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E02048: Floor-mosaic with a Greek inscription commemorating the paving with mosaics of a church (naos) dedicated to *Isaiah (Old Testament prophet, S00282). Found at Riḥāb, between Bostra and Gerasa/Jerash (Jordan/the Roman province of Arabia). Dated probably 635.

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posted on 26.11.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
+ ἐπὶ τοῦ ἁγιω(τάτου) Θεοδώρου ἡμῶν μητρ[οπολίτ(ου) (καὶ) ἀρχιεπισκ(όπου)] ἐψηφ(ώθη) οὗτος
ὁ ναὸς τοῦ ἁγίου προφήτου Ἠσαΐου ἐκ κα[μάτων καὶ σπο]υδῆς
Σαμμασαίου θεοφ(ιλεστάτου) πρ(εσβυτέρου) (καὶ) Γεωργίου αὐτ[οῦ υἱοῦ (?) κα]ὶ Ἰωάννου
Μακαρ(ίου) ὑπὲρ μνείας (καὶ) ἀναπαύσεος τῶ[ν γονέων καὶ διαφερόντ]ων ἐν μηνὶ
Δύστρῳ χρ(όνοις) ὀγδόης ἰνδ(ικτιῶνος) τοῦ [... ἔτους τῆ]ς ἐπαρχίας

'In the time of the most holy Theodoros our metropolitan [and archbishop], was paved with mosaics this church of the holy prophet Isaiah from the gift and owing to the zeal of Sammasaios, the most God-beloved presbyter, and Georgios, his [son (?)], and Ioannes, (son of) Makarios. In memory and as a vow for the repose [of (their) parents and family] in the month of Dystros, in the times of the eighth indiction of the ... year of the province.'

Text: Piccirillo 1981, 74. Trans. M. Avi-Yonah, lightly modified.)
Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

Categories

Keywords

History

Evidence ID

E02048

Saint Name

Isaiah, Old Testament prophet : S00282

Saint Name in Source

Ἠσαΐας

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea)

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

635

Evidence not after

635

Activity not before

635

Activity not after

635

Place of Evidence - Region

Arabia Arabia Arabia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Riḥāb Gerasa/Jerash Bosra

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

Riḥāb Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Gerasa/Jerash Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Bosra Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Children Other lay individuals/ people Ecclesiastics - bishops

Source

A mosaic panel. There is no published description and photograph. Remnants of the floor-mosaics of this church were discovered in a private house, in the central/north sector of the town, very close to the church of *Basil (see: E02045). So far the church has not been excavated, so its actual shape and size are unknown. A copy of our mosaic inscription was taken by Lankester Harding (Director of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan from 1936-1956) and first published by Michael Avi Yonah in 1947. Harding noted that 'The gap [in the right-hand part of the inscription] represents a wall, but whether built on or through the mosaic I cannot say.' The mosaic was republished in 1981 by Michele Piccirillo, and in 2000 by Annie Sartre-Fauriat, based on the first edition.

Discussion

The inscription commemorates the paving of a church dedicated to Isaiah. This figure is described as 'the holy prophet' (hagios prophetes) in line 2, so it is certain that Isaiah, the Old Testament Prophet, credited with the authorship of the Book of Isaiah, is meant here. Isaiah gained popularity among early Christians due to his prophecies on the 'suffering servant', and to frequent quotations of the Book of Isaiah in the Gospels. The importance of his prophecies was also stressed by early Christian writers, including Gregory of Nyssa and Jerome, in whose writings his figure appears even as a kind of 'Evangelist'. Michele Piccirillo notes that the so-called 'tomb of Isaiah' in the village of Silwan (in the present-day suburbs of Jerusalem) was venerated in late antiquity (EXXXX). Our church is thus the second known shrine dedicated to Isaiah in the Near East. The inscription was dated according to the era of the province of Arabia. Sadly, the number of the era-year is lost. The remaining parts of the dating formula: the episcopacy of Theodoros, metropolitan of nearby Bostra, the eighth indiction year, and the month of Dystros (= February/March) were originally associated by Avi-Yonah with two local dedicatory inscriptions naming archbishop Polyeuktos (E02045: church of *Basil, AD 594; E02049: church of *Stephen, AD 620). He supposed that our Theodoros was in office in the nearest eighth indiction years preceding these dates, i.e. either in 574/575 or in 589/590. However, the inscription of a church of *Menas, also in Riḥāb (E02044), which was discovered after Avi-Yonah was writing, also mentions archbishop Theodoros and the eighth indiction, and is securely dated to AD 635. Therefore, it is highly likely that the same Theodoros appears in both dating formulas and that the completion of the church of Menas, and the paving of the church of Isaiah, both took place in the same year (AD 635). Piccirillo notes that the date falls in the period when the region had just been recovered from Persian occupation.

Bibliography

Edition: Piccirillo, M., Chiese e mosaici della Giordania settentrionale (Jerusalem: Franciscan Print. Press, 1981), 74-75. Avi-Yonah, M., "Greek Christian inscriptions from Riḥāb", The quarterly of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine 13 (1947), 70. Further reading: Michel, A., Les églises d'époque byzantine et umayyade de Jordanie (provinces d'Arabie et de Palestine), Ve-VIIIe siècle: typologie architecturale et aménagements liturgiques (avec catalogue des monuments; préface de Noël Duval; premessa di Michele Piccirillo) (Bibliothèque de l'Antiquité tardive 2, Turnhout: Brepols, 2001), 216-217, no. 76. Piccirillo, M., "Les antiquités de Riḥāb des Benê Ḥasan", Revue Biblique 88 (1981), 65, 69. Piccirillo, M., "Aggiornamento delle liste episcopali delle diocesi in territoria transgiordanico", Liber Annuus 55 (2005), 387. Sartre-Fauriat, A., "Georges, Serge, Élie et quelques autres saints connus et inédits de la province d'Arabie", in: Fr. Prévot (ed.), Romanité et cité chrétienne. Permances et mutations. Intégration et exclusion du Ier au VIe siècle. Mélanges en l'honneur d'Yvette Duval (Paris: De Boccard, 2000), 311. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1982), 465. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 30, 1711-1716; 50, 1518.

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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