At the boundary of place : rethinking the provenance of early Christian architecture
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Archaeologists and historians have sought to understand the architecture of the early church using methods common to their respective fields of inquiry. This has included an approach to architecture which classifies buildings according to type and style. Limitations of both method and evidence has led some scholars to conclude that there was no Christian architecture before A.D. 200. This present study intends to broaden the understanding of architecture beyond mere tectonics and realise its significance as a boundary of place with a view toward examining the foundations of early Christian architecture. Boundary and place are primary components of the cosmos within Judaism. The Hebrews came to understand the world according to a concept of holiness manifested as a scheme of circular boundaries ascending into the presence of God, located within the Temple. As an outgrowth of Judaism, the early Church held similar views of place and boundary which gave them an affinity for the Temple. By understanding architecture as a boundary of place we can connect the sacred places and boundaries of the Jews from Creation to the Land and Temple. The Church proclaimed Jesus as God incarnate and Himself the Temple transformed. The traditional view has been that the synagogue was the connecting link between the Church and the Temple, but the origins and role of the synagogue are now doubted. The predominance of the house in the life and ministry of Jesus combined with its prevalence in the NT and the early Christian writers indicates that the Christians understood sacred place in terms of their domestic reality. The house provided not only a strong ligature connecting Church and Temple, it was also an archetype for the Church’s sacred place and developing architectural boundaries.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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