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12/16/2010

EARLY HOUSE CHURCH: WHAT DURA EUROPOS HAS TO SAY TO US


Dura-Europos was a Christian house church dating to 235 A.D.

In it are frescos depicting Adam and Eve, what is assumed to be the three Mary's approaching the tomb, and the Good Shepherd image. The fact women were included on the walls of this house of corporate worship could be simple cultural style or may reflect something more. The fact their participation in significant Gospel scenes is noteworthy and should be considered against the more grating refrains chanting: " a woman must be silent", etc. Eve, and all of her daughters, would be constant and visual teachers of the Gospel message via the artwork.

The house consists of living quarters, afew smaller rooms, and a common room but apparently lacks the sexual segregation aspects often assumed of the synagoues. There is a baptismal area with a shallow pool indicating probably immersion was not practised in the house but this could have happened, as many have noted, in the river nearby if a believer or doctrine required.

This is important because it indicates something different was going on in the Christian worship site. While authors argue woman was segregated and the disciples addressed the males in their pastoral epistles, the house church seems to undermine that argument.

As one of the earliest church houses and containing important images (the earliest image of Christ was found there), the site is largely unknown. Far greater emphasis is on the Jewish synagogue and the implications of the Christian worship center are laregely ignored.

[Image public domain ]

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