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The House with an Upper Room called the Cenacle

The Archeological Evidence for the Synagogue of the Nazarenes


Study into the Archeology and History

of the Hebrew Nazarene Synagogue  

Called by Christians ‘The Apostolic Church in the

House with the Upper Room’


Commentary by Robert D. Mock M.D.

September, 2004


Part Three



Archeological Evidence for a Synagogue at the Site of the Upper Room

Synagogue Orientation – was it Messianic Nazarene or Jewish?

The Nazarene Synagogue after the Hadrian /Bar Kokhba War


Archeological Evidence for a Synagogue at the Site of the Upper Room


Modern scholarship has also weighed into the identity of the Upper Room Home on Mount Zion first by E. Pierotti in 1859 and then later in 1948 when during the fighting of Israel’s War of Independence, a mortar shell exploded in the building known to be the traditional tomb of David.  It was the provenance of the Israeli archeologist, Jacob Pinkerfeld, in 1951 to repair the damages of this mortar attack.  Behind the cenotaph or aposdtd.jpg - 16.5 Ksarcophagus placed in the Crusader dated building, Pinkerfeld came upon remains including a niche like insert in the wall which held an ark which held a Torah scroll.  This niche would be placed in a synagogue that was determined be of first century Judaic masonry.  Also in repairing the marble slab floors, two trial pits were dug and three difference floor levels were discovered. 


Floor excavations in the Synagogue site of the Upper Room


Only five inches (12 cm) below the modern floor was the floor of the Crusader architects who built the current Gothic building.  Yet a foot and a half (48 cm) deeper Pinkerfeld found the remains of late Roman or early Byzantine floors with that had a geometrically designed mosaic. 


According to the excavation reports to the Israel Exploration Society, Jacob Pinkerfeld stated,

Pinkerfeld – “Seventy cm below the present floor level another floor of plaster was found, quite possibly the remains of a stone pavement. Some small fragments of smooth stones, perhaps the remains of this pavement were found slightly above the level.... It is certain that this floor belonged to the original building, i.e., to the period when the northern wall and its apse [niche] were built. This is evident from a section of the wall which shows at that level a foundation ledge projecting into the hall.”  (Israel Exploration Society 1975:116-117; Mackowski 1980:145 quoted in the Tomb of David and the Cenacle).


This was not the only evidence.  Several graffiti markings were found on the Roman period floor and Pinkerfeld put them in the custody of the late M. Schwabe to examine. Yet both Pinkerfeld and Schwabe died without completing the task. Eventually the Estudium Biblicum Franciscanum put together a team under the direction of Prof. Emmanuele Testa and Bellarmino Bagatti to study this graffiti. One graffiti apparently came from the original plastered wall with the Greek initial NCBI which would be read, “Conquer, Savior, Mercy”.  Another more disputed graffiti reads, “O Jesus, that I may live, O Lord of the autocrat.”


aposdte.jpg - 18.6 KThis last graffiti is an interesting quotation in that Jesus is the ‘Lord of the autocrat’.  The implication appears to center around freedom and self rule.  Was this not what the rulership of Adam all about; dominion over this world, but a dominion as a custodian of God’s creation to preserve and to protect.  The facts remains, The only freedom for man is not to do what he ought to do, but to do what he is to do.  The Lord is truly the Lord of freedom and freemen, yet this freedom comes only through obedience in God.  


Synagogue Orientation – was it Messianic Nazarene or Jewish?


Orientation of the Nazarene Synagogue – Century One Foundation


According to Robertson, against the wall in this same dwelling was a traditional synagogue niche where the torah scroll was placed which was directly over the first century Judaic masonry foundation.  This niche was found to be oriented facing the Temple Mount as all other synagogues were reputed to be built. 


Yet according to other archeological evidence this niche was facing east-northeast of the Temple Mount towards the reputed site of the traditional Golgotha. The construction was still archeologically the same as a Roman first century Jewish synagogue with a niche built six feet (1.8 m) above the original floor level.  When the synagogue ruler picked up the Torah scroll, he was always reached up as if reaching up to God to receive the Torah.  


