Brief comment on Decapolis City named Pella:
Brief Comment on Early Roman tombs in Jerusalem
Akeldama Tomb field
Aceldama (Matt 27:8), the "Field of Blood" in the Gospel.
"In the Shadow of Mount
Zion: A First-Century Burial Shroud at Akeldama in Jerusalem"
by Shimon Gibson, W. F. Albright Institute
Emergency investigation of the tomb and careful excavation of the shroud was
undertaken by an archaeological team led by S. Gibson, B. Zissu and J. Tabor
on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and with the support of the
Foundation for Biblical Archaeology
Unusual conditions in one of the burial loculi preserved the shroud and a
large clump of human hair.
A radiocarbon date indicated that the shroud belonged to the first century AD.
Study of the textiles by O. Shamir discovered that the shroud had been made from a
high quality woolen garment with a simple weave.
DNA and other tests on the shrouded person
Adult male who had suffered from leprosy and died of acute tuberculosis
[remember the leg bone from Abila with TB?]
Typical tomb plan at Akeldama
Interior like the Abila tombs
Ossuaries from Akeldama tombs
Ossuaries from Akeldama tombs
Same archaeologists as the Cave of John the Baptist discovery in 2004
Romans religious system -
United the empire
United Social classes.
Gods and Politics were linked.
Disrespect to the Gods was disrespect to the Romans.
The American Flag is only a piece of material, right?
Many people can not tolerate it burned or disgraced.
Is the flag part of American STATE religion?
Julius Caesar in Spain (Italica?)
Julius Caesar in Spain (Italica?)
Headless Emporer in Spain (Italica?) = good place to exile trouble makers
Another headless Emporer in Spain (Italica?)
Hadrian bust in Spring (Italica?)
Aelius Hadrianus born in Italica, a Roman colony in Spain
Ruled 117 to 138. Crushed Second Jewish revolut
Houses at Italica
Roman Bath Complex at Italica
Maze Mosaic at Italica
Carpet Mosaic at Italica
Romans were tolerant to other religions
The Empire was dotted with temples to Olympian Gods
Zeus in the Prado Museum, Madrid
Zeus in the Prado Museum, Madrid.
Plan of Temple of Baalbek
Standing columns to the Zeus Temple
Fragment of Zeus temple decoration from Baalbek
Fragment of Zeus Temple decoration from Baalbek
Prado Museum, Madrid
Prado Museum, Madrid
Prado Museum, Madrid
Prado Museum, Madrid
Not so pretty Venus!, Prado Museum, Madrid
Temple of Venus at Balbek in Lebanon
Plan of Temple of Venus at Balbek in Lebanon
- god with wings on feet kept your commerce safe
insured no cheating of weights or exchanges
god of capitalists!
Prado Museum, Spain
Temple to Muses at Baalbek, Lebanon
Plan to join in the worship at a Roman Temple?
Fellowship had no regard for sex, wealth, class or status
Initiations sometimes free or small fee
To move up to the different stages might cost money
Like Rosicrucian, Mason, Scientology. [nobody values anything for free!]
One Roman text describes:
Go to the lodge of the priest to study
Approved into the temple by a vote
Charge of 50 denarii
Son of a member only 25 Deneri
Monthly contributions to cover the wine costs
Christians used to criticize them for charging money
Forms of worship could take many forms
Rules would usually be posted near the main entrance
Do not vomit up wine
Do not carve your initials in the temple walls
Be reasonable dressed and uncontaminated
What were the things that would taint a person:
recent child birth
sexual intercourse with women or dogs
sight or touch of a corpse
No chopping down of the sacred forest
no lighting fires near the temple walls
There was usually the outline of daily practice
These could be lengthy instructions
190 lines of instructions at the temple of Demeter
an animal or vegetable to the deity
A leg was usually given to the temple
Rest was taken home
At big public sacrifices
meat would be distributed
among the temple staff and the worshippers
Extra meat could be sold in the market
Skin would be sold with the money going to the temple.
Cult centers were usually large parks
Housed tame animals like lion, or monkeys
Beautiful flowering shaded grounds
Shaded porticos for a cheerful picnic
to enjoy and to enjoy a banquet with friends
Dining rooms usually seated 9
Dura and Palmyra (in Syria) - a moderate sized temple had a banquet hall that seated 45.
