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St Andrew & Scottish Identity

Saint Andrew: Non-violence & National Identity

 

(From Theology in Scotland, St Andrews University

Alastair McIntosh  

 

Now also available as PDF of original article

 

 

Above: Scota's voyage (see larger image and details at foot of this page), and, below, a Russian icon of St Andrew.

 

Click here to view more icons

Wooden figure of St Andrew from Fife, Scotland, about 1500 - National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh. Note the characteristic unkempt appearance and the X-shaped cross in his left arm.

 

 

 

First published in Theology in Scotland, St Mary’s College, University of St Andrews, VII:1, 2000, pp. 55-70. Publication of this paper coincided with publication of the Centre for Human Ecology’s report Who’s a Real Scot? Report of Embracing Multicultural Scotland. The paper provides the scholarly context for pp. 18-19 of that report where it explores “Multiculturalism at the Heart of Scots Nationhood and the Constitution,” and considers the mythological implications that Scota, daughter of Pharaoh, the ‘Mother of the Nation’ was … black! Poetic exploration of these themes may be found in my work, “The GalGael Peoples of Scotland,” (Cencrastus & Edinburgh University Press, 1997 & 1998). The theme is also touched upon in a new report on minority ethnic opportunity in Scotland from the Centre for Human Ecology, The Dream Job Report (2005).

 

St Andrew's Day briefing: Copies of this paper are being sent to all MSPs in the Scottish Parliament prior to Saint Andrew's Day, 30 November in 2000. The covering letter will draw attention to the leading recommendation of the Parekh Report, The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain (Profile Books, 2000), which urges "rethinking the national story and national identity." It says:  "Many of the currently dominant stories in Britain need to be re-thought, for they omit large sections of the population. Britain is a recent creation, not ancient, and colonialism and empire were integral to its making..."

   

 

Andrew and the Apocryphal Acts

 

The symbols of a nation tell a lot about its soul. But what possible  relevance could Saint  Andrew and the Saltire have to future  Scottish nationhood? Let us investigate in the light of modern  scholarship.

 

The apostle started off his Biblical career as a follower of that splendidly anti-establishment figure, John the Baptist - a 'voice crying out in the wilderness'- who urged that whoever had two coats must share with anyone with none. He was the first-called of the disciples to become 'fishers of men;' he brings his brother, Peter, to discipleship; he informs Jesus of the lad with the expandable lunch at the feeding of the five thousand; and he serves a modest ambassadorial role by helping visiting Greeks to have an audience with Jesus.

 

These and a handful of other sparse Biblical mentions are hardly much to get excited about. They certainly do not account for Andrew's legendary supposed evangelical journeys which finally came to a tortured end at Patras. For that - for the very origins of our national flag - we must turn to the apocryphal Acts of Andrew. This is what would have influenced Scottish minds at the dawn of nationhood. The original texts dates probably to the late second century but only fragmentary ancient manuscripts now remain in Greek, Latin, Coptic, Anglo-Saxon and Armenian. However, this literary debris has now been pieced together by Dennis Ronald MacDonald in America and his French counterpart, Jean-Marc Prieur.[1] Each has re-woven the probable order of the original. Accordingly, it is only now easy for us to appraise who Saint Andrew was, or more accurately, who our Scots forbears likely thought  he was when they stitched nationhood to Saltire.

 

In what follows I shall draw upon MacDonald's redaction, called The Acts of Andrew and The Acts of Andrew and Matthias in the City of the Cannibals.[2] The basic storyline is that after the

crucifixion of Jesus the apostles in Jerusalem cast lots to determine where each would preach. Andrew goes off to Achaea.  Meanwhile, Matthias, the apostle who replaced Judas - goes to Myrmidonia, 'city of the cannibals'. The savage Myrmidonians immediately arrest Matthias. They gouge out his eyes and imprison him for thirty days of fattening-up with a view to cannibalisation. But divine intercession brings Andrew to the rescue. He converts  the Myrmidonians and then continues a huge evangelical pilgrimage. Finally, beside the sea at Patras, he meets his end at the hand of the Roman proconsul, Aegeates.

