Shiloh - Northern Church (Late)

Inscription number: 
2
Selected bibliography: 
194-195
184-186, figs. 31-33 (phs., drs.)
220-221, no. 2 (dr.) (ed. pr.)
128, no. 184
Abbreviation for Journals and Series
Epigraphical corpora: 

SEG 62 (2012): 1692

Inscription type: 
dedicatory
invocation/prayer
Location: 

In the mosaic floor just above Inscription no. 1.

Physical description : 

A two-line inscription: the first line is located beyond the end of the mosaic carpet, the second, in the carpet’s outer border. Both lines begin with a cross. The letters, as well as the carpet frame, are of red tesserae. The characters, 11-12 cm high, are very similar to those of Inscription no. 1, but the omicron alternates the narrow with the round shape. Two abbreviation marks are used: the stigma and a horizontal stroke on the nomen sacrum. The end of both lines is missing, but the available space allows for a loss of no more than two or three letters after the break. Again, both grammar and spelling are faulty.

Text: 

☩ Κ(ύρι)ε πρόσδεξε τὴν καρπωφωρία[ν τ(ῶν)]

☩ καρποφωρισάντον ἐν τοῦ κ(α)θ(ωσιωμένου) τ(όπου) Κ(ύριο)ς [φ(υλάξει)?]

Translation: 

Lord, accept the offering of those who have offered in this consecrated place (which) the Lord [will protect.]

Apparatus: 

L.1 πρόδεξ<αι>; at the end of the line the missing letters may be ΝΤS rather than ΝΤΩΝ;  l.2 καρποφ<ο>ρ<η>σάντ<ω>ν; after ἐν, genitive instead of dative.

Commentary: 

The second line can be interpreted in different ways, always keeping in mind that no more than two characters can be missing at the end. If we maintain the reading Κ(ύριο)ς, there is no alternative but to end the first sentence after the abbreviation TS and to begin a new one, probably a blessing in abbreviated form, e.g., Κ(ύριο)ς φ(υλάξει), which may well be understood as being connected with the preceding sentence: “God will protect” the consecrated place, that is, the church. However, considering the poor quality of the Greek used in the two inscriptions, we may surmise that the abbreviation ΚΣ was written by mistake instead of ΚΕ or ΚΥ: if the former, the end of the line could contain a blessing formula unrelated to the preceding sentence, e.g. Κ(ύρι)ε β(οή)θ(ει), “Lord, help!” If the latter, the end of the line would be better restored: ἐν τοῦ κ(α)θ(ωσιωμένου) τ(οῦ) Κ(υρίο)υ [τό(που)], “in this consecrated house of the Lord.” In favor of this interpretation is the fact that the abbreviation TS is common for the article, not so for the word τόπος.

The abbreviation ΚΘ is also far from obvious. The usual meaning (καταχθονίοις θεοῖς, “To the gods of the Underworld”) is clearly inapplicable in this case. Two words more at home in a Byzantine context can be abbreviated in this way: καθολοκός and καθωσιωμένος. The former is often used in connection with churches, either to emphasize their orthodoxy as opposed to other communities, or simply to designate the principal church of a diocese. The phrase καθολικὴ ἐκκλησία a even appears in dedicatory inscriptions of churches in Egypt, marking Meletian churches that claimed to represent orthodoxy against those of the Athanasians. However, in these examples ἐκκλησία a strongly implies the community or institution associated with the building, while the term τόπος does not have the same cogency. Even if we accept the reading ἐν τοῦ ΚΘ τ(οῦ) Κ(υρίο)υ α - - ο, there is not enough space for a more explicit term, e.g., ναοῦ or οἴκοῦ. It is preferable, therefore, to adopt the reading ἐν τοῦ κ(α)θ(ωσιωμένου) τ(όπου) or τ(οῦ) Κ(υρί)<υ> [τόπου], in which καθωσιωμένος (often used in this period as an attribute of soldiers or officials, “faithful”) preserves its quality of participle, “consecrated.”

Summary: 

Two-line dedicatory inscription, in the mosaic floor at the eastern end of the northern aisle.

Contents
Definitions of building/part of building: 
hagios topos
Epigraphical formulae: 
Lord/Christ, accept the offering…
offering (prosphorá/karpophoria)
those who offer/have offered/will offer
Epigraphical Abbreviations: 
stigma, horizontal strokes over nomina sacra