Two indulgences of
eating and drinking were taken to extremes.
"It is not the abundance of wine or the roasting of meat that
makes the joy of the festival, but the good hope and belief that the
god is present in his kindness and graciously accepts what is offered," Plutarch Moralia 1102A
The Sextons were responsible for the everyday care of
the temple and for making what ever rituals had to be
done on a daily basis, answering questions and keeping order
These people were usually mentioned by travelers as nameless, humdrum and helpful
If anyone had eccentric and questionable behavior it was the worshippers who were
The daily job were opening the temple doors in the morning, singing the hymns,
lighting the altars and saying the necessary prayers
During the day they would make sure that the proper hymn as sacrifices were
performed and at night they would close the doors
Not all temples kept the same hours
- some would never close their doors
would never open theirs
Night time illumination must have been impressive.
The temples would be grandly illuminated with lamps.
The statues were rubbed with oil that made them gleam in the lamp light,
and they would be dressed in sumptuous costumes.
One schedule describes visiting all of the statues and crowing them with wreaths,
anointing the statues and occasionally the Gods would be taken out for a ride or for a bath.
In some cases their clothing had to be changed.
Some cult statues where even jointed so they could
sit at the banquet hall and join the revelers.
Often sponsored by the wealthy members of the community
who gave money and donated services to the people and to the poor
Guests mixed with the crowds and pursued secular interests, and police were OK
The festivals had a wide mix of entertainment.
Theater was an important part, entertainment.
Bleachers were constructed, or people sat on the steps of the temple to watch
drama, comedy, poetry readings and mimes.
The entertainment was a mixed bag of religious liturgy, animal acts,
danced hymns, prose and poetry.
They often had a mysterion, which was not a rite performed in secret,
but rather a lesson that was to be learned by a large number of people at the same time.
It was also a big fair.
Trade booths were constructed into the porticos of the
sanctuaries and merchants would travel the festival circuit selling their wares.
There were cafes, gardens
Usually there would be a company of prostitutes would
follow the circuit
Sometimes a group of young men would follow the prostitutes
These festivals usually took place on the 15 or 30 of the month on tax-free, holy days
Mystery from the Greek word to "close my eyes and lips"
23 Mystery cults sites amongst the Greeks
Ephesus - Artemis
Didyma - Apollo/Artemis
Claros - Apollo
Eleusis - Demeter
Naxos - Demeter
All of these disappear as a result of Christian persecution in the 4th century.
Why did Christian's persecute?
1. Payback for what happened to them in 1st through 3rd centuries.
2. Like the Parable of the Wedding Feast - the are "compelling" unbelievers to come
to the feast.
Old religions had fossilized and had lost a genuine enthusiasm and excitement
Priests and ministers clung to rituals out of fear and habit
Mysteries believed that the sole purpose of this life is spiritual development
They appealed on a more personal and immediate level and to all the senses.
The drama created a cathartic environment that gave room for individuals rebirth.
Catharsis is a mind cleansing practice that modern therapists often use to bring
their patients to an excited state of collapse before implanting new ideas.
Greek dramas Antigone and Oedipus.
Much like a really great sad movie that when you leave makes you feel more alive.
ELUSIAN MYSTERIES of Demeter of Persphone
Demeter, Persephone, and Triptoleme (the boy)
Bas-relief dčEleusis, 450 BC, Calvin College. Demeter (Ceres in Roman mythology),
the sister of Zeus, taught Man the techniques of arable farming.
Triptolemos was the hero the learned wheat cultivation.
Zeugma mosaic of Demeter
One of the most important and sacred mysteries in the ancient world
Homeric hymn to Demeter, Homer declares that
"Blessed among men on Earth is he who has seen these things."
Emperor Gallienus was so affected that he used his name in the
Feminine form on his coins - Galliena Augusta
We visited there still signs of sacrifice in the cave area
Story of Demeter and Persepone is a death and rebirth
also deals with mother daughter relationships
It began in 1000 BC.