 

Aegeates was not without reason to feel aggrieved. It was bad enough when his brother Stratocles accepted Christ. But when his wife did likewise and embraced celibacy, thereby spurning her husband's rooster-like advances, the hapless proconsul accused Andrew that, 'she now rejoices in you and your God'. Maximilla confessed, admitting that 'I am in love, and the object of my love is not of this world... Let me have intercourse and take my rest with it alone.' In retribution Aegeates therefore,

 

commanded that Andrew be flogged with seven whips. Then he sent him off to be crucified and commanded the executioners not to impale him with nails but to stretch him out tied up with ropes, and to leave his knees uncut, supposing that by so doing he would punish Andrew even more cruelly.[3]

 

Although Andrew's cross would probably have been Y-shaped, its representation evolved by the 7th century into the X-shaped 'decussate' cross suggestive of a martyr splayed out to die. Whilst the Saltire would have been used in Scotland from an early date, its first clearly established representation is on the Great Seal of the Guardians of Scotland (1286) with the motto, 'Andrew, be leader of your compatriots, the Scots'. 13th and 14th century Scottish episcopal seals show Andrew clearly tied to the Saltire - a representation for which the only know source is the Acts of Andrew. Apocryphal though they are, then, the Acts were certainly influential. In terms of the psychohistory of a nation this counts  for more than canonical rectitude.

 

Patron sainthood was reputedly cemented in place by the appearance of a Saltire in the East Lothian sky during AD 735. For a beleaguered encampment of Picts, this heralded victory against massive English odds at the Battle of Athelstaneford. However, the links between a wider Britain and Saint Andrew can be pushed back much further. Andrew was also greatly venerated south of the border. This can be traced to the earliest English Christianity because Augustine, on leaving Rome in AD 596 to evangelise England under King Ethelbert, did so with forty monks drawn from his monastery of Saint Andrew. Later, we find an Old English epic poetic version of the Acts of Andrew, the Andreas, that dates to the10th century. Around the same time Kenneth II (971-95), King of Scots, instituted an Order of Saint Andrew. By the end of the first millennium, then, Andrew clearly symbolised the spirit of nationhood. He had a firm foothold in the Scottish psyche.

 

 

Brutus and Medieval British Identity

 

It was in the medieval period that Andrew developed real importance for Scottish identity. To understand the full significance of this we must take an excursion into legend and folklore. Mythopoetic societies - ones which construct social reality from mythological roots- place great emphasis on national foundation myths. As Europe moved out of the so-called Dark Ages, written 'charter texts' became valued for legitimising contesting claims of sovereignty when the sword lacked sufficient acuity. Anglo-Norman overlords therefore needed origin-myths to validate their colonising interests in Scotland. In 1135 Geoffrey of Monmouth obliged. He claimed to have translated an ancient Welsh History of the Kings of Britain that had been given to him by the Archdeacon of Oxford. Subsequently, the manuscript of Historia Regum Britanniae was, like those of our later but very own Macpherson's Ossian, conveniently 'lost'.

 

In The Identity of the Scottish Nation, William Ferguson remarks on the profound importance that Geoffrey had in establishing English claims of suzerainty over Scotland. 'Long, long after Geoffrey's history was given up by English historians',  Ferguson maintains, 'his ethos lived on: the English believed ... that they had a natural right to rule the British Isles... Thus the spirit of English imperialism suffuses Geoffrey's rumbustious pages in which only scurvy deeds are recorded of Picts and Scots'.[4]

 

What Geoffrey had achieved was to glorify an old legend whereby, some time after the fall of Troy, Brutus had supposedly liberated the Trojans from Greek slavery in a campaign which, he says, showed 'pity to none' and wherein the slaughter 'gave him immense pleasure'. By threatening the Greek king with 'a most cruel death', the tortures to which he might be exposed being luridly detailed, Brutus persuaded the king to provide ships for escape and the hand of Ignoge, his beautiful daughter, 'as a comfort'.[5]

 

The Trojans and a sobbing Ignoge then set sail for a promised land which, according to a goddess' prophesy, lay 'beyond the setting of the sun, past the realms of Gaul ... a second Troy [from which] a race of kings will be born from your stock and the round circle of the whole earth will be subject to them'. Brutus makes a good start to establishing that Empire upon which the sun might never set by conducting, en route, pillaging campaigns of genocide in Africa and France. In Aquitaine he 'burned the cities far and wide, heaping up fire upon fire.... He wrought pitiable slaughter on both townsfolk and peasantry, for his plan was to exterminate this unhappy race down to the last man'. Eventually, in the 12th century BC, Brutus lands at the little English seaside resort of Totnes and names 'Britain' after his own name.

