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Harvard Divinity School

The Milk of Salvation: Redemption by the Mother in Late Antiquity and Early Christianity
Author(s): Gail Paterson Corrington
Source: The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 82, No. 4 (Oct., 1989), pp. 393-420
Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Harvard Divinity School
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HTR82:4 (1989) 393-420


Gail PatersonCorrington
Rhodes College

In their recovery and interpretationof the evidence for women's religious
involvement in antiquity, feminist historians of religion employ terms like
"image," "reflection," and "symbol" as constants in their vocabulary.1This
terminology indicates the importance feminist scholars attach to the ways in
which women's activities are presented and the ways in which they are inter-
preted. Interpretationbecomes the more difficult as one approaches the reli-
gions of the ancient Mediterraneanworld, not only because of the relative pau-
city and elusive natureof the evidence for women's participationin these reli-
gions, but also because the two great bodies of canon in the West-the literary
artifactsof the Greco-Romanworld and the canon of biblical literature-reflect
a dual process of "canonization." Certain cultural constructs and dominant
metaphorshave become embodied in the text themselves, while a traditionof
"canonized conventions" has been modeled by these metaphorsto "evaluate a
priori what we see."2 The interactionof conceptualization,representation,and
interpretationof appearance,moreover, is such that there cannot be an "inno-
cent eye." Nelson Goodman observes: "The eye always comes ancient to its
work.... Not only how but what it sees is regulated by need and perspec-
tive.... It does not so much mirror as take and make."3 Moreover, the use of

1See, e.g., Helene P. Foley, ed., Reflections of Women in Antiquity (New York: Gordon &
Breach, 1981); Averil Cameron and Amelie Kuhrt, eds., Images of Women in Antiquity (Detroit:
Wayne State University Press, 1983); ClarissaW. Atkinson, Constance H. Buchanan,and Margaret
R. Miles, eds., Immaculateand Powerful: The Female in Sacred Image and Social Reality (Boston:
Beacon, 1985); MarthaL. Banta, Imaging American Woman:Idea and Ideals in Cultural History
(New York: Columbia University Press, 1987); and KarenL. King, ed., Images of the Feminine in
Gnosticism (Studies in Antiquity and Christianity;Philadelphia:Fortress, 1988), to name some of
the more recent studies.
3Nelson Goodman,Languages of Art (Indianapolis:Bobbs-Merrill, 1968) 7-8, cited by Sallie
McFague, Metaphorical Theology: Models of God in Religious Language (Philadelphia:Fortress,
1981) 55.

and models-that is. ed. 1985) 72. or invalidatingothers. metaphorsconjure up "a system of associated commonplaces in the mind of the hearer. Incarnation. cited in Caroline WalkerBynum. to re-presentit or idealize it. As Margaret 4Max Black. "re-presentations" of certain experiences-are infrequently generated by women themselves. and Religious Protest (Studies in Church History 9. ed. cited by ClaudiaV. Nelson. "The Discourse of Others:Feminists and Post-Modernism. Heresy. As dominantor sustained metaphors. "Body-Symbols and Social Reality: Resurrection. Recent feminist critiquesof art and literature(sys- tems of "re-presentation"). who thus are presented with models for their own experiences or idealizations of them. like the metaphorsto which they are roughly synonymous."in Hal Foster.MetaphoricalTheology. 1962) 28. the religious tradition exists as a repertoireof symbols: why choose to employ some ratherthan oth- ers? And what determinesthe timing of the choice?"7 Feminist scholars are quick to emphasize that traditionally. Gager."4 Thus both verbal and visual metaphors("images") not only participatein a particularreal- ity but also select from it."Religion 12 (1982) 345." and which is not necessarily or even possibly a "true" reflection.WA: Bag Press." in Derek Baker. Sheffield:JSOT/AlmondPress.eds. 5Clifford Geertz.therefore.74.6 As Janet Nelson observes: "At a given moment. "Religion as a Cultural System. that metaphoricalmodes of describing reality become espe- cially perilous. 1972). Metaphorsand images are thus ways of providingmodels for. 8CraigOwens. the way things ought to be. it is even more true for modes of expressing religious concepts.394 HARVARD THEOLOGICALREVIEW the term "image" itself reflects a process by which a particularrepresentationis shaped and subsequentlyheld up as the way in which somethingis conceptually "seen" or meant to be "seen. Gender and Religion: On the Complexity of Symbols(Boston: Beacon. Camp.Wisdomand the Feminine in the Book of Pro- verbs (Bible and LiteratureSeries 11.. Stevan Harrell. Models and Metaphors: Studies in Language and Philosophy (Ithaca: Corell UniversityPress. "Society.. 6McFague.and Paula Richman.have attemptedto "expose that system of power that authorizes certain representationswhile blocking. moreover. 1966) 1-46. even more. experience. and selection has been lost."8If this is true for modes of expressing concepts in general. . 7JanetL.and Asceticism in EarlyChristianity. which may not be models of such experiences. Anthropological Approachesto the Study of Religion (London/New York: Tavistock. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press.. images.5It is as models. metaphors. TheAnti-Aesthetic:Essays in Post-ModernCulture(PortTownsend. Theodicy." in Michael Banton. As Max Black has noted. prohibiting. The model is then assumed to be the "true" representationof "the way things are.. ed. are ways of describingreality in a way thatboth participatesin it and points to it." and. as well as models of. while con- sciousness of the model's having gone througha process of origination. cited by John G. Schism. 1983) 57 -77.models furtherprivilege one mode of expression or one form of experience over another.forma- tion. 1986) 9. which are then applied to the subject. and the Origins of Medieval Heresy. Images.

a parallel to it might be drawn in the relationshipof emergent Chris- tianity to the polytheistic religions of the Greco-Romanworld. 1 sucha mannerthatChristian conceptionsof divinityandof the "image"of Godareall objectifiedin Jesus. the limitationof deity to a single dynamic personalityentailed the assign- ment to that persona of a gender that was perceived as the less "limited" in its socio-biological roles. the available inventory of religious models has become narrowedeven more in the monotheisticreligious traditions that developed in the ancient Mediterranean. for as Sallie McFague observes. IN: Indi- ana UniversityPress. MetaphoricalTheology.10 In the metaphorical language monotheism uses to describe the Mary Daly succinctly expresses it in Beyond God the Father: The problemis not thatthe Jesusof the Gospelswas male.not only the incarnationof the deity..Professor Miles has said that this statementno longer representsher thinkingon the subject. 2. as well as opportunity. '2Mary Daly.and a Semite. "the human images that are chosen as meta- phors for God gain in statureand take on divine qualities by being placed in an interactiverelationshipwith the divine. In usingthereligiousideasandimagesofferedwithintheircul- ture.the problemlies in the exclusiveidentification of thisper- sonwithGod. the relationshipof women to Jesus. there is danger.inherentin the available repertoireof religious sym- bols: The relativeactivitywith which religiousideas and imagesare critically appropriated seems to be or the passivitywith whichthey are intrajected crucial. Although Ochshorn's study focuses on the relationshipof Judaismto the polytheistic religions of the ancient Near East. . In Ochshom's view. 1981) 136-40. Rather.womenmust choose carefullythe religioussymbolsthateffectively challengeandempowerthemratherthanthosethatoppressandrenderthem passive. 38. GAIL PATERSONCORRINGTON 395 Miles has noted. I believe that it remains valid for the presentdiscussion. The Female Experienceand the Nature of the Divine (Bloomington.for women's self- definition and orientation..12 Because Jesus is. in a personalcommunication. 1973) 78-79. as JudithOchshornhas pointed out.young. 9Miles. l?JudithOchshor.9 Yet. Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women's Liberation (Boston: Beacon. gender has an even greaterweight than it does in polytheism. Although. Immaculateand Powerful."' The tension between the universaland the particularbecomes even more crit- ical in Christianity. for Christianity. but also the redeemerand savior of humanexistence.

