Nederlandse versie over
inscripties Megiddo wordt spoedig weer bijgewerkt
(Please click here
for reactions, questions, corrections etc. I will be glad to respond.)
A Megiddo prison detainee discovered
the ruins of an early christian building in Megiddo
This discovery was made in the context of an archaeological routine
research preceding a planned extension of the prison complex.The digging activities had been going on for
some 18 months and the experts had almost lost their hope to find something
More than sixty prisoners cooperated with these digging activities.
The excavation leader, mr Yotan Tepper, claims his teammight have discovered the oldest christian
site of the holy land. According to his estimation the building might date from
the late third or early forth century AD. This could even mean that the church
was in use in a period when Christianity was still outlawed. (The Roman emperor
Constantine legitimised the Christian religion in the eastern part of the Roman
world in 313.)
Of the building only a ruin is left. It's a quadrangular room measuring
approximately9 x 6 meters.The excavation hasn't finished yet. Experts
estimated that only ten percent of the site has been uncovered.
Part of the find are two spectacular mosaics, one of which shows two
fishes. The fish is a well-known early Christian symbol.
Moreover there are three inscriptions, written in ancient Greek. One of
these inscriptions speaks about a 'table' being donated to the community. This
'table' might have been used in the Eucharist ceremonyand some scholars believe this fact may add
to our knowledge of Early Christianity.
Voor Nederlandstalige informatie over de vondst
van de kerk in Megiddo en de ontdekking van de inscripties van Akeptous,
Gaianos en anderen, zie de Nederlandse site "Megiddo inscripties
Note: more information on the inscriptions (from the newspapers) is to
be found in2.4 "inscriptions".
It seems there are two rectangular floor mosaics in the room, lying next
to each other. The first mosaic (call it A) is filled with ornamental patterns.
At both ends we see an inscription. These are 1.1 "the four ladies"
and 1.2 "Akeptous and the table". The second mosaic (B) contains a
central panel showing two fishes. Along one of the long sides there is a third
inscription, being 1.3 "Gaianos the officer".
Between both mosaics (A and B) there is a square relict of a
"base" or the like. This so-called "base" is situated near
by inscription 1.2 "Akeptous and the table", which leads some
scholars to presume that the base was part of a Christian altar.
·Translation: Remember / Primillê and Kuri- / -akê ("The
Lord's") and Dôrothea ("God's gift") / and also Khrêstê
("The kind one"). (See also Henrickson in FR and 2.4.1.)
PRIMILLÊSKAIKYRI- / AKÊSKAI DÔROTHEAS / ETI DEKAIKHRÊSTÊS. (See "Megiddo
Mnemoneuô in a Christian context means:
'to remember in prayer' (°Sophocles).Approximately: to read or sing the names of [living or] dead
people, in liturgy, by a priest (Stephanos, Lampe). The person
"remembered" may be a martyr (Sophocles, Lampe), but this
certainly doesn't have to be the case. Compare the related word mnêmosunon
Primilla is common Roman name (for
example °CIL 09.04150) which is also attested in Greek epigraphic
inscriptions (e.g. SEG xxvi 1551); it is probably a diminuative of prima,
'the first').(This doesn't have
to imply she was a first born daughter, see °McLean).
There was a Christian saint (?)Prima, who died in 304 (°Smith).We don't know whether she was meant here.
Kuriakê is clearly a (Greek) Christian
proper name. There was a Saint Cyriaca (May 19) who was burnt to death in Nicomedia
(now NW Turkey) in 307, with five other unknown women (according to
°Catholic Forum). Another Saint Cyriaca (August 21) would have died in Rome
in 249 (see here and here). We don't know
whether one of these saints is meant here.The name was very frequent in Antiquity (Solin 412, 1364).
4.Dôrothea is also a (Greek) Christian
proper name (though not exclusively Christian, Ilan 317). A Saint Dorothy (February
6) died in the district of Cappadocia, now Turkey
, in the year 313, (°Smith, °Farmer). The story says that Dorothea was a very
religious Christian woman and that a local ruler was jealous of her; the ruler
sent two sisters, called Christa and Callista ("the most beautiful"),
to Dorothy in order to persuade her to give up her faith. But the opposite
thing happened. Dorothy converted both girls (in some versions collapsed to one
girl) to Christianity. All three (or two) women were persecuted to death and
became Christian martyrs.See CE. We don't know whether this Dorothy is meant;
we don't know either whether Christa is the same person as Chrêstê, below. (The
name was rather frequent in Antiquity, Solin 45, Ilan 317.)
The name Khrêstê is in
itself a common Greek woman's name meaning "the kind one" or
"the good one (in character)" (SEG xxix 240 etc., Bechtel (512),
McLean 101 on "character" names, Pape (accent!)),
so we do not need another 'explanation' for het name. But the name might
possibly also be 'interpreted' to refer – in this period or later -- to
the name Christ. From the earliest days there has been confusion
about the name Christos ("Christ"), which was frequently
rendered as Khrêstos ("the kind/good one (m)").This has to do with two factors. First iotacism,
a kind of Great Vowel Shift in Ancient Greek . In later antiquity the
en <h> sound like <i>
(°Grammond 250, °Kaufmann 33). The second factor is the obvious fact that
ordinary Greek people didn't understand the meaning or symbolism of the
Jewish expression "The Anointed One" (the Greek translation of
Hebrew "Messiah"). See °CE
sv Christ (names),°Sophocles sv Khristos 2b and epigraphical examples like
"ancilla Cresti" ('servant of Christ'), °AE 1912-0009.)(Mind: there is clear evidence about Khristos/Khrêstos
and khristianos/khrêstianos, [McLean 281, SEG 43.1264], but this is
only a guess!) As we just saw above, there was a (saint) Christa (February
1), connected to the story of St. Dorothy. We don't know whether she was
meant here. The name Khrêstê was very frequent, cf. Solin 931, Bechtel
We know nothing for sure about the identity
of the four women (IAA, VK, see 2.4.1). There are some theories,
though.Some people believe the
women were Christian martyrs (e.g. CF).Others guess that the four ladies were members of the community
(e.g. Religion Newsblog). Both theories are of course compatible with each
other. As we saw above, all four ladies could be (relatively) well known
Christians martyrs from the period of the Diocletian persecutions. But if
the ladies were well known, they weren't local (and vice versa). We should
notice that the names do neither occur in Meimaris (see 3.6) nor in
No one seems to believe that these four
ladies had really been buried in this church, though tomb mosaics did
exist (Dunbabin 189). But the text of the inscription doesn't look like a
common grave inscription (cf. McLean ans
Epigraphy. On the letter forms and their relevance
for the dating of the site, see 3.3.
Jan Sanders rightly points out, the text reads XRHCTHN (Chrêstên), not
XRHCTHC (Chrêstês). Instead of the expected, grammatical genitive form we
see the accusative.The left leg of
the N is the right leg of the H; the right leg is part of the box around
the text, so we only ‘see’ the stroke \ .
Akeptous (of maybe Hakeptous) is an unknown
woman. (On women in the early church, see e.g. thissitereferring to 1 Cor. 1:1, Acts 12:12. Acts 16: 14-15 etc.).