 

Meanwhile, Brutus had consummated his 'marriage' with Ignoge and had three sons. When their father finally died in the twenty-third year after his landing, the three regions of mainland Britain were divided between them. Thus, Geoffrey tells us, 'Albanactus, the youngest [and therefore the most inferior], took the region which is nowadays called Scotland in our language. He called it Albany [Alba], after his own name'. In the years to follow, Albany was invaded by 'a certain King of Picts called Sodric [who] came from Scythia with a large fleet'. So it was, Geoffrey concludes, that Scotland's native people came to be of ignoble Pictish-Irish-Scots descent.

 

In playing to a proto-imperial obsession with classical heroes, Geoffrey thereby dismisses Scots history. Even the name he gives to 'Sodric' might be seen as being derived from 'sod', the derogatory abbreviation of 'sodomite'. However, we should note in passing that Geoffrey links Scots origins with both Ireland and the Black Sea region of Scythia.

 

 

Scota and Medieval Scots Identity

 

It was against Geoffrey's version of history that medieval Scots had to contest English claims of right in the eyes of that supreme arbitrator - the Pope. Ferguson says that the Scots:

 

... had to weave together a version of their origin-myth that would rebut Geoffrey of Monmouth and latterly the claims of Edward I to overlordship ... a difficult operation but one that was poetically accomplished ... [based upon] earlier accounts [that] for all their faults, still have to be reckoned with as conditioners of history... [This accounts for] the sheer persistence of the origin-myth among the Scots ... [because they were] obliged to assert a prior claim to the country that came in time to bear their name... The solution to these problems was found in myths. To modern eyes those myths appear incredible and ridiculous, fit only to provoke laughter or scorn. Nevertheless ... mixtures of myth, fable and folk-tradition were potent energisers. So powerful were they that echoes of that mythopoeic tradition are still to be encountered, alive, if no longer as lusty as of lore.[6]

 

Whither, then, might medieval Scotland turn for an origin myth to trounce Geoffrey's? The answer was Gaelic culture. We must remember that Scotland, at that time, comprised a cultural

continuum with Ireland. The ocean was a highway for communication. Land, not sea, was the barrier, so Ireland was physically close and Gaelic the shared tongue. Medieval legal historians such as Baldred Bisset of Kinghorn (who mustered the evidence presented in the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath) therefore drew on legends such as were shortly afterwards documented in that masterwork of medieval Scots history, Book 1 of the Scotichronicon (c. 1449). In their introduction[7] John and Winifred MacQueen remark that the 'greatest elaboration' of the origin-myth legends is to be found in the Irish Book of Invasions, the final form of Lebor Gabála Érenn which dates from about 1168. It is this version upon which I shall mainly draw.[8]

 

The Lebor parallels both the Bible and Homer's Odyssey. It traces the origins of the Gael from Greater Scythia - the Black Sea arc that stretched from the Ukraine through Russian Caucasia to the Caucasus mountains  - including Georgia's eastern kingdom of Iberia established by the warrior Farnavaz in the 4th century BC. It traces genealogy backwards to Noah in the Book of Genesis, and forwards to the arrival of the Gaels in Ireland via Egypt and Spain. Spain, also being called Iberia is what, according to the Lebor, titles Ireland Hibernia. From Ireland, of course, we Scots arrived in the early centuries of the first millennium bringing with us, according to the Scotichronicon, that proof of peregrination via the Holy Land - the Stone of Destiny or 'Stone of Knowledge.' This had fallen to earth as a meteorite and was Jacob's pillow during the original Genesis 28 version of 'Stairway to Heaven'.