This fact alteration of the niche orientation appears to suggest that this synagogue was built according to the customs of the messianic Jews or Nazarenes in first century Judaism.  But how valid is this observation?  The orientation of this niche in the synagogue, built for the ark of the torah scroll has been a big controversy in Christian-Jewish scholarship.  In Pinkerfeld’s report he denies that there is any orientation other than the niche facing the Temple Mount.  This has been refuted by later scholars in the now late Pinkerfeld’s thesis. 


It was Bargil Pixner, who in 1990, published his evidence on the remnants of the original first century synagogue floor and the niche.  He disputed Pinkerfeld’s claim both on the orientation of the building and the niche facing the Temple Mount.  It was Pixner’s claim that the orientation was to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where orthodox Christianity claims that Jesus was buried.  He also affirmed that the early floor remains at the Tomb of David were Judea-Christian.  It is our claim that this synagogue was the Hebrew Nazarene synagogue known as the Church of the Apostles depicted on the 4th century mosaic in the apse of the Basilica Ste. Pudentianna and in the 560 CE mosaic on the basilica floor at Madaba at Jordan. (Pixner 1990:17, 24-25; see also Pixner 1991 quoted in the Tomb of David and the Cenacle).


The Roman Catholic scholar, Jerome Murphy O’Conner joined the debate when in a 1994 article on the Cenacle and Community, he wrote;


Jerome Murphy O’Conner - "Bargil more correct in claiming that the niche is directed toward the Holy Sepulcher, but Pixner produces no parallels to prove intention. Moreover, the architectural parallel to the niche that Pinkerfeld offers is that of the synagogue at Eshtemoa, which is dated to the fourth century AD. A synagogue on Mount Zion in that period is inconceivable and orienting niches are not attested in first-century synagogues (e.g., Gamla, Masada)." (Murphy-O'Connor 1994:306. quoted in the Tomb of David and the Cenacle)


The argument seems to suggest that possibly later synagogues in the 3rd and 4th centuries did point their niches towards the Temple Mount but according to Jerome Murphy O’Conner attests that “orienting niches are not attested in first-century synagogues (e.g., Gamla, Masada)."


The discussion was not complete.  In 1990, in the May, June issue of BAR, there was an article called The Wandering Tomb of David which, according to the author, in front of the reputed tomb of Jesus’ mother Mary another ancient synagogue was discovered in the Kidron Valley.  According to the Franciscan archeologist, Emmanuele Test, this synagogue was also oriented towards the tomb of Jesus suggesting that it too was a Hebrew Nazarene Synagogue.


Therefore the site of the rock tomb of Joseph of Arimathea where the burial and resurrection of Yahshua took place, became a defining landmark for the Nazarenes and later the Christian Church.  Maybe it is true that these Torah ark niches were oriented to the rock hewn tomb of Joseph of Arimathea that he gave to his nephew , Yahshua) for his body to be laid in burial.   


Let us note that all the dialogue is about the synagogue and the tomb of Jesus.  This debate of the orientation of the synagogue niche and the tomb of Jesus affect another equally interesting debate on the site of Jesus’ crucifixion.  Recent evidence suggests that Jesus was not led down the Via Dolorosa (The Way of the Cross) and crucified on a Roman cross on a hill on the northwestern part of the city.  For the scripture states,


John 19:16 – “Then he (Pilate) delivered Him (Jesus) to them (chief priests and officers) to be crucified.  Then they (chief priests and officers) took Jesus and led Him away.”


Let us look at this text carefully.  The author of this text was disciple John.  Of all the disciples, he was the only one that appeared not to be afraid while in the presence of the temple priestly family.  It was John who walked around the home of the high priest either without suspicion or because he was already known.  Yet at the same time,  it was Peter who hung in the corner of the courtyard fearful that his identity would be known.  John appeared to have an insider’s view of the crucifixion of Jesus. 


