A Burning Devotion; ANSWER TO CORRESPONDENTS

Daily Mail (London), March 17, 2010 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

A Burning Devotion; ANSWER TO CORRESPONDENTS


Byline: Compiled BY CHARLES LEGGEs

QUESTION When and why was incense introduced into church services?

THE use of incense predates the formal Christian church service. It was originally employed for medicinal purposes, an antidote to lassitude (lack of energy) caused by the heat. Traditionally incense was derived from the tree Boswellia sacra and the plant Boswellia papyrifera, which both produce frankincense.

It was widely used in pagan ritual as a sacrifice e.g. Virgil's Aeneid has 'his son Pallas was with him, and with him were all the leading young men, and his impoverished senate offering incense, and the warm blood smoked on the altars'.

Herodotus mentions its use by Assyrian and Babylonian priests, while on Egyptian monumental tablets, kings are seen swinging censers.

Incense is widely used in Jewish ceremony, in that traditionally the Levite tribe were proscribed care of the ceremony, Chronicles 9.29: 'others were assigned to take care of the other articles of the sanctuary, as well as the flour and wine, and the oil, incense and spices.'

Precisely when incense was introduced into the religious services of the Church is unclear, but the early Christian theologian Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, of the late 5th and early 6th century, was the first to describe its use.

In his De Ecclesiastica Hierarchia, which examines the various orders and liturgy of the Church, he describes clearly how 'the priest stands still at the altar. He enters the nave of the church only to bring sacred objects like incense, bread and wine, and holy oil into the realm of multiplicity, the spatially extended nave.'

The smoke of burning incense is interpreted by the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Christian churches as a symbol of the prayer of the faithful rising to Heaven. This symbolism is seen in Psalm 141 (140), verse 2: 'Let my prayer be directed as incense in thy sight: the lifting up of my hands, as evening sacrifice.'

However, many have also noted its very practical benefit of masking the smell of the unwashed congregation.

Mrs P. Whittaker, Newcastle upon Tyne.

QUESTION I've often heard of the Seven Sages of ancient Greece who each made a significant saying. Who were they and what were their sayings?

THE Seven Sages of Greece was Compiled by James Black the title given to seven ancient Greek philosophers, statesmen and law-givers who lived between 620 and 550 BC. They are remembered in the rhyme:

'First Solon, who made the Athenian laws;

While Chilo, in Sparta, was famed for his saws;

In Myletus did Thales astronomy teach;

Bias used in Priene his morals to preach;

Cleobulus of Lindus was handsome and wise;

Mitylene 'gainst thraldom saw Pittacus rise;

Periander is said to have gained, through his court, The title that Myson, the Chenian, ought.'

(It's Plato who says Periander was unworthy of the title Tyrant of Corinth and should give place to Myson.)

Each sage is associated with a pithy saying or apothegm. Solon, the statesman, lawmaker and poet of Athens, remembered for his efforts to legislate against political, economic and moral decline, said: 'Know thyself.'

Chilo, the ephor (elder official) on Sparta, is remembered for his wise council, enlightened foreign policy and reams of poetry.

He originated many aphorisms including such phrases as 'Honour old age', 'Do not speak evil of the dead', 'Do not make too much haste on one's road', 'Nothing in excess' and, most famously, 'Consider the end'.

Thales, the astronomer of Miletus, predicted the eclipse of the sun which interrupted the war between the Lydians and Medes and famously said: 'Who hateth suretyship is sure.'

Bias of Priene was renowned for his goodness and clemency and is said to have written an influential political poem on the best means of making Ionia prosperous.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

A Burning Devotion; ANSWER TO CORRESPONDENTS
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?