July 13 – Golinduc; Joel the Prophet

Golinduc the Martyr (d. 591) was a Zoroastrian noblewoman in Persia (which is like Iran only older), whose husband either was a magician or wasn’t. She was a good soul, well-intentioned, and of a lucid mind, which is rare enough these days (and probably those). One day she went into a trance-like thing and saw in a vision a beautiful place with happy people in shining clothes. When she tried to enter it (I would; wouldn’t you?) an angel said, “Oh no you don’t. This is for the martyrs (witnesses) of Christ.” Either that, or she was told about Christianity by her husband’s slaves. I like the vision story better. At any rate, she sought out the city’s Christians and got herself baptized, taking the name Maria.

Thereupon she left her husband (or he found out, or he was already dead), who (if alive) reported her to the king (Chosroes II), whereupon she was locked up in a fortress or dungeon (or something) called “Oblivion.” (I think we can be assured it didn’t smell like perfume.) There she was subjected to deprivation, torture, and the occasional visit from people insisting she reject Christ.

After a regime change and repeated visits from a Christian ambassador (who taught her to sing the Psalms of David) (in all eight tones, one hopes), she was brought out of Oblivion and (after a bit of torture) thrown into a pit with a large snake and other beasties. The snake took a shine to her, and loved nothing more than to coil up next to her at night to keep warm. Seeing that didn’t work, the king sent in some men to, um, dishonor her, but they found couldn’t find her—God had made her invisible. Finally he (the king, not God) decided to behead her, but as she was being led to the executioner, she went invisible again, and was escorted by an angel either out of the city, or to some clandestine Christians. “But, I was going to be a martyr,” she complained. “After all you’ve been through,” the angel replied, “you will be called a living martyr.” And so she is to this day, even though she died in peace while on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Joel the Prophet (IX? V? cent. BC(E), roughly) was either pre-exilic or post-exilic, depending on who’s sifting the internal evidence. While many people in the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible have the same name (which means “YHWH is God,” unless it means something else), this particular Joel is only mentioned once, in the first verse of the book that bears his name. Nothing of Joel’s personal life is known, except that maybe he was from Judea (rather than Israel) because he talks about the one more than the other. This is, of course, a slender thread to hang a biography on, but theology is a publish-or-perish discipline. Nor did it stop Michaelangelo from making a very imposing picture of Joel on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, although of course precious little could stop Michaelangelo once he got going.

Joel’s book speaks of the devastation of Judah and Israel in the past tense, then of God’s redemption of them in the future tense, making it a primo book for people learning Hebrew verb tenses to practice on. He also mentions the selling of children as slaves to the Greeks, which may or may not help date the book, depending once again upon whom you ask, but is at any rate interesting (well, I think so). His prophesy that God’s Spirit will be poured out on “all flesh,” thereby causing widespread prophecy prophesying, vision envisioning, and dream dreaming (2:28) is quoted by (St.) Peter in the Acts of the Apostles (2:17), and said by him to have been fulfilled in the Pentecost event described in that chapter.