Her name is neither (recognisably) Greek nor (recognisably)
Biblical-Hebrew. We know she was a woman because of the feminine
article hê ("the").
The adjective philo-theos
(god-loving) also occurs in the New Testament: 2 Tim. 3.4., but is
originally not an exclusively Christian word (L&S). It is a well-known
fact that in classical Greek the adjective has only masculine and neuter
case-endings, because it's a composed adjective (e.g. Nuchelmans 14). This
holds for New Testament Greek as well (Brooks 89ff). But in Byzantine
Greek all adjectives tend to show masculine, feminine and neuter case
endings. (Horrocks 221). It is unclear when this development started
The name Akeptous may be
related to the Latin proper name Ac(c)eptus ('Accepted' (m), but
also 'Friendly' (m)), which is originally a name of slaves and lower class
men. The form with one C is not uncommon. (°Forcellini, °TLL.)But there is a problem. You would have
expectedAk(k)eptê (f), not
(e.g.) Ak(k)eptos (m) and certainly not Ak(k)eptous (McLean
131-2, Reinach 516f).[Things
would be much different if H would mean "or/sive" (ê),
cf. "Theodôros ê Dôrotheos" and "Kalapodios ê
Kalopodios" (Meimaris); a formula (??) which is not in McLean,
so without further confirmation this is a wild guess. SeeNote on Akeptous.Possibly we have a "foreign"
name here, maybe partly "grecified" (cf. McLean
A nice theory (once found on the internet)
associates Akeptous to the word Coptic.But this is problematic. Copts
and Coptic are in fact seventh century Arab words, derived from
Greek (!) Aiguptikos, meant to denote non-muslim Egyptians. The
Ancient Egyptians called their country Kemet (or the like) and the
contemporary Egyptians say Msar (which resembles the Hebrew name of
why not simply Aiguptikê, as you would have expected? (Thanks to
Bas ter Haar Romeny.)
The hyphetation sign after
"Akeptous" is normal. It goes with the Roman imperial period
(Reinach 216). For more on epigraphy: see 3.3.
There are some attested examples of
(non-Greek) female names ending in –ous, e.g. Sambathous
(gen. –outos), Leontarous, Ischurous and Korous in
SEG xl 1568 (from Leontopolis in Hellenistic Egypt); also [male?] Satabous,
Sentôous, Quaegebeur 412, 418. (On foreign names and adaptation to
Greek, see McLean 100).Originally Greek woman names in –ous seem to be rare or
non-existent, cf. Bechtel 621. (On Egyptian names, seeProsopographia Ptolemaica and
Quaegebeur on methodological problems [wrong transcriptions, different
degrees of hellenization]. Thanks to Jacco Dieleman; we haven't been able
to 'identify' an Egyptian name.See also Blümel on Carian [male?] names: Thous, Glous, Plous (gen.
Thou etc.). )
The verb form prosêniken is
a variant of prosênenken, the aorist of prospherô (°L&S,
°Stephanos sv pherô). The verb means "to offer, sacrifice,
contribute"; it can even mean "to celebrate the eucharist
There is a lot of discussion about the
word trapeza ('table'), see also 2.2. ("the table and
the base"). There seems to be a consensus that this so-calledtrapeza was used in the
celebration of the Eucharist. It also seems be the case that some physical
'evidences' were found,like
(pieces of) a broken wine jug. There doesn't seem to be any evidence that
a real table was found,in the
contrary: the base between the two mosaics A and B looks more like an
altar (but: see °CNS in 2.2).
The expert°Leah di Segni states that the use of the word
"table" could lead to a breakthrough of our knowledge of early
Christianity (see 2.2).Nonetheless this is not obvious, because there are sources that
suggest the issue might be less complicated. According to °Ferguson
the place where the Eucharist took place was called "trapeza"
('table') in the Greek speaking east and 'altar' in the Latin west. The
early Christians normally used altars (made of wood or stone) for that
purpose, sometimes also tombs of martyrs; but Lampe seems to suggest that
a real table was used(°Lampe sv trapeza,
°Ferguson sv altar).
Maybe the point is that the find of the broken jar would prove that the
Eucharist wasn't perceived as a sacrifice but as a meal (see Cranach and
others in 2.2). (See also CE
on altars, thanks to Philip Harland.)
Of course, there is a lot of
discussion as well about the expression (the) god Jesus Christ.Mr. Tepper dates the site back to the
late 3rd and early 4th century, partly as a consequence of the 'language
use' of the inscriptions. It seems rather likely that this expression is
one of the factors meant. It is a well-known fact that the Early
Christians had widely different views about the 'nature' of Jesus and that
many ancient sources did not differentiate clearly between the concepts
"Jesus" and "God" (Ferguson
sv God, Naerebout & Singor 409-419). The Councils of Nicea
(325) and Chalcedon (451) were
meant to permanently settle the issue: Jesus is one person with two
natures (human and divine). But even after these councils, the orthodox
view was never accepted generally. The expression "the God Jesus
Christ" may very well be an indication that we are dealing with
pre-Nicean Christians, but this is not a proof beyond any doubt.
Some contemporary readers obviously
interpret this inscription according to their own theological view.
°Cranach for example says:"Again,
we see the early confession of the deity of Christ." Another
source states: "This discovery puts a wrinkle in Dan Brown's
church "history" timeline right before the Da Vinci movie's
opening, doesn't it? Christians existed, and thought of Jesus as God, long
before Constantine and the Council of Nicaea."
(WMB.) The website called "°Islamcity" reacts in a rather fierce
way; they reject the "monophysite" views of these early
Christians, whose "sect (...) was so extreme that even the
Christians rejected it themselves".
Note that the definite article (tôi)
is missing, no matter whether it is important or not.. "Ho theos
Kaisar" means: 'the divine (divus) Caesar'. °Lampe (sv theos
F1-3) speaks about "Christ as theos, rather than ho theos".
See also °Hurtado 642 en °Bauer sv theos 2.
Standard abbreviations like th(e)ô(i)
i(êso)u khr(ist)ô(i) in this inscription are called nomina sacra
('holy names'). The horizontal bars above the names use to accompany the
abbreviations (°Ferguson sv nomina
sacra, °Larfeld 280, McLean 56 etcetera).
Nomina sacra are an old tradition, dating from the period of the catacombs
to many centuries later. °Philip Harland in RIAM has more on nomina sacra in relation
to these inscriptions.
The form ihcoy is
a common dative of ihcoyc (Liddell &
Scott, McLean 53).
The word mnêmosunon in a
Christian context often means: 'a requiem for the repose of the soul of
a person' (Sophocles).
Epigraphic notes. Note the mirror image Z (zêta)
in the word trapeza, like a child's handwriting. Note the round and
edgy O's and C's (sigma). Note the two variants of the upsilon (Y, V).
Hyphenation signs are a relatively recent invention, so the absence of it
in trape/ za is normal. For more on epigraphy, see 3.3. And see
this note by William Warren.
<palm branch> GAIANOS
O KA[I] PORFURI<o>S <CR> ADELFOS HMWN FILO-
EK TWN IDIWN
<leaf(?)> EYHFOLOGHSEN. BROUTI<o>S HRGASET(O)
·Translation: <palm(?)> Gaianos, also called Porphyris ('purple
cloak') <khi-rho: CENTURIO(?)>, our brother,/ "having obtained honour for himself",from his own money, / < leaf (?)> had
this mosaic made. (Broutis carried out the work.)