"See. ed. 1987) 399... In his reply to Peter's objec- tion to the discipleship of Mary (presumably.. In her dreamof salvation. and her breastmilk dries up. she sends it away to be cared for by others. the apostle Paul (Acts of Thekla40). In the second-centuryapocryphalActs of Thekla." 14 The patternof females becoming male is not confined to gnostic Christians." Although she is nursing a child.D.although not necessarily. "Philo's Use of the CategoriesMale and Female" (Ph.that the model for salvation in Christianityis both the saviortoo mustbe male. in order to be saved. Ruether.396 HARVARD THEOLOGICALREVIEW not merely as a model. conformingto her model.13 By this logic. then. Onlythe malerepresents perfecthumanity. 1965) 84.In turn.only themalecanrepresent Christ. but as the model for that saved existence.andfromlimits. diss. I am going to attracther to make her male so that she too might become a living spirit that resembles you males. This saviorcan only come in the imageof the male. The Gnostic Scriptures (GardenCity. is a crucial one. they must model their behavior and their perceptionsof them- selves after a dominantmetaphorwhich does not partakeof their female nature or experiences. 1985) the maleis the properimageof God. This mode of behavior finds its literal expression in the gnostic ChristianGospel of Thomas (second centuryCE). and trans.and fromwhatdoes he save us? This saviorof men comes to free men frombirth. Vibia Perpetua. Harvard University. in favor of her role as virgin. For every female (element) that makes itself male will enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus says. The most obvious model of a woman who redeems both herself and those women who model themselves after her is the Virgin Mary. she fights as a male gladiator and overcomes her opponent..fromwomen. As Godcan only be imagedas male. the devil. therefore. RosemaryRadfordRuetherprovides the most devastatingcritique of what she perceives to be the "mis-appropriation"of the savior figure by Christian tradition: Who is this savior.Woman-Church:Theologyand Practice of FeministLiturgicalCommun- ities (San Francisco:Harper& Row. women must symbolically become "male": that is.fromearth.describes the process by which she "becomes male..that exemplary young convert does not begin her apostolic career in earnest until she cuts her hair and dons male clothing. NY: Doubleday."15 It seems clear. '5See RichardA. Baer. the Martyrdomof Saints Perpetua and Felicitas (third centuryCE). Mary Magdalene) in Logion 114. In a more orthodox we shall see. 14BentleyLayton. whose role as mother is down- played or transformed.the martyr-narrator. . virginity being perceived as a form of "maleness.

we shall examine how divine lactationas a metaphorfor divine-humancommunicationbecomes incor- poratedinto descriptionsof the deity and male savior figure in formative Chris- tianity. 1982) 277. in the period of for- mative Christianity. were incorporatedinto the metaphorical language for a male deity and male savior. security. Paul expresses one aspect of this experience as the "spirit of sonship" in '6McFague. the mirrorof history. Third. vol. is there some pro- cess by which the attributesof these female savior figures. that savior. with McFague. Within the frame- work of salvation. female savior figures in the "existing repertoire" of saviors? Is there a conditioned "way of seeing" that has failed to reveal their availabilityor women's possible responses to them? Finally. procuredby the agency of a deity who can overcome the hostile cosmic forces that produce in individuals feelings of helplessness and powerlessness.MetaphoricalTheology. . GAIL PATERSONCORRINGTON 397 historically and conceptually gendered as male. As with all models within reli- gious traditions. Second." or does it have to be "rationalizedin order to be held"?16To formulate these questions somewhatmore particularly.27. First. we shall see how a once-dominant metaphor loses its dominance in favor of another model-that of the virgin mothermanifestingher divine child to the world.we may.were there not. and in what ways. one image employed as a metaphorfor the experi- ence of salvation-that of the divine mother nursing her child-will be exam- ined in three ways. valorizing aspects of women's experience while at the same time preventingthe savior from being "seen" as female? In asking and attemptingto answer these questions. 17HelenaMichie. or adoption by. as models of and models for women's religious lives. A History of Religious Ideas. we will be engaged in a process that Helena Michie has called "the mirroras history": "The moment that we admit the mirror's failure to reproduce an undistortedimage. The Flesh Made Word: Female Figures and Women's Bodies (New York: OxfordUniversityPress. 1987) 10. 2: From GautamaBuddha to the Triumphof Christianity(Chicago:Universityof Chicago Press. The importance of the experience of salvation to early Christianity as a Greco-Romanreligion is emphasizedby Mircea Eliade in his statementthat the "principal characteristic"of such religions was "the promise of salvation."17 In the discus- sion of the mirroras history. and well-being. '8Mircea Eliade. salvation connotes safety. we shall see whetherthis metaphoris continuouswith the reality of women's lives. we are introducingthe mirroras materialobject. who thus is the "parent" of the saved. the saved participates in the power of the savior by identificationwith. ask of this one the following questions: Why is it dominant? To whom is it significant? Does it fit with "lived experi- ence."18 In this context. whether it valorizes any aspect of female experi- ence or not.

Isis declares that she will save him: "I am here. mid-second centuryCE). Isis becomes associated with other mother goddesses throughoutthe Mediterraneanworld. In the official iconogra- phy of ancient. salvation. To Lucius. 'Abba! Father!' it is the Spirit itself bearing witness with our spiritthat we are childrenof God.that Isis. is also the divine and compassionatemother who assists her unfortunatehuman children. having taken pity on your misfortunes. This image is found outside Egypt from the eighth centuryBCE onward. The reasons for the popularity(and popularnature)of this image of Isis may be traced to her very origin as a saving deity in Egypt. longevity. 55). but like all of these goddesses. and even funerarymonuments. the belief that milk from the divine breastgives life. the Metamorphoses. magical inta- glios. the kourotrophos. she becomes associated with other female deities as different as Aphrodite and Artemis. during the Roman imperial period. protectoressof prepubescent girls (SIRIS 761).a grandmother. Isis lactans: Corpus des monumentsgreco-romains d'lsis allaitant Har- pocrate (EPRO37. makes a dedicationon behalf of her granddaughterAvita to Isis puellaris. the protagonistof Apuleius's tale.on behalf of their daughter Meilesia (SEG XII. writes in his novel. Tran Tam Tinh L. 1971) 1." One of the most widely worshiped of the saving deities of the Common Era was not. and manifests itself in the official imagery of the Pharaohs. 11.from Egypt to Asia Minor. Because she is a female deity. the goddess Isis.316. Macedonia. Leiden:Brill. representinga felicitous union of a native Egyptian image with thatof the Greek nursingdeity.the second-centuryauthorwho tells us that he had been initiatedinto many of the salvationmysteries of the Greco-RomanWorld (Apol. in Roman Spain (Acci.398 HARVARD THEOLOGICALREVIEW Rom 8:15-16: "When we cry. whose metaphoricalasininityhas turnedhim into an actual ass. a marble tablet is dedicated to Isis lochia. who presides over childbirth.Fabia. Isis protects women in all their passages throughlife. from Gaul to pre-RomanSpain. on a throneor some humblerseat. the conquerorof hostile Fortune (Met. such as Hathor.15). SIRIS 107). lamps. As V. Demeter. . two aspects of Isis as the mother and preserver of kings become 19V. with favor and with solace. however. Isis was the mother and nurse of rulers. Tran Tam Tinh."19From the time of the pyramids. modeled in numerous figurines and statuettes. Eleutheria. coins. nursingher son Horus. In Beroea." Because she is a divine mother. a divine Father but a divine Mother. and Roman Egypt alike. But by far the most widespreadof all representationsof Isis was of the goddess as Isis lactans: Isis seated. For example. but it seems to have been concentratedmainly in the first to fourth centuries of the Common Era. BruttiusAgathophorusand his wife. and Cybele. Ptolemaic.on amulets. Apuleius of Madaura.I am here.and divinity is one which exists "in the mentality of the populations of the Delta from the earliest antiquity.