This text also suggests that Pilate administered what he felt was appropriate justice to a Jewish rabbi that he could not find anything to administer Roman justice much less the death sentence.  So there in the Praetorium, Jesus was scourged by the Roman soldiers and then taken to be mocked and harassed.  According to Jewish law, which the Romans respected, scourging was limited to 39 floggings.  “Forty stripes” was the number of judgment minus one flogging for mercy. 


Once again using the typology of the Pesach Lamb, Jesus, representing the sin holocaust offerings in the temple as the sacrificial lamb and also the sacrificial red heifer, was led out of the temple in the custody of the chief priests and officials, who were probably temple guards.  They left the Eastern Gate, away from the symbolic throne where the Eternal One resided in the Holy of holiest, traversed across the Tyropean Bridge called the Bridge of the Red Heifer to the base of the Mount of Olives.  Then they ascended to the top of the Mount to the site where the red heifer was slain and burnt on the Mikphat altar. There in accordance to Jewish law, Jesus was stoned and then crucified on a stake or tree.  This was no doubt done in the presence of the supervision of the Roman official of a hundred guards. Here would be a sacrifice that would be a typologically kosher to Jewish law.


It was in February 25, 2004, that the mega-film “The Passion of The Christ” was released to the American public. There was strident media attention but the reaction of the Jewish leaders was particularly noted. 


In the February 26, 2004 edition of Israel Insider, in interview was report by Shlomo Benizri, the former minister of labor and social affairs in the ultra-Orthodox Sephardic party to a Haredi pirate radio station in which he stated;


Israel Insider – “The Jews did, in fact, kill Jesus.  ‘According to Jewish law, they decided to hang Jesus.  Jesus was put to death according to Sanhedrin (ancient Jewish court) tradition.  They took him up to a high roof, and threw him crashing to the ground.  Afterwards they hung his body on wooden beams in the shape of a “T,” but not as the Christian legends say that he was crucified. That nonsense.  What is there to deny?  We’re talking about a yeshiva student who left Judaism, and the Sanhedrin put him to death.” (quoted in Israel Insider, One Shas MK says ban “Passion”, another says “Jews did kill Jesus”, February 26, 2004)


To put the death of Jesus in the context of first century Judaism also alters and changes the historical context of the crucifixion of Yahshua.  Three days prior to the Jewish Passover in 2004, I was in the Library of Congress and obtained a copy of the Hebrew Gospel of Matthews according to the Primitive Hebrew Text by George Howard of the University of Georgia. 


This translation comes from a Hebrew text of Matthew in a 14th century Jewish polemical treatise by the title of Even Bohom.  The author was Shem-Tob ben-Isaac ben-Shaprut.  Sometimes called ben-Shaprut, Shem-Tob, a native of Tudela in Castile, Spain, was a Jewish physician who living in Tarazona in the province of Aragon in northern Spain.  Of the twelve books he wrote between 1385 till after 1400 CE, the first books dwelt with the principles of Jewish faith.  Then the next nine books dwelt with the passages of scripture in dispute between the Jews and Christian.  Finally in the 11th book, he analyzed various haggadic sections of the Talmud used by Christians or Jewish converts to Christianity and finally in the 12th book was the entire Gospel of Matthew written in Hebrew.  (George Howard, The Gospel of Matthew according to a Primitive Hebrew Text, Mercer University Press, Macon, Georgia 31207, 1987 p. ix-x )


The scholastic critique of this text supports that it belongs to a more primitive form of the Matthew traditions than the Greek text we use in our current English translations.  The shifts in theology not found in the Greek version do not support the idea that a medieval Jewish translator edited the book, because the verses tend to support the Christian viewpoint in the polemic disputes against the Jews. (Ibid 203)  According to Shem-Tob, he testified that he would “transcribe/copy” it rather than “translate” (Ibid 177) the passages in order to show “to the faithful the degree of defect in these books and the errors that occur in them.  By this they will know and understand the superiority and virtue of tour faith to the other religions.” (Ibid 177). 


