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Re: St.George, the mighty saint !

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  • Thomas Joseph
    There are very many legends around St. George (Mor Gewargis Sohdo) and the story of his ressurection from death is probably one of them. Very little is known
    Message 1 of 1 , May 5, 2003
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      There are very many legends around St. George (Mor Gewargis Sohdo) and the
      story of his ressurection from death is probably one of them. Very little is
      known authentically of the saint beyond that he was a soldier who was
      persecuted for his faith at or near Lydda before the time of Constantine
      (who died in AD 337). He is perhaps referred to but not by name in Eusebius
      (Eccl. History 8.5). He became very popular in Palestine and its surrounds
      in the 6th century when the legends of his exploits became popular. It is
      only in the late 12th cent. that he was credited with the slaying of the
      dragon and the belief became popular when it appeared in the 13th century
      Golden Legend. This story was most likely influenced by the myth of Perseus'
      slaying of the sea monster at Arsuf or Joppa, both cities in the
      neighborhood of Lydda.

      The Acts of St. George written originally in Greek most likely in Cappodocia
      during the early fifth cent. exists today only in fragments. The Syriac
      translation from the original Greek dates to the middle of the fifth cent.
      The oldest Syriac manuscript of the Acts is preserved at the British Library
      and was written around 600 AD. It is the earliest complete witness to the
      text since all Greek texts before this time are in fragments.

      As is common with hagiographical texts, the later versions of the Acts in
      Greek, Garshuni (Arabic written in Syriac script), and many languages of the
      East and West add many legends to the original Acts, often bordering on
      pious fantasies. This is evident in the book Acts of St. George and the
      Story of His Father by George Kiraz (Bar Hebraeus Verlag, Netherlands: 1991)
      which presents the textual analysis of an Arabic text (Brit. Library, Add.
      7209, dt 16th cent.) comparing it with the Syriac version. The legend of the
      slaying of the dragon is an example. The Greek word "drakon" means just a
      snake and in the original text is an epithet used of king Dadianus. The
      Syriac version calls the king the "asp-serpent Dadianus." The Syriac edition
      Vatican Borg. 169 also depicts a snake (see
      http://sor.cua.edu/Personage/Qadishe/MGewargis.html). The dragon, conveying
      the image of a large fiery animal, appears only in later Greek forms of the
      original text dating to the tenth century and later, and in Latin versions.
      It became very popular in the West in the Middle Ages, most likely
      influenced by the passages from Revelation 12:7. The western Christians,
      joining with the Byzantine Christians in the Crusades, elaborated and
      misinterpreted the Greek traditions and devised their own versions of such
      legends.

      Despite such corruptions of the original story, the saint and martyr
      inspires many faithful who seek his intercession all over the world.

      Thomas Joseph, Ph.D.
      Web Master, Syrian Orthodox Resources [ sor.cua.edu ]
      Tech. Editor, Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies [ syrcom.cua.edu/Hugoye ]
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