"JNES 10 (1951) 123 n." of the temples of Hathorand Isis at Denderaand of Isis at Philae. she has her breasts preparedfor her son Horus. 6-7. seated on the "throne" of his mother's lap. Isis lactans.see ibid." the preeminent nursingdeity is Isis. as expressed in the words of Pyramid Text 2089a (Old Kingdom). 24TranTam Tinh. Isis lactans.and he is represented sitting on her lap. in which Isis gives new life to the dead king: "Isis comes."20 Horus.23The infant king is suckled by the divine nurse three times: at his birth.. for reasons that will laterbe suggested. that appears to be the dominant one in early Christianiconography of Mary and the infantJesus. the son of this deity."24 The divine protectionof the goddess. or "birth-houses. expressed in the metaphorof nursing. As Henri Frankfort speculates. including Hathor.and at his rebirthas Horns after death. 1948) 41.. Hesat (Greek Hesis = Isis) is the incarnationof the throne. 2. 22Ibid.''2 It is this image of the infant king. the "divine cow. 2).and perhapsa source of the conflationof Isis and Hathor. being manifestedto the world. that Isis is the "mother" of the especially emphasized in the mammisis. Leiden:Brill. at his enthronement.Ancient Egyptian Religion: An Interpretation(New York: Columbia Univer- sity Press. Although there were many divine nurses in ancient Egypt. cf. Thus Isis is often picturedin the earlierEgyptianiconographywear- ing the hieroglyph for "throne" on her head (see P1. As the mother of the king. the victorious. Kingship and the Gods: A Study of Ancient Near Eastern Religion as the Integrationof Society and Nature (Chicago:Universityof Chicago Press.. "Le role du lait et d'allaitementd'apres les textes des Pyramides. GAIL PATERSONCORRINGTON 399 intertwined.6. 1948) 6. EPRO 26.22The vehicle for the transferralof this divine power is the milk of the goddess. 8-9. . idem. As a cow-headed deity like the goddess Hathor. like those of the PyramidTexts. takes over this role from the other divine nurses. Jean Leclant. and even more so in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt. 1). 23FrancoiseDunand. who from the period of Middle Kingdom (2000. Isis "made manifest a divine power" that was transferredfrom her to the king. "the place where Horus dwells. this image may representthe belief that the throne "gives birth to" the pharaoh. in which the young king is sym- bolically "born. 14. which thus forms a kind of "throne. Isis is known as Hesat or Sechat-Hor. The milk of the divine breastprovides protective and reviving power. 25TranTam Tinh.Le culte d'Isis dans le bassin oriental de la Mediterranee(3 vols. 1973) 1. indicate the life-giving and protective qualities that come from the goddess through her milk25(see P1. A typical ritual formula from the mammisiat the Temple of Sobek and Horns at Kom Ombo declares: "Milk of Isis (milk?) of Hesat! Enter into the belly of the Lord of the Double Land. is incarnatedas pharaoh. moreover.1280 BCE) onward. 4. 21HenriFrankfort. the 20Sechat-Hor(Hat-hor)is also the appellationof the goddess Hathor." The inscriptions from these birth-houses.

In the aretalogyof Kyme (second centuryCE). Isis lactans.28 It was not merely because she was a goddess-motherthat Isis's milk was regardedas the fluid of life: a major part of Isis's divine power was thanks to her victory over death. 6 . Lucius describes Isis's role in the mysteries as that of "savioress" (sospitatrix) and mother (mater): "Holy and eternal savioress of the human race. although I am a woman. Isis became the focus of a mystery religion of her own among the Greeks and Romans. Osiris. 1. from Dunand. which was adapted from an older one at Memphis. neither of whose sympathies lay with Egypt or its deities. Thus.4-5.Le culte d'lsis.7. mistress of life is her name. According to the myth of Isis and Osiris. it is the reviving power of Isis as savior goddess I wish at present to emphasize. Horus.59). even the Roman emperors Augustus and Tiberius. every dead king (and laterevery dead person) becomes Osiris and is rebornas Horus. JosephusAnt. and the "virgin birth" of her divine son. one of the most prominentPtolemaic-Romancenters of Isis worship. TranTam Tinh. Throughtheir identi- fication with Osiris and Horus. On Isis and Osiris. .. ever 26Ibid. 29Le Corsu.she made the missing partout of mud and her own saliva. 27Ibid. 10. protect him from all evil.6. HerodotusHist.2.nursinghim and teaching him in hiding in the bullrushesuntil he became king in place of his father Osiris. Moret. Isis assembled all the scattered pieces of her dismembered spouse's body except for the phallus. 2."29Isis then protectedher infant son Horus from Seth. 8. 28FranceLe Corsu. 25 . to make thy name [Osiris] live upon the earth. According to the Stele of Amon-Mose. 30Inscriptionfrom Philae. see also PlutarchAnt. Le culte d'Isis. the reviving of her dead spouse.. Isis: Mythe et mysteres (Paris:Belles Lettres. era of Ptolemy VI. the dead receive life at the hands of Isis. 18. Isis is celebratedas "Isis the Great. Isis declares that she was in fact the first to "reveal the mysteries" to humankind.26."30The Greeks identifiedIsis with Deme- ter. In Apuleius's Metamorphoses(11.400 HARVARD THEOLOGICALREVIEW child! Purify him. "La legende d'Osiris a l'6poque thebaine. dispenseress of life .65-80. she declares. and all people live underthe orderof her ka. in symbolic acknowledgmentthat those who would be kings of Egypt derive their divine power and protection from Isis."BIFAO(1931) 725 -50. After her Helleniza- tion. At Philae.. the goddess of the Eleusinian mysteries. 1977) 31."26 At Philae.7. A. and became pregnant with Horus. 50. as described in the second century CE by Plutarchin his allegorizing treatise. Dio Cassius 53.27presentofferings to the nursingIsis. through which the initiate was assured of joy in the afterlife (cf. the "queen-mother"of Egypt. settled herself on it in the form of a bird. his father's murderer. Dunand. While the metaphor of giving birth "like a man" will later be employed by of the Virgin Mary in the ChristianOdes of Solomon. "I have comported myself like a man. Isis. 54. because she gives life to the earth. the Mother of God.25). Thereupon.