In Epiphanius (4th century) there is mentioned evidence of a Hebrew translation of the Gospel of John and the Acts of the Apostles.  The Jews of Aragon were known to have had a copy of the entire gospel in Hebrew in the 13th century Spain. (Ibid 178)  As the opinion of the author/editor of the text suggested, “Shem-Tob only copied, not translated, his Hebrew Gospel of Matthew and that this scroll was already written in Hebrew when he got it.” (Ibid 179)


Other interesting insight to the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew is that the Divine Name is used instead of the Jewish insertion of ‘Adonai’ for “Lord”.  This suggests a knowledge of the Divine Name as written in the Septuagint which was translated before the time of Christ. (Ibid 201-202). This Hebrew Matthews also enhances Jesus’ spiritual ministry to the ‘lost tribes of the house of Israel’ during His Galilean ministry where in the Greek Gospel of Matthews, the disciples were first forbidden to go to the Gentiles and to the Samaritans;


Matthew 10:5-6 – “Go nowhere among the gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 


Yet, in the Greek Gospel of Matthew the ministry of Jesus was expanded to the whole world when the gospel commission was given to the disciples.


Matthew 28:19-20 – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you….” 


Yet in the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew it states simply and plainly;


The Hebrew Gospel of Matthews 28:19-20 – “Go and teach them to carry out all the things that I have commanded you forever.” 


Here it suggests that the gospel was to continue to be taught and given to the ‘lost house of Israel.’   It then appears to imply that ‘the house of Israel’ was to be responsible as the ‘light to the world’ and take the ‘Good News’ to the rest of the Gentiles.  In the Hebrew Matthews, the expansion of the gospel is not away from the Hebrew Judaic roots but is kept within the framework of the Hebrew (Jewish/Israel) ministry of Jesus Himself.  The kingdom of God as Jesus preached and lives, continued to remain within the framework of the ministry of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia of Jerusalem, rather than the soon to be ascendancy of the Roman Christian Church.  The philosophical framework of the ministry of Jesus and His commission was to remain within the Hebrew-Judaic philosophical foundation rather than be transplanted onto a Greco-Roman philosophy that was done by Roman orthodoxy. 


Within this context, let us now look at the crucifixion of Jesus as reported in the Hebrew Gospel of Matthews.  Let us evaluate how it differs in visual imagery from a Hellenistic molding of a profound historical event. 


The Hebrew Gospel of Matthews 27:15-55 - “On the day of the honored feast of Passover it was their custom for the commander of the city to give to the people one of the prisoners whom they wished.  Pilate had a prisoner who was almost crazy: his name was Barabbas.  Taken in a case of murder he had placed him in the dungeon. 


When they were gathered together Pilate said to them: Which of these do you wish that I should release, Barabbas or Jesus who is called Messiah?  This was because Pilate knew that due to hatred without cause he had been taken. 


While he was sitting upon the throne his wife sent to him a messenger saying: I implore you that in no matter should you speak a word against this righteous man because in this night I have suffered many things in a vision because of Him.


The chief priests and the elders of the law assembled the people (that) they might ask for Barabbas and that Jesus might die. Pilate answered them: which of them do you wish that we should release?  They said Barabbas!  Pilate said to them: If so what shall I do with Jesus who is called Messiah?  All of them answered that he should be hung.  Pilate said to them: What evil has he done?  Then they vigorously cried out: let them hang him let them hang him, let them hang him! 


Pilate, when He saw that he had no power of resistance and was unable to make any peace with them, before a great dispute among the people might arise.  Because of this he took water and washed his hands before the people and said: I am innocent (of the blood).   Be careful what you do.


All the people (in the room) answered and said: “His blood will be upon us and upon our seed.” 


