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Theodotos Inscription

Theodotos Inscription


Earlier tonight, I was involved in a study of Acts 6, dealing with the early church in Jerusalem. Part of the passage reads:

And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen. - Acts 6:8-9

As we read the passage, I was reminded of an artifact that I saw last September in the Israel Museum. In 1914, a French archaeologist found an inscription while digging in the Ophel, just south of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The inscription, called the Theodotos Inscription, is about 25 inches wide by 17 inches high. It reads:

Theodotos son of Vettenus, priest and synagogue leader, son of a synagogue leader, grandson of a synagogue leader, rebuilt this synagogue for the reading of the Law and the teaching of the commandments, and the hostelry, rooms and baths, for the lodging of those who have need from abroad. It was established by his forefathers, the elders and Simonides.

The black screens cover the areas of the Ophel Excavations on the south end of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.The "Freedmen" that were mentioned were freed slaves of the Diaspora. This First Century inscription was possibly mounted above one of the synagogues of the freedmen that we read about in Acts 6.

Of particular note is the use of the term "synagogue leader". That exact same term is used by Luke (who also wrote Acts) in his gospel (13:15, 18:8, 18:17). Each time, it is referring to a leader of the Jews of the Diaspora.

NOTE: If you are reading this via email, you might need to click on the title to see a picture of the inscription.

H/T Ferrell Jenkins

More Information on the Ophel Excavations

The black screens cover the areas of the Ophel Excavations on the south end of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.For the past several summers, Dr. Eilat Mazar has been leading many of the excavations around the City of David just south of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Recently, she has been concentrating her efforts in the area of the Ophel. A couple of days ago, their group released a fantastic video showing some of the most recent excavations. These digs have centered around a cistern from the Second Temple period as well as some underground caverns and tunnels. The current assumptions is that the cistern collected rain water for public use during the time of King Herod.

The Jewish historian, Josephus, mentions that many of the Jews hid in underground caverns and tunnels during the time of the Roman overthrow of Jerusalem around 70AD. It is possible that some of these tunnels that are mentioned in the video are the same ones mentioned by Josephus.

Honestly, it may be hard to know exactly. But, it is interesting to think about.

I wonder what they will dig up next?