cf. "yXaa.Kourotrophos. 35Price."33The divine milk is thus metaphorically the "medicine of immortality. 1978) 8. Although Price does point out that male deities (e.201. were baptized in milk. 36HeinrichSchlier." 31TranTam Tinh. you indeed bestow the sweet affection of a motherupon the tribulationsof the unfortunate. 28. which may have reached Greece from Egypt.175.Kourotrophos. But is this model associated with the lives of real women? Indeed.and lamps with representationsof Isis lactans dating from 700 BCE onward have been found throughoutthe Mediterraneanworld. Theodora Kadzisteliou Price. the eriphoi. that the divine nurse has the "power to turnmortalsinto Heroes and give them spiritualqualities with her divine nursing. 10-12. like Hera and Artemis. pre-Hellenic in origin. childlike figures nursing at the breastof a goddess. Isis tells Lucius that her "true name" is "Isis the queen (reginam Isidem. 33Ibid.g. is found in the Eleusinian.20). protection. GAIL PATERSONCORRINGTON 401 beneficient in cherishing mortals. Kourotrophos:Cults and Representationsof GreekNursing Deities (Studies of the Dutch Archeologicaland HistoricalSociety 8. symbolic of divine adoption. ARW 7 (1904) 402.199. or initiation as a means of divinity. applied with honey at sunrise."34In the Orphic-Dionysiac cult of southern Italy. the kourotrophoi. but the initiatesof mys- tery religions."throughwhich not only kings and heroes. 32Price. terra-cottas. Isis was regardedlargely in her maternal aspect.theirrepresenta- tion is much rarer. Isis lactans.. Tran Tam Tinh. Met. often represent"popular" or "underground"aspects of the deities of official Greek cults. are given life: "The sacramentalact of nursing." TDNT 1 (1964) 647. Orphic.'36 Thus far.5).for example. while initiates were often representedas small. these deities. Preisen- danz 1. 34Ibid. Richard Reitzenstein. and later Sabazian mysteries.35On the level of popularreligion. the highest initiates.and never includes figuresactually "nursing" at their breasts. one is advised that milk. it would at first appearas though much of the "official" propagandaof the expanding Isis cult. Isis lactans. 202. 11. for example. as the deity who imparts life and protection to her children as their mother and nurse. being generated by male aretalogists and theologians. milk was also considered a divine element: in a spell from the Berlin Magical Papyrus (5025.32They also reflect a belief. in the Egyptian royal iconography and in the mysteries of the Greco-Romanworld. . Hermes)may be kourotrophoi. Leiden:Brill. "will become somethingdivine in your heart. has less emphasis on Isis as motherand more on her role as "mistress" (icupia) and "queen" (xrpavvos). we have seen that.. where Isis apparently became identified with the Greek nursing deities.." Amulets. In the Metamorphoses.31As Theodora Hadzisteliou Price has observed.

. Tran Tam Tinh. 'I have come.buttheyareimprinted withthoseof the womenof Egypt. 4).one knee bent.since the ex-votos display their origin in real life and indicatetheirpossible function in popularbelief: Herearefamiliarposes.which are predominantlyfemale. Isis lactans. 1979) 3-4. 14078. 3. .37 However. the proliferationof such ex-votos. idem..Religion populaire. by dint of imploringthe goddess-motherand her divine infant. Horus. many of the inscriptions and dedications by women to Isis in the Greco-Romanworld use this title. the official iconogra- phy and propagandaof Isis seem to have been derived from popularrepresenta- tions. Cult of Isis..Isis. representthem- selves in the poses and garmentsof Isis. Inv. The same transposition to the divinerealmof the gesturesof dailylife appearsin a bronzefromthe BerlinMuseum. "It was all the women of Egypt who. Isis lactans. 1972) 30-31. Isis lactans. 31. Leiden: Brill. FrancoiseDunand. 41Dunand. 15. in the opinion of Tran Tam Tinh and others." 123. but it is difficult to determinewhether the figures of women nursingchildrenor leading them by the hand are ex-votos representingthe women themselves or the goddess42(see P1.402 HARVARD THEOLOGICALREVIEW and in fact.Le culte d'Isis. Isis lactans. 52. Heyob. "Isis the goddess speaks . 39EgyptianMuseum.. sittingon the ground. lamps.. 1975) 79. 42Dunand.nursinghersonin themannerof anEgyptianpeasantwoman. see PI. 781. 29-30. In Tran Tam Tinh's whichone sees Isis. who has studied this and other figurinesof a popularnaturerelatedto the Isis religion in Egypt.43As Paul Perdrizetnotes. 1.Religion populaire en Egypte romaine (EPRO 66. 40TranTam Tinh.ended by setting them up as 37SharonKelly Heyob. it is difficult to determine whetherthis is indeed a representationof Isis or simply an ex-voto representing an Egyptian mother nursing her child. FranqoiseDunand. a bronze from about 1900 BCE. 38TranTam Tinh. The Cult of Isis among Womenin the Greco-RomanWorld (EPRO 51.stating. 8. to her son. 43TranTan Tinh. 18.' "40 Because the inscription may be of a much later date than the bronze itself. 97. cf. amulets.41 The same sacralizationof everyday life confrontsDunandin her examination of terra-cottafigurines from Isis worship in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt.Le culte d'Isis..Berlin. which arises in his opinion from an image of maternaldevotion particularto the Egyp- tians. 1. and magical intaglios with the image of Isis lactans in the Mediterraneanworld of the first four centuriesCE indicates the popularityof this particularimage of Isis. datingfromthe MiddleKingdom. Leiden:Brill. 97. 8. Le culte des divinites orientales en Campanie(EPRO27. no. 20. Le culte d'lsis. 74-76. Leiden:Brill.39 has on its base an inscription.38One of the oldest known representationsof Isis lactans outside of Egypt. notes that such "confusion" is frequent. Not only do many of the figurines.. Dunand. Leclant. 7. "Le r6le du lait. Le Corsu. idem.

49Heyob.Terres cuites grecques d'Egypte de la collection Fouquet (Paris. E. 1985) no." and ordains that "parents should be loved by their children. On it is depicted a seated young woman in Isiac dress. In the opinion of R."48Heyob further notes that "women in particular seem to have found great comfort in the redemptive aspects of the religion. 16-17. dating from the late Ptolemaic/early Roman period. 1921) xx. very few mothers actually nursedtheir own children. 21 (76). Les mammisis des temples egyptiens (Paris. Ausgewdhlte Texte der Isis-und Sarapis-Religion (Subsidia epigraphica 12. 1958) 339-47."44 Thus it is the popular sentiment. 1953) 131-33. which furnishes the frameworkfor the Isiac religion of the Greco-Romanworld. The Kyme aretalogy proclaims Isis as the one who is "called goddess by women.ed. TranTam Tinh. 52.46 Women in the Greco-Romanworld seem to have revered Isis.a recitationof praises or attributesusually reserved for deities. E. Francois Daumas. ET FrederickC. The woman." her divine spon- sorship of the lower classes occasioning the limitationsof her cultic worship by the Roman Senate. Isis lactans. TranTam Tinh. no." who brings men and women together..Cult of Isis. seems to be combined with a sort of aretalogy.30-31.has the following epitaph: 44PaulPerdrizet. Witt." of themselves as the saviors and protectorsof childrenand spouses. 45MariaTotti. 19.Cult of Isis. at least in the Hellenized and Roman upper classes. ."49as evidenced by the numberof funerarysteles. Witt. Isis in the Graeco-RomanWorld(London:Thames & Hudson. Isis lactans.Ausgewdhlte Texte. 1 (1-4). 548-52). 47Heyob. even as they participatein her womanhood and she in theirs.45The devotion of Isis to Horus. 48Totti. This identification with Isis. and inscriptions representing women in the garb of Isis. Grant.47but also because they them- selves found refuge in Isis as a protectiveand saving deity.SEG nos. Hellenistic Religions: The Age of Syncretism(New York:LiberalArts Press. offering her left breast to a seated child whom she holds by the left hand. Isis.Roman and ChristianEgypt. 60. GAIL PATERSONCORRINGTON 403 principal and essential divinities. sarco- phagi. 137.Cult of Isis. 18. 1971) 136-37. supportedby SharonKelly Heyob. is the more strikingas an ideal in a world where. who "compels women to be loved by men. a literal "putting on" of the goddess and presumably thus participatingin her divinity. which regarded Isis as the maternal "savior in all perils of life" (Hymns of Isidorus from Medinet-Madi. dating from two widely diver- gent periods.and infanticideand child exposure were widely prac- ticed. is strik- ingly illustratedby two grave steles from Egypt. as a model for female behavior. R. Isis first enters Italy and eventually Rome "as a friend of the masses. Witt. cf. cited by Tran Tam Tinh. Hil- desheim: Olms. not only as a "model for inspirationin the circumstancesof domestic life. whose name is Seratous. Campanie. The first stele. 46Heyob. with icono- graphic or textual allusions to the mysteries.