Then he released Barabbas (to them), and delivered to them (the Jewish rulers and officials) Jesus for beating and affliction that they might hang him.  Then the horsemen of the court took Jesus under guard and came together before a great company of people (Jews). They clothed Jesus with silk garments and covered him with a greenish silk robe.  They made a crown of thorns and placed it on his head and set a reed in his right hand and were bowing down mocking him (saying):  Peace be upon you, king of the Jews.  They spit in his face and took the reed and struck his head. When they had mocked him (much) they stripped the robe from him dressed him in His own clothes and gave orders to hang him.


As they were going out from the city they met a man whose name was Simon the Canaanite. They compelled him to carry the gallows, that is, ‘The Cross’


They came to a place called Gulgota, that is, Mount Calvary, and gave him wine mixed with gall. But when he began to drink it he perceived (what it was) and would not drink it.


Then when they placed him on the gallows they divided his garments by lot. Afterwards, they set for him over his head a writing which said: This is Jesus of Nazareth, the king of Israel.  Then two thieves were hung with him, one on his right and one on his left. 


Those who were passing by mocked him and shook (their) heads saying: ‘See, (how) you would lay waste the temple of God and in yet three days (built it); save yourself; if you are the Son of god come down from the gallows.’ 


The chief priest and the elders of the people mocked him saying; ‘others he saved; himself he cannot save.  If he is the king of Israel let him come down from the tree and we will believe.  Since he trusted in God let Him save him now if he wishes, because he said he is the Son of God.’  The thieves who were hung with him said to Him these very same words.


At the sixth hour darkness came in all the world and it remained until the ninth hour.  Jesus cried in a loud voice saying, in the holy language: My God, My God, why have You forsaken me? 


One of those standing there said: This One is calling for Elijah.  Immediately he took spongy-bread, filled it with vinegar and gave it to him to drink.  Others were saying: We will see if Elijah will come and deliver him. 


Jesus cried another time in a loud voice and sent his spirit to his father.  Immediately the curtain of the temple was torn into two pieces, from the top downwards; the earth shook and the rocks were broken.  The graves were opened and many of those asleep in the dust arose.  They came out of their graves and after (this) they entered the holy city and were revealed to many.  The captain of the hundred and those standing with him watching Jesus saw the earthquake and the things which were done and were very afraid saying:  ‘Truly this was the Son of God.’”  (The Gospel of Matthew according to a Primitive Hebrew Text, translated by George Howard, Professor of Religion, University of Georgia, Mercer University Press, Macon, Georgiz 31207, 1987, pg 143-147)


In the Hebrew Gospel of Matthews a different panorama is displayed.  Pilate, called the ‘commander of the city, selected the foulest Jewish criminal in the Roman prison, a ‘crazy’ murderer, because he knew that ‘due to hatred’ towards Jesus, He had been taken ‘without cause’.  The assembly of Jews that congregated to decide the fate of Jesus were selected and ‘assembled’ by the chief priests and elders of the law.  It was a staged jury. 


What was their verdict? Hang Him. Hang Him. The word ‘crucifixion’ written by the Jewish author and transcribed by the Jewish transcriber is rather rendered more true to its Jewish context; ‘to hang Him’.  They wanted to hang Jesus. This was their Torah prescribed method of execution.


With this, Pilate, washed his hands and proclaimed his innocence.  The temple rulers and elders of the Sanhedrin with the selected people brought to the justice hall of Rome announced their responsibility for the judgment call for the death by hanging of Jesus. 


Pilate, according to the Hebrew text, release Barabbas and ‘delivered’ Jesus to the temple authorities for ‘beating and affliction that they might hand him.” Then the ‘horsemen of the court took Jesus under guard.  Who were they?  Did Pilate have a court?  No, he had a judgment hall.  Did Herod or Caiphas and Ananus have a court?  Yes, the high priest was recognized as the supreme ruler of temple Judaism. Also notice that Jesus was cloaked with a green rather than a crimson robe and it was the great company of Jews who placed the crown of thorns on His head, spit on Him, mocked Him and struck Him on the head.  They had no intention of soiling the silk clothes and when finished, they put back on Jesus His own clothes and ‘gave orders to hang Him.’