The translation is a bit
problematic, as we will see below.
The palm branch occurring in a (Christian)
mosaic doesn't have to mean very much, as a symbol (Dunbabin 190). The
palm is traditionally a symbol of victory. In later christianity it is also associated with
martyrdom, but there is no evidence thatthis was already the case in early Christianity, CE,
sv palm and Urech 138-9. Moreover Dunbabin (188ff) points out that
early Christian mosaics showed various of traditional 'ornaments' without
any specifically Christian symbolism. Palm trees flanking the inscription
was one of them. See also 3.5 "inscriptions".
Gaianusis a rather familiar Roman proper name,
most probably derived from Gaius (cf.Lucius/Lucianus etc.), but possibly also from Caïn
(°Forcellini, °Stephanus, but see Ilan 331). See note on names in 3.4.
There were several Christians named Gaianus in Antiquity among whom a 4th
century martyr (not this Gaianos).
The phrase "ho kai"
('also known as') is a standard expression in epigraphy (see McLean
99f (on Greek surnames) and 124f (on Roman agnomina). The left leg of the pi
in Porphyris seems to have a doubly duty (iota and pi). This
ligature is not a frequent one (unlike NH, HN etcetera, see McLean
55), if it is a ligature at all. Sometimes <ai> is written<a> geschreven (McLean
means 'purple cloak'. Purple was a sign of wealth and power (the emperor
wore a fully purple cloak, as is well known). Purple dying, originally a
local Phoenician invention, was still a very popular occupation in these
days (cf. Harland 2003:143-147). The tribuni militum in the Roman
legions (men of a very high military rank) wore cloaks with a purple
stripe.And Jesus – but this is
mere speculation – was given a purple cloak just before his crucifixion
The nounporphyris is feminine and it is
not a common (male) proper name, contrary to Porphyrios (e.g. P. of
Tyre, died 301 and Meimaris 230 nr. 1136 in Seilun,Palestine: "Jacob, brother of
Porphyrios") and Porphyriôn (e.g. P. the grammarian, 3d
century) and cf. McLean on nick names. [On the other hand, Caligula
('little boot') is not a frequent nick-name either, be this a comparable
example or not.] Maybe his name wasPorphyrios (see2.4.3).
Cf. Dunbabin (1999), 180 Georgi<o>s and 185 Kamilari<o>s
(names on 5th century and later mosaics) and Snyder 122: LOUKIS (=
Lucius) ca 300 AD. We do not know whether it was common usage to
write –IC in stead of –IOC. See also Broutis, 1.3 (here) below.
It is tempting to suppose that
one of the two names (Gaianos, Porphyris) is his Christian proper name,
but this doesn't have to be the case. See notes on names, 3.4.It is very well possible that
Porphyrios is his original (Greek) name.
(X-above-P) after "Gaianos" is a bit confusing.°Oikonomides lists exactly this token (khi-above-rho)
as a variant of the well known christ monogram (an abbreviation of
"Christ"), see also Urech 35-6. But MacLean 54 makes sure
(khi-rho) is a normal abbreviation for hekatonarkhês (!), that is centurio!
A centurio as an early
Christian. Is it possible, in a period when Christianity would have been
regarded as a obscure sect? °Mr. Tepper thinks it is. "Tepper said
the inscription refers to a Roman officer, many of whom were early
converts to Christianity, who financed the structure's construction."
(WP.) But his predecessor with the IAA mr. °Joe Zias does not agree. This
centurio must have gone mad. Was he suicidal? (Zias in °CO, see 3.2,
"the dating according to others"). For Zias this circumstance is
an argument contra the early dating of the church.
°Cranach, just like
Tepper,refers to a few places in
the New testament net als Tepper, op plaatsen in het Nieuwe Testament.
Wealthy women (like Akeptous!), gentile converts and centurios were known
as sponsors of the early Christian church(e.g. the centurio in °Luke 7:5).
"Our brother" (adelphos)
meaning 'fellow Christian' is of course well-known as a biblical
expression (Matth. , Acts ,
etc.). This expression can
hardly be an argument for the alleged early date of the church: it is a
current formula, still in use in the Byzantine age and besides it isn't
exclusively Christian either (°Lampe, °Kaufmann 35). Mr. °Harland (2003:
31ff) points out that the "brother" phraseology is less
'sectarian' than we use to think. In the world of the Later Roman
empirethe so-called "collegia"
or associations played an important role in society, where
"brother" and "friend" were common words to denote
fellow members. Collegia were groups of about ten to a hunderd persons,
sharing the same profession, religion or neighbourhood. (These
circumstances, though, could be an argument pro the early dating.)
[We cannot rule out in advance that "brother" denotes a monk in
a monastery, cf. the Byzantine Palestinian examples in Meimaris 228 "ho
adelphos hêmôn" etc. and the Greek dictionaries mentioned
On the form -teimêsamenos
(read: tîmêsamenos) see the note on khrêstê in1.1
Philoteimêsamenos (from philotimeiomai)
means: “having sought honour”. Patronage was very important in antiquity,
both in Hellenism ("euergetism") as Roman society. Wealthy
peoply took their responsibility or the community by organising festivals,
building public buildings etcetera. There is always a quid pro quo,
and here it is timê, 'honour' (or sometimes: honorary offices, also
in the church, °Lampe).The
benefaction-for-honour mechanism played an important role within
associations (collegia) as well as in society as a whole, as
Harland explains in his 2003 book.
The leaf doesn't have to mean
much (see again Dunbabin 188ff).
psêphologeô means: to make a
tesselated pavement, from hê psêphos (pebble, cube, used in mosaic
"Brouti<o?>s êrgas(ato)" is very well
legible. This rendering is also in the newspapers (zie 2.4, WP); the text
is clearly legible in a picture in the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad
picture"), where only –atois lost.
There is one very interesting detail in
the inscription of Gaianus, and that is the name of the mosaicist. The habit
to sign one's work appears in the mosaics of Israel
only in the 6th century. Thanks to Diklah Zohar, Leiden
The name Broutis could possibly denote a
woman, see L&S, sv "Broutides". (For the ending–is, -idos, cf. Kupris, Atthis,
Phyllis etcetera.) The reading"Broutios", found in some newspapers, is not in the text.
Broutides is a certain group of women, like sibylls or
prophetesses, according to Stephanus.A certain bishop Theodorus wrote about the Christophore who met a
lady Broutis, who had had a vision of the Holy Spirit. (But
"Broutis" might well have been a very common women's name. More
on the name Broutis.) But: maybe the letters
"Broutis" should mean "Broutios" (a frequent
Roman name, derived from Brut(t)us, see Forcellini onomasticon and McLean
ch. 5 on Latin names ending in -ius), compare Dunbabin (1999: 180, 185:
"Georgi<o>s", "Kamilari<o>s", see also
"Porphyri(o?)s", 1.3 (here) above.
