ADVERTISING
 
Sunday, August 25   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
Society
Should Christians join social protests?



SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Marc Madrigal
 

The Wall of Death: The Thanatos inscription

The author of Ephesians makes the point that in Christ the barriers between God and humanity, and the artificial barriers that people have put up against each other are destroyed.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES AUTHOR Marc Madrigal 17 JANUARY 2018 17:41 h GMT+1
The Thanatos Inscription. Istanbul Archaeology Museum. / Marc Madrigal

In 1871 Charles Clermont-Ganneau discovered an inscription in Jerusalem dating from the period of the Herodian Temple. Inscribed in a slab of stone was a warning written in Greek, the international language during the time of Jesus.



The inscription read:



No foreigner is allowed to enter the courtyard and enclosure surrounding the temple. Whoever is caught will be responsible to himself for his death, which will ensue.”



This inscription was one of the series of warnings placed in the temple courts. The temple courts were divided into several sections. The outer courtyard was known as the court of the Gentiles.



The inner courtyard was divided into three:  the court of the women, the court of Israel (reserved for men), and finally the court of the priests. Inside the court of the priests lay the actual temple sanctuary with the famous holy place and the holy of holies.



No doubt, approaching God was a highly class-structured business. Non-Jews were not allowed to go beyond the courtyard of the Gentiles, and the death warning made sure this was so.



In Book V of the War of the Jews, Jewish historian Flavius Josephus gives us details regarding this courtyard and the inscription itself:



“The cloisters [of the outmost court] were in breadth thirty cubits; while the entire compass of it was by measure six furlongs: including the tower of Antonia. Those entire courts that were exposed to the air were laid with stones of all sorts. When you go through these [first] cloisters, unto the second [court of the] temple, there was a partition made of stone, all round; whose height was three cubits, its construction was very elegant. Upon it stood pillars, at equal distances from one another; declaring the law of purity, some in Greek and some in Roman letters; that no foreigner should go within that sanctuary. For that second [court of the] temple was called the sanctuary”. (War of the Jews, Book V. Chapter 5;2)



Although not mentioned directly in the New Testament, there are two passages where implicitly these walls of division play a role.



The first passage is in Acts 21:27-29.



An angry mob accused Paul of taking Trophimus, Paul’s Ephesian friend, into the inner temple courts. This resulted in Paul’s arrest and his eventual fourth journey which ended in Roman house arrest:



“When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place. Moreover, he even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place”. For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple”. (ESV).



The second passage alluding to this wall is in Ephesians 2:14-16:



For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility” (ESV)



The diving wall of hostility seems to be an allusion to the walls of the temple court. The author of Ephesians makes the point that in Christ the barriers between God and humanity, and the artificial barriers that people have put up against each other are destroyed.



Christ is the one that reconciles individuals with one another, and he is also the one that reconciles individuals with God.



In Christ, a new humanity is created. As Paul puts it in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. (ESV)



In our 21st century world, we often forget how radical these statements were. Roman society was highly class-structured. Women had limited rights and slaves had no citizenship whatsoever. To believe in the equality of all individuals under Christ regardless of gender, class or ethnicity is nothing short of revolutionary. In Christ, all have access to the holy of holies.



And yet, the history of the church is filled with dark chapters where walls have been built time and time again: Walls of nationalism, walls of racism, walls of denominationalism, to name a few. Sometimes these walls are built for the sake of self-preservation, sometimes to create a “holier than thou” type of environment.



Whatever the reasons, we seem prone to fall back to the first-century Jewish ways of approaching the temple. And while men might be in the business of building up walls of death, God is in the business of bringing them down by offering life through Christ.



Marc Madrigal is a Pastor in the Istanbul Protestant Church Foundation in Turkey.



 



BIBLIOGRAPHY



Clyde E. Fant; Mitchell G. Reddish. Lost Treasures of the Bible: Understanding the Bible through Archaeological Artifacts in World Museums (Kindle Locations 4209-4210). Kindle Edition.



Pasinli, Alpay. Istanbul Archaeological Museums. A Turizm Yayinlari. Istanbul, 2012.



Whiston, William; M.A. The Genuine Works of Flavius Josephus The Jewish Historian. London, 1737. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/josephus/war-5.html


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - The Wall of Death: The Thanatos inscription
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

 
Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels

An interview with the socio-political representative of the European Evangelical Alliance about how evangelical Christians work at the heart of the European Union.

 
Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church

An interview with Lars Dahle, of the Steering Committee of the Lausanne Movement Global Consultation on Nominal Christianity held in Rome.

 
Testimony: Wildfires near Athens Testimony: Wildfires near Athens

Nico Spies, a Christian worker in Athens, gives details about the wildfires in Greece.

 
Arie de Pater: Refugees deserve a fair and efficient process Arie de Pater: Refugees deserve a fair and efficient process

The Brussels representative of the European Evangelical Alliance offers a Christian perspective on the crisis: “We can’t reduce people to just a number that needs to be controlled”.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
IFES World Assembly: ‘Messengers of Hope’ IFES World Assembly: ‘Messengers of Hope’

Students, graduates and staff of the global evangelical student movement reflected together on how the books of Luke and Acts apply to today's universities.

 
Christians at work - the missing link in fulfilling the Great Commission Christians at work - the missing link in fulfilling the Great Commission

Photos of the Lausanne Movement Global Workplace Forum, celebrated in Manila.

 
European Freedom Network Bridge 2019 conference European Freedom Network Bridge 2019 conference

Images of the fifth EFN gathering. Experts, activists, counsellors and church leaders met in Pescara, Italy.

 
Glimpses of the ELF 2019 conference Glimpses of the ELF 2019 conference

Evangelical leaders from across Europe meet in Wisla (Poland) to network for mission in a range of fields. The vision is to renew the biblical church and evangelise Europe.

 
‘Small churches, big potential for transformation’ ‘Small churches, big potential for transformation’

Photos of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance’s annual gathering “Idea 2019”, in Murcia. Politicians and church leaders discussed about the role of minorities in society.

 
VIDEO Video
 
How has Christianity influenced the modern world? How has Christianity influenced the modern world?

Paul Copan, Chair of Philosophy and Ethics of Palm Beach Atlantic University, explains how many key features of Western civilization, are the legacy of the biblical faith being lived out by believers in society.

 
Chinese Homecoming Gathering: Thousands say 'we’re one' Chinese Homecoming Gathering: Thousands say 'we’re one'

Christians from China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and North America, from different ethnic backgronds, came together to pray for unity as the body of Christ.

 
How have global missions changed over the last century? How have global missions changed over the last century?

The centre of gravity of Christianity has shifted from Europe to Africa, says Nana Yaw Offei Awuku, Director of the Lausanne Younger Leaders Generation initiative.

 
Christian organisations call to pray for new British Prime Minister Christian organisations call to pray for new British Prime Minister

Representatives of the National Day of Prayer, the Evangelical Alliance and CARE express the need for churches to pray for the new leadership of a country divided by Brexit and other issues.

 
GWF in Manila: “Kingdom building requires global collaboration” GWF in Manila: “Kingdom building requires global collaboration”

850 from 108 countries met for the Global Workplace Forum, June 25-29. The gathering was organised by the Lausanne Movement. “Every workplace is a place of ministry”.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.