Monday, October 17, 2016

Late-antique Christians and the Temple Mount

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: UNESCO’s Jerusalem resolution ignores Christian roots, too. With increased archeological findings of a Byzantine presence prior to the Muslim conquest, the historical holy site is clearly linked to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity — and not necessarily in that order (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
Shortly before his death, in what is called the Olivet Discourse, Jesus predicts the fall of the Second Temple and the resulting desolation on the Temple Mount. Recounted in three gospels, this prophecy became foundational theology to the early Christians, who eschewed the most holy site of the Jewish faith when creating their new churches.

But what if not all of them did leave the Temple Mount deserted?

Over the past decade, there have been increasing archaeological findings that after the destruction of the Second Temple and prior to the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem, the Temple Mount served Byzantine Christians as a base.

Shown through rare images of Byzantine mosaics photographed during the British Mandate in 1937 — and only published in 2008 — alongside some half a million Byzantine period mosaic tiles discovered since 1999 in the Temple Mount Sifting Project, there is increasing evidence that the Al Aqsa Mosque and courtyard is built upon Christian ruins.

A long, interesting article that explores various expert viewpoints about pre-Islamic Christian activity on the Temple Mount. It does sound as though there was some of this. Background on the UNESCO resolution is here and links. And for much more on the Temple Mount Sifting Project, start here and here and follow the many, many links.