I am the Door
Better to Reign in Hell than Serve in Heaven
Naming the Divine
Thesis Abstract

Naming the Divine: Christian Myth and Anglo-Saxon Politics

International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo (May 2003)

In his De Oratione, Origen defines a name as "a term which summarizes and expresses the specific quality of the thing named." A divine name would express the specific quality of the divine itself according to this definition. In the case of the Christian God who transcends human understanding, this quality can only be a characteristic attributed to God by man, not his true nature. If we now understand 'myth' in its most general sense as an unverified perception of a greater truth, the divine name would be the conveyor of such a myth. It conveys a perception the nominator has of one attribute of the indeterminable God.

Instances of the use of Christian perception in the political circles of Anglo-Saxon and contemporary courts are easy to find. One might only look at the use of biblical nicknames at the court of Charlemagne, or at the use of Christology for the definition of the ideal Anglo-Saxon king during the Benedictine Reform, for instance. Seen in this framework, how do the perceptions of the divine embedded in names of God and political thought of the late Anglo-Saxon period relate? This question will be the object of this paper.

It will be written within the context of my PhD-Dissertation, which concerns itself with the Names of God found in the Old English poetic corpus and their relation to Anglo-Saxon culture and society.