Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mirroring Ani-Anti

In my notebook for Book of Mormon 101, I find the following:

"Ani-Anti (I am facing thee)"

So read Hugh Nibley the name of a Lamanite village in Alma 21:11--at least that was his "guess," as my notebook of his class goes on to record. (Anti here registers the 2nd person Semitic pronoun atta or anta; you, in Hebrew, literally means the person in front of you; ani means I).

And I can't help but note a like name from the Jewish colony at Elephantine:

I Anani have given it to Yehojishma my daughter (M. Weinfeld, "The Covenant of Grant," 71, in Essential Papers on Israel and the Ancient Near East, (ed) F. E. Greenspahn).

The Egyptian record also yields 'Anta or 'Anti in both place and personal names: Bayta 'Anta (House of Anta), 'Antarama (Heights of Anta), Bint or Bitti 'Anta (Daughter of Anta), and the like (see James Hoch, Semitic Words in Egyptian Texts of the New Kingdom and Third Intermediate Period, #113, #118, #120, #146, #278, etc.). All these names seemingly combine a Semitic noun with 'Anta/'Anti, an attested Egyptian personal name, which in turn derives from the Semitic goddess Anath (Ranke, PN II 272, 9 = Hoch #278). Although similar in sound and worth a glance, Anath is certainly not the origin of our Book of Mormon Anties.

For Hugh Nibley the Book of Mormon name Anti (which also recalls the name element -anda from Hurrian) matches -ondi in the place name Adam-Ondi-Ahman, the land where Adam dwelt (Doctrine and Covenants). Adam-ondi-Ahman, according to our teacher, shows "Adam facing, or in the presence of, God." No less than President John Taylor, a witness to the Prophet Joseph's revelation about the place, taught that Adam-ondi-Ahman signifies "the valley where God spoke to Adam, and where he gathered his righteousness posterity." They gathered to stand face-to-face with God: "And men did live a holy race/And worship Jesus face to face/in Adam-ondi-Ahman" (Mediation and Atonement, 69-70).

Brother Nibley further considered the Egyptian word khenty (perhaps khanty) to answer to both Anti and ondi, as well as to Greek anti and Latin ante. But it wasn't just Hugh Nibley (which itself is an ancient name, said he, meaning hot air); my own professor of Egyptian at UCLA, a renowned linguist, also considered xnty/khenty/anti/ante to be one of those few words belonging to both the Indo-European and Afroasiatic families of languages.

Students of Indo-European consider *hent-i (in front) to derive simply from *hent- (face). Proto-Indo-Iranian yields hanti, Hittite, hanza or hant-s (front side), and Sanskrit, anti (adv. before, near, facing). We've already mentioned the Greek and Latin--but consider the Armenian form -ond (like ondi). (Lubotsky, Indo-Aryan Inherited Lexikon; Pokorny, Indogermanisches Etymologischer Woerterbuch, 48).

Back to Ani-Anti, and along with twinned Ani-Anti (one village facing another, or facing the traveller from an elevation), we have Antum, Antiomno, Antionah, Antipas, Antipus, Antion, Anti-Nephi-Lehi, and--for all we know--Antimormon. These names gush from the pages of the Book of Mormon (and from the pages of Hoch).

Can their etymology be derived and translations given? Names, in the spirit of poetry, elude translation. The best we can do is to probe. . .

Consider the Egyptian use of xantj in name-building. To begin with, the Egyptians faced South; the Semitic peoples, East. We draw maps with North at top, and yet face nowhere at all--being carried about with every wind of doctrine, as predicted by Paul.

South, accordingly, is the xanty side of things, the front side; North, the back of the world, the ph.ww (drawn with animal haunches). Think of the hypocephalus (Facsimile 2 of the Book of Abraham). Who is at top? The governing star, Oliblish, who strides across the zenith and opens the way for all to follow. The top marks the xanty side of the worlds, even the South, or source of the Nile, the place of origin. (For the Hebrews this would be qedem, the East, the place of sunrise, of Eden.) On the hinder or phww side, the North, we find, upside-down, another governing planet, Enish-go-on-dosh. This facing planet and all its world are upside-down, for this is the netherworld, even "the nethermost parts of the vineyard," as the Book of Mormon prophet Zenos would say.

And earth reflects bright heaven: Upper Egypt (southernmost Egypt) is the t3 hr xntj=f (the Land upon his southern-side, or the Land Southward = Anti-Nephi-Lehi, this last being a special name that replaces "Lamanites" and, at once, mirrors, from the South, the northern people of Nephi); Lower Egypt, the t3 hr ph.wj=fy (the Land Northward). The Lehites used the same expressions to describe their facing, opposing, fronting landscapes. They also called the Land Northward, to which they "went down," Mulek; the Land Southward, "to which they went up," Lehi. And yet they faced East--Qedem--toward Jerusalem.

