavily than pagans, but perhaps the author is responding to the atmosphere of the time, or perhaps Honorius is trying to hide his connection with Judaism and Jewish sources evidenced earlier in the paper. It is made clear that only a devout Christian can make the rituals in the text work properly. Pagans and Jews can use it, but unsuccessfully. While the pagan usage of the rituals is left open, Jews are accused of using it not for Divine vision, but rather the other goals listed .

It is claimed that Christians would “only [work] truely [sic] to come to the vision of the Deity.” For the Christian the only purpose of the text is this “vision of the Deity” and all the other goals mentioned are to be taken as superfluous, though their inclusion is likely evidence of the attitudes and actions drawn from Honorius’s source text.


One Response to Iuratus: Christian Elements, the Depth of Knowledge, and Authorship and Audience Continued

  1. […] Christian Elements, The Depth of Knowledge, and Authorship and Audience Part II […]

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