The word êrgasato often occurs in
the formula anethêken kai êrgasato, ("made and
1."It may be the largest church ever found here" (or the like),
°Jerusalem Post says. But this room is small and maybe it isn't a church
2.The building is simple and square. It lacks the characteristics of later
churches (apsis, east orientattion). Clearly it isn't a basilica either (°Hz,
°WP). °Yardena Alexandre, who cooperates with mr.Tepper, presumes this is might mean that we have to deal with a
very early church. There is no standard plan. (Cf. °Yahoo/Reuters.) °Leah di
Segni says: "I don't know if this structure can even be called a church"
(°Haaretz).Diklah Zohar (personal
ommunication) writes: "as far the program of the building is concerned,
there are a few examples of monastic structures, which also do not have
the regular basilica form. Perhaps Leah Di Segni is right that the structure
should not be called a church." (For Diklah Zohar, see 3.5
"mosaics", for monasteries, see 3.6 "historical context".
4.It is a relatively
small room: 30 x 15 ft (10 bij 5 meter, °NYT) or 9 x 6 meter (°IAA, °VK).
5.There are two mosaics lying on the floor. In between there is a
"base" . Possibly this base supported some construction that was used
in the Christian religious ceremony [see again thispicture] . Near by we
find the dedicatory inscription by Akeptous (1.2) (°Tepper in °NYT.)
6.Some pottery ("a wine jug" and more) was found (see also 3.1
"dating")as well as some
pieces of fresco (IAA).
7.The room was vaulted. Along the low ruins of one wall the base of a
column is visible. Archaeologists say it arched over the floor to support a
stone roof. Which indicates that this was one of the grandest buildings of its
8.Only approximately 10 percent of the site has been excavated yet. (WP.)
(often named in the Bible, known as Armageddon, hill of M., in Revelations) was
a Jewish village in the first century AD. In the neighbourhood there was a
Roman military camp. In the Christian (Byzantine) era the city of Maximiniapolis
rose here. Roman houses as well as a ritual Jewish bath house (miqweh) were
discovered here.(°IAA, °WP.)
10.Roman mosaics (from the third/fourth century) are relatively rare in Israel.
They have to be compared with mosaics elsewhere. (According to Tepper in JP.)
But: see 3.5 "mosaics", Diklah Zohar.
11.The ruins of the Christian prayer hall, which was located inside a Roman
villa, date back to the first half of the third century CE (...), Yotam Tepper
said Tuesday. [Jerusaelem Post January
2."One of the most dramatic finds suggests that instead of an altar,
a simple table stood in the center of the church, at which a sacred meal was
held to commemorate the Last Supper. Photographs of the Greek inscriptions in
the mosaics were sent to HebrewUniversity
expert Professor Laeh Di Segni, who told Haaretz on Sunday that the use of the
term "table" in one of them instead of the word "altar"
might lead to a breakthrough in the study of ancient Christianity. It is
commonly believed that church rituals based on the Last supper took place
around an altar." (Haaretz.) But see the notes in 1.2 (Ferguson,
Harland). See also Emile Puech, a specialist, cited in La-Croix: "the name
"table was already in use in the ancient liturgy".
3.On the centre of the mosaic floor there was a "base"
that may have supported a construction that was used for the Christian
religious ceremony. Nearby we find Akeptous' inscription (about the
"table", 1.2)(Tepper in °NYT.).
4."A second mosaic, closer to the base of a pedestal whose use
archaeologists have not determined, is a second inscription that recalls by
name four women of the community (1.1, bs)" (°WP.)
5."This suggests, literally, that the Eucharist was the centre of the
service. And as it was celebrated at a table (not an altar, like later
Christians did) that the Eucharist probably was not regarded as a sacrifice,
like Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church teach". (Or the like).
6.Archaeologists do not know if the "table" refers to a table or
an altar, but none has been found, they said. (CNS.)
1."The floor is about 30 feet by 15 feet and has two mosaics,
consisting of small black and white tiles in geometric patterns. Two fish, a
symbol widely used in early christianity, adorn one." (°NYT.) This
must be a mistake, because in all pictures we see two fish.
2.The fish is obviously a
chrsitian symbol. The fact that a fish symbol has been discovered but a cross
symbol has not, could be an indication that this 'church' is very oldeed,
according to mr. Tepper (°CO). Ferguson
(sv fish) says the fish symbol is as old as the catacombs. The sign not
only means Jesus Christ Son of God, Saviour", but it also refers to
several places in the New Testament. There is no unanimity as to how old the
cross symbol is, but the first undoubtedly Christian crosses are from the
fourth century AD (°Ferguson, sv cross).
Dunbabin (1978) (who wrote on mosaics in Roman Northern Africa, refers to the
fish as a Christian symbol in mosaics (Dunbabin 1978:195); a cross is seen in a
baptistry mosaic in the 6th century AD (ibid. 190-1). McLean
refers to a Christian tomb inscription with a pair of fish (McLean
280, n. 96 and n. 7 on Christian epigraphy and symbolism).
4.Fish commonly appear in Christian funerary art of the
third and following centuries, sometimes alongside other symbols which were
given a Christian meaning, including the anchor. See Harland on mosaics.
The sources agree that Gaianos was a military man:
1.A detailed and well preserved mosaic bearing the name of Jesus Christ in
ancient Greek and images of fish. (KUTV)
2."A Roman officer (...)". (CO.)
3."The inscription on the north site was dedicated to an army
officer named Gaianos who contributed the mosaic floor." (IAA.)
4."A dedication to Gaianos, a military officer who contributed
to the construction of the mosaic floor from his own funds." (JP.)
5."The northern inscription mentions a Roman army officer who
donated the money to build the floor." (Haaretz.)
6."Another inscription says a Roman officer, Gaianos, having
sought honour, from his own money, has made the mosaic." (NYT.) (See 3.2
"dating, others": Zias' commentary.
Greek inscription, roughly translated, reads: "Gaianos, also called
Porphyrio, centurio, our brother, having seeked (sic) honor with his own money,
has made this mosaic. Brouti has carried out the work." (WP.)
8."De mozaïeken zijn
geschonken door Gaianos, een Romeins soldaat, blijkt uit een
inscriptie." [The mosaics had been donated by Gaianos, a Roman, soldier, appears from
the inscription] (VK.)
9."Freigelegt sind ein
schwarz-weißer Mosaikboden, der mehrere griechische Inschriften und zwei Fische
als Symbole der frühen Christen zeigt. Darin
werden der römische Centurio Gaianus als
«Bruder» und Stifter [brother and founder] des Gebäudes, der Künstler [artist]
Broutios als Schöpfer
des Werkes [creator of the work] genannt. " (Spiegel, German newspaper.)
1.Yotan Tepperis the excavation leader(In de JP his name is Jotham Tefer). He works with the Israel
Antiquities Authority IAA. [Or maybe: Israel
Archeological Association (JP).]
2.Tepper is convinced that the 'church' dates back to the late 3rd of
early 4th century AD. He and his team suggest the church was in use in a period
when Christianity was not or hardly legal yet.
·"It is for sure the earliest church in Israel
that we know of": (Tepper in NYT).