Monastics: A Sourcebookon Women'sReligions in the Greco-RomanWorld(Philadelphia:Fortress. 14726 (Tran Tam Tinh. Ross S. Matrons. Inv. . Isis lactans. Seratous. 14726.or Mary and the infant Jesus.404 HARVARD THEOLOGICALREVIEW Eternity(AtiOv) proclaimstheonewholoves hermother(OtiXoutiopa)andherbrother((DitXdeXpov): withmy child I lie here. herself presents as Isis.) betweenmotherandbrother. in her self- definition. a Greek nursing deity (kourotrophos). 77. dated anywherefrom 500 . Isis lactans.. In the Kyme- Memphis aretalogy.Osiris.if the IsiacSeratous . is difficult to derive. 804). see P1.30 (SEG 8.g. TranTam Tinh remarks: It is difficultto confirmwhetherthe Virginandchildarerepresented in this funeraryimagery. 147 no. which exhibits some parallels to those of Isis in her aretalogies. 50TranTam Tinh. to the relatively rare representationsof Mary nursing the infant Jesus found in seventh.700 CE. Neionesy50 The meaning of this inscription. ed. Martyrs. Kourotrophos.. in effect. 202). fig. 122) and Gerasis in Arabia (SIRIS 365). Price.2."51 The second grave stele has no inscription. 51Ibid. Seratousdressedlike Isis identifiesherself in some way with the goddess.of whom she is the "greatest proclamation.52 Comparingthis and a similargrave stele.and is now in the StaatlicheMuseum. in which the seated figureis flankedby two orantes. Kraemer.. CE 117.. 52Berlin.likejustice(06eu..and eighth-centuryCoptic art. but it is clear that Seratousseems to be identifiedin some ways with Isis.30. First.21 years(old). she is depicted in the same manner as Isis lactans. 26. Isis is referredto as Oeoaiocpopo.. Maenads.. no. an epithet that leads Tran Tam Tinh to suggest that Seratous has marriedher brother.. Second. she is also called (pt6eX(po." and is also called "Justice" (Atlcatoaovrl) by Plutarch (Isis and Osiris 3) and in inscriptions. or "Law-giver.due to its highly idiomatic Greek.IeraxYear4.. fig. Berlin (inv. such as those at Delos (e. she calls herself justice (09gtq) and brother-loving (t(pXda8eXpoS).1988) frontis- piece. 5). P1.. Because Isis is marriedto her brother.not only the woman buried there. andI amof mybrother thegreatestproclamation (icpuryga). whosemoderation is spokenof (ocoppoolu6vn) throughout theworld(iKoCigo). but also Isis. It is from the Fayum area of Egypt." He further notes of this stele: "As in many of the Isiac funerarysteles of the Roman era.Early Christiancollection. 29 . The seated woman nursing her child who is depicted on it has been said to represent.

cites the grave-steleof Apollonia from Icaria. "58 However. 54Price. 32. The "unusual width" of the stele. BurtonMack."Isis and Sophia in the Book of Wisdom." in RobertL. cf. there are two models. as the traits of a savior-deitywho was especially connected with royal ideology.sixth to fourth centuryBCE. 55JohnKloppenborg.the figure of personifiedWisdom in Judaismis also called "bestower of life" (e.59In Claudia Camp's analysis of personifiedWisdom in the Book of Proverbs. "Wisdom Mythology and the ChristologicalHymns of the NT. Logos und Sophia: Untersuchungenzur Weisheitstheologieim hellenistischen Judentum (SUNT 10. in Price's opinion.g.55Both BurtonMack and ElisabethSchiissler Fiorenzahave pointed to the mystic aspects of Hokmah/Sophiain Jewish Wisdom literature that she shares with Isis."Isis and Sophia. are missing.54 Like the goddess Isis. Prov 8:35." 62."so importantin the Hellenistic cult of Isis. These are distinguished by Mack as the "hidden" or cosmic Wisdom.46 (fig. 45." 72.Kourotrophos. Elisabeth Schiissler Fiorenza. and the traits of "female fertility and childbirth. 57Kloppenborg. connected with Isis as "sister. they also partookof eternallife in her. with whom she shares several mythic attributes. Isis lactans. 56BurtonMack. 59Kloppenborg. as in that of Isis. Royal or cosmic Wisdom is thus the counselor of her 53TranTam Tinh.Logos und Sophia. although the role of the mother as the first instructorof childrenin Wisdom (e.she shows that seldom is Wisdom portrayedspecifically as a mother." HTR75 (1982) 78. 436). Kloppenborgpoints out that the cosmic Wisdom of the Wisdomof Solomon is not the mother of the king. may indicate its "votive character"as a "heroization" of the dead Apollonia. 76.53 "christianized" The inability to distinguish the deceased woman from the deity suggests the completeness of the identification."Isis and Sophia. GAIL PATERSONCORRINGTON 405 our Christianwomen of Egypt could have continuedthis traditionin a form. lover. 81. "Isis and Sophia. "Wisdom Myth and Myth-ology. 58Mack. 1973) 41." 62.from which it is difficult to determinewhetherthe woman representedis a kourotrophos deity or Apollonia herself. and mother. it should be noted that in the portrayalof the figure of Wisdom."57 However." Int 24 (1970) 46-60. Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.56 John Kloppenborg has suggested that the "dense configurationof attributesof divine Wisdom in the Hellenistic Jewish Wisdom of Solomon (particularlyin 8:2-9) originally belonged to Isis. Wis 8:3). 65.. wife. Aspects of Wisdomin Judaismand Early Christianity(Notre Dame: Universityof Notre Dame Press. Kloppen- borg. 1975) 17-41.. . The Isiac examples show that the goddess not only partookof women's lives. Camp demonstratesthat personified Wisdom more aptly parallels the "woman of worth" in Proverbs 31 as household manager and counselor of her husband. ed. connected with Isis as the sponsor of kings and sages. Prov 6:20) was one of authority in Israel.g. Wilken.. and the "near" or present Wisdom.

