In translations from Greek or Latin, “Zion” (Hebrew) is spelled “Sion.”


It is still there, rebuilt on the grounds of the École Biblique. Some parts of the original church, including part of the mosaic pavement have survived.


The word “autocrat” perhaps refers to King David. Compare Psalm 110:1 and Matthew 22:43.


The religion practiced by the Jews, even when practiced by believers in Jesus, was recognized by Roman law as legitimate (religion licita). Gentiles who became Christians, on the other hand, were persecuted until the time of Constantine (early fourth century). This might be one reason why Jewish believers in Jesus did not call themselves Christians, but rather Israelites, Nazoreans or Ebionites.


In Eusebius’s time, Mt. Zion was south of the Roman colony Aelia Capitolina, the name give to Jerusalem by Emperor Hadrian, who rebuilt it as a Roman city.


See James F. Strange and Hershel Shanks, “Has the House Where Jesus Stayed in Capernaum Been Found?” BAR 08:06.


I wish to express my gratitude to Dr. Rainer Riesner (University of Tübingen) and his wife Cornelia for their help with this article.



“And Solomon slept with his fathers and was buried in the City of David” (1 Kings 11:43). For later kings, see 1 Kings 14:31, 15:8, 24, 22:50 (verse 51 in Hebrew); 2 Kings 12:21 (verse 22 in Hebrew), 14:20, 15:7, 38, 16:20.


Josephus thought that the ancient wall (First wall) encompassing the western hill had been built by David and Solomon (The Jewish War 5.143). Describing David’s conquest of Jerusalem, he lets Joab first conquer the Lower City, then the Jebusite fortress in the Upper City (Jewish Antiquities 7.62–66).


Raymond Weill, Le Cité de Daivid, 2 vol. (Paris, 1920 and 1947); and Hershel Shanks, The City of David: A Guide to Biblical Jerusalem (Washington: BAS, 1973), pp. 99–108.


Nehemiah tells us that “Shallum rebuilt the Fountain Gate” and then “built the wall of the Pool of Solomon at the royal garden as tar as the stairs that go down from the City of David” (Nehemiah 3:15). This clearly places the City of David on the eastern hill. The next verse contains the description of a portion of the wall repair “opposite David’s tomb.” The tomb of David must have lain inside the city wall, not far from the Siloam Pool, yet still at a distance from the Temple Mount, precisely where the tombs Weill found are located.


Jewish Antiquities 7.393; 16.179–183.


Roman History 69:14.


Tosephta, Baba Bathra 1:11; Jerusalem Talmud, Nazir 57d.


J.P. Miqne, ed., Patrologia Graeca (Paris, 1844), vol. 43, p. 420 (hereafter cited MPG).


Donato Baldi, Enchiridion Locorum Sanctorum (Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1982; reprint of the 2nd edition of 1955), no. 96.


John Wilkinson, Jerusalem Pilgrims Before the Crusades (Jerusalem: Ariel, 1978), p. 85.


Ali Harad (1170 A.D.) states: “Beit Lahem (Bethlehem) is the name of the town where Jesus was born—peace be with him—and where there are the tombs of David and Solomon” (Archives de l’ Orient Latin I, Paris 1881, p. 605). Ibn Khaldun (14th century) writes in his history: “Then David, the prophet, died and was buried in Bethlehem” (F. Dunkel, Das Heilige Land 55 [1911], p. 25).


Baldi, Enchiridion, no. 754.


Raymund de Aguilers writes: “In that church are the following holies: the sepulchre of King David and of Solomon and the sepulchre of the proto-martyr Saint Stephen” (Baldi, Enchiridion, no. 757).


This report was only published posthumously, the author was killed in a terrorist attack on the 1956 Archaeological Convention at Ramat Rachel, south of Jerusalem.


Jacob Pinkerfeld, “‘David’s Tomb,’ Notes on the History of the Building,” Bulletin of the Louis Rubinowitz Fund for the Exploration of Ancient Synagogues, 3 Jerusalem: Hebrew Univ., 1960), pp. 41–43.


See for example, Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to Polycarp 4:2); Pastor of Hermas 43:9; Justin the Martyr (Dialog with the Jew Tryphon 63:5).


See Lee I. Levine, “Les Fonctions de la Synagogue Ancienne,” Le Monde de la Bible 57 (1989), pp. 28–30.


Pinkerfeld, “David’s Tomb,” p. 43.


The Greek word martyrion means that the church was standing as a “witness” of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.


Pinkerfeld, “David’s Tomb,” p. 43.


Bellarmino Bagatti, The Church from the Circumcision (Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1971), p. 121.


Jewish War 7.3–4.


Eusebius, Church History 3.5, 2–3; Epiphanius, Panarion 29.7; 30.2, 7.


“Ascension of Isaiah 4” in James H. Charlesworth, ed., The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 2 (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1985), pp. 161f.


In his own words: “And the history also contains the remark that there also was a very big church of Christ in Jerusalem, made up of Jews, until the time of the siege of Hadrian” (Eusebius, Demonstratio Evangelica 3.5, in Patristic Evidence for Jewish-Christian Sects, ed. A.F.J. Klijn and G.J. Reinink [Leiden, Neth.: E.J. Brill, 1973], p. 139). The list of bishops is to be found in Eusebius, Church History 4.5:1–4.


Baldi, Enchiridion, no. 733.


Miqne, ed., Patrologia Latina (Paris, 1844), vol. III, p. 985 (hