McMaster Divinity College Linguistics Circle – Monthly Meeting

Presenter: Iain Sungmin Park, PhD Candidate at MDC

Title: “Sacred Language Ideology for Nomina Sacra Contractions”

We are pleased to conclude the calendar year with another Linguistics Circle gathering, Thursday, December 7, 7–9pm. We invite all who are interested to join, to take a break from studies and final assignments to discuss the topic of the month. This month, PhD candidate Iain Sungmin Park will be presenting a paper entitled, “Sacred Language Ideology for Nomina Sacra Contractions.” Ancient New Testament manuscripts contain what are called nomina sacra, or “sacred names.” This paper seeks to address its meaning and use through examining linguistic ideologies and scribal tendencies or preferences. The full abstract is:

“This study investigates the sacred language ideology of Nomina Sacra, which is the contraction of certain words in religious texts to express awe towards the referent. This study analyzes 170 New Testament Manuscripts written from the second century to the fifth century CE. The macro analysis finds no evidence of a language policy even after the Edict of Milan (313 CE) where Christianity became a dominant religion within the Roman Empire. However, the meso and micro-level analyses unveil two factors that potentially contribute to variations in the employment of Nomina Sacra: (1) meso context: linguistic ideologies cultivated and propagated by local churches and (2) micro context: individual scribes’ personal preferences for Nomina Sacra contractions. The research findings of the meso contexts demonstrate the indexical field of Nomina Sacra, namely a degree of strong and weak linguistic ideologies for their references between the second to fifth century CE. In addition, micro analysis shows individual scribes’ styles of application of Nomina Sacra contractions based on their perspectives of sacred language ideologies.”

Anyone who is interested in joining is most welcome to join this and future meetings. As usual, there is a pre-Circle dinner gathering at 5pm. We will meet in Cullen Hall near the back doors (that face the centre of campus) and walk together to the Phoenix on campus.


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