How confusing.

The Egyptians not only divided Egypt, they also divided its parts. Districts (Counties or Nomes) often show both a southern and a northern designation. The County of Cusae (3tf) thus consists of both 3tf xnt.t and 3tf phw.t, everything split by facing--or not-facing--halves (Woerterbuch III, 305, 6). And this divvying-up of the world also reaches into the temporal order of things. Ph.wj marks the end of time, of life, of the year, doomsday, the thread running out--and there's an end on't. Just so, the two lower panels of the hypocephalus (just below Figure 5), according to Hugh Nibley, mark utter staticity: even the hieroglyphs on these panels get so sluggish they can barely be read. The end of all flesh has come.

On the other hand, the combination of front and back form an eternal ring. A papyrus scroll is read from (m) its h3.t (replacing xntj) to (r) its ph.wy=fy--the book holds in its compass a reflection of the world entire: m h3.t r ph.wy, like the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon, which contains a revelation about the world from the beginning to the end thereof. God, says the Book of Abraham, knows "the end from the beginning."

So now to that half of the Book of Mormon we hold today.

While we cannot hope to "translate," let us sound the depths with the Egyptian, Semitic, and Indo-European evidence.

The place name Antum (like Hebrew Qedem) invokes that First Place, the Best Place, as also that Place Standing Opposite and Facing us from the South.

Manti, standing out front, recalls Egyptian mxntj = m + xntj, as also (says Nibley) the Egyptian god Month and the place Hermonthis (Book of Mormon Manti and Hermounts [where the wild things are]).

Antipas and Antipus command attention: it's a Greek name derived from the same root, anti. But the final element -pas/-pus swerves from Greek back to the Semitic. The element -ps calls to mind the Egyptian word for division p-sh-s or p-s-sh, and, indeed, the (soon to be published) Book of Mormon Onomasticon informs us that -pas (part, portion, division) is a common Semitic element (Nabatean, pas). Mount Antipas in the Book of Alma can, accordingly, be read both as mirroring the half or the whole: Anti (Facing, Opposing, Mirroring) the -pas (the Other Half), or as the South Part of somewhere or other. Perchance Mount Antipas even marks the Southern Border (or in Semitic fashion the qedem), throwing its reflection tauntingly northward, or westward, or in every direction. Or, Mount Antipas perhaps is a Twin Peaks, one mountain reflected in another. The glare from the peak obscures our view as we face opposite: does the name connote the idea of division, or of a reflected whole?

Let's try again: Antionah. Hebrew does not have the root hanti/anti (facing, opposite); Hebrew and Akkadian turn to their own word for face(s) (panim). But the root ayin-nun-heh intrigues. It means "to return an answer" "to respond" "to sing." Here comes the perfect antiphony. One element answers to the other: Anti--Onah, like two children shouting to each other across the valley floor. Our Anti becomes an echo of ancient things, what the Hebrews again call qedem (for one faces the past--as my Professor of Hittite used to say). And let's consider the Aramaic (Daniel 2:27): oneh daniyel qadam malkah (And Daniel answered before the King).

But I'm not convinced. Both Egyptian and the Semitic languages give another twist to the verbal root 'on or 'onah: that which turns back, turns away from, or answers (demotic: 'n-wshb). Here is a re-flection of re-sistence not a mirroring of unity. Anti (Facing)--Onah (Turning, Facing back) invokes an opposition in all things. Over-against-and-away: a good name, I think.

And here's a possible key to a most bizarre name: Angola. A speculative reading, Anti--gola, given that the Old Testament in English (following the Greek Septuagint) usually gives us a good old Indo-European g for Semitic ayin, yields: Anti--ayin-lamed ('al, to be high, up there; 'alah, movement upwards). Angola means Over and Up; Up Against--Facing--and moving upwards--like a massif. No wonder the Nephites, on their last run, chose that place as a fort.

I'm not convinced. A better try at Angola, one which partakes of "the specific and the peculiar," as Nibley would say, comes from Hoch's collection of Semitic names and words in Egyptian records: '=n=Da=-r, or *'anzara, *anSara, which, with its determinative sign of fortified walls, might well signify "Enclosure" or "Court" (or even "Fortress"), James Hoch, Semitic Words, #82. The word is attested as a Semitic word in Papyrus Wilbour B7, 20 and dates from the Twentieth Dynasty. 'Anzara/'AnDara for Angola? The final r can just as readily glide into an l, and the D + aleph (Da/ja/za/Sa or Do/jo/zo/Sa) strikingly recalls the element -go. Hugh Nibley is often at pains to point out that the match between Book of Mormon names and their presumed ancient counterparts becomes most convincing when least exact, given the laws of phonetic change and so on.