Telesterion had 42 columns
it was run by two families who were in charge
Hierophant (chief priest), assistant priest, torch bearer, Herald, Altar Priest,
Priestess of Demeter, and other Priests.
In preparation the temples sacred objects were transported to Athens,
so that there could be a procession from Athens to Elusisus.
Day 1- Herald invites people to come requiring clean hands, intelligible speech
(Greek) and just lives.
Day 2. Initiates are cleansed in the sea and they offer up a pig sacrifice
Day 3. Public sacrifice - purification of late comers
Day 5-Great procession from Athens to Elusisus
Day 6 - Rest - fasting for the nocturnal celebration
Day 7 - rest
Day 8 - rites for the dead
Day 9 - departure
There was a ritual initiation of a child of the hearth
Sacred drama, music and dancing, a gong and many torches
Theophany- manifestation of the deity
Climax there was the display of the golden wheat sheaf
The initiates became one with the maiden, Persephone
They must descend into the world of the dead and arise to a better and richer life
Dionysios Mystery cults:
Example from Abila tomb H-2 excavated by Davis, Fuller and Fuller, 1982
Opposite of Apollo (rational and stoic)
Dionysus believed in blessed ecstasy and rapturous love
1. Child of Zeus and Semele (daughter of Cadmus of Thebes)
2. Mother killed, hidden as girl among Nymphs of Nysa
3. Hera found them out and drove them mad
they became revelers that accompanied him
He was raised by Silenus as a Tudor
4. Titans kill and eat all of Dionysios except his heart
5. Zeus eats the heart and resurrects Dionysios as a god.
6. Human race born out the ashes of Titans.
7. The residue of Dionysios composes the human soul.
8. He grew up and carried the pine thersus
pine cones being a symbol; of fertility and also used the pine tar to preserve wine
He drove the three daughters of Minos crazy because they refused his advances
Crossed India on a tiger and named the Tigres river
The worshippers would wander the country side
alternating between making a lot of noise (Pandemonium) to having long silences.
HOUSE OF MYSTERIES
One of the most famous houses in Pompeii has a series of frescoes painted on the
wall which we believe illustrate the initiation of the mistress of the house into the
1. Boy reads the prelude to the ceremonies as the initiate listens.
2. Silenus plays the lyre, the pan flute to show that music transforms the bestiality in us. A female pan offers her breast to a kid goat to symbolize that the initiate must be made as a little child.
3. A satyr peers into a bowl and sees a grotesque reflection of the mask being held above the bowl. The grosser side of man's nature which must be put off.
4. Dionysus and Adrienne recline on couch
5. The initiate bears her back for a ritual whipping which will bring her into a
ritual death which is followed by spiritual rebirth.
Cult Statue in the Prado Museum, Spain
Dionyios altar in Spain from Italia?
Dionyios Temple at Baalbek in Lebanon - AD 150, 109' by 164'in size.
Plan of Dionysios Temple at Balbek in Lebanon
Steps of Dionysios Temple at Balbek in Lebanon
View from Interior of Dionysios Temple, Balbek in Lebanon
Vatican Museum Collection
Isis Temple in Pompeii
Pompeii Frescoe of Isis worship
Depicts a statue of Harpocrates ((Horus the child, son of Isis) in a niche and a priest
with white roles and shaven head carrying two silver candle holders
Isis Frescoe in Pompeii temple
Egyptian Goddess came from Egypt in 307 BC totally Hellenized
Caligula built a grand temple in 38 BC.
Vespatian became a devotee of Serapis after a miracle cure and a vision in Alexandria.
Domition built huge temples dedicated to Isis after one of her Priestess saved his life.
Trajan, was too much of a soldier to have much interest in such
theatrical carrying ones but he is shown on one of his triumphal arches making a sacrifice to Isis.
Hadrian loved all things Egyptian.
She appealed to women, sort of the female equivalent to Mithraic religion
Time of Tiberius there was a scandal when a Roman noble man was enamored by one of the
priestess and disguised himself as the God Annubis and tricked he into having intercourse
Isis is the wife of Osiris Serapis and was the mother of Horus.