benefactor.MetaphoricalTheology. 61McFague. In a letter between Pythagoreans (Italy. ed."61 The detachmentof the mother from the role of nurse may in part reflect the social reality of the Greco-Romanworld.406 HARVARD THEOLOGICALREVIEW husband/lover the king. in De congr.the detachmentof the mother from the actual role of nurse seems to enable the metaphorof nursingto be applied to males as impartersof life and saving knowledge. savior. X6yo.." For example. Abr. 61.27 62MaryR. 63SoranusGynaecologia 1. While Philo of Alexandria. protection.60The metaphorof the divine mother's impartinglife.19-20 in Lefkowitz and Fant. that the educationof the child will begin in the properlanguage as he or she imbibes the nurse's milk. Therefore. "detached from lived experience.13. a midrash on Prov 8:22). 91). commenting on the providingof mannain Deut 8:2-3.the Greek physician. 111 (from Holger Thesleff.for he is good and the source of goods. in his manual on gynecol- ogy writtenat Rome in the firstcenturyCE. Women'sLife in Greece and Rome (Baltimore: Johns HopkinsUniversityPress."62 Soranus. Myia advises Phyllis that care should be exercised in choosing a temperatewet nurse who will put the child's welfare first. God as nurse is the source of Wisdom: "For he 60Camp. Women'sLife. Oxy." and not simply as paidagogoi responsiblefor the intellectualand moral upbring- ing of their "children."63Common advice given is that the nurse be Greek-speaking. The PythagoreanTextsof the Hellenistic Period [Abo: Abo Akademi. and saving knowledge to her children through her maternalmilk becomes increas- ingly detachedfrom the reality in which it participated. 33. 24.Wisdomand the Feminine. detachedfrom the mother. Lefkowitz and MaureenB. in McFague's phrase. 178. Pap.4. while maternal imagery is appropriatedto describe Yahweh.. eds. Philo declares that "(God) providedfor them when they were unable to live without nourishment.10. bringerof wealth. In additionto contractsfor wet nursing (e. letters of advice and gynecological manuals show concern for choosing the right nurse. nurse.) as "nurses. 33. the hiring of a wet nurse was a given. advises women to select a wet nurse who is "self-controlled. Nursing. 1982) no.and not ill-tempered. 31. Fant.90.g. 80 . provider of great gifts. De ebr.foremost and prefatoryto the whole of the child's life. he also typically devalues the training(nat&eia) offered by the nurse/mother/Wis- dom as imperfect or incomplete (cf. third to second century BCE).. in which. He also frequently speaks both of God and the Stoic "right reason" (6p06." In De migr. 1965] 123 -24). may speak of God as the "father" of the universe and Wisdom (mattagTirL)as the "mother" and "nurse" (tiOivrll) of the All (De ebr. .for example. at least for those able to afford it.because nursingis "an importantpart. no.becomes an even more symbolic way of describingcommunication through utterance and intellect. becoming. 171(30).11). who will impart to the child the things necessary for his or her correct upbringing.

In the same vein. The appropriationor inversion of the metaphorof divine nursing in describ- ing the activities of a male deity becomes all the more strikingif we note that.4. the source of saving nourishment is the male God. The author of Hebrews also shows impatience with those who are still drinkingthe "milk" of the rudimentsof Christianknowledge. not children (vimtot).. In 1 Cor 3:2. to give value to. is typical of the way in which men use gender symbols: "Women's symbols and myths tend to build from social and biological experi- ences. for the first five centuries of the Christianera. the instruction imparted by the nurse. Kourotrophos.. Paul treats the Corinthiansas "infants" in Christ." The Cynic philosophers also regarded themselves as the metaphorical "nurses" responsiblefor the discipline and educationof those who were infants in which female metaphorsare applied to God the Fatherand male meta- phors are used for the Virgin Mary. Genderand Religion. 13. and to devalue them as female experiences.) wise deeds. however. Tpoqe6l. since it is for the spirituallyinfantile.: see. et al. accord- ing to AbrahamMalherbe. GAIL PATERSONCORRINGTON 407 is the one who nourishes and nurses (rpocpeb Kcai t Orlvo. men's symbols and myths tend to invert them. a model derived from female experiences. 33. so that in it you may grow up to salvation." with a long established "pattern of powerful 64AbrahamJ.g. Malherbe. long for the pure milk of reason (ob koyKucv a5oXov ydaa). In 1 Pet 2:2-3. reverts to the original use of the metaphorof divine nursing as a means of impartingsalvation. eds. See also Price. ii. words."65However.17. This process of inversion. not the "solid food" of adult spirituality." NovT 12 (1970) 203 . "Gentle as a Nurse: The Cynic Backgroundto I Thess. Xenophon EphesiusEphesiaca 1. there appearto be no representa- tions of Mary nursing the infant Christ. Dio Chrysostom(Or. and hence."Introduction. early Syrian Christianityinher- ited "a religious traditionremarkablefor its receptivity and sensitivity towards feminine aspects oc the divine. . as Caroline Bynum has argued. As Susan Harvey observes."in idem.7. in Greek is also used as a synonym for catSatyoyd. described metaphorically as milk. The authorof 1 Peter. ratherthan eating the "solid food" of the "difficult teaching" meant for adults (ztrEtot). 65Bynum. while nursing refers to spiritual instruction: "Like newborn infants. and thoughts. may be inferior. One clue to the reason why this is so may be found in the Syrian ChristianOdes of Solomon (first to second century CE).is Paul's attitudetowardsthe Thessalonians: "like a nurse (rpo(po6)caring fondly for her children" (1 Thess 2:7).. feeding those still on the material plane with milk. since "you have tasted that the Lord is good" (XPiriaro).14. however.64 As in Philo. this process of inversion seems simultaneouslyto appropriatefor males.44) describes the attitudeof instruc- tors to their hearers as that of nurses who "smear the cup with honey" to get childrento swallow bad tastingbut salutarymedicine. e.

and the Fatheris he who was milked. "Women in Early Syrian Christianity.66 The Christianity that reached this region. 269. Isis. Because his breastswere full. and I drankit in the sweetness of the Lord's kindness." in Patrick Granfield and Josef A. 1916-20) 2."68Whathas caused editors and translatorsof this poem to charge it with "grotesquerie" is thatmale and female characteristicsseem to be reversed: the "Father" has breasts and acts the role of midwife. 1970) 1..bringsforth "as a strongman. 67Ibid. Cybele.we must look at the poem as a whole: 1. 3. and those who have received (it) are in the perfection of the righthand. carrying with it its "aggressively masculine imagery for God. She bore as a strongman with desire. because he caused her to give life. The Son is the cup.67These strains appearespecially visible in the nineteenth Ode of Solomon. The womb of the Virgin took (it)."JTS n. 340-41. while the "Mother. and the Holy Spiritis she who milked him. 8.289. Miinster:Aschendorff. and it was undesirablethathis milk should be released withoutpurpose." Mary. in idem and A. "Some Reflections on the Characterand Theology of the Odes of Solomon. 7. 2. whose imagery has been consistently described as "grotesque." caused "strains" within the meta- phorical language for the deity." In suggesting possible interpretationsof these metaphors. and mixed the milk of the two breastsof the Father. 9. . Images of Women. and she bore accordingto the manifestation. and possessed with greatpower.. Mingana. because it did not occur withoutpurpose. 4. W. And she did not seek a midwife. Rendel Harris. A cup of milk was offered to me. Drijvers. Henry Chadwick. H." carriedover from the worship of the Dea Syria. The Holy Spiritopened her bosom. Kyriakon: Festschrift Johannes Quasten (2 vols. The Odes and Psalms of Solomon (Manchester. "The 19th Ode of Solomon: Its Interpretationand Place in SyrianChristianity. 31 (1980) 341.s.. and Hera. 10. 66SusanAshbrookHarvey. Then she gave the mixtureto the generationwithout theirknowing. eds. And she laboredand bore the Son but withoutpain. Jungmann. So the Virgin became a motherwith greatmercies. 6. 5. and she received conceptionand gave birth. 68J. J.eds."in Cameronand Kuhrt.408 HARVARD THEOLOGICALREVIEW female symbols.

