Nomina sacra and sacra memoria before the monastic age

Jane Heath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In the earliest period, the nomina sacra are unlikely to have been significant as ‘reading aids’ that provided assistance in deciphering the unread page. Comparison with Greco-Roman and Jewish habits of reading and memory work, together with early Christian discussions of Scripture, suggest that it is plausible that the nomina sacra helped some contemplative readers memorize the page, meditate upon its individual graphemes and overall intent, and practise remembrance of the divine name at this early period. This points to continuity between early Christian reading practices and the sacra memoria that developed on a greater scale in a monastic setting from the fourth century onward.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-549
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Theological Studies
Issue number2
Early online date25 Aug 2010
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


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