Talk:Tutelary deity

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Bias?[edit]

To me it shows a preferential bias towards some spiritual paths by placing them under the 'Religion' heading, while others are not (implying that they are not 'religions')--BobTheMad 13:33, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

Are saints and djinns deities?[edit]

Some years ago (2007-03-23, to be precise), this article was moved from Tutelary to Tutelary deity. The article contains discussion of tutelary saints in Christianity, and of tutelary djinns in Islam. I think that this is appropriate; the "tutelary function" clearly exists within branches of Cristianity, and if the information is correct, also within Islam; however, I do not think that it is uncontroversial to call these (beleved in) beings "deities". I may be wrong; there might be some generally accepted definition of "deity" within the scientific treatment of religion, which encompasses the Christian saints and the Muslim djinns; but, if so, this should be referenced.

I, personally, have not heard of or read a definition of "deities" that includes Christian saints or Moslem djinns. If it exists, it probably is not uncontroversial; both Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Moslems tend to consider themselves as monotheists; and the traditional meaning of "a deity" is synonymous with "a god". Therefore, if no references or explanation to the converse is added, I think that the article should be moved back to the title Tutelary, or be given a new and more neutral title, perhaps Tutelary being.

Comments? JoergenB (talk) 20:57, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

Would there be any objections to maybe Patron (religious) as a potentially more neutral title? John Carter (talk) 21:10, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

I see what JoergenB means, but saints do seem to me deities in function, if not name. To be one you must be able to make miracles. Also, so far there have been no complaints about the title. Patron (religious) is not very clear. My opinion is: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Frank (Urashima Tarō) (talk) 00:16, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

Yes JoergenB, "Tutelary deity" seems like the worse name of the three; it is broke. Tutelary patron, or the like, would also be fine with me; anything but "Tutelary deity".
Neither Christian saints nor djinns in Islam are deities in either function or in name.şṗøʀĸşṗøʀĸ: τᴀʟĸ 01:59, 7 December 2010 (UTC)
Being a deity in "function" is one thing, going further to actually say they are themselves deities is another. Also, at least for Christian saints, they themselves are at least currently theologically not seen as necessarily being the direct actor involved - God or one of his agents is, acting on God's request for action, which might be influenced by the request of the saints prayed to or God's being slightly more willing to act if the human asking invokes a saint in his request. So, in my opinion as well, Tutelary deity is probably the worst of the three. I acknowledge the "Patron (religious)" has weaknesses, because religious artists have had patrons as well, but I think that direction, if not the particular name, is probably preferable. Maybe "Patron (theological)" or something similar might be better though. John Carter (talk) 18:08, 7 December 2010 (UTC)
As I'm supposing that the article will still be limited to the meaning of "tutelary" in a religious context, I suggest that some sort of qualifier be added to the title. Perhaps Tutelary (religion) or Tutelary (spiritual)? Although infrequent, one does occasionally come across the term validly used outside the scope of spirituality (a "tutelary organization" for example). • Astynax talk 20:18, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

monotheistism problem[edit]

Is it possible that the problem lies with the saints and djinn? That is, "Tutelary deity" is a polytheistic concept that sits uncomfortably with monotheistic religions (the article Jinn only uses the word "tutelary" in explaining the Roman Genius). A saint by definition is not a tutelary deity, but that doesn't mean the article is incorrectly framed: perhaps this is simply not the place to discuss the functions of saints. Tutelary deities are extremely important in ancient Greek and Roman religion — one might even say a fundamental concept. It's hard to see how the patron saint of something is theologically the equivalent of, say, the Lares, who are true "tutelary deities". Perhaps the problem lies in trying to fit Christian content into a non-Christian concept. Cynwolfe (talk) 22:42, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I see your point-- but as such-- it ought to be reflected in the article content first, before it is strictly relivant here. We would need to have some consensus on either moving or removing such monotheistism content, and then still make refrence to it, even if it is in contrast. Maybe it could happen if you have a good idea for where such content should be, to me it seems simpler here to just rename this article. şṗøʀĸşṗøʀĸ: τᴀʟĸ 22:56, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
Well, is a patron saint the same as a tutelary saint? The analogous concept in Christianity to "tutelary deity" seems to me to be "guardian angel". Maybe this is what I'm not understanding. In the pre-Reformation Church, or in the continuing Greek and Latin traditions of Christianity (that is, the Latin West and the Greek East), what kind of terminology was used to express these concepts? My impression was that "tutelary deity" was a concept used to describe religions that were not monotheistic — that is, an anthropologist or folklorist might use "tutelary deity" or "tutelary spirit" more often than a seminarian. As I said above, the article Jinn doesn't even describe djinn as tutelaries — the article uses the word precisely to distinguish the Jinn from the ancient Roman Genius, a tutelary deity that is the etymological origin of the English world genie. The Catholic Encyclopedia, according to these search results (which include patristic writings), uses the term overwhelmingly to describe non-Christian religions. The one exception seems to be an early Irish saint. If a saint is not a god, then the saint belongs in an article on "tutelary saints," not an article on "tutelary deities," and a simple note at the top saying See also: Tutelary saint (a redirect to "patron saint") takes care of it. Cynwolfe (talk) 00:05, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
Yes, a "tutelary deity" is a concept used ploytheistic religions— and so the artcle should be renamed or repurposed. The question is which.
If the content is added to Patron saint without problems then, I would support your idea. şṗøʀĸşṗøʀĸ: τᴀʟĸ 01:28, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
I guess I'm not following you: tutelary deity serves the purpose of describing for readers the polytheistic concept of divine guardians; in ancient Roman religion, these include such entities as the Lares, Penates, and the tutelary goddess of the city of Rome whose name could not be spoken outside ritual (as in the case of Quintus Valerius Soranus). Ancient Greece had its own. Evidently (though this is not something I would profess to know anything about) anthropologists use the term in regard to polytheistic religions of tribal and non-Christian peoples. The page tutelary deity is within the Category:Tutelary, as is patron saint. If "patron saint" is more or less synonymous with "tutelary saint" (I don't possess this information), why does anything need to be done to this article other than developing it properly and making more careful distinctions in the necessarily short Abrahamic section? Something like "An analogous concept in Christianity is the patron saint or guardian spirit" etc. , with a "See also" at the topic of the section. (Incidentally, I don't see why St. Veronica is here; the story shows why she's the patron saint of photographers, but this is different from being a tutelary or guardian.) The real problem here is that the article doesn't do a very thorough job of explaining what a tutelary deity is. As far as I know, no other article is devoted to the subject, so why should it be done away with? If I'm writing on a tutelary deity, I link here; if I'm writing about a saint, I link to patron saint. Cynwolfe (talk) 15:50, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
I see no problem with the title; it's a scholarly and commonsense category and includes guardian or protective "spirits" in the polytheistic sense of lesser deities - and some not lesser. It might even include some of the miracle-working and guardian "saints" of polytheistic religions. But surely, patron saints and "guardian spirits" in fully monotheistic religions are other than or less than deities, and don't belong here. Of course I too might be missing an elusive something-or-other. Haploidavey (talk) 16:47, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
Yes, Cynwolfe, that is what we are saying. Let me change it as such and it will be more clear. şṗøʀĸşṗøʀĸ: τᴀʟĸ 17:13, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