·"This is a very ancient structure, maybe the oldest in our
area." (Tepper, KUTV)
·Dating: (late) third or (early) fourth century (BBC, Tepper/Tefer in JP,
·"Dr Uzi Bahari, deputy director of archaeology at the Israel
Antiquities Authority, said experts agree that the archaeological find "is
very unique" and probably dates back to the late 3rd or early 4th
·(...) What makes the find interesting is not just that it is ancient and
possibly the oldest church found in Israel, but that it clearly shows there was
public Christian worship here at a time when Christianity was still outlawed
in the Roman Empire and when Christians were being persecuted, said
archaelogist Najar Arfan, who is working at the dig. (CNS)
·"De multiples tessons de
poterie découverts au-dessus de la mosaïque, le style d’écriture grecque
utilisé, ainsi que l’allusion à un autel (trapeza, en grec) appelé «table pour
le repas du Seigneur», ont incité Yotam Tepper et son équipe à dater cette
église du IIIe siècle." (La Croix: "third century")
ruins of the Christian prayer hall, which was located inside a Roman villa,
date back to the first half of the third century CE (...), Yotam Tepper said
Tuesday.(...) Pottery shards and
coins found in the excavation date the mosaic to the first half of the
third century, Tepper said during a visit by president Moshe Katsav and senior
Christian religious leaders in the Holy Land. (Jerusalem
Post Jaunuary 25 2006.)
3.Tepper and his team have several arguments:
4.The building lacks the characteristics of later churches (no
basilica plan, no apsis, no eastern orientation). It is more like a hiding
place for a semi-illegal community than a 'classical' church, they say (VK.). (But: Diklah
Zohar, personal communication: this building could be a monastic structure as
well, see 2.1.)
5.Christian symbolism. There is a fish symbol, but there's no cross
[see also 2.3 "fish"] (Tepper, CO).
6.The phrasing of the inscriptions (Tepper, VK, IAA). Unfortuately
the newspapers offer no examples, but the formula "(the) God Jesus Christ"
in 1.2 is a good candidate.
7.The letter forms of the inscriptions seem to predate the
Byzantine period (though this may be a tricky argument, see 3.3
"epigraphy"). See also mrs. Leah di Segni, cited inin Hz,in 2.4, "inscriptions".
8.Pottery. Pottery shars of cooking pots and wine jugs
have been exavated on the mosaic floor. These fragments, experts believe, could
well date from the third century AD. So the church is likely to date back from
this period or earlier. (Tepper in CO, IAA, NYT; see also Leah di Segni in
Haaretz, "a pottery vessel discovered on the site".)
9.According to Tepper there arehistorical
texts that refer to a comparable Christian Christian house of prayer in the
coastal city of Caesarea, that was
never recovered. (WP.) According to mr. Tepper, cited inLa Croix a bishop was active during [the
late third century AD].
A Christian "church" dating back
to the Constantinian age (or before) would be surprising, but it is not
impossible. In the Hellenistic-Greek city of Dura-Europos
ruins of a church have been uncovered, that would date back to the year
232 AD . (See for example °Spiegel.) See also the discussion in
"Ohio": there are are more examples of early Christian
buildings, e.g. (John N. Lupia :)the famous court house of Paul of Samosata, bishop of Antiochia,
from 272, (referring to: JA Jungmann, The early liturgy ,1962, 14),
or (Yuri A. Marano) in Northern Africa in the third century AD (referring
to: Y. Duval, Chrétiens d'Afrique, 2000), or (Carolyn Snively,
referring to Maximinus Thrax)churches that burnt down in the year 235 AD.
commentariesin 3.2, especially Joe
2."The announcement [i.e. : "oldest church in Israel
discovered"] was met with deep skepticism from some scholars of
early Christianity." (°NYT.)
3.Stephan Pfann (Holy
no clear-cut opinion, as it seems: the second and third centuries AD were
transitonal periods; Christianity was persecuted until the reign of Constantine
[ca 212].Maybe that was the reason the
church had been destroyed. [This might be an extra argument pro
4.Joe Zias is an anthropologist and a former curator with
the IAA, so he is a predecessor of mr Tepper. He doubts the dating "third
century". There is no evidence for churchesbefore the 4th century AD (Constantine
and Byzantine age), he says. [But: see 3.1, nr 10]. As a matter of fact,
Christianity was disallowed inthese days, and a Roman officer (like Gaianos
in 1.3 and 2.4.3) wouldn't be so foolish as to make himself known as a
Christian. [But: see Philip Harland 2003 on Christians in the pro-Constantine
age.] Perhaps the building had been in use in earlier date[as a "Roman" buiding, Zias in
°NYT], but not as a church. As a church it could date back to the 4th century,
like other churches in the region.(Zias in °CO.)
5.The first (real) churches arose about 330: the Holy Sepulcher in
Jeruzalem, de NativityChurch
the Alonei Mamre near Hebron
(°Haaretz). All of these churches, though, are in a non-original condition,
unlike this Megiddo 'church'.
(°Haaretz, °NYT.) It would be unlikely that the Megiddo
church is older than these other churches. [But again: see 3.1, nr 10.]
6.Zeev Weiss, "archeology
professor" with the HebrewUniversity
in Jeruzalem, says it is possible that old (third century) pottery
is visible on top of a (more recent) mosaic floor, contrary to what mr. Tepper
presumes [cf. 3.1, nr 8.]. (WP.) [The research on the pottery found is still in
7.Yiska Harani, a historian and specialist
in the field of Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land, uses anargumentum e silentio: "If the
Megiddo terrain dates back to the third century, then why did no early church
historian mention this building" (or the like) . [Compare, though, the
argument in 3.1, nr 9.]
8.A somewhat "suspect" fact may be this: "Israel's
Tourism Minister Avraham Hirchson said the discovery could greatly increase tourism
(Haaretz.) [It wouldn't be the first time that authorities or scientists
exaggerate the 'importance' of an archaeological excavationin order to attract attentions, funds or
tourists. But even if this would be the case (in a way), no one would deny taht
this is an important and spectacular discovery.]
(personal communication, see 3.5) writes: "I hope that the preliminary
publication [of the IAA] will also include numismatic material, which is
probabaly more reliable than letter-style,artistic style or unusual word usage." Compare Emile Puech, cited
in La-Croix: "the only way to date with certainty is to search the ground
beneath the mosaic for coins."
1.Dating inscriptions by their letter forms is tricky game (McLean
42). "Outdated" letters might return in more recent texts. Differing
letter forms may occur in one and the same text, as we will see here.
2.Moreover the various sources I used make a clear distinction between
Roman age letter forms and earlier variants, but we did not manage to find
clear cut differences between "Roman" and "Byzantine"
3.Leah di Segni, an expert in epigraphy,
asserts the (Greek) letterforms are caracteristic of the Roman Imperial period.
(°Haaretz). We do not now exactly why she thinks so.
