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The Apple among the Trees: To Abraham (PBodmer 30) and the Apple at the Sacrifice of Isaac

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image of Vigiliae Christianae

The poem from the Bodmer Papyrus (PBodmer 30) To Abraham contains a number of perplexing phrases and images—one in particular is the ambiguous word μῆλον, which appears in no other known text on the Sacrifice of Isaac. In this poem Abraham, in place of his son Isaac, chooses the μῆλον. I contribute to our understanding of how the poem works by demonstrating what μῆλον signifies in this context. I argue that the poem deliberately uses the ambiguous word μῆλον precisely because it can mean both sheep and apple. Moreover, when the apple is understood in the context of patristic interpretations of Song of Songs 2:3 (one of the few places μῆλον appears in the Septuagint), it becomes clear that the apple that Abraham chooses in place of his son points typologically to Christ and the meal Abraham prepares anticipates the Eucharist.

Affiliations: 1: Bridgewater State University, Department of English


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