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In preparation for correcting and translating liturgical texts, Minatasgeel pointed me to an interesting text that I hope will spark a fruitful discussion. Even though the text is said during the Pentecost festive period, the text has more to do with Good Friday. I thought it would be a good reflection for Good Friday. I also wanted to get your input.
The text in Coptic is
Ⲕⲣⲁⲛⲓⲟⲛ ⲙ̀ⲙⲉⲧⲟⲩⲉⲓⲛⲓⲛ⁚ Ⲅⲟⲗⲅⲟⲑⲁ ⲙ̀ⲙⲉⲧϩⲉⲃⲣⲉⲟⲥ⁚ ϯⲡⲉⲧⲣⲁ ⲛ̀ⲧⲉ Ϥⲟⲓⲛⲁⲃⲟⲗ⁚ ⲑⲏⲉⲧⲁⲥⲁⲃⲟⲗ ⲛ̀Ⲓⲉⲣⲟⲩⲥⲁⲗⲏⲙ. Ⲡⲓⲙⲁ ⲉ̀ⲧⲁ ⲛⲓⲡⲁⲣⲁⲥⲙⲟⲥ⁚ ⲛⲓⲟⲓⲩⲇⲁⲓ ⲙ̀ⲡⲁⲣⲁⲃⲁⲧⲏⲥ⁚ ⲧⲁϫⲣⲟ ⲛ̀ϧⲏⲧϥ ⲙ̀ⲡⲓⲥⲧⲁⲩⲣⲟⲥ⁚ⲛ̀ⲧⲉ Ⲓⲏⲥⲟⲩⲥ ⲡⲓⲚⲁⲍⲁⲣⲉⲟⲥ.
The translation in English is
Cranion in Greek, Golgotha in Hebrew, the Rock of Fanawal ( صخرة فنوال) , which is outside of Jerusalem. This is the place where the disobedient Jews set the Cross of Jesus of Nazareth.
(Not that it is important, but "cranion" is a Greek word meaning cranium or skull. English does not have this Greek loan word. The closest English equivalent is Calvary)
So what is the Rock of Fanawal?
I think there are three possibilities and I wanted to see which definition you find most plausible.
1. Rock of Fanawal is the Rock of Phenuel.
This is a reference to Anna in Luke 2:36-38. “Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”
The biblical narrative says nothing of a rock. Jerome wrote a letter to Furia about widows. (Letter 54, Nicene Fathers Vol 6). On paragraphs 16-17, noting that Phaneul means "face of God" and Asher means "blessedness and wealth”, Jerome states that as a reward for 84 years taking care of the temple, Anna's title is "the daughter of the face of God who obtained a share in the blessedness and wealth of her ancestry." Jerome continues to describe Anna’s ancestry who were widows. He compares Anna to the widow of Zarephath who gave food to Elijah (1 Kings 17), Judith who was a widow (Judith 8:4), the widows with Deborah, and Naomi (Ruth’s mother in law). Regarding Naomi, Jerome says she is the fulfillment of the law. He quotes Isaiah 16:1 "Send out a lamb, O Lord, to rule over the land from the Sela (rock of the desert) to the mount of the daughter of Zion. The Vulgate changes Isaiah 16:1 from Sela to Petra. Jerome implies that the "rock of the desert" is Moab. Therefore, the Rock of Phanuel could be an allegorical reference to Moab that was outside of Jerusalem (not just physically but spiritually), fulfilled in Christ through Naomi.
2. The Rock of Archangel Penuel
Penuel is the name of one of the four angels of the throne (Sibyllene Oracles ii, 215). In the book of Enoch, Fanuel is a variation of Penuel. In both cases, the name means "Face of God". On the flip side, Turel is the evil archangel in the Ethiopian Book of Enoch 67, 69. His name means “rock of God”. (Source: Journal of Biblical Literature 1912, "The Origin of the Names of Angels and Demons in the Extra-canonical Apocalyptic Literature." by George A Barton). In this case, apocryphal literature may have been conflated where the name of one angel is associated with the meaning of the name of another angel.