[ἐπὶ το]ῦ ὁσιωτάτου [ἀρχιε]πισκόπου καὶ πατριάρχου Πέτρου καὶ τοῦ θεοφιλε[στάτου - - -]
[πρεσβυτέρου καὶ οἰκονόμ(?)]ου ὁ πᾶς οἶκος οὗτο[ς τ]οῦ ἁγίου Θωμᾶ ἐκ θεμελί[ων ἐκτίσθη - - -]
'In the time of (our?) most saintly archbishop and patriarch Petros and of the most God-fearing [presbyter and church-steward (oikonomos) - - -], this whole house (oikos) of Saint Thomas [was erected] from the foundations [- - -].'
Text: CIIP 1/2, no. 860. Traslation: L. Di Segni, lightly adapted.
Saint NameThomas, the Apostle : S00199
Saint Name in SourceΘωμᾶς
Image Caption 1Fragment A. From: CIIP 1/2, 236.
Image Caption 2Fragment B. From: CIIP 1/2, 236.
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Evidence not before524
Evidence not after552
Activity not before524
Activity not after552
Place of Evidence - RegionPalestine with Sinai
Palestine 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 - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsConstruction of cult buildings
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - bishops
Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy
SourceTwo non-conjoining fragments of an inscribed wooden board, found in the Al-Aqsa mosque, on the Temple Mount. For another Greek inscription on wood from this mosque, see E02795.
Fragment A: H. 0.09 m; W. 0.97 m. Broken and lost at both ends. Found in a store room.
Fragment B: H. 0.24 m; W. 2.40 m. When recorded it was nailed to a roof beam. It seems that the fragment conjoined to another wooden board at its left-hand end.
First published by Michael Avi Yonah in 1944. Now in the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem. Recently seen and examined by Werner Eck (2006) and by Leah Di Segni (2010).
DiscussionThe object is a rare example of a building inscription preserved on another medium than stone or mosaic. It commemorates the construction of a church (termed oikos) of a certain Saint Thomas, under Petros, the patriarch of Jerusalem. As his episcopacy fell between 524 and 552, the inscription must date to the same period.
Avi Yonah associated the construction of our church with the journey of Sabbas the Sanctified to Constantinople in 531, which presumably drew Justinian's attention to Jerusalem, but the theory is very speculative. Di Segni rightly notes that we know nothing about the location of the church itself and about the actual identity of this Saint Thomas, but he might well be Thomas the Apostle who according to the Georgian version of the Lectionary of Jerusalem (E03280; cf. Garitte 1958, 284) was venerated in Jerusalem in a church named 'in Prodi' or 'in Phordenan' (possibly modern Khirbet Farad or Horvat Pered). Józef Tadeusz Milik argued that these toponyms concealed a distorted Aramaic toponym 'Gardens'/Pordesaya, Pardesaya (i.e. a church of Thomas 'in the Gardens', which is a good name, occurring also on other sites). The same toponym perhaps also appears on a bronze processional cross (E02735) found near Jerusalem and mentioning a church dedicated to a Saint Thomas, and in the Church History by the 14th c. author Nicephorus Callistus (XIV 50, PG 146, col. 1240), where an almhouse built by the empress Eudocia ἐν Φορδισίοις is mentioned (once identified with our gerokomeion of *George, E02733, which Di Segni finds implausible). Di Segni assumes that our church of Thomas could have been located in the western suburbs of Jerusalem, in the Valley of Beth ha-Kerem (modern 'Ein Kerem). For a complete discussion of the issue, see CIIP 1/2, 562-563.
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. 860 (with further bibliography).
Milik, J.T., "La topographie de Jérusalem vers la fin de l'époque byzantine", Mélanges de l'Université Saint-Joseph 37 (1960-1961), 139.
Avi-Yonah, M., "", Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities of Palestine 10 (1944), 162-165, no. 3.
Bieberstein, K., Bloedhorn, H., Grundzüge der Baugeschichte vom Chalkolithikum bis zur Frühzeit der osmanischen Herrschaft (TAVO Beiheft B 100, 1-3; Wiesbaden 1994), vol. 3, 61-62.
Halkin, F., "Inscriptions grecques relatives à l'hagiographie. IV La Palestine", Analecta Bollandiana 69 (1951), 69.
Meimaris, Y., Sacred names, saints, martyrs and church officials in the Greek inscriptions and papyri pertaining to the Christian Church of Palestine (Athens: National Hellenic Research Foundation, Center for Greek and Roman Antiquity, 1986), no. 608.
For the Georgian calendar of Jerusalem, see
Garitte, G. (ed.), Le calendrier palestino-géorgien du Sinaiticus 34 (Xe siècle) (Subsidia hagiographica, 30, Brussels: Société des Bollandistes, 1958.
Bulletin épigraphique (1946-1947), 221; (1994), 651; (2012), 472.
L'Année épigraphique (1948), 138.
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 42, 1436.