Notice in route to the hanging site, they compelled Simon the Canaanite to carry the ‘gallows’, which was called ‘The Cross’.  Then there on a place called Gulgota which was called a mount, Mount Calvary, they placed Him on the gallows.  There over Him was placed a placard, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the king of Israel’, not ‘the king of the Jews’.  Then in the final moment, Jesus cried out in the holy language, Hebrews, twice and the last ‘sent His spirit to His Father.’


The most defining moment in history remained solely within the hands of the Jews.  This was a Jewish affair with their God.


The Nazarene Synagogue after the Hadrian /Bar Kokhba War


At the Upper Room or the Cenacle, both the Christians and the Jews claim this site as an original first century Roman-Jewish synagogue.  Initially both of these claims were based upon the writings of Epiphanius (315-402/3 CE) in his ‘Treatise on Weights and Measures’ (De Measures et Ponderous) which was a Biblical Dictionary written in the late 4th century.  In it he wrote concerning the visit of Hadrian the Roman emperor when he visited the destroyed city of Jerusalem about 131-132 CE as follows.   


Epiphanius – “a small church of God. It marked the site of the Hypero-on (Upper Room) to which the disciples returned from the Mount of Olives after the Lord had been taken up.  It had been built on that part of Sion.”  (Epiphanius quoted in The Wandering Tomb of King David,)


In the history of the church written by the 10th century Patriarch of Alexandria, Euthychius (896-940 CE), the Judeo-Christians (Nazarenes) who fled to Pella to escape the impending doom and destruction over the city of Jerusalem;


Euthychius (896-940 CE) – “returned to Jerusalem in the fourth year of the emperor Vespasian, and built there their church.”  (Euthychius quoted by The Wandering Tomb of King David,)


So here we have as soon as the year 73 CE, when the word reached that the last outpost of rebellion at Masada had fallen to the Romans, the Davidian nasi or high priest of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia, Simeon ben Cleopus, who was also cousin to both Jesus and James the Just, returned to the city of Jerusalem. There over the ashes of the villa with the Upper Room, they reconstructed a new synagogue using the magnificent ashlars, though damaged, that came from Herod’s temple. 


It was during these times about 100 CE that an apocryphal Odes of Solomon was composed.  Here in the fourth ode it read;


The Odes of Solomon - "No man can pervert your holy place, 0 God, nor can he change it, and put it in another place, because [he has] no power over it. Your sanctuary you designed before you made special places." (The Odes of Solomon  quoted by The Wandering Tomb of King David,)


Were there Nazarenes who were proclaiming the resurrection of a new temple on the site of the Upper Room on the western hill of Mount Zion?  If so, then was it their intent to transfer the holiness of the destroyed Temple to the rebuilt Upper Room by using the ‘sacred ashlars’ from the fallen temple?  Either way, there appears to be a serious attempt to identify ‘sacred ground’ to the Nazarenes and state claims that the enduring traditions of the places and footsteps of the Master were now part of sacred history.


It was Eusebius, the historian of Constantine, who wrote in his treatise, Demonstratio Evangelica (c. 312 CE);


Eusebius - "This is the word of the Gospel, which through our Lord Jesus Christ and through the Apostles went out from Sion and was spread to every nation. It is a fact that it poured forth from Jerusalem and Mt. Sion adjacent to it, on which our Savior and Lord had stayed many times and where he had taught much doctrine." (Eusebius, Demonstratio Evangelica quoted in by The Wandering Tomb of King David,)


Yet where was this Mt. Sion that the gospel poured forth from?  It is the modern archeological opinion that the tombs of the kings and the elders of Israel were east and south of the temple near the palace of King David in the ancient city of Jerusalem, we can understand the context of the statement of the apocryphal book, Life of the Prophets.  Written near the end of the first century, it mentioned that the tomb of Isaiah was near the Siloam Fountain, which was near to the tombs of the kings, ‘to the east of Zion.”  If so was the western hill of Mount Zion recognized as the New Zion whereas the Old Zion to the east was where the temple and the ancient dwelling of their kings and prophets lived and died?


