Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Hatchet Job

E.A. Wallis Budge, The Book of the Saints of the Ethiopian Church. A Translation of the Ethiopic Synaxarium Made from the Manuscripts Oriental 660 and 661 in the British Museum, 4 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1928; rpt. Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1976), I, 170 (fol. 47b 1; on John of Dailam, who lived from 668 to 738; brackets in original):
Then JOHN departed thence by another road. When he found that the men there worshipped trees, he exhorted them to turn from iniquity, and when they refused to do so he came by night among their trees, and prayed to God, and taking an axe [in his hand], he said, “In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost I will cut you down”; and straightway one thousand trees fell down at one stroke of the axe. When the men of the city saw this they believed, and were baptized together with their women and children.
Dailam, John's base of operations, was in northern Iran. In the passage quoted, "thence" means "from Dailam." John was roughly contemporary with Boniface (672-754), who cut down the Geismar oak for similar reasons.


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