 

Briefly, the Lebor's story goes that Feinius Farsaidh - 'Fenius the Scythian'- who was descended from Noah and so back to Adam, was one of seventy-two chieftains from eastern Scythia who went for the building of Nimrod's Tower of Babel from 'whence the languages were dispersed'. One of Fenius' sons, Nenual, remained behind in Scythia to hold the princedom. The other, Nel, was born at the Tower and so became 'a master of all the languages'. Accordingly, Pharaoh Cineris sent out a summons 'in order to learn the multiplicity of languages from him'. At the court of Pharaoh Nel found family favour in a wife, Scota who, subsequently, gave her name to the Scottish people.

 

So it is that the mythological mother of all Scots - the 'Mother of the Nation' - was a North African woman and therefore, presumably, of brown or black skin colour. To call oneself a 'Scot' is therefore to imply a melanged ethnicity. As late as 1249 a Gaelic bard would trace the origin of Scots to Scota in the coronation of Alexander III.[9] Her racially inclusive and radical feminist disposition can be inferred from the civil disobedience that she (or, depending on which genealogy we follow, her line) had practised against her father's attempted ethnic cleansing when baby Moses was plucked from the bulrushes.

 

The Israelites were, of course, at this time in slavery to Pharaoh. The Lebor  tells us that Nel met and ratified a treaty of friendship with Aaron. On the eve of the flight across the Red Sea he provided 'the peoples of God' with good Celtic hospitality - bread and wine. Moses was muchly grateful. With his serpent-empowered rod of Exodus 4 he heals the infant Gaedel Glas (Gaythelos), son of Scota and Nel, from a snakebite. This was what rendered the future Ireland free of snakes and brought blessing on their wanderings.

 

Come thou with us, said Moses, with all thy people, upon tomorrow's route, and if thou wilt, thou shalt receive an equal share of heritage in the land which God hath promised to the Sons of Israel. Or, if thou dost prefer, we shall put the pinnaces [small, fast ships] of Pharaoh at thy disposal: embark ye therein upon the sea ... and thereafter do thy good pleasure.[10]

 

The following day, at the parting of the Red Sea, 'six score thousand footmen and fifty thousand horsemen' including Pharaoh Cineris himself perished.

 

Young Gaedel Glas, being a brilliant linguist like his by now deceased father, took words from each of the seventy-two languages of the world and constructed Gaelic out of them. Gaelic, within its own reference frame, therefore symbolises the very pith of internationalism. It mythologically reverses Babel's godless urbane military arrogance. This accounts for the sometime designation, 'language of Eden'.

 

Scota and Gaedel Glas, mother and son, then set sail with their people. The perils that tested them were veritably Celtic. On one occasion they all fell asleep for three days and nights after finding 'a spring with the taste of wine'. Thankfully, one had stayed sober being in the driving seat:

 

Caicher the druid said: Rise, said he, we shall not rest until we reach Ireland. What place is 'Ireland'? said Lamfhind son of Agonomain. Further than Scythia is it, said Caicher the druid; it is not ourselves who shall reach it, but our children, at the end of three hundred years from today.[11]

 

Caicher's prophetic role in heading north-west thereby parallels that of Moses in taking the Israelites north-east. Similarly, Moses took the mythological or shamanic 'low road' under the Red Sea, whilst the Scots took a this-worldly 'high road' above Mediterranean waves. We might suppose that Moses' blessing to 'thereafter do thy good pleasure' mythologically conferred 'Promised Land' status upon their ultimate destination. So it was that after many years wandering, the Scots conquered and temporarily settled Spain. Under command of their Joshua, Mil, and so now going by the name of Milesians, they caught sight of Ireland from a high tower 'seen on a winter evening, to wit, on Samain evening'. At last, says the Lebor, the end of the Exodus is in sight:

 

Forty and four hundred

of years - it is no falsehood -

from when the people of God came, be ye     certain

over the surface of Mare Rubrum,

till they landed in Scene from the clear sea,

they, the sons of Mil, in the land of Ireland.[12]

   

(See additional footnote and image on Scota, the Stone of Destiny and Scotland).

