From: Gregory Jordan (ENG) (
Date: Thu Mar 28 1996 - 21:28:22 EST

To add to what Prof. Conrad said...
   Proskunesis was apparently a physical behavior of kneeling or
prostration, and perhaps - by extension - other behaviors associated with
proper respect to authorities.
   Proskunesis was offered by subjects to kings, by slaves to masters, by
wives and children to their paterfamilias, and apparently by Jewish
laypeople of 1st century Judea and Galilee to their "rabbis." We see
people offering Jesus proskunesis throughout the gospels,
starting with the Magi, who thus recognized him as the King of the Jews.
Often people (whether Jews or Gentiles) offered Jesus proskunesis before
asking him for a favor, thus making their dependence on him explicit.
   Proskunesis seems to be used by extension for all of the "worship"
activities directed to God in the sky; petitions addressed to God were
sometimes accompanied by proskunesis (it was said of James, Jesus's
brother, that he got knees as calloused as a camel from doing this so
much in the Temple!).
   It doesn't seem to be associated directly with affection, but rather
with respect, need, or even fear. That would include sublime awe, I
guess. It was almost a dramatic representation of a person's spatial
"lowering" in comparison to another person (incl. God or an idol).
Greg Jordan

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