Tag Archives: Italy

The Arch of Titus once had a golden menorah

Many who have visited the Roman Forum have seen the Arch of Titus at the southeast of the Forum. Mark Cartwright describes the Arch in the Ancient History Encycl0pedia here. There are many links within this quotation for those interested in following them.

The Arch of is a Roman Triumphal Arch which was erected by Domitian in c. 81 CE at the foot of the Palatine hill on the Via Sacra in the Forum Romanum, Rome. It commemorates the victories of his father Vespasian and brother Titus in the Jewish War in Judaea (70-71 CE) when the great city of Jerusalem was sacked and the vast riches of its temple plundered. The arch is also a political and religious statement expressing the divinity of the late emperor Titus.

The Arch of Titus in the Roman Forum commemorates the Roman victory of the Jews in A.D. 70. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Arch of Titus in the Roman Forum commemorates the Roman victory over the Jews in A.D. 70. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The original inscription on the opposite side reads,

SENATUS
POPOLUS QUE ROMANUS
DIVO TITO DIVI VESPASIANI F
VISPASIANO AUGUSTO

The inscription attributes divinity to both Vespasian and his son Titus.

One of the large panels inside the arch shows Roman soldiers parading items taken from the Temple in Jerusalem in triumph through the streets of Rome. You will see the table of showbread, and the Menorah. One of the placards carried by the soldiers mentions the laws of the Jews.

Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, provides a first person account of the procession in Jewish Wars.

… and for the other spoils, they were carried in great plenty. But for those who were taken in the temple of Jerusalem, {c} they made the greatest figure of them all; that is, the golden table of the weight of many talents; the lampstand [Menorah] also, that was made of gold, though its construction was now changed from that which we made use of;
149 for its middle shaft was fixed upon a basis, and the small branches were produced out of it to a great length, having the likeness of a trident in their position, and had everyone a socket made of brass for a lamp at the tops of them. These lamps were in number seven, and represented the dignity of the number seven among the Jews;
150 and the last of all the spoils was carried the Law of the Jews.
151 After these spoils passed by a great many men, carrying the images of Victory, whose structure was entirely either of ivory or of gold.
152 After which Vespasian marched in the first place, and Titus followed him; Domitian also rode along with them, and made a glorious appearance, and rode on a horse that was worthy of admiration. (JW 7:148-152)

Arch of Titus relief showing Roman soldiers carrying the items taken from the Temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Arch of Titus relief showing Roman soldiers carrying the items taken from the Temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

It appears that the first soldier carrying the Menorah on his shoulder is also carrying a pigeon, perhaps for an offering.  <grin>

Live pigeon on head of Roman soldier. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Live pigeon on head of Roman soldier. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

For many years Dr. Steven Fine of Yeshiva University has been pursuing his interest in the Menorah. This, of course, led him to the Arch of Titus in Rome where the Menorah is depicted. The most recent results of his study,

includes the Digital Restoration Project, which in 2012 discovered the original yellow polychromy of the Arch menorah; numerous studies of the Arch and its menorah by Professor Fine, an upcoming exhibition and international conference on the Arch organized by Yeshiva University Museum (Summer, 2017), a free online Coursera course, The Arch of Titus: Rome and the Menorah, a 2016 summer seminar in Rome under the auspices of the Schottenstein Honors Program, and courses taught in Revel, Yeshiva College and Stern College.

Take a look at the Arch of Titus in color based on the 3D scan of the reliefs here. You will find a neat video showing the spoils panel in color, and a lecture by Dr. Fine presented at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. There are also links to various articles about the project.

The emblem of the State of Israel is based on the Menorah depicted on the Arch of Titus.

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Boxing in the Greek world

My friends David and Sharon Runner recently traveled with us in Turkey, but made additional excursions into Greece and Italy. David agreed to share this photo of “The Boxer” from the National Roman Museum in Rome.

"The Boxer" in the National Roman Museum. Photo by David Runner.

“The Boxer” in the National Roman Museum. Photo by David Runner.

David describes the statue: “This famous Greek statue called “The Boxer” dates from around 330 B.C. and depicts an ancient fighter, apparently after a match, still wearing his caestus, a leather wrap used as boxing gloves. The small white objects at the bottom of the statue are motion sensors that chime if you get too close. (I found out a couple of times as I moved in a little too much for some close-up pictures.)”

Below is a closeup of the boxers gloves, showing his “brass knuckles.”

Closeup of the hands of "the Boxer". Photo by David Runner.

Closeup of the hands of “the Boxer”. Photo by David Runner.

Paul used a boxing illustration to describe his own disciplined work in preaching.