4.The letters are obviously not
classical Greek.Evidences arethe
cursive ('small') letters sigma (c) and omega (w), which were
borrowed (in the Roman age) from the palaeographic tradition. (McLean 40ff,
Reinach 203ff, also Kaufmann 450.) The alpha and the delta with
long (higher) right legs occur in the Roamn period as well (ibidem). The pi
had a short right leg beforethe Roman
5.In these inscriptions the mu is always wide and curved
(cursive), which may be a caracteristic of the Roman age. (McLean 40ff,
Kaufmann, 450, 457; °Woodhead; Newton
6.Some letters appear in different variants, sometimes in one and
the same text. (Which is common, see Reinach). In 1.2 and 1.3 we see the omikron
(o) and the sigma (c) in two different shapes: round and edgy. The phi
in text 1.3 has various forms (the circle is high, middle and low, compared to
the vertical strokeI that supports it). Some letters in 1.2 and 1.3 have a
serif (e.g. an êta in 1.3, two iota's in 1.2). Here also the distributon
seems to be fully arbitrary. In 1.2 we find the nu and the pi both
with and without a serif. The upsilon in text 1.2 alternately written
asY and V (Newton
204f) , compare1.1 (Y) and1.3 (V).
7.Text 1.1 seems to be at variance with the two other
texts. The letters are consequently serif-less and edgy. In this text (and only
here) we find two (usual type) ligatures: NH and NE, cf Larfeld 275,
McLean 55). In the Byzantine age the use of ligatures will be far more frequent
(Reinach 212-4, Larfeld 275).
8.The iota subscriptum is never found in epigraphic texts. Either
it is written as a regular iota, or it is not written at all. In the Roman age
this iota has become infrequent (the diffeerence in pronunciation between ê and
êi etc. has disappeared by this period). (McLean 347f and 56 on nomina sacra).
9.We have no explanation for the mirror image Z in 1.2.
10.The horizontal bar
after "Akeptous-" is normal in the Roman age (Reinach 215-6);
in the Christian (Byzantine) period more symbols will be used (ibidem).
11.Word separation is a "Roman" invention, and in this
period it is still infrequent. If words are separated, a half-high dot is
usually seen to do the job. In later periods more symbols will be used.
(Reinach 216, Larfeld 302, McLean 48).
12.For the orthography
of teimêsamenos (instead of timêsamenos) see Kaufmann 33
and McLean 349f.
13.We do not know
whether ho ka(i) Porphyris in 1.3 is a ligature or a strange
spelling for kai (again: McLean 349).
14.On the nomina
sacra, see text 1.2, Larfeld 280, McLean 56 and
Philip Harland's weblog; McLean reports that the use of
horizontal bars on top of abbreviations is from the age of Hadrian (McLean
introduction in epigraphy is Van Nijf (1999).
and Brouti<o?>s (1.3) we can't say anything for sure.
the letter forms we can't conclude much about the dating of the mosaics. (In
later mosaics in Palestine we see
(at first glance) the same letters (Dunbabin 1999), including the cursive sigma
and omega and the 'high' alpha and delta. Ligatures, though, are more frequent,
esp. OY. On the relative value of epigraphy for the dating, see 3.2)
Tradionally the "real" Romans had three names, a first name or
praenomen (Gaius), a family name or nomen gentis (Iulius) and a
nickname or cognomen (Caesar). These were thetrianomina.
Freed slaves and adopted children often got a nomen gentis from
their former master or adoptive father.
The emperor Caracalla (211-217) granted all free-born inhabitants of the
empire Roman citizenship. This decision is known as the Constitutio
Antoniniana (from the year 212, see Naerebout en Singor 373). This was the
natural end of a development that had lasted for centuries (e.g. during
Now, in the later Roman Empire,the tria nomina have lost their
distinguishing value. Moreover,the
"real" Romans are only a tiny minority of the poulation. Romans often
bear two names, a nomen gentis and a cognomen. The cognomen tends
to be the "individuating name" (McLean 119).
Greeks have only one "personal name", by tradition (Plato, son
of X, McLean 75). It is very common for a non-Roman to take a Roman name (in
this period). This may be a praenomen, a nomen gentis or a cognomen.
This could be the case with Gaianos. It was normal, for Christians and
others, to have only one name. (Kaufmann 35-36.)
Some people bear an "extra name", introduced by the formula
"ho kai" (McLean 99f on Greek "surnames",
[Dêmêtrios ho kai X] and 124f on Roman agnomina [Tibêrios X ho kai Y]).
A well-known agnomen(in Greek
rendering) is Saulos ho kai Paulos (ibidem).
Eighty percent of the cognomina ends in–anus (though the name Gaianos might be a nomen gentis, McLean
It is tempting to presume that one of both names (Gaianos, Porphyris)
was a Christian proper name, accepted at the time of his (alleged) conversion,
and that the other name is his "old" one (see again Kaufmann 35-36),
but this does not have to be true. (McLean 99f on extra
names, avoiding of confusion", 124f. "honorary names" etc.).
Moreover there is no need to suppose that one of both names is
"Christian". See also CE on Christian names.
After the Severan reforms (beginning of third century AD) a large amount
of non-Italian soldiers and commanders served in the roman army. (The Severan
emperorswere from Syria
themselves.) In this period (of the mosaic) military skills weighed more than
descent, and Gaianos was a Roman citizen anyway. The fact that Gaianos was a
centurio in the Roman army doesn't mean he was an ethnicRoman.
Only after 313 the Christian names drive out the traditional gentile
names of Christians (according to Kaufmann 35-6). Some Christians had
remarkably gentile names like Apollodoros. (The very Christian names
ofKyriakê and Dôrothea
would be rather exceptional, given Tepper's dating.)
Woman used to have only one name (McLean 127
"Prima"), like the four ladies in 1.1 and Akeptous in 1.2 (and
possibly also Broutis in 1.3).
It may be remarkable that we don't see any (recognisably) Jewish name
(like Salomo or Esther), cf. Meimaris, where we do find "Jewish"
names with Christian monks, e.g Jakôbos. After Constantine,
names like Johannês, Maria, Thômas etc. became popular among Christians (McLean
122). From Hellenistic times onwards Greek names were very frequent among
Palestinian Jews (Jewish Encyclopedia, sv names and Wendland, 187-9, cf.
Meijering 75ff) (Later on, after the destruction of the temple and the Jewish
war, Hebrew names became more popular again.) On Jews, Christians and gentiles
in Palestine, see 3.6.
(Remark that a military man like
Gaianos could have come from anywhere, cf. this soldier from Toulon,
buried in Volubilis, Marocco, IAM 2.511.)
There are two mosaics. The first mosaic (cf.
1.1 and 1.2) shows a geometrical pattern (stars within circles), two inscriptions
(in rectangulars) and a double guillache. The second mosaic (cf. 1.3) contains
a central medallion (showing two fish), surrounded by square, rectangular and
triangular fields, filled with well-known mosaic forms like peltes, a salomon's
knot , a swastica/meanderetcetera. The
rest of the surface is filled with monotonous square forms (not unlike a chess
board). A simple guillache border encloses the mosaic, surroundinga crow step (Dunbabin (1999:339-341,
Dunbabin (1999:176) explains that in Syria
in the 4th century AD a simplification of the form of mosaics takes oplace.
This has to do with the rise of the Christian church. Churches have larger
surfaces than private houses; besides there is a different type of patronage.
Diklah Zohar (Leiden),
an expert on Roman mosaics in Palestine,
wrote me the following: "My own impression from the decorative part of
the mosaic is that it does not support an early dating. The geometric patterns
and the panel of the fish, including the geometric composition that surrounds
it, is quite common in the Byzantine period. From the photos I've seen until
now it also seems that the quality of the work is not very high.