 

 

Creation and Creativity Beneath the 'Hill'

 

According to the Lebor's  version, Scota with her gentle virtues had by now long since passed away (though other renditions have her bringing the Stone of Destiny all the way to Scotland). The invading Milesians found that Ireland, like Moses' Israel, was already inhabited. The Tuath dé Danaan or people of the mother Goddess Dana were therefore treated like the Caananites. To this day, however, Irish folklore based upon them  maintains that they were only driven underground. They became the Sidth, 'the people of peace', the faerie folk, who reside in Sithean or faerie forts all over Ireland and in Scotland.[13]

 

What might we make of such material? The Scythians were, of course, amongst the world's first metallurgists and conceivably it is in this light that we can view the folk belief that the Sithean ought never be violated by iron (cf. Exodus 20). It was our ancestors' use of iron that felled the original primordial forests of God's creation and thereby tamed the wild spirituality of nature. Today, iron in the soul threatens the world with wave after wave of war and ethnic strife. If the faerie hills can be understood, as John MacInnes suggests, 'as a metaphor for the imagination'[14]- a

mythopoetic doorway to the arts (as the creativity of humankind) and nature (as the creativity of God - cf. Job 36 - 39) - then perhaps we can understand them today as metaphors for the recovery of primal contact with the Creation; with what John Calvin called that 'beautiful theatre' in which we might do well 'to take pious delight'.[15]

 

The alienating technocracy of the twentieth century has driven a Jobian elemental awareness of the Creation deep into the unconscious - deep 'underground' in the psyche. That, arguably, is what myth about these small, rounded and usually tree-fringed 'hill' features of our landscape is telling us. We as a modern society have largely lost sight of God's Holy Spirit in the Creation (cf. Genesis 1, John1) even though Proverbs 8:36 unambiguously warns that this brings death. Sadly, we have too often muddled canonical panentheism (God-in-nature; immanence as well as transcendence; incarnation) with heretical pantheism (God-as-nature - which denies transcendence and therefore blasphemes the fullness of God). Indeed, we have largely forgotten that nature is the very context in which, as the 1647 Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it, 'God executeth His decrees in the works of Creation and Providence.[16] Similarly, we have insufficiently considered St Paul's point that the natural world, which was created 'very good', groans 'as if in childbirth' under the weight of human sin (Romans 8). That is why we might take 'pious delight' in reflecting, metaphorically of course, on the words of Nan MacKinnon of Vatersay in the early 1980's: 'Yes, about the fairies and all that... They say they are here for a century and away for another century. This is their century away.'[17] Perhaps we ought to be open to metaphor's capacity to reveal more fully the majesty of God in the Creation. This requires treating mythology as we do Scripture - where appropriate - as poetry.

 

 

Scythia, Andrew and the Arbroath Connection

 

It is to the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath that we must look to find Saint Andrew playing a pivotal role in binding mythology and Scripture together in cementing nationhood. Here the right of Scotland to exist in freedom independent of England was testified to the Pope specifically on the grounds that our forbears had, 'journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain ... thence they came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to their home in the west where they still live today'.

 

Into that little synopsis of the Scythian myth Andrew is then woven. The 'high qualities and deserts' of the Scottish people are attributed to nothing less than Christ having

 

... called them, even though settled in the uttermost parts of the earth, almost the first to His most holy faith. Nor would He have them confirmed in that faith by merely anyone but by the first of His Apostles by calling ... the most gentle Saint Andrew ... and desired him to keep them under his protection as their patron for ever.[18]

 

Andrew, of course, had never directly evangelised Scotland. But according to later Greek versions of the Acts of Andrew, he had converted Scythia and is, therefore, also the patron saint of Russia. Scotland's mythological status as a scion of Scythia therefore makes sense of the otherwise peculiar yet central claim in the Declaration of Arbroath that the Scots were called, 'almost the first to His most holy faith'. Whatever its factual merits, this certainly seems to have had the desired political effect with the Pope.