"Syrian Christianity..16. Charlesworth. 71Harvey. thattheymightdrinkmy holymilkandlive by it."19th Ode. the Father's "sperm. The Holy Spirit. the bosom (also." 341. in which the Logos is born."71also retains female characteristics:for example. his bosomis the Holy Spirit- andrevealshis secret-his secretis his son.69 Within this rich profusion of poetic language." the "milk" thus being transformed. whereby conception 69Translationof Ode 19 by James H. W.perhapsa little closer to the mark. andmy ownbreastsI prepared forthem. used in Ode 19 as a metaphorfor the "Son. where God is again divine nurse: I fashionedtheirmembers. not according to the "will of the flesh... 70Drijvers. 74Ibid. GAIL PATERSONCORRINGTON 409 11. we note that divine milk is once again the vehicle of salvation." 341.Truth24. Andshelovedwithsalvation. as the process by which the "desire" or "will" of the male God. 1973) 81-82. 73Drijvers. Drijvers's interpretationof the image as found in Ode 19 reflects the appropriation:"The Holy Spirit functions as the womb of the Fatherin which his grace in the shape of the milk .70 Thus the milk of salvation.a Chris- tian Gnostic sermonon salvationfrom the second centuryCE: Andthe Fatheruncovershis bosom-now. J.72 H. into anotherbody fluid."289. fem- inine in Syriac by grammarand "inherited religious thought patterns.250)." but the "will of God.9 (Layton. stresses the fact that the Holy Spirit is grammaticallyand conceptually female in Syriac.The Odes of Solomon (Oxford: Clarendon. Hallelujah."19th Ode.anddeclaredwithgreatness. Drijvers draws a parallel between Ode 19.73 The Virgin's bearing "as a strong man" is explained by Drijvers. 72Gos. He sees a transformationbeing describedby the language of Ode 19. "womb") that she opens is hers. but she appearsto have been almost bodily absorbedby the male God. is received." enabling the womb of the Virgin to take it and conceive. brings forth the Drijvers's view."74 Jean Lagrande'sexplanation.rathertor- tously. andguardedwithkindness.Gnostic Scriptures. . Christ.10 and John 1:13. Strikinglysimilar language occurs in the Coptic Gospel of Truth.349. which impartslife. when coupled with Mary's assent to that will." proceeds in each example from the Father. This is true also of Ode 8.

" Irenaeus. 76Baer. as previously noted. andhe shallruleoveryou." is the means by which Mary becomes "male. as expressed in Gen 3:16 (RSV): Inpainyou shallbringforthchildren. According to this view also. it is an impossibilityfor women to accomplish. By yielding her female Drijvers's. On the other hand. who might be expected to be regardedas the "mother of salvation" (or at least the motherof the savior) par excellence. women are "redeemed" from the sin of Eve and its conse- quences. On the one hand. 3." with pain. as a virgin. a process by which they symbolically become male.75Although Lagrande'sargument. only females who are made males will enter the kingdom of heaven.except throughMary. Mary. .410 HARVARD THEOLOGICALREVIEW occurs throughthe agency of the male.Mary. If Mary is seen as bringingforth "as a strongman. The Virgin Mother is thus a different model of salvation for women. This answers such questions as that propoundedby Logion 17 of the Gospel of Tho- mas: "When did a woman (Mary) conceive of a woman (the Holy Spirit)?" Therefore. ratherthanby a female Holy Spirit."How Was the Virgin Mary 'Like a Man'?" NovT 22 (1980) 97 -107. both to herself and to the whole human race. or "according to the will of the flesh" which rules over her. through Mary. once applied to female deities. "although she was yet a virgin. metaphorsderived from childbirth and nursing.21-22) that the "disobedient" virgin Eve "was made the cause of death. women will no longer be saved "by child-bearing. Mary's bringing forth of Christ "by will" (or "desire"). yet yourdesireshallbe foryourhusband. are appropriatedfor applicationto male models as descrip- tive of modes of communicatingdivine wisdom and protection. she does not thereforebring forth "as a woman. when they become increasinglydetached from women's social and bio- logical experiences."76 These examples have two implications for the history of female metaphors for and models of the experience of salvation in early Christianity. haer. it agrees with the view." 84. that "vir- gin" means "male. by yielding obedi- 75JeanLagrande." as in 1 Tim 2:15." as in Odes of Solomon 19. may appearconvoluted. both escapes the dominationof the human male will and becomes the "cause of salvation.the first of many church fathers to formulate an Eve/Mary typology that parallels Paul's Adam/Christtypology."Philo's Use." while Mary. 114. a process defined as "male. Thom. unless it is by the divine child-bearing. Thus. If it is only in this fashion that the "rule" of the husband (the male will) over the wife will be overcome. declares (Adv. becomes a model for virgin- ity in woman. as we see it in Philo." According to Gos.

in which Jesus is consistently portrayedas dissociating himself from Mary (e. eds. despite the desires or contentionsof many art historiansto the contrary. "And Woman His Humanity:Female Imageryin the Religious Writ- ing of the LaterMiddle Ages. but even when his position suggests it.and the two grave steles that have already been mentioned.found.78RobertJavelet adds that. et al. Theotokos.metaphorfor the experience of salvation 77CarolinWalker Bynum.80The rareexceptions are five paint- ings datingfrom the sixth or seventh centuryCE. in extant catacombart.then. Wellen. Genderand Religion. is the image of the king who rules from his divine mother's lap that forms the iconographicconnection between Isis and Mary. n. possibly even John 19:25-27). it is difficult to determinewhetherhe actually suckles at her breast(see P1. Theokotos: Eine ikonographischeAbhandlung iiber das Gottesmutterbildin friihchristlicheZeit (Antwerp:Spectrum1961) 14. he is seated on her lap in the position of Horns being nursed by Isis. not to say dominant. On the latter two. and then. 45-47. "Marie la femme m6diatrice.6)..16. when the image of the divine mother nursing her child was an available. 7). GAIL PATERSONCORRINGTON 411 ence. In the earliest representationsof Mary and the infant Jesus in Christianart.Mary is first the redeemer of herself.althoughone perhapsnot intendedby Irenaeus. while there is a very tenuous connection between Isis lactans and Maria lactans. and to a greater extent in early Byzantine art."RSR58 (1984) 165. 8Tran Tam Tinh. it is to Mary that Christ owes his human nature and form. in symbolic fulfillment of the prophecy of Balaam (Num 24:17). but all in the cells of monastics (see P1. which are also from Egypt. see above." while the infant Jesus reigns as Pantocratorfrom the maternal lap/throne. they are "manifestations. Mark 3:31 and par. This conclusion is an importantone. 81TranTam Tinh. A. Isis lactans. Thus Mary is even furtherdetached from actual childbirthand from the concerns of the "flesh. since the redemptionthrough Mary occurs before she bears Christ.14-90.found in the cave of a hermit in Asia Minor. This detachmentmay even be reflected in the canonical gospels.. but of all humanity. became the cause of salvation.g. A similar painting from the seventh or eighth centuryCE.77 In the early period of formative Christianity. in patristic and medieval theology. Mary is represented"en patricienne. As G. as previously noted. at least in the firsteight centuriesof the Christianchurch. there seems already to have been a dissociation of Mary from maternityin the material sense. as might be expected. . 43. the identity of the nursing figure is ambiguous." By implication. A." in idem.John 2:4. in Egypt. not merely of other women.79Tran Tam Tinh points out that. both to herself and to the whole human race. Wellen..." even though. 51. Wellen observes of these early representationsof Mary and Jesus. 261." the child Jesus being seated on Mary's lap so that she may show him to the wise men.81 We might ask why. 79RobertJavelet. Isis lactans.