Every region, or workshop, or even
mosaicist, could have developed its own characteristic work. The choice for a
certain composition may be a result of a local fashion and taste in a certain
period and place, which does not necessarily has to be the case in a different
region. Secondly - there are a few fourth-century mosaic floors in Israel
to enable comparison, although many of them are incomplete. Next to the
fragments from the Church in Bethlehem,
there is the synagogue of Hammath-Tiberias and at least three Samaritan
I have not yet studied the floor in
detail, but from the available material, I suggest the following parallels for
the fish-panel composition: Beth Guvrin [a.k.a. Beit Jibrin] (Ovadiah, A. and
Ovadiah, R., Mosaic Pavements in Israel, Rome, 1987, Plate XI, figs. 1 & 2)
VI cent. CE?; Hazor-Ashdod (Ovadiah, Plate LXXVIII, fig.1) 512 CE; A variant
without a circle within the heksagon: Beth Shean[a.k.a. Beisan]– Monastery of Lady Mary (Ovadiah, Plate
XXI) c. 567 CE; Roglit (Ovadiah, Plate CXXXVII) Vth cent. CE. Just citing one
example from Jordan:
in Gerasa (Piccirillo, The Mosaics of Jordan, Amman, 1992, p. 293, fig. 560)
526 CE. As you notice, most of these mosaics are dated to the 6th
There is one very interesting detail in
the inscription of Gaianus, and that is the name of the mosaicist. The habit to
sign one's work appears in the mosaics of Israel
and Jordan only
in the 6th century.
Most mosaics in Palestine
have a religious setting, according to Dunbabin (1999:187ff). The majority
dates back to the 4th to 8th century AD. Many churches, decorated with floor
mosaics, arise since Constantine, as well as a number of synagogues showing
mosaics. In the early fifth century (and later) a lot of "repetitive
carpet" mosaics were made.
Often, the donors of the mosaics (and
the churches) are named in an inscription (ibid. 198, 317, 324), clerics as
well as laypersons. [Cf. Gaianos, 1.3.]
Signatures of the mosaicist are not
extremely exceptional (ibid. 272-5). [Cf. Brouti(o)s, 1.3.] Some of them,
living in or around Palestine, are
called Kaioumas, Elias, and Thômas.
excurs: Roman mosaics in Northern Africa
A famous book on Roman mosaics is Dunbabin
(1978), a treatise on Roman mosaics in North Africa.
These mosaics are indicative of Roman social life in the Empire. Popular themes
were: hunting scenes, fish, scenes from the amphitheater, mythology and
(demi)gods and heroes.Inthe last
category we do not see anymore the Olympian gods (Juppiter, Juno etc.), but
only Bacchus (wine, agriculture, seasons, Bacchus cult) and Venus (love);
demigods and heroes include Orpheus, Hercules and other people who reached the
Olympus by means of their own virtus ('virtue') (like Ariadne, Ganymed
etc.). The "foreign" goddess Cybele, with her two lions, appears on
some mosais as well.
Most mosaics date back to a period from
(roughly) 180 – 400 AD. (As is well-known, the western part of the Empire
ceased to exist much earlier than the eastern part.) It is clear that the age
of the Roman city gods and the Greek Olympic gods has ended, and that there is
a need for hope giving deities, some of whom have their own mystery cults.
(Christianity flourished in Roman society that embraced eastern mystery cults
like the Cybele or Mithras cult.) An overview of these themes is to be seen on
this op this
page, about the floor mosaics in the Roman city of Volubilis,
Mauretania Tingitana (Marocco).
Some words about
Christian mosaics in Northern Africa
As Dunbabin (188ff) points out,
there was hardly any kind of specifically Christian symbolism in early
Christian mosaics. Sometimes the Christ monogram or the alpha-omega-sign was
visible, but traditional symbols (vines, roseplants etc.) were much more
frequent. "Palm trees flank the inscriptions" (Dunbabin 190.)
Traditional symbols (fish, anchor) could
receive a new Christian "meaning", cf. . Harland, "fish mosaic" and christian symbols.The Salomon's knot, visible in the Megiddo
mosaic, is not an originally Christian motive either, cf. "salomons knot"
[cf. the Gaianos mosaic], J.L. Panetier, "Volubilis, une cité du Maroc
antique" (2002), p.104.
Byzantine mosaics" by A. Graber and M. Chatzidakis (1959) we see a few
very explicit Christian mosaics from Thessaloniki
(a saint, an apocalyptic vision, two angels etc.); zij date back to the fifth
6 BC: Judea, already within Roman
influence, becomes a Roman provincia.
About 30 AD: Christianity arises. The first Christians are Jews
from Palestine, mainly living
in the cities.
66-70 AD: The Jewish War, a rebellion against the Romans; Jerusalem
is sacked by the Romans (Titus). As a punishment for their rebellion, the
Jews are forced to pay an additional tax (fiscus iudaicus); the
(Jewish) christians, who were not involved in the war, are excluded
Pauline Christianity attracts more and more non-Jews from outside Palestine;
there is a growing separationbetween
Pauline christians and (christian, non-christian) Jews as a consquence of
this and the Jewish War.
135 AD. The Bar Kochba revolt fails. The emperor Hadrian creates a
"new" province (Syria)
Palaestina. (Capital: Caesarea).Many Jews are killed or enslaved.
In Late Antiquity, most Greek speaking Jews live in the major
cities (Alexandria, Antioch,
Rome) as well as in Syria,
Palestine and Asia
About 30 AD: Christianity arises soon after the death of Jesus
Christ. The first adherents are Palestine Jews, but Paul attracts many
non-Jewish converts. This fact, as well as the Jewish war, causes a
growing separation between Jews and Christians.
Occasionally, there are frictions between Christianity and Roman
society. Spontaneous outbursts of hatred against local Christians occur,
especially in the cities of Asia Minor. Some
Christians are even eager to die as a martyr. (N & S 411.) But until
250 persecutions were always local and incidental, not general.
135 AD: The Church in Palestinia is headed by the city of Caesarea,
(See also Jews, 135 AD.) There are continuous tensions between Caesarea
and Jerusalem (until Jerusalem
will take the lead in 451 AD). (Mei..)
·249-251 AD: Persecutions
under the emperor Decius.
·Third century AD: There
are not many Christians in Palestine
and they are concentrated in the cities (Jedin); but the amount of Christians
is rising quickly during this century (N&S 54).
·260 AD: Edict of
Tolerance (in the western part of the Empire), by the emperor Gallienus. Forty
years of peace and security for the Christians.
·284-305 AD: Diocletian,
emperor (in the East). In 303 he decides to destroy all churches; Christians
who refuse to sacrifice will be killed.
·311 AD: (Second) Edict of
Tolerance by the emperor Galerius. Christians are allowed to practice their
faith as long as they do not disturb the peace.
·312-324 AD: Constantine's
Conversion. Christian faith is legalised officially (Edict of MIlan 313.)