 

For all Andrew's professed gentleness, from the early medieval period he became the saint most likely to be called upon by the 'powers that be' in time of war. 'Saint Andrew' was the battle-cry of Scots. In one of the best generally available works on Andrew, Michael Turnbull tells how, at the 1603 Union of the Crowns celebration in London, knights dressed in shining armour as Saints Andrew and George advanced to grasp one another's hands and 'testify their leagued combination and new sworn brotherhood'.[19] A British Empire predicated on religion, trade and war had been

born.

 

 

Andrew and Non-violence

 

What might Andrew have thought of his militarisation? The Acts depict him as watching his enemies come to grief in the mills of God, but personally refraining from violence. At one point the Myrmidonians capture him and proclaim, 'Let us invent the most heinous tortures for him. Let us go, tie a rope around his neck, and drag him through all the boulevards and streets of the city each day until he dies. When he is dead, let us divide his body for all of the citizens and pass it out for their food'. Andrew responds by amplifying Matthew 5:39. He prays: 'My Lord Jesus Christ, come and see what they have done to me your servant. But I endure because of your command which you commanded me when you said, Do not respond in kind to their unbelief'.[20]

 

Soldiers are sent by the Roman proconsul to suppress the saint's preaching. They find his 'face shining brilliantly' - a sign of the reflected glory of God. An angry crowd assembles 'with swords and clubs wanting to kill the soldiers, but the holy apostle restrained them'. One of the legionnaires mutinies. Although he will face death by torture, he tells his colleagues, 'You fools, do you not see what sort of man this is? There is no sword in his hand nor any instrument of war, yet these great acts of power issue from his hand.'[21]

 

The converted Stratocles, brother of the proconsul (whose name means 'Battle-Praise') petitioned Caesar to leave the army. He took up living like a 'shabby tramp' and studying philosophy. His own version of non-violence was rather rough-and-tumble. On seeing that Andrew had been placed under arrest he turned on the guards and

 

... did not spare any of them but gave each a beating, ripped their clothing from top to bottom, tore Andrew away, and told them, 'Thank the blessed one for educating me and teaching me to check my violent temper. Otherwise, I would have demonstrated for you what Stratocles [is] capable of.'[22]

 

 

Andrew, Women and Manliness

 

Another remarkable aspect of Andrew's behaviour was his affirmative attitude towards womankind. True, his was an other-worldly and celibate path as perhaps (as with Christ and Socrates) befitted one whose days on earth were numbered, but it was not without a touching sensuality. In the closing scene of his martyrdom, Maximilla visits the saint on death row where she found him busy ministering to other prisoners. As she takes his hands, holds them to her eyes, then tenderly kisses them, Andrew says, 'I recognise that you are more powerful than those who presume to dominate you; more distinguished than those who cast you down to shame, than those who lead you away to captivity.'[23]

 

The Greek name 'Andrew' suggests 'manliness' or 'courage'. An apocryphal or 'hidden' message of the Acts, then, is that real 'manliness' deserving of true 'Battle-praise' demands gentleness. Professor R. K. Hannay, a one-time Historiographer Royal, remarked that one side of the Great Seal of the Guardians of Scotland depicts the lion rampant. This, he suggested, 'appeals strongly to the pugnacious qualities in some of our countrymen.' The other face shows our earliest surviving depiction of Andrew martyred on the Saltire. To Hannay this was 'the emblem that is most honourable in Scottish character and history.'[24]

 

Similarly, in the Scotichronicon's  versions of the Scythia myth, Scota's husband - the 'Father of the Nation,' portrayed here as Gaythelos - is represented as having all the worst characteristics from Babel's Nimrod:  'a mighty hunter before the Lord, that is a killer and oppressor with a love of domination.' We are told that he 'was good looking but mentally unstable.'[25]

 

Such counterpoint between the gentle yet radical Scota and the pathologically patriarchal Gaythelos arguably afflicts the Scottish psyche to this day. It is perhaps here that we find the Saltire's deepest meaning as it flies over our new Parliament. It speaks to the higher God-given vocation of nationhood. It begs laying down less honourable 'fallen' ways of being a people.

 

It asks: will Scottish men redefine 'manliness' in ways that honour the full potential of women as equals? Will we work towards forms of sovereign defence and governance that depend upon the power of love rather than the love of power? And will we hitch national identity to civic rather than ethnic values, fostering all of Babel's orphans to 'brithers be for a' that' - just as when Andrew introduced gentile Greeks to Christ?

