Dura-Europos domus ecclesiae? Archaeology, Iconography & MSS

May 2011
2,741
Rural Australia
So you are suggesting a different selection of the contexts of reference:

not all the possible contexts in the general site [at Dura Europos there were Jews, Greek-Romans, Mithraic groups --- for sure --- in this thread we are discussing the presence of Christians ... accepting the others], but only the plausible ones.
The OP was not just a discussion about the purported Christians. The following is taken from the summary in the OP:
SUMMARY

At the moment I am not convinced that an exemplar of a Christian "house-church" was discovered at Dura-Europos. For example, a Jewish synogogue was also discovered there (as well as other structures). What if all the mural images are Jewish? What does a Jewish "house-church" look like?
The OP is actually challenging the identification of what Hopkins discovered. And it makes an enquiry as to comparing the over-all categorising of the mural images as - plausibly- either Christian or Jewish. Discussion in this thread has appeared to agree that we can only be looking at these two possibilities. (We have no evidence that either Mithraic or Graeco-Roman devotees preserved the Greek LXX, and the David and Goliath scene establishes that the mural designers did)


It's a different analysis and not so correct [we would apply a filter about the possible scenarios].
The mural of David and Goliath, with its Greek captions, can reasonably be expected to filter out all other possibilities other than Christian or Jewish. The Jewish option appears to have never been considered. The reasons for this appears two fold:

(1) The identification by Hopkins of "Christian nomina sacra" in January of 1932.
(2) The evidence that Jewish people painted figures from the LXX (or Hebrew Bible) did not exist until 1933 (discovery of synagogue)



Anyway to limit the analysis to two contexts wouldn't mean automatically to reduce the number of items ... The real context is made by all the meaningful items found. So we should make a selection of relevant items ...

[interpretation ...]. We would make a quite oriented analysis.

In other words, we would prebuild a contextualized analysis to find what we want: if we limit the selection of the items to the ones relevant or meaningful for a Christian and a Jewish contexts we will find a coin flip for sure.
Hopkins in 1932 thought he discovered and identified a Christian sanctuary. The OP and following discussion is suggesting that this original identification of Christian may not necessarily be correct, and asks "What does a Jewish house sanctuary look like?"

The question implies some sort of analysis of all the available evidence into two (and only two) categories - Christian and Jewish. I think this question is novel, and I do not think that this question has been asked before.

When a statistical analysis is done (your method or mine) with two plausible outcomes -either Christian or Jewish - unless the abbreviations in the two Greek inscriptions are classified as "Christian nomina sacra", (and the Christian sanctuary is thus defined with a high degree of confidence), then the analysis appears to revert to something like a coin flip.
 
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AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
24,993
Lago Maggiore, Italy
The OP was not just a discussion about the purported Christians. The following is taken from the summary in the OP:
SUMMARY

At the moment I am not convinced that an exemplar of a Christian "house-church" was discovered at Dura-Europos. For example, a Jewish synogogue was also discovered there (as well as other structures). What if all the mural images are Jewish? What does a Jewish "house-church" look like?
The OP is actually challenging the identification of what Hopkins discovered. And it makes an enquiry as to comparing the over-all categorising of the mural images as - plausibly- either Christian or Jewish. Discussion in this thread has appeared to agree that we can only be looking at these two possibilities. (We have no evidence that either Mithraic or Graeco-Roman devotees preserved the Greek LXX, and the David and Goliath scene establishes that the mural designers did)




The mural of David and Goliath, with its Greek captions, can reasonably be expected to filter out all other possibilities other than Christian or Jewish. The Jewish option appears to have never been considered. The reasons for this appears two fold:

(1) The identification by Hopkins of "Christian nomina sacra" in January of 1932.
(2) The evidence that Jewish people painted figures from the LXX (or Hebrew Bible) did not exist until 1933 (discovery of synagogue)





Hopkins in 1932 thought he discovered and identified a Christian sanctuary. The OP and following discussion is suggesting that this original identification of Christian may not necessarily be correct, and asks "What does a Jewish house sanctuary look like?"