During the reign of Constantine Christianity flourishes, resulting in churches
(e.g. Holy Sepulcher, Nativity Church), pilgrimages to Palestine and
only twenty cities with Christian communities were known in Palestine
(Jedin). In 312 AD no more than 20 percent of the entire population in the Roman
Empire consisted of Christians (WV 315).Sixteen bishops from Palestine
will attend the Council of Nicaea (325 AD, see below)
·325 AD: The Council of
Nicaea is held in order to put an end to the confusion aboutthe "nature" of Christ. The
Orthodox Christian doctrine is now (supposed to be) clear.
·381 AD: The emperor
Theodosiusdecides Christian faith will
be the official state religion in the Empire.
·At the end of the fourth
century Christian victory in Palestine
is a fact. Most gentiles have converted to christianity. There are fourty
churches (and only 120 synagogues). Orthodox Christianity is the standard type
of faith (unlike the "monophysite" regions Syria
though a tough minority of monophysites exists (Bow..), led by "Peter the
Iberian", who is actually from Georgia.(Monophysites claim that Jesus was
·381 AD: The emperor
Theodosius condemns Arianism ("Jesus was just a man") during the
Second Council.The Holy Spirit is
added to the Nicaean credo.
·451 AD: The Council of
Chalcedon condemns both monophysite and Nestorian (roughly: Arianist)
interpretations of Christian faith.
In the early days Christians paid no special attention to their
martyrs other than the usual veneration due to all people after death,
according to the local funeral rites. In a later period their names and
date of death were written in a book of the church or community: martyrologia.
The first attested martyr veneration: St. Polycarp, second century.
Following the Edict of Milan (313) Christians started gathering
information about martyrs. (MEI 110; NS 415.) A list of Palestinian
martyrs was given by Eusebios:De
martyribus palestinae (Migne, Patr. Graec. 20, 1457-1536, on the
martyrs of Caesarea, Gaza
Almost all martyrs in Tyrus (Phoenicia)
had Greek names. This could mean they were mainly Greeks not Jews (Jedin).
Monks and monasteries:
Heremites (lonely "monks") already existed (cf. St. Antonius
27-325), but the monasteries (communities of monks) were introduced by
Pachomius, an Egyptian who deserted from the army (WV 325). Both male and
female communities came into existence in Egypt
in the late third century AD. Soon Palestine
and Asia Minor followed. In the early fourth century AD
monasteries had reached the West. (CE, NS 417ff.) Monastic life was becoming
more important (MEI 157), alongside the clerus and the laypersons. In Palestine
there were three types: (1) the anchorite stage (a very strict way of life which
drove a number of people mad); (2) the "laura"(from 320 AD onwards, every monk had his own
cell or cave), and (3) the koinobion (a real community, dating back to
the 5th century AD in Palestine: everybody shared everything; the mebers called
each other brother ["adelphos"] and sister).
Novum Testamentum. A site dedicated to the New Testament and
cognated fields, weblog van Brandon Wason.
Handelsblad (NRC) (zaterdag 7 november 2005, p4): 'Oudste'
kerk van het heilige land. (met foto van AFP: centraal mozaïek met
inscriptie van Gaianos, 1.3).
Washington Post (WP).
Reuters, zie Yahoo.
RIAM: Religion in the ancient Mediterranean.
Weblog van Philip Harland, "assistant professor University Montreal".
Spiegel (Spiegel): (7 november 2005):
Älteste christliche Kirche der Welt entdeckt?
Volkskrant(VK)(maandag 7 november
2005): Kerk uit derde of vierde eeuw opgegraven (door Alex Burghoorn).
Washington Post(WP) (6
november 2005): Site may be 3-rd century place of Christian
worship (door Scott Wilson). Ook te vinden als: Israeli archeologists
discover Roman-era Christian building (door Scott Wilson) in "Religion
Bechtel, F. (1917): Die historischen Personennamen des
Griechischen bis zur Kaiserzeit.
Blümel, W. (1992): Einheimische Personennamen in Griechischen
Inschriften aus Karien, Epigraphica Anatolica, nr20, 1992, 7-33.
& P. Brown & O. Grabar (1999): Late antiquity, a guide to the postclassical
Donceel-Voute, P. Les pavements des églises byzantnes de
Syrie en du Libanon. Décor, archéologie et liturgie. 1988. (Genoemd in Dunbabin 1999).
Brooks, J.A. &
C.L. Winbery (1994): A
morphology of New Testament Greek.
CIL: Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum.
Diehl, E. (1927): Inscriptiones latinae christianae
(1978): The mosaics
of Roman North Africa.
(1999): Mosaics of
the Greek and Roman world.
Ferguson, E. e.a. (1997): Encyclopedia of early christianity.
Lexicon totius Latinitatis.
Grammont, M. (1948): Phonétique du Grec
Harland, P.A. (2003): Associations,
Synagogues, and Congregations:
Claiming a Place in Ancient Mediterranean Society . Harland (2005): Familial Dimensions of Group
'Brothers'(ΑΔΕΛΦΟΙ) in Associations of the Greek East.
Horrocks, G. (1997): Greek. A history of the
language and its speakers.
(1998?):Lord Jesus Christ, devotion to Jesus in
Ilan, Tal (2002): Lexicon of Jewish names. Part (I) Palestine
330 BCE – 200 CE.
Jedin, H. (1962): Handbuch der Kirchengeschichte. Bd I: Von der
Urgeschichte zur frühchristlichen Grosskirche.
Jewish Encyclopedia, ook op internet.(Artikel
over namen door Joseph Jacobs.)
Kaufmann, C.M. (1917): Handbuch der altchristlichen Epigraphie.
Lampe, G.W.H. (Larfeld, W. (1914):1961):
A patristic lexicon.
Lewis and Short: A Latin dictionary.
& Scott, R. (1968) (L&S): A Greek-English lexicon.
B.H. (2002): An
introduction to Greek epigraphy of the Hellenistic and Roman periods from
Alexander the Great down to the reign of Constantine
(323 B.C. – A.D. 337).
Meijering, E. (2004): Geschiedenis van het vroege Christendom.
Van de jood Jezus van Nazareth tot de Romeinse keizer Constantijn. [History of Early Christianity,
names , saints, martyrs and church officials in the Greek inscriptions and
papyri pertaining to the christian church
Naerebout, F.G. & H. Singor (1995): De oudheid. Grieken en
Romeinen in de context van de wereldgeschiedenis.
This is not a work of science. The author has studied
Greek and Latin, but he is not a specialist in epgraphy, nor in Early
Christianity, nor in Roman mosaics. Errors can always occur (an did occur in
the past). For instance: XP does not seem to be an abbreviation of Christ
(Oikonomides), but centurio (McLean). Etcetera. Alwayc
NOTE ON AKEPTOUS. (Oneway to solve the problem would be, just for the sake of argument,
my own theory X: (a) Akkeptous was a man, (b) hê is in fact ê
('or') and (c) –ous is a Greek redendering for Latin –us, but I don't believe
my own theory: (b) may be grammatically correct [°Kühner-Gerth II.2. §538.1-3],
but seems to be epigraphically strange (?), (c) is never the case [McLean131f,
Reinach 516f; except where Latin is written in Greek letters, Diehl p. 503, nr.
4971], so (a) seems unlikely.) Back.