Unhappy resolution[edit]

I'm not at all happy about the removal of the monotheistic examples - at least not with the Christian saint one. I think that "tutelary" is quite adequate as a term in this case. (If the factual description of the rôle of the djinns is correct, the same holds for the Moslem example.)

I seached the OED on line, and found that tutelary as a noun is defined by a reference to tutelar as a noun; and that the noun sense of tutelar is described by means of the adjectivistic one, as follows:

"One who is tutelar; a tutelar deity, angel, or saint."

The excerpts for tutelary and tutelar (which both are used both as nouns and adjectives) illustrate these senses, and some intermediates.

Thus, if this article is to stay specialised to tutelary beings which are clearly classifiable as deities, then we should have another article for the more general concept, referring to this one, but also to the Christian saints, and possibly to the Moslem djinns. However, IMHO, that would be a bit overdone. JoergenB (talk) 20:23, 26 December 2010 (UTC)

But your "more general concept" is a dictionary definition. The article is titled "tutelary deity", a concept used by anthropologists and religious scholars to describe a type of deity in polytheistic religions. Not all articles on religious concepts need to be applicable to the Abrahamic religions. Monotheistic religions by definition don't have tutelary deities. Saints are not deities, and while there may be a difference between a "tutelary saint" and a "patron saint," so far no one's tried to explain what that is. The article Jinn doesn't even say they have a tutelary function (the word "tutelary" is used only to contrast the jinn to the ancient Roman genius, a tutelary divinity or spirit from which the English word "genie" comes). The following exact-search results from Google Books don't "prove" anything, but are suggestive:
"Tutelary deity" is a notable concept, and the phrase is used significantly more often than "tutelary saint." "Patron saint" is far more common than "tutelary saint", but if the two types of saints overlap, as I suspect they do, wouldn't "tutelary saint" make more sense as a section in the article "patron saint" than in "tutelary deity"? It's "tutelary saint" that may not have sufficient notability for an independent article, as you point out. I'm not trying to keep anything out of this article, but I am trying to keep it useful for defining "tutelary deity." By providing a section on the role of tutelary deities in ancient Roman religion, I had hoped to demonstrate that the concept bears explaining on its own terms, and not in some misleading relation to saints and djinn. (Perhaps your point is that Christianity preserved the role of the tutelary deity in the form of patron saints and guardian angels?) The concept of "tutelary deity" seems to be quite important also in Eastern and African religions, and the religions of the Americas, but I regret that I'm too unfamiliar with the scholarship to attempt to remedy this article's deficiencies in that regard. Cynwolfe (talk) 22:29, 26 December 2010 (UTC)
I'm not trying to "sneak in" the saints as a kind of deities... but as tutelaries. The word as well as the concept is broad enough to encompass mor than divine beings.
If the tutelary saints are included among the patron saints, then we still need an article referring to that section and to tutelary gods.
Besides, it is a bit unclear what to call the tutelary rådare which belong to folklore in countries like Sweden, far into Christian times. JoergenB (talk) 23:04, 26 December 2010 (UTC)
The lead (to Tutelary deity) here ends "An analogous concept in Christianity is the patron saint..." and it thus refers to that article. The article does not have a section on "tutelary saint" because: [1] all (or nearly all) "patron saints" are "tutelary saint"-- they mean the same thing, and [2] patron saint is an article so short it has just two sentences. şṗøʀĸşṗøʀĸ: τᴀʟĸ 23:21, 26 December 2010 (UTC)
I hope I didn't appear overly argumentative above. There's no question that the adjective "tutelary" can modify "saint", and that a saint can be a tutelar. But tutelary deity is a sufficiently notable concept for an article, and a useful topic. I didn't realize that the article patron saint was so slight; it's certainly in need of development, and it would seem that "tutelary saint" goes there. Cynwolfe (talk) 00:37, 27 December 2010 (UTC)