 

 

Andrew and Scots Constitutionalism

 

The Declaration of Arbroath, our primary Scots constitutional statement, recognises both the traits that Professor Hannay identifies. On the one hand, it offers the Pope help on a bloody crusade. On the other, it explicitly refutes colonial aspirations. Remarkably, it contextualises Galatians 3:28 on behalf of the 'Community of the Realm' with respect to the Auld Enemy - England. In 'the Church of God,' it asserts, there is 'neither weighting nor distinction of Jew and Greek, Scotsman or Englishman'. In other words, Scottish identity is civic rather than ethnic.

 

Principled Scots Protestants may have been blocked from seeing the Declaration of Arbroath's full constitutional importance because of its opening eulogy to the Pope. It promises 'filial reverence, with devout kisses of his blessed feet.' Both King and Pope are recognised as being empowered by 'divine providence' (cf. Romans 13). However, it explicitly says of the King that should his fallen nature gain dominance over God-given vocation, then 'we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King'. In similar spirit, then, the events of 1560 could be argued to have been constitutionally consistent with the principles of 1320. What had been threatened

of King was applied to Pope.

 

As such, the Scottish Reformation need not be thought to have undermined the Declaration's constitutional importance. Indeed, the principle that there is neither Jew nor Greek (i.e. gentile) in Christ might be applied with potent effect to present debate about the Act of Settlement or, more to the point, to its theocratic implications as carried forward in Article 2 of the 1707 Treaty of Union. Presuming a common denominator that 'God is love' (1 John 4:8), would it not be pedantic and possibly even blasphemous, given the spirit of Galatians 3:28, to discriminate between Protestant and Catholic? And might it not be that, predicated upon the said common denominator, even an interfaith spiritual basis of nationhood could be derived? After all, as Professor Donald Meek has pointed out, no less a figure than Paul in Athens acknowledged the spiritual authority of certain gentile bards (Acts 17:28).[26]

 

Such a perspective, rooted in Scots tradition but branching across the world, offers an ethnically inclusive national identity. Here the Scottish Crown = Community of the Realm = Public Interest = 'Love of one's neighbour' as the engine of civic life. As such, all power is a service. Indeed, all this is quite consistent with the current Royal Titles Act 1953 which holds that British sovereign power emanates from divine grace - hence the letters 'DG' to remind us on every coin of the realm.[27]

 

Set in this deep and wide-ranging context, Andrew's flag can therefore be understood in the Jungian sense as a 'symbol of transformation'. Far from being a mere tribal shibboleth, it is a psycho-spiritual operator that mediates between consciousness and the unconscious in drawing the nation iteratively closer to God-given vocation.

 

Here lie the deepest wellsprings of Scots internationalism in community as 'members one of another' (Ephesians 4:25). Here might be an antidote to the violent culture of death, and

restoration of the people's joy (Proverbs 8:36; Joel 1:12). Here we might emerge again from out the mythological Hill - the metaphorical Sidth - a nation and 'people of peace'.

 

Let us take up our tambourines 'and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers' (Jeremiah 31:4); for as Christ said, 'Wisdom is vindicated by her deeds' (Matthew 11:19).

 

 

 

 

