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E00010: Mosaic inscription in Greek with dedication by Bishop Porphyrios of a floor mosaic in the 'Basilica of *Paul' (presumably the Apostle, S00008) at Philippi (south Balkans/Greece). Probably mid 4th-century.

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posted on 29.08.2014, 00:00 by CSLA Admin
Πο[ρφύ]ριος ἐπίσκο-
πος τὴ[ν κ]έντησιν τῆς βασιλικῆ-
ς Παύλο[υ ἐπ]οίησεν ἐν Χρ(ιστ)ῷ

'Bishop Porphyrios made the embroidery [= mosaics] of the basilica of Paul, in Christ.'

Text: Pelekanides 1975. Translation: E. Rizos.

History

Evidence ID

E00010

Saint Name

Paul, the Apostle : S00008

Saint Name in Source

Παῦλος

Image Caption 1

The dedicatory inscription of the Basilica of Paul. Exhibited in the Museum of Philippi (photo E. Rizos)

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea) Archaeological and architectural - Internal cult fixtures (crypts, ciboria, etc.)

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

325

Evidence not after

400

Activity not before

325

Activity not after

400

Place of Evidence - Region

Balkans including Greece

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Philippi

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Philippi Drizypera Δριζύπερα Drizypera Büyük Karıştıran

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Ceremony of dedication

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Renovation and embellishment of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops

Source

Mosaic inscription in tabula ansata (height 33 cm; width 119.5 cm [excluding the ansae]; letters 9 cm). Uncovered in the east part of the 'Basilica of Paul' in 1975, later removed and kept in the Museum of Philippi, and replaced by a replica in situ. Published in Pelekanides 1975. The letters for the words Πορφύριος, ἐπίσκοπος, Παύλου and Χρ(ιστ)ῷ are made of gold tesserae against a blue background, while the rest of the text is written with grey-blue letters on a white background, except the word ἐν which is in red. The precise date of the mosaics and the inscription is difficult to define. Porphyrios may be the homonymous bishop of Philippi who signed the Acts of the Council of Serdica in AD 342/3, though it is unknown how long his episcopate lasted and whether he was the only bishop of Philippi with that name. A date in the mid 4th century is plausible, because the grand octagonal church that replaced the Basilica of Paul can be confidently dated to the 5th century by coin finds under its floor (see $E00013).

Discussion

The inscription defines the building as the 'Basilica of Paul', almost certainly referring to the apostle. Philippi features prominently in the Acts of the Apostles as one of the cities of Paul's mission. Paul visited the city at least twice and one of his epistles is addressed to the local church. Nevertheless, it cannot be excluded that an unrecorded saint of the same name, or the founder of the building, is meant (Brenk 2003, 8). If it refers to the apostle Paul, it is the earliest piece of epigraphic and archaeological evidence for his cult outside Rome (Dassmann 1989, 278). It is possible that some form of a cult for the apostle existed in Philippi as early as AD 333 when the Bordeaux Pilgrim visited the city and noted that it was the site where Paul and Silas were imprisoned (see E###). The inscription is also one of the earliest epigraphic testimonies to the practice of dedicating a church to a saint. The building defined as the 'Basilica of Paul' replaced an earlier tomb-shrine (heroon) in the centre of Philippi. The church was built immediately south of a Hellenistic tomb which evidently was an object of veneration in the heroon and remained so within the Christian shrine. It is unknown if and how its veneration was associated with the cult of Paul. It has been suggested that there may have been alternative versions of the narrative on Paul's death, claiming that he was martyred at Philippi. The local community may have attempted to claim possession of the apostle's grave, until their story was eventually discredited by the prevailing canonical narrative about Paul’s death in Rome (Bakirtzis 1998; Koester 1998; Callahan 1998). It should be noted that the tomb of *Andrew the Apostle (S00288) was venerated at both Patrai in the Peloponnese and Arcae in Phoenicia. Other opinions are that the tomb was honoured as a memorial of Paul’s public flogging at Philippi (Acts 16:22; Mentzos 2005) or that the remains of a local martyr named Paul, otherwise unattested, were buried in the Hellenistic tomb (Gounares 1990, 57) (cf. E00013).

Bibliography

The inscription: Pelekanides, S., "Ἀνασκαφὴ Φιλίππων," Πρακτικὰ τῆς ἐν Ἀθήναις Ἀρχαιολογικῆς Ἑταιρείας 1975 (Praktika tes en Athenais Archaiologikes Hetaireias), 101. Feissel, D., Recueil des inscriptions chrétiennes de Macédonie du IIIe au VIe siècle (Bulletin de correspondance Hellénique Supplément 8; Paris: Boccard, 1983), no. 226, p. 192. SEG (Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum) 27 (1977), no. 304; 39 (1989), no. 626. Further reading: Bakirtzis, C., “Paul and Philippi: the Archaeological Evidence,” in: C. Bakirtzis and H. Koester (eds.), Philippi at the Time of Paul and after His Death (Harrisburg PA: Trinity Press International, 1998), 37-48. Brenk, B., Die Christianisierung der spätrömischen Welt: Stadt, Land, Haus, Kirche und Kloster in frühchristlicher Zeit (Spätantike, frühes Christentum, Byzanz. Reihe B, Studien und Perspektiven; Wiesbaden: Reichert, 2003), 8-10. Callahan, A.D., “Dead Paul: The Apostle as Martyr in Philippi,” in: C. Bakirtzis and H. Koester (eds.), Philippi at the Time of Paul and after His Death (Harrisburg PA: Trinity Press International, 1998), 67-84. Dassmann, E., “Archäologische Spuren frühchristlicher Paulusverehrung,” Römische Quartalschrift für christliche Altertumskunde und Kunstgeschichte 84 (1989), 271-298. Gounares, G., Το βαλανείο και τα βόρεια προσκτίσματα του Οκταγώνου των Φιλίππων (To valaneio kai ta voreia prosktismata tou Oktagonou ton Philippon) (Βιβλιοθήκη της εν Αθήναις Αρχαιολογικής Εταιρείας; Athens, 1990). Koester, H., “Paul and Philippi: The Evidence from Early Christian Literature,” in: C. Bakirtzis and H. Koester (eds.), Philippi at the Time of Paul and after His Death (Harrisburg PA: Trinity Press International, 1998), 49-65. Mentzos, A., “Ζητήματα τοπογραφίας των χριστιανικών Φιλίππων,” Egnatia 9 (2005), 101-149. Pelekanides, S., “Kultprobleme im Apostel-Paulus-Oktogon von Philippi in Zusammenhang mit einem älteren Heroenkult,” in: Atti del IX Congresso internazionale di archeologia cristiana. Roma, 21-27 settembre 1975, 2 vols. (Studi di antichità cristiana; Roma: Pontificio Istituto di archeologia cristiana, 1978), vol. 2, 393-399. Pelekanidou, E., and Mentzos, A., “Οκτάγωνο Φιλίππων. Πρώτα συμπεράσματα μετά τις νεότερες έρευνες ” in: Μνήμη Δ. Λαζαρίδη. Πόλις και χώρα στην αρχαία Μακεδονία και Θράκη (Mneme D. Lazaride. Polis kai chora sten archaia Makedonia kai Thrake) (Recherches franco-helléniques; Thessaloniki, 1990), 597-607.

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