1.or the Virgin Church. 1981) does not seem to have been employed extensively by Christian artists. and the roy- alty of the Theotokos throughher relationshipto him-an inversion of the rela- tionship between Isis and Horus-is emphasizedat the expense of their human- ity. also originatingin the Isis cult.the majesty of Christas conquerorof death.. Mary as an ideal is both royal and virgin. consistently uses breast milk as a metaphorfor the Logos. the female by the we saw in the case of Wisdom. The metaphorof nursing. l. Christ. Thus it would appear that.however. if not very satisfactory. the male "nurses" of the New Testamentepistles feed the infant Christians. "Milk and Honey in the Theology of Clement of Alex- andria.46." in Hans Jorg auf der Maur. 82Anneweisvan de Bunt (van den Hoek). 4. One simple.33. and whom she protects and saves. was.1). pressedfromthebride'ssweetbreasts. this answer would not explain the apparentlydeliberate iconographic connection between the infant Christ "enthroned" on his mother's lap and the infant Horus enthronedon the lap of Isis. 42.38. Women are "redeemed" by and in Mary because the obedient virgin overcomes the painful childbirththat is the curse of the disobe- dient is appropriatedto describe the saving activities of the male savior-deity.. Drijvers. However.SacramentumFidei: Studies in Honour ofPieter Smulders(Assen: Van Gorcum.82In Paed. at least in the public iconography of emergent Christianity. The continuumbetween Isis and Mary is thus throughroyal ideology and imperialpropaganda." Christ is described in a hymn from the thirdbook of the Paedagogos (3. It may thus be inferred that the motif of the lactating mother was eschewed in Mary's case because she is a model for "overcoming" the material by the spiritual." 344. while Clement of Alexandria.. haer. Tertullian De cast. in his Paedagogos. Hymn. . thegiftsof yourWisdom. When the Isis devotees are praised at all by the church fathers. 1 Pet 2:2-3). ratherthan throughIsis as prototypicalmotherand nurse of the child to whom she gives life and imparts divine power. it is for their chastity and modesty (cf. Irenaeus refers to the Lord (Christ)feeding the faithful "as if from the breastof his flesh" (Adv. ed.expla- nationmight be that Christianartistsdid not wish to connect their deity with any goddess religions as practiced by pagans."19th Ode. 13). Modeled after him.47) as HeavenlyMilk. Fides Sacramenti. with the "pure milk" for the health of the soul that comes from the Father (cf. Christhimself as the Logos is "milk from the breasts of the Father.their spiritualchildren. issuing from the breasts of the Father. Anotherreason that Maria lactans does not dominate early Christianart and literatureis simply that she is not the savior.412 HARVARD THEOLOGICALREVIEW in the MediterraneanIsis cult both before and during the early centuries of Christianity. cf.while that of the divine queen-mothermanifestingher child to the world.

unit.3. who equates the nourishingmilk of salvation with the sacrificial blood of Christ (Paed.we are suckledwhen we are born. In the economy of Christiansalvation. cath. 44.83Thus. well-being. of her milk we are fed.but from the divine father. who uses a similar metaphor.42. used to describe the experience of salvation. l. cannot produce any milk other than "holy the form of the divine son. either the divine child saves his mother or the mother saves herself throughher dissociation from actual childbirth." being a virgin. not from the divine mother. The power relationshiphas also shifted: the divine mother no longer sustains her child. 1. has been appropriatedto symbolize salva- tion as an intellectual and spiritual "" 37-38. "Milk and Honey. 49. The separationmay be typified by Clement. for he states in Paed.1-2 that the "Mother Church." the Logos or Christ." imparted by the male. . the "milk of salvation" comes.6).therefore. In this "grotesquerie. while he declares of the churchas mother. 83Vande Bunt. becoming less of a metaphor and more of a symbol. "Of her womb we are born. for.1): Withmilk.39.and whenwe arereborn.1. 40. and survival by infants at their mother's breast.45.we arehonoredwiththehopeof (heavenly)rest. 6. 1. the food of the Lord. A metaphorderived originally from the acquisition of health." let Cle- ment have the final word (Paed. within the teaching of the early church.1). seems to experience the same tension.2. of her spiritour souls draw their life-breath." he claims at the same time that the church is "the inviolate and chaste" virgin spouse of Christ (De eccl."mother's milk" is becoming ever more detached from anything resembling actual lactation. GAIL PATERSONCORRINGTON 413 Clement apparently senses the anomaly of describing a virgin bride (the Church) as a nursing mother. Cyprian.

pl. 1.Le culte d'Isis dans le bassin orientale de la Mediterrange (Leiden:Brill." EighteenthDynasty. PLATE1 .d I. FromFranqoiseDunand. tomb of AmenophisII. ' 'Aset (Isis) with hieroglyphfor "throne. i 1i . .. 1973) 1.

Daumas. XXIB. / Relief from the mammisiat Dendara(cf. IIA). FromV. 3. pl. III. pl. F. PLATE2 Fig. . Isis lactans (Leiden:Brill. 'Kt/Ari.Les mammisisde Dendara. 1973). TranTam Tinh. Mammisi de Dendara et^ /i.

4w' . From FranqoiseDunand.Le culte d'Isis dans le bassin orientale de la M. ~.diterranee (Leiden:Brill. PLATE3 ". Berlin. pl. 1900 BCE).~.. no. 14078. V. 1973) 1... . Bronze of Isis nursing Horus (ca. Egyptian Museum.

) FromFran9oiseDunand.. X. XXXIV...XXV Terra-cottafigures: 1. . I~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~.Les terres cuites de l'Egyptegreco-romnaine.2 in tl..." (P. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~'"~ '~" '~I :piZ. Graindor.Ii"~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~.~TeracLmfgrs Harpocrates usn ou ci.~ "i .~ (Horus) .. . Isis carrying Harpocrates(Horus) "in the popularstyle.Le culte d'lsis dans le bassin orientale de la Mediterrane'e (Leiden: Brill. ~~~~~~~~~7i~~~~~~~~~~~~~~:'.? X.Lut d'Issdasl basi orietlel Mdtrand (Lie:Bil 93 . pl.. Fro Frn iseDnn. L.Psscryn rino...p.7. PLATE4 . Isis nursingHorus (coll. 2.-.:: .~ ~ ~ ~ ~ C. 1973) 1...Fuu. pl. 27... . i-?t??. Fouguet)..~. ..~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~.Lstrecuesd houa l'gyt g r c -roaiep.

^ ' 41r4 Seated kourotrophos. pl. . 1973). Fayum. From V. 500 CE.Isis lactans "christianized.. PLATE5 ?S7'. LXXVII. -w1- --' *~~ -# .. . ca. Isis lactans (Leiden:Brill. TranTam Tinh.4/ *<~~' y~~ * X`1- -% *?'?k .- ." or Mary nursinginfantJesus.:.

b'` Rome.'I .-!'.v . CE: Top: the prophecyof Balaam fulfilledby infant Christon Mary's lap. A... 3rd cent.. PLATE6 t. Bottom:the manifestationto the magi.Priscilla.. Catacombof St. Fig. Theotokos(Utrecht:Spectrum. :B& i . I.. ::. 20... .. :i "' " .. '.. facing p. FromG.1961). Wellen. .

TranTam Tinh. 2 FromV.:? . ' V . PLATE7 c"".. . aU . a -. LXXVI.' -7 Two paintingsof Madonnalactans from monasteryof St. .:ry | _W J 'a-_m. 1973) pl. Isis lactans (Leiden:Brill. Jeremiahat Saggara:203 (cell A). .