Saint NameMary, Mother of Christ : S00033
John, Apostle and Evangelist : S00042
John the Baptist : S00020
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Evidence not before500
Evidence not after600
Activity not before500
Activity not after600
Place of Evidence - RegionPalestine with Sinai
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcJerusalem
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Jerusalem
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Places Named after Saint
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsVow
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesWomen
Other lay individuals/ people
SourceCentral fragment of a reddish sandstone lintel. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.495 m; W. 0.914 m; Th. 0.20 m. Decorated with a carving of a cross within a circle, with trefoils in four sectors delimited by the arms of the cross. It is not clear if the text is spread over two columns (as argued by Germer-Durand) or we have here continuous lines on both sides of the central cross (Clermont-Ganneau and Di Segni).
When recorded by Charles-Jean-Melchior de Vogüé in 1862 the fragment was reused in the wall of a modern house in Haret el-Wad (Valley Street, Rehov ha-Gay) in Jerusalem. Rediscovered before 1903 in a garden near the hospital of the London Jews Society (now the Anglican School, Street of the Prophets). Di Segni also records a squeeze by R.A. Stuart Macalister in the archive of the Palestine Exploration Fund and a probably lost squeeze by Prosper sent to Paris, to Clermont-Ganneau.
The inscription long functioned as an incomprehensible drawing or descriptum. Even William Waddington, despite his prowess as an epighraphist, who saw the stone in the 1860s, was unable to decipher it. A better drawing and the first transcription were offered only in 1892 by Joseph Germer-Durand; and a significantly altered transcription by Charles Clermont-Ganneau followed in 1903 (from a squeeze by P. Prosper). In the present record we follow the recent edition by Leah Di Segni from the Corpus inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae (2012), which is basically an altered version of Clermont-Ganneau's reading.
DiscussionAs the inscription is carved on a large lintel, it almost certainly commemorates the construction of a sanctuary. Germer-Durand, the first editor, believed that it was a church of *John the Evangelist (here called the Theologian), built as a vow for the memory of one Ioannes and Sophia, both deceased and therefore called ἅγοι. His restoration was, however, based on the probably wrong assumption that the inscription is divided into two columns. Soon after Germer-Durand's edition, Clermont-Ganneau plausibly argued that the text should be read simply from left to right in all lines, and that the commemorated building was a monastery dedicated to Mary (termed Theotokos/the God-Bearer) and an unspecified John. That John can possibly be identified as the Evangelist (as, according to the Gospel of John, Christ entrusted his mother to his protection), but in late antique and Byzantine art Mary is usually associated with *John the Baptist, so perhaps he is the saint mentioned here.
Cotton, H.M., Di Segni, L., Eck, W., Isaac, B., Kushnir-Stein, A., Misgav, H., Price, J.J., Yardeni, A. and others (eds.), Corpus inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae: A Multi-Lingual Corpus of the Inscriptions from Alexander to Muhammad, vol. 1, part 2: Jerusalem, nos. 705-1120 (Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2012), no. 858 (with further bibliography).
Thomsen, P., "Die lateinischen und griechischen Inschriften der Stadt Jerusalem und ihrer nächsten Umgebung. 1. Nachtrag", Zeitschrift des deutschen Palästina-Vereins 64 (1941), no. 15.
Thomsen, P., Die lateinischen und griechischen Inschriften der Stadt Jerusalem und ihrer nächsten Umgebung (Leipzig: J.C. Hinrichs, 1922), no. 15.
Clermont-Ganneau, Ch., "Inscriptions de Palestine", Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres (1903), 481, no. 5 (= Idem, Recueil d'archéologie orientale 6 , 184, no. 5) (first complete transcription).
Germer-Durand, J., "Epigraphie chrétienne de Jérusalem", La Revue biblique 1 (1892), 584, no. 46 (drawing).
Waddington, W.H., Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie (Paris: Firmin Didot Frères, Libraires-Éditeurs, 1870), no. 1903 (descriptum).
De Vogüé, Ch.J.M., Le temple de Jérusalem, monographie du Haram-ech-Chérif (Paris: Par. &c, 1864), 135 and Pl. XXXVII, 8.
Abel, F-M., "", DACL 2358.
Bieberstein, K., Bloedhorn, H., Grundzüge der Baugeschichte vom Chalkolithikum bis zur Frühzeit der osmanischen Herrschaft (TAVO Beiheft B 100, 1-3; Wiesbaden 1994), vol. 2, 351-352.
Halkin, F., "Inscriptions grecques relatives à l'hagiographie. IV La Palestine", Analecta Bollandiana 69 (1951), 70.
Leclercq, H., "", DACL 13/1, col. 853.