The question implies some sort of analysis of all the available evidence into two (and only two) categories - Christian and Jewish. I think this question is novel, and I do not think that this question has been asked before.

When a statistical analysis is done (your method or mine) with two plausible outcomes -either Christian or Jewish - unless the abbreviations in the two Greek inscriptions are classified as "Christian nomina sacra", (and the Christian sanctuary is thus defined with a high degree of confidence), then the analysis appears to revert to something like a coin flip.
No, you substantially go back to the previous discussion. The contextual analysis has to start from an "ignorant" perspective. You don't know and you look around ...

[Btw, there would be a second context which could survive to that analysis ... the already mentioned former Jewish gladiator. I have to evaluate it a bit, but if I'm not wrong, it can survive].

So, leaving a part the contextual analysys, we go back to the confrontation between the Jewish and the Christian interpretations. And about this, we have already debated for a long time. The Christian interpretation is better contextualized and it's [so far] the most simple among the two.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
24,993
Lago Maggiore, Italy
I confirm: two contexts survive

I've checked and the Home of a former Jewish gladiator is a context which survives to the contextual analysis.

Being a hybrid it enjoys all the points of the Jewish context and the highest points of the Greek-Roman context. Growing among gladiators a Jewish boy would have acquired the Greek-Roman culture [at least partially].

54,47% - Church House
54,28% - Home of a former Jewish gladiator

[who closed the cistern to have the room where to train the young sons and daughters of the local wealthy families ... this to contextualize it even better].
 
May 2011
2,741
Rural Australia
[Btw, there would be a second context which could survive to that analysis ... the already mentioned former Jewish gladiator. I have to evaluate it a bit, but if I'm not wrong, it can survive].
I have mentioned before that there may not be much difference between what you proposed - a Jewish gladiator - and a Jewish soldier in the Roman army garrisoned at Dura. The military graffiti in the court (cataphractarius and a charging clibanarius) may depict the Roman army, and not necessarily the Persian version, as some have argued.

We have discussed the critical importance of houses that are in close proximity to any gate in a Roman garrison town. The house closest to the Secondary gate at Dura appears to have had a religious sanctuary in one of its rooms. A military presence that might be expected in this house is confirmed by the military graffiti. Sending a cataphractarius and/or a charging clibanarius out of the secondary gate may have been a tactic of the Romans when the situation warranted it.

The pagan figurines found in the house may have simply belonged to the pagan wife of the Christian or Jewish soldier. These were of the mother goddess. Most of the empire was a vast mixing pot of beliefs and gods. Especially at Dura and other towns on the borders of empires. Some veneration of the mother goddess may have been quite normal for everyone. Jews, Romans, Greeks, Persians or even some Christians.

The many gods here at Dura had somehow learned to live together.





So, leaving a part the contextual analysys, we go back to the confrontation between the Jewish and the Christian interpretations. And about this, we have already debated for a long time.
Yes that is true. However I can find no precedent for this debate, and it therefore appears to me to be a new idea.

The Christian interpretation is better contextualized and it's [so far] the most simple among the two.

It was elevated to the purple in 1932 at high profile conferences concerning Christian archaeology. Well before even the preliminary report was authored and issued. It is the most simple between the two because it has become thoroughly entrenched in the modern literature.
 
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AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
24,993
Lago Maggiore, Italy
From a general perspective this could be a personal persuasion ... in any case I'm realizing that I'm in a similar position about the Amarna period and the metamorphosis Nefertiti > Neferneferuaten > Smenkhkare.

Also in that case I've found "settled assumptions" given for certain which are substantially falling down [and about Neferneferuaten I've got illustrious mates around].

So, you are presenting a kind of "minority report" [like I'm doing in the other field, Egyptology].

Probably what we need about Dura is not to Yale's cooperation, but to involve a different academic institution. If we are able to generate interest they could obtain the material from Yale for a new and independent examination.

As we know, almost all the original material is c/o Yale and unfortunately an exploration "ex novo" of the site is not only useless, but even dangerous, considering the ongoing hostilities in the area.
 
