The Early Christian Church - Vol. 1

By Philip Carrington | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
CAESAREA

Hellenism in, p. 47. The earliest literary forms, p. 51. The 'Books of Testimonies', p. 52. The theology of Stephen, p. 53. The Gospel in Samaria, p. 54. Simon Magus, p. 55. The church in Caesarea, p. 56. Saul of Tarsus, p. 57. Damascus, p. 59. Saul in Jerusalem, p. 60. Political events in Palestine, A.D. 36- 37).p. 61 Peter in Caesarea, p. 62. The controversy in Jerusalem, p. 64.


HELLENISM IN JERUSALEM

The existence of a Hellenistic community in Jerusalem, and a Greekspeaking synagogue for Jews from overseas, is no surprise for those who have considered the available evidence. It comes as a shock only to those who think of the Jews in Palestine as a unilingual minority of little political importance, cut off from the civilization of the day, and shut up within a backward and racially pure Judaism. When Pilate wrote out the inscription which was to be placed over the head of Jesus on the cross, he did it in three languages; Aramaic for such native Jews as knew no other tongue, Latin for the soldiers and officials, and Greek for all those who used the universal language of the day. A few years ago R. Weill discovered in the ruins of Ophel or Mount Zion, the part of the old city which lay south of the Temple, the remains of a synagogue of our period, and a stone which bears the following inscription in Greek:

Theodotus, son of Vettenus, priest and synagogue-ruler, son of a synagogue-ruler, grandson of a synagogue-ruler, built the synagogue for the reading of the Law and for the teaching of the commandments; furthermore the guest-house and the rooms and the water-installation for the lodging of needy strangers; the foundation had been laid by his father and the elders and Simonides.

This was quite possibly the actual synagogue in which Stephen preached.

There is also a burial inscription in which the Greek name Theodotion, in Aramaic characters, is followed by the Greek word didaskalos (teacher) in Greek characters. It is interesting, too, that the name of Jesus in a recently discovered funerary inscription (prior to A.D. 70) is in Greek characters.

-47-

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