Saint NameApostles (unspecified) : S00084
Anonymous martyrs : S00060
Prophets (unspecified) : S00139
Saint Name in Sourceἀπόστολοι
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea)
Evidence not before464
Evidence not after465
Activity not before464
Activity not after465
Place of Evidence - RegionArabia
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcGerasa/Jerash
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Gerasa/Jerash
Sakkaia / Maximianopolis
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
Cult Activities - MiraclesSaint aiding or preventing the construction of a cult building
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesWomen
Ecclesiastics - bishops
SourceFallen stone lintel, probably made up of two blocks. Broken and lost at the right-hand end. There is no published description.
Seen and copied by Johann Gottfried Wetzstein, Prussian consul in Damascus and Orientalist, at the west doorway of a church: situated in the east section of Jerash ('im östlichen Theile der Stadt liegt ein vollkommen ruinirtes Gebäude mit Säulen') or in the north section of the city (as specified by Anne Michel: 'L'église était implantée sur la rive orientale du wadi, dans la partie nord de la ville'). First published by Wetzstein in 1863/1864. Now lost. All other editions are based on the copy by Wetzstein.
The church was recorded already by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt and by James Silk Buckingham (a Cornish journalist and traveller), both surveying the region in the 1810s, and was revisited by several other surveyors in the 19th c. In the 1920s the ruins were damaged by the construction of a house, and the expedition of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem could examine only fragments of the west and south walls. The archaeologists, however, managed to sketch a hypothetical plan of the original church. The building is now completely lost.
It appears that the church was a rectangular structure, measuring 37.40 m x 31 m, on the plan of a cross. The east end had a small apse, probably with a synthronon, separated from the interior of the building by a chancel screen. In four corners there were small chambers. The church was accessible through eleven doorways at both ends of the nave and transepts. The centre of the church was occupied by a square delimited by four columns. Remnants of a floor-mosaic were located in the south-east corner of the church. Wetzstein says that the porch was decorated with a cross framed by a circle with the letters Α and Ω and two smaller crosses.
DiscussionThe inscription commemorates the construction of a church by a certain Marina. The woman probably did not live to see the completion of the building, as she is named μακαρία/'blessed', which is a common epithet of the deceased. The term used to describe the building is lost. Wetzstein did not attempt to restore it. Most of the editors complete it as ἡ ἐκκλησία/'church' after Lucas, but Lassus suggested that the term could alternatively be εὐκτήριον/'oratory', ναός/'church', or ὁ οἶκος/'house' (= church).
Line 2 mentions 'the Holy Prophets, Apostles, and Martyrs' in the genitive case, and based on this phrase the church was identified as a sanctuary collectively dedicated to these figures. This identification, however, relies only on the supposition that the lacuna at the right-hand end is no longer than one word. As the phrase 'of the Holy Prophets, Apostles, and Martyrs' is very frequent in prayers for the intercession of saints (e.g. in liturgies ascribed to Basil and John Chryzostom), one could perhaps restore the inscription in the following way: [ἐπὶ τοῦ ὁ]σιωτ(άτου) ἐπισκόπου Κλα[υ]δίου, ἐ[γ]ένετο [ὁ ναὸς εὐχαῖς] | τῶν ἁγίων προφήτων, ἀποστόλων, μαρτύρω[ν/[Under the] most holy bishop Klaudios [the church] was completed [through the intercessions] of the holy Prophets, Apostles, and Martyrs.' Such notions are not uncommon in dedicatory texts (see: E00899; E00913; E00939; E01079; E01081; E01355; E01688; E01790), while collective dedications of churches appear rarely. Therefore the dedication of the church to these three groups seems doubtful.
The expression refers to the idea of the successive generations of holy persons: first Old Testament Prophets, then Apostles, and thirdly Martyrs. Cf. E00720; E00829.
Dating: the date of the inscription is computed according to the Gerasene Era (which is basically an era of Pompey). Its year 527 corresponds to AD 464/465, which is early for the dated churches of the region.
R. Harahshah, J. Seigne, "Jarash, Spring 2013", Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 57 (2013), 503-517.
Lassus, J., Sanctuaires chrétiens de Syrie: essai sur la genèse, la forme et l'usage liturgique des édifices du culte chrétien, en Syrie, du IIIe siècle à la conquête musulmane (Bibliothèque archéologique et historique 42, Paris: P. Geuthner, 1947), 50, no. 105.
Welles, C.B., 'The inscriptions', in: Kraeling, C.H. (ed.), Gerasa, city of the Decapolis (New Haven: American School of Oriental Research, 1938), no. 298.
Lucas, H., 'Repertorium der griechischen Inschriften aus Gerasa', Mitteilungen und Nachrichten des deutschen Palästina-Vereins (1901), 65, no. 32.
Wetzstein, J.G., 'Ausgewählte griechische und lateinische Inschriften, gesammelt auf Reisen in den Trachonen und um das Haurangebirge', Abhandlungen der königlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften in Berlin (1863) , 325, no. 205.
Brünnow, R.E., von Domaszewski, A., Die Provincia Arabia: auf Grund zweier in den Jahren 1897 und 1898 unternommenen Reisen und der Berichte früherer Reisender, vol. 3 (Strassburg: Trübner, 1909), 346.
Crowfoot, J.W., Churches at Jerash. A Preliminary Report of the Joint Yale-British Expeditions to Jerash, 1928-1930 (Supplementary papers (British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem) 3, London: Council of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem, 1931), 30-33.
Halkin, F., 'Inscriptions grecques relatives à l'hagiographie, III, La province d'Arabie', Analecta Bollandiana 67 (1949), 107.
Cf. Halkin, F., 'Inscriptions grecques relatives à l'hagiographie, IX, Asie Mineure', Analecta Bollandiana 71 (1953), 98-99.
Kraeling, C.H. (ed.), Gerasa, city of the Decapolis (New Haven: American School of Oriental Research, 1938), 190-193, 256-260, 377 (description of the church and its mosaic).
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), 240-241, no. 86.
Bulletin épigraphique (2016), 546.