The determinative sign of fortress, which accompanies *'Anzara in the Twentieth Dynasty papyrus, does suggest the following verse in Mormon, chapter 2:

4 And it came to pass that we did come to the city of Angola, and we did take possession of the city, and make preparations to defend ourselves against the Lamanites. And it came to pass that we did fortify the city with our might; but notwithstanding all our fortifications the Lamanites did come upon us and did drive us out of the city.

We end on a happy note--Antiparah--for p-r-h, p-r-', and p-r-x are the Semitic (and Egyptian--prj) roots for fruitfulness and the bud and the blossom: a reflection of flowers. Of interest is the Egyptian hieroglyph for Life, the Ankh: both bouquet and mirror. This moves us forward (Eg. prj). We are facing glorious prosperity--as the Nephites often did. Prosperity proved their downfall. When we face Bountiful let us choose Antiparah: "prosperity in Christ" (4th Nephi).



Notes

In the circular, global, depiction of the Fayyum (both sea and oceanic world), the ends of opposing ships nearly describe a completed circle. In this case, the ship at bottom is that of the South, the top, North. But note how the northern ship hangs, umbrella-like, upside down, while the Ship of the South, right-side-up and yare, rocks gently on the wave (Horst Beinlich (ed), Das Buch vom Fayyum, 87; Abb. 26: Der Fayum-See).

Anti-Nephi-Lehi: See also the discussion in the (soon to be published) Maxwell Institute's Book of Mormon Onomasticon. Here is how Hugh Nibley understood the matter: The "Anti-Nephis" are Lehies (descendants of Lehi) that face toward the teachings of Nephi, rather than the traditions and names of Laman. In Nibley's view it hardly matters whether "anti" is understood as the Indo-European (Greek) word or the Afroasiatic: it's all one--and it's all ancient. And that's quite right. (For an earlier brief summary of Nibley's take on the name, see Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon (Deseret Book, 1977), 209-210).


Daniel 2:27: The verse also speaks of the gazrin or astrologers (diviners). Published statements of Hugh Nibley and the as yet unpublished Book of Mormon Onomasticon both suggest a look at the Aramaic evidence in divining the meaning of the name Gazelem, which labels a prophet with a seer stone (Alma 37). The Semitic root g-z/gzr signifies the action of cutting, including the cutting of stones, so let's start with Jastrow's Talmudic (Aramaic) lexicon. Here we find a reference to the cut sapphires that make up the foundation stones of the future Temple (to which compare Hugh Nibley's chapter "Jewel of Discernment" in One Eternal Round, and esp. ps., 448-9). Gazelem certainly reflects the Aramaic idea of diviner, discerner, cut sapphire, a secluded place or setting (set off from the world). 

But there's more: As Antonio Loprieno points out in his book, La pensee et l'ecriture, the Egyptian word d-s-r (to cut off, to set apart, to make sacred) finds a match in g-z-r and related Semitic roots. "To make sacred" in Egypt, as well as elsewhere, is an act of dedication by removal. But can d-s-r be a name? Hugh Nibley, pointing to the Old Kingdom king Djoser, derives Book of Mormon Zeezrom/Seezoram from that root. Indeed Zeezrom and Gazelem share a similar consonantal root base: z-z-r/g-z-l/d-s-r/g-z-r. The name also appears in the Canaanite onomasticon. "My servant Gazelem" (as the phrase reads in both Alma and the Doctrine and Covenants) may thus signify, as title: one cut off or made consecrate. Gazelem is the "consecrated servant" of the Lord, "one set apart or consecrated" to discover or reveal secrets (r-z), with piercing gaze, by means of a cut jewel or stone. The name applies not to Joseph Smith alone but to seers of all times and places who work by means of the Urim and Thummim. It is the consecrated priesthood of the latter-days, with authority to use the Urim and Thummim, who, according to the Isaiah pesher on chapter 54 (a chapter which Latter-day Saints are enjoined to study), make up the number of sapphire foundation stones for the Temple community, a community set apart from the world (One Eternal Round, 448-9, following research by Y. Yadin). Gazelem thus reveals the assembled society of saints, the panegyris, the royal priesthood and peculiar people of chosen Israel.

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