The delicate carving on the side of the sarcophagus depicts Zeus, in the guise of a swan, graphically forcing himself on the Spartan queen Leda. The scene is one of the best known in ancient Greek mythology, so its appearance on a sarcophagus should be no surprise. This particular sarcophagus, however, comes not from ancient […]
Judaism under Christian Rome
The finds at Sepphoris continue to dazzle—from the theater now fully exposed to the major public buildings and miqva’ot (ritual baths) to the magnificent mosaics. Indeed, the discovery of an extravagant new mosaic is the occasion for this report. The new mosaic covers the floor of a large, nearly square room (approximately 20 × 22 […]
The famous mosaic map in a church in Madaba, Jordan, and the not-so-famous mosaic inscription from an ancient synagogue near Tel Rehov, in Israel’s Beth-Shean Valley, reflect two very different views of sacred geography. In Christianity, the Holy Land is perceived as the totality of holy sites sanctified by saints and revelation. In Judaism, the […]
The Two Faces of Jesus – How the early church pictured the divine, Robert M. Jensen, BR 18:05, Oct 2002.
In the upper reaches of the Church of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, just below the painted wood ceiling, appears a striking series of 26 mosaics portraying the life and passion of Jesus. Dating to the early sixth century, they constitute one of the oldest—perhaps the oldest—extant monumental series of images depicting Jesus’ life (see photos […]
Julian the Apostate and His Plan to Rebuild the Jerusalem Temple, Jeffrey Brodd, BR 11:05, Oct 1995.
Of the Roman emperors after Constantine, only Julian (331–363) rejected Christianity in favor of the pagan gods. A nephew of Constantine, the first Christian emperor, Julian incurred the wrath of a burgeoning Christian community by deciding to rebuild the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, which had been destroyed by Roman legions in 70 C.E. Actually, Constantine […]
For most Christians, the term “Samaritan” evokes a compassionate people who help others in need, especially when nobody else is willing to do so. In fact, today “Samaritans” is the name of an organization that attends to the emotionally distressed. The name derives from the New Testament parable of the Good Samaritan, in Luke […]
This description of the Persian conquest of Jerusalem in 614 C.E. shows that by this time, most of the inhabitants of the city were Christians. The terrible destruction wreaked by the Persians did not secure the city for them, and it soon fell again to Byzantine rule. Palestinian Jewry looked upon the Persian conquest as […]
Again the ancient sources reflect the dubious effect of the forced conversions of the Samaritans who became Christians after their failed rebellion. In this year (110), when the Samaritans revolted and created for themselves an emperor and Caesar, Irenaeus the son of Pentadia was sent as magister militum (111) and put many to death. And certain of them in […]
This description of the first Samaritan rebellion by Procopius of Caesarea, a Byzantine historian, was written between 559 and 560 C.E. This account highlights the religious nature of the struggle, supporting the notion that Christian persecution of the Samaritans led to the unleashing of the revolt. In Palestine there is a city named Neapolis (98), […]
The Chronicon Paschale is an anonymous Byzantine Greek chronology from the early 7th century which presents an account of world history up to that time from a Christian viewpoint. It provides a rather one-sided account of the Samaritan revolt against Christian Byzantine rule which took place and was suppressed in 484 C.E. In these times […]