She is the grieving mother that is associated with Demeter
Seth (Semetic people's god) killed Osiris sealed in a coffin and floated to Byblos
in Syria and Isis found him Seth then stole him again and dismembered him and spread
him all over the worked.
Isis found him and put him together except for the penis, which she made of
gold, and made him the king of the underworld. She has baby Horus
Isis was the Queen if heaven, and her worship was linked with the moon
Isis was loving portrayed by the Romans as the Goddess mother with the divine baby Horus on her lap that became the prototype for later depiction's of Mary and Jesus
Part of her popularity was that she was a mother, and accessible and.
Worshippers would approach her temples on their knees
Sistrum - silver rattle still used in the liturgy if the Armenian and
Initiation to Isis
Fasting study and indoctrination
Candidate had to go through an initiation, the symbolic sacrifice
Walked through a tunnel lit by torch light,
as soon as the candidate entered the tunnel the great
door was slammed behind her and she was alone in the tunnel.
Frightful figures appeared before her
she was presented with the fears of fire and water, and when she finally reached the last door,
suddenly the lamps where blown out
In utter darkness she was taken and lowered over a pit,
the symbolism of the light of the earth, event the firm ground of the earth being taken away.
Total sensory depravation.
At last when the initiate was on the point of total
exhaustion and fear an ivory door bound in gold swung
open and she entered into a resplendent temple and was received by the priests
The cult of the great solar warrior appealed to soldiers and was open only to men. It is a cult that we know very little about, but what we do know shows very clear parallels to Christianity.
Mithras was one of Christianity main competitions,
Early Christians admired the
discipline and the faithfulness of members of this cult.
Tertullian, the 3rd century Christian writer commented that the soldiers of
Mithras put the Christians to shame by their fidelity.
Mithras was adopted from the Persian God of light, truth and integrity
It preached for success in this world and security and happiness in the next.
They taught that power came thorough discipline.
And part of the way to achieve power in this world was to divert
sexual power into psychic channels.
MYTH of MITHRAS
Mithras statue in Vatican Museum
Creator and organizer of the universe looked down from the heaven
Mankind was afflicted by darkness. So he sent his son, Mithras down to earth to help.
The child was born on December the 25, which is near the winter solstice, the darkest say of the year.
MAIN STORY that appears in much of the iconography that
surrounds the worship of the cult concerns the great bull of heaven.
There is a bull grazing on the mountain.
Mithras grabs him by the horns, mounts it, and is unseated but won't let go.
The bull, exhausted, and Mithras drags him into a cave,
but he escapes and roams the country side.
The sun sends a raven to Mithras and tells him to kill the bull.
Mithras realizes that this a cruel mission, but Mithras as a good soldier
submits to the will of heaven
He chases the bull down with the help of his dog Silvanus,
and eventually grabs the bull by the nostrils and plunges a knife into its heart.
Evil forces represented by the scorpion, the ant and the serpent
try to poison the bull, but they are powerless to impede the miracle.
From the body of the bull comes all the useful plants and herbs
From the spinal cord comes wheat, blood and
the seed of the bull is purified by the moon and from it all of the animals that
are useful to man are born.
The soul of the bull, protected by the faithful dog,
ascend into heaven.
The point is that through sacrifice the bull becomes the creator of all of the
beneficent plants and animals on the earth.
stages of initiation
There were several stages of initiation, and we know a little about this from writings.
1st Degree- the Raven
2nd Degree- the Secret: offers bread and wine to the God which is endowed with light.
3rd Degree- Soldier
The initiate is offered a golden crown (sun disk-halo) but he must refuse
"Mithras alone is my crown" and prove himself in a mock battle.
The Emperor Commodos got so carried away in one of the mock battles that
he actually killed one of the initiates.
4th Degree- the Lion
Separate himself from the outside world
The ritual death and rebirth baptism. Candidate descended 7 steps into the cavern.
He is chased by wild animals, priests wearing masks
Fast three days and is trained in ritual military skills.
He must sever all family ties and adopt the other initiates as his brothers.
In the final ceremony there was a clash of cymbal and drums as the God Mithras is unveiled
He must heat a morsel of bread blessed by the sun and accept Mithras as his source of food
Then he must drink wine, the life force.
He is taught a secret password