There Epiphanius noted that amidst the devastation and the desolation of the temple were only a few homes, evidence of a small “Church of God” and seven synagogues built like huts.  Epiphanius also noted that the disciples when they returned from the Mount of Olives went back to the Upper Room and that this edifice was in the part of Zion that was spared of destruction.  (Koester 1989:93 quoted in the Tomb of David and the Cenacle)


Do we have a clue here that there possibly was a providential preservation of the House with an Upper Room? In as much as some facts are circumstantial, one thing appears evident, the House with an Upper Room in which Yahshua held the Last Supper with His disciples is the one residence in Jerusalem that has claims that its identity has not been lost.  The site of the Temple of Solomon, the site of the crucifixion, the site of the Tomb of Joseph where Jesus was buried have less credible evidence, history and archeological documentation than the site of the House of the Upper Room and the first synagogue of the Nazarenes. 


It is here that the Christian traditions base their claim that after the destruction of Jerusalem this synagogue was rebuilt by Simon ben Cleopas, the cousin to Jesus when he returned the leadership of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia from the region of Pella to the city of Jerusalem.  The question that needs to be asked is what synagogue?  Was the House with the Upper Room first remodeled into a synagogue by James the Just, destroyed in 70 CE and then rebuilt after the fall of Masada?  Or rather does it suggest that the Upper Room/Synagogue was preserved during the destruction of Jerusalem and then remodeled and rebuild using ashlar stones from the temple site remains.


We then receive another challenge from Hillel Geva and published in BAR “Searching for Roman Jerusalem” concerning whether a Jewish or Gentile synagogue was actually built after the destruction of Jerusalem after 70 CE and 135 CE.   He claims that the western hill of Mount Sion housed a garrison of the Roman Tenth Legion (Geva 1997:40 quoted in the Tomb of David and the Cenacle) and that the city of Jerusalem was totally destroyed inside and outside the walls. (Geva 1997:37 quoted in the Tomb of David and the Cenacle).  The question, what do they mean by Roman period remains?  


Our challenge and concern is, if the Upper Room of the traditional home of Mary and John Mark truly preserved intact and the site over what has traditionally been known in Jewish legend as the Tomb of David, then would the archeological remains of the floor of this site be recognized as Roman first century remains? Truly the land of Judea was a Roman colony and the standards of building construction by a Jewish contractor should not necessarily change before or after the destruction of Jerusalem.   


It appears that most of the archeological dispute is not whether there was an Upper Room during the Passover of 30 CE at the death of Jesus, but whether the Nazarene Ecclesia (aka Judeo-Christian Church) was actually rebuilt over the site after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. 


Yet was this synagogue actually built on the first century Judaic floor of a restored Jerusalem aristocratic home with an Upper Room?  In as much as the original home was built on an east-west orientation, Pinkerfeld may be right in the orientation of the building not accounting that the original building was built to be a private dwelling and not a synagogue.  It also suggests that many synagogues started out as home assemblies.  Was the synagogue built during the reign of James the Just in a reconstructed home with an Upper Room, which also had its own niche for the Ark holding a Torah scroll?  Possibly.  Was this Ark niche that Pinkerton found the original ark niche?  Possibly not.  Was it a reconstructed niche built over a more ancient foundation?  Probably so. 


The historical evidence appears to be reliable that the Jews including the Jewish Nazarenes were allowed back into the city of Jerusalem after 70 CE to rebuild their homes and synagogues.  The question still begs to be answered, where did the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia meet for assembly when they were not meeting in regular synagogues with the rest of the Jewish community and where did they assemble the Hebrew Nazarene Sanhedrin and the General Assembly or Supreme Council every seven years when all the apostle returned to Jerusalem for the Sabbatical diasporic pilgrimage?  Was this site the Synagogue at the site of the house with an Upper Room?