Dec 2011
1,922


Google picture search says "best guess is that it is the from the Dura Europa Church."

Is that "computer verification" that the Christian reference for the "Jesus healing the sick" parable is strong ?

Obviously, the similarities are strong. We have two different fresco painters, with a distance of over a thousand years apart who have produced a similar work.

I am having a little bit of trouble finding any relevant info on the picture other than that below. I guess we are talking about Dionisius c.1450–c.1520, Russian painter, RE: muscovite mannerism




FOR REF:
2. "Healing of the Paralytic" - The mural shows a man taking his bed on his back, apparently after being cured, which is reminiscent of the healing recorded in John 5. Such a depiction is somewhat similar to a rather modern-looking icon I found (link) but more similar to a fresco/icon from the Dionisian Frescos (1502).
Thoughts of Francis Turretin: Dura Europos and the Early Church

Click on the "Dionisian" for the picture link.
 
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May 2011
2,741
Rural Australia
As a result of this discussion I have prepared a small (4 page) article:
The Runes of Christ at Dura Europos

ABSTRACT: The two key graffiti in the presumed "Christian Chapel" are discussed. The paradigm that these certainly contain Christian nomina sacra is challenged. Alternative interpretations based on known abbreviations in Greek inscriptions are presented. Perhaps this is in fact a Jewish house-church?
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
As a result of this discussion I have prepared a small (4 page) article:
The Runes of Christ at Dura Europos

ABSTRACT: The two key graffiti in the presumed "Christian Chapel" are discussed. The paradigm that these certainly contain Christian nomina sacra is challenged. Alternative interpretations based on known abbreviations in Greek inscriptions are presented. Perhaps this is in fact a Jewish house-church?

Why would there be a "Jewish house church" when there was also a Jewish synagogue of similar size in Dura Europos? Further , the place lafks spefically Jewish elements known to be on all the other Jewish meeting places.

And the house church had frescoz with clearly Christin images, such Jesus heals the paralytic, .Petrr..and Jesus walking on water, that have no place in Jewish imagery.

Because.christians shaed a common reference to.the Old Testament and Christianity arose out of Judaism, it is very likely Christian had a lot of common nomina sacra with the Jews.
I
 
Sep 2015
310
ireland
You seem to have excluded the DP24 fragment from your conclusions which in itself indicates that there were Christians present on the site before 256.
 
May 2011
2,741
Rural Australia
Why would there be a "Jewish house church" when there was also a Jewish synagogue of similar size in Dura Europos?
Surely the Jewish people at Dura did not all live in the synagogue? It follows that Jewish people lived outside the Jewish synagogue.

Furthermore it is quite possible that there was more than one jewish sect at Dura.

Further , the place lafks spefically Jewish elements known to be on all the other Jewish meeting places.
(1) A third graffito “To God in heaven” fails to exhibit the abbreviated Christian form of god or heaven, and is typically Jewish.
(2) David and Goliath are explicitly inscribed on the mural in Greek.
(3) Sissaeus is a Jewish name.

These are Jewish elements.


And the house church had frescoz with clearly Christin images, such Jesus heals the paralytic, .Petrr..and Jesus walking on water, that have no place in Jewish imagery.
Confirmation bias. People have been known to see representations of Christ in a slice of toast.

Artistic appreciation is a notoriously subjective evaluation of ancient historical evidence. Where’s Wally? Where’s Christ? The hundreds of pages written about these murals, with voluminous quotations from the New Testament must be set aside. The critical item of evidence, by which both the trough and the murals have been considered Christian, are two graffiti. These have been identified as certainly Christian on the basis that they contain Christian nomina sacra. Specifically, the runes of Christ.

Because.christians shaed a common reference to.the Old Testament and Christianity arose out of Judaism, it is very likely Christian had a lot of common nomina sacra with the Jews. I
The presence of nomina sacra in a Greek LXX manuscript denotes a Christian LXX whereas the absence of nomina sacra in a Greek LXX manuscript denotes a Jewish ms. AFAIK the Jews used only one sacred name and reserved it for G-D. The Christians had more than a dozen "sacred names".
 

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