So, away at a conference in Edinburgh. I decided to go the cinema, so went to the Vue cinema here, to see Constantine. Full review of the film in the appropriate place, but it did bring some thoughts to mind.
First of all, the cross or crucifix is fairly universal counter-attack against evil, and particularly vampires and demons. This is obviously representing the cross of Christ as the place where evil was defeated; my question is – what happened before this? Even if you take a literal interpretation of the bible, that still makes the earth some 6000 years old, which means for 2/3rds of it’s existance it hasn’t had the cross. Clearly there was thought to be demonic activity before the time of Jesus, so what did people do? I guess there was holy water in one sense of another, and annointing oil, and incense…
The other question is related, but to do with language. How come exorcisms are carried out in Latin? Ok, so Latin was around at the time of Jesus, but he spoke Aramaic as I understand it, and the books of the New Testament were written in Greek. The Old Testament is in Hebrew. Why then should Latin have a special power? The Rome connection is not too hard to make, thinking of Peter and all that… but if the power is in the meaning why bother speaking in Latin; if the power is in the words, why is it Latin and not Aramaic or Hebrew?
The Harry Potter line of thought (and notice most of the spells are either latin or only slightly unlatinsed) is that the words are largely irrelevant, but it’s the focus of the mind which is important, and this focus is helped by using repetitive words that are well known but which are not used in ordinary life; I suppose not too dissimilar to liturgy.