Rebuilding the small ‘Christian Church’ was about as close in time to Epiphanius as the early colonization of the New England states in the 1650-1700 era is to us today.  Times have changed in America and so they did then in ancient Judea.  In the pre and post 70 CE era of Jerusalem, there was no Christian Church in Jerusalem. The Jewish people returned to their devastated city and began to rebuild.  The Nazarene Ecclesia was not Christian in the sense that we know today, but rather they were messianic Jews whose lives were devastated by the lost of the temple of the Lord as much as any other of their Jewish brethren’s lives were devastated.  The culture of the Nazarenes was still fully Jewish and when they returned they again worshipped in synagogues and not churches.  Their religious ideology and philosophy was based fully on their Hebrew-Judaic roots.  It would be another 60 years after the Bar Kokhba Revolt in the 130’s CE in the era of Hadrian that any Christian presence would be seen in the city of Jerusalem. 


After the Bar Kokhba Revolt, all Jews were banned from entering into the gates of the city and the Gentile Christians who also believed in a Jewish messiah began to take the ideas rebuilt a Christian Church in Jerusalem.  I was their Jewish heritage, soon to be severed from its Hebrew philosophical roots, transplanting it into a Greco-Roman philosophy when a new religion was born, the Orthodox Christian Church.  The Christian presence in the city of Jerusalem began the slow road to ascendancy until it peaked during the years of the Crusades from 1100 to 1300 CE.


Go to Part Four  

The Manuscript and Mural Evidence for the Synagogue of the Nazarenes



Manuscript and Archeological Evidence for a Nazarene Synagogue

The Pilgrim of Bordeaux and Eucherius

Caradactus, Gladys and Rufus Pudens and the Basilica of Ste. Pudentianna 

The Mosaic Apse of the Basilica Ste. Pudentianna

The Map of Jerusalem in the Madaba Mosaic

The Believers of the Hebrew Nazarene Synagogues were Jewish


Return to Part Two

The Synagogue of the Nazarenes


Return to Part One

The Star of David and the Seal of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia


Return to Beginning



Links and Book Orders


Order – The Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church by Olim Publication

Order – The Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church and related Jewelry at Israel’s Harvest


Messianic Seal

About the Messianic Seal by Ari Levitt, Adat B'nei HaMelech

The Messianic Seal by Jane Diffenderfer, Messianic Home

Ancient Messianic Synagogue Seal by Evangelical Press News Service

The Most Ancient Symbol of Christianity – Reuven Schmalz

The Menorah, the Star of David and the Fish by Reuven Schmalz and End of Times Ministries

The Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church by Family Bible

The Messianic Seal by HalleluYah Ministries

Messianic Seal of the Early Church by Christianity Network

How Many Symbols do You See?  by Threemacs Jewish Roots of Christianity

Found the Seal of the Messianic Church by Tough Love Faith Web


Nazarene Ecclesia

An Anthropolgists looks at the Judeo-Christian Scriptures by Richley S. Crapo

How we Lost the Sabbath by The Bible Only

Jesus the Nazarene and His Jewish Followers by Scholomo

Jewish Remnant History by Elisheva Gamaliel

Christianity and its relationship to Judaism by JewishEncyclopedia

Moses’ Seat and Messianic Nazarene Yisrael by Rabbi Moshe Yoseph Koniuchowsky

Are the Nazarenes and the Ebionites  the only True Israelties?  By Christian Think Tank

What is Nazarene Judasim? By James Trimm

Nazarenes and Christians by Paul N. Tobin

Shomrai HaBrit-Keepers of the Covenant by G. Shapiro

The Early Nazarenes and Rabbinic Judaism by William F. Dankenbring

What is the Original Faith of the Apostles by Norman Willis

Who were the Nazarenes and when did they become Heretics – G Shapiro

A Response to Anti-missionary who claim that the Nazarenes never existed – by Messianic Apologestics