So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:26-27 ESV)

Church History book available for Kindle

Do you have a good book on Church History? I have observed that many church members are generally ignorant of church history. A few months ago I learned that two books by Zondervan were to be available in Kindle format for $3.99 each. The second volume in the series was available, but there was some delay in getting the first volume online. Volume two is available today for $3.99. For how long I do not know.

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Everett Ferguson’s Church History ,Volume One: From Christ to Pre-Reformation: The Rise and Growth of the Church in Its Cultural, Intellectual, and Political Context: 1, is currently available for the Kindle for $3.99. The regular price for the Kindle edition is $44.99. This book begins with the historical setting for the coming of Christ and the establishment of the church. It ends at about 1300 A.D.

Ferguson is widely respected as a scholar in early church history. With a Ph.D. from Harvard, he is professor emeritus of Bible and distinguished scholar-in-residence at Abilene Christian University. He is author of several books on early Christianity.

An eBook like this could be helpful for travelers visiting the Bible lands. In Turkey, for example, one sees the development of the Church Councils. In Italy there is the rise of the papacy and Catholicism. The Crusades involved numerous countries, including Israel. Sections on monasticism and the rise of Islam can be helpful as well. Ferguson also covers the “Dark Ages” and sets the stage for the earliest Reformation efforts.

Our photo shows ruins of The Church of Mary, also called the Church Council Church, at Ephesus. In A.D. 431 the Council of Ephesus was conducted here.

Church Council Church at Ephesus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Church of Mary (Church Council Church) at Ephesus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

HT: Brooks Cochran

The Catacombs of Rome have an apologetic value

The catacombs of Rome are the main sources of art by Christians in the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D.

Markers often carry the image of a shepherd, lamb, anchor, fish, or some other symbol. The fish or the word fish was used to indicate a Christian or a place where Christians met in those days. The Greek word for fish is Ichthus. When used as an acrostic with each letter standing for a word or phrase the word means, Jesus Christ, God’s Son, the Savior.

It is estimated that as many as one hundred thousand inscriptions were carved on the walls of the catacombs. About 15,000 have been discovered. The pictures often combine a biblical theme with a heathen figure. The late R. C. Foster comments on this phenomenon :

But the very fact that the catacomb pictures are filled with heathen figures and conceptions intermingled with the Christian, shows that the simple faith had already begun to be corrupted, and that too much weight can not be attached to pictures which combine the Good Shepherd with flying genii, heads of the seasons, doves, peacocks, vases, fruits, and flowers.

Marker in one of the catacombs. Note symbols of anchor and fish. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins, 1973.

Marker in one of the catacombs. Note symbols of an anchor and fish. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins, 1973. Digitized from a slide.

Foster shows that there is an apologetic value to the catacomb inscriptions.

Although their faith, as witnessed on the walls of the catacombs, was imperfect, and at times confused, the modernists will have to chisel off these pathetic and challenging inscriptions before they can ever convince the world that Jesus of Nazareth is a myth (R. C. Foster, Introduction and Early Ministry, 29-32).

Fish, anchor, and Chi Ro symbols. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins, 1975.

Anchor, fish, and Chi Rho symbols. Slide Photo by Ferrell Jenkins, 1975.

Paul’s burial in Rome

The apostle Peter gets the most attention in Rome, but Paul also has his share of shrines. Paul was taken to Rome in the custody of the Roman Empire (Acts 27-28).

I appeal to Caesar. (Act 25:11)

Tradition has it that Paul was buried outside the walls of Rome where we now find the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

The basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The statue in front of the church shows Paul with a drawn sword and a book. The inscription reads PREDICATORI VERITATIS and DOCTORI GENEIUM. Paul was a preacher of truth and a teacher of the Gentiles.

For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. (1Timothy 2:7 NAU; see also 2 Timothy 1:11)

Appian Way mile marker

Mile markers were commonly used in the Roman world. Over the past forty years I have seen several in Israel and Jordan. Many of them have disappeared or have been taken to a secure place.

The marker here is the first one south of the city wall in Rome. Just as we have markers on our highways to indicate distances, so did the Romans.

Mile marker on the Appian Way in Rome. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Mile marker on the Appian Way in Rome. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Archeobus Tour on the Appian Way

While visiting the Appian Way in Rome I noticed the archeobus. I assume there may have been a guide with the group at the Tomb of Caecilia Metella. That is a neat idea on a dry day.

The Archeobus Tour on the Appian Way. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Archeobus Tour on the Appian Way. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Perhaps the next time I am in Rome I will look into this tour. Photographers were utilizing the beautiful sunny day and the ancient ruins to photograph some newly weds (to be?).

Wedding photography on the Appian Way. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Wedding photography on the Appian Way. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I wondered if they knew that the Apostle Paul once passed this way (Acts 28).