Additional Note: The arrival in Scotland of Scota and Gaythelos ( Gaedel Glas), as depicted in a 15th century manuscript of Walter Bower's Scotichronicon (MS 171, f 14r), Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Early Scottish versions of the story have her sailing all the way to Scotland. For example, the earliest surviving mythological reference to the Stone of Destiny is in the Processus, written by Baldred Bisset of Kinghorn in 1301. As Ferguson points out (op. cit.), Bisset was also a prime architect of the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath.  Bisset's chronicle records: "The daughter of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, landed in Ireland with an armed force and a very large fleet of ships. Then, after taking on board some Irishmen, she sailed to Scotland, carrying with her the royal seat.... She conquered and overthrew the Picts, and took over that kingdom. And from this Scota the Scots and Scotland take their name; hence the verse: 'The whole of Scotland is named after the woman Scota'. [Source: Nick Aitchison, Scotland's Stone of Destiny, Tempus, Stroud, 2000, p. 20 - an excellent scholarly work on the Stone's history.]  To my delight, I first hit upon old Baldred's importance as a mythological historian when living in Kinghorn 1996-2004. Notice, by the way, that the painting depicts Scota as a white woman. In reality, her skin colour would most probably have been honey brown to black How wonderful it would be to commission a new mythological painting, showing Scota's ship and in its wake all the many cultures drawn upon through the epic voyage of she and her family - from the proto-Iranian speaking peoples of Greater Scythia all the way through Iraq (Babylon), the Holy Land of Jacob's Stone, Africa, Spain and Ireland to the Scotland that  today comprises "One Scotland; many cultures" - see The Herald letters of 14 Jul & 8 Aug 05. I note, additionally, that the medieval historians maintain that Scota and her Scots husband were evicted from Egypt because they had refused to join in the pursuit of the Jews across the Red Sea. Mythologically speaking, this makes the refusal to persecute an oppressed ethnic minority a cornerstone of Scottish identity. And just think - if we Scots had gone harrying after the Jews (instead of assisting and partying with them as the Irish sources maintain we did) - then we'd all have got drowned in the Red Sea and then the world would have been deprived of tartan, shortbread, kilts, bagpipes, haggis, whisky, Robert Burns, Braveheart, the Loch Ness Monster, Irn Bru, hellfire sermons and, perhaps mercifully, TV! "Wha's like us?" Damn few ... but we can multiply! 

[This note and the Scota picture has been added in 2005 to the web version of my paper, and was not part of the original piece published in Theology in Scotland.]



[1] “Andrew, Acts of”  in Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 1, Doubleday, London, 1992.

[2] MacDonald, D R, Scholars Press, Atlanta, 1990.

[3] MacDonald, op. cit., 395.

[4] Ferguson, William, Edinburgh University Press, 1998, 6-25.

[5] Geoffrey of Monmouth, The History of the Kings of Britain, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 9, 57-64.

[6] Ferguson, op. cit., 6-25.

[7] Aberdeen University Press, 1993.

[8] MacAlister, RAS (ed.), Lebor Gabála Érenn: The Book of the Taking of Ireland, Part 1, Irish Texts Society, Dublin, 1938.

[9] Bloomfield, M & Dunn, C, The Role of the Poet in Early Societies, Cambridge: D S Brewer (1989), 162-4.  

[10] Op. cit., 35.

[11] Op. cit., 75.

[12] Op. cit., 91.

[13] La Viiolette, P & McIntosh, A, “Fairy Hills: merging heritage and conservation,” in ECOS: Journal of Brit. Assoc. for Nature Conservation, 18:3, 1997.

[14] MacInnes, John, St Bride’s Day Lecture, University of Edinburgh, 1 February 1996. Note also Scots (Episcopalian) theological formulation in Kirk, Robert, The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies, varioujs editions (c. 1690); also Evans-Wentz, WY, The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries, Colin Smythe Humanities Press, 1988.

[15] Institutes of the Christian Religion, III:XIV:20.

[16] Answer to Question 8.

[17] Tocher 6:38, 1983, 9-10.

[18] Trans. Scottish Record Office, HMSO, Edinburgh, undated.

[19] Turnbull, MTRB, Saint Andrew: Scotland’s Myth and Identity, Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh, 1977, 77-78.

[20] MacDonald, op. cit., 137.

[21] Ibid., 253.

[22] Ibid., 397.

[23] Ibid., 377.

[24] Hannay, RK, St Andrew of Scotland, 1933 BBC Lectures, Moray Press, Edinburgh, 1934.

[25] Bower, Walter, Scotichronicon, Vol. 1, Aberdeen University Press, 1993.

[26] Meek, Donald, “As Some of Your Own Poets Have Said …,” in Scottish Studies, 31, 1993, 9-13.

[27] The author explores such constitutional theology in relation to Scots feudalism in McIntosh, Alastair, “The Case for God,” Ecotheology, Sheffield Academic Press, 8, spring 2000, 86-110.

 

 

 

 

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