This post is on the Istanbul National Museum because I was able to finally connect one archaeological find in the Israel Museum, of which I took photos back in April 2016, to another artefact housed in Istanbul. First is the inscription from the Israel National Museum which was found near the Lion's Gate of old Jerusalem:
|Greek Temple Mount Warning (Israel Museum)|
Photo by Max Lee ©2016
But the identification is only possible because we can compare it to a larger and more complete warning which was found north of the Temple Mount and is currently housed at the Istanbul National Museum (how a fragment unearthed at the Temple Mount finds its way to Istanbul is another story).
Surprisingly, unlike the smaller one above that was protected in a (fiber)glass casing in prominent display, this larger and arguably more important find was on the floor of the Istanbul Museum, sandwiched obscurely between two other displays, without any protection, and vulnerable to the goodwill of any observer who walks by it. It was a first for me to be so close to, and able to touch, an inscription of such importance.
|Companion and More Complete Inscription of the Greek Temple Warning|
1st century C.E., located at the Istanbul National Museum
Photo by Max Lee ©2017
μηθένα ἀλλογενῆ εἰσπο|ρεύσθαι ἐντὸς τοῦ πε|ρὶ τὸ ἱερον τρυφάκτου καὶ | περιβόλου. ὅς δ' ἂν ληφθῇ ἑαυτῷ αἴτιος ἔσ|ται διὰ τὸ ἐξακολου|θεῖν θάνατον
No foreigner is to enter within the balustrade and enclosed area surrounding the Temple. And whosoever is caught will himself be responsible for his resultant death
With this full inscription from the 2nd artefact, we can now reconstruct what the 1st smaller inscription must have looked like as a companion copy of the same warning. Below is an artists's reconstruction of the 1st inscription in its entirety as the script is extrapolated from the original piece (traced out below).
|Diagram from Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae Palestinae (vol. 1, pt 1; p. 43)|
The signs give a historical context to several texts in the New Testament, including the scene in Acts where some pious Jews thought Paul had brought a Gentile, Trophimus the Ephesian (Acts 21:29), into the temple, and started a riot as a result. There is also Paul's reference to the temple's physical walls separating out the court of the men from foreigners in the Letter to the Ephesians. Here he uses it as a metaphor for how this "dividing wall of hostility" between Jews and Gentiles has been torn down by the work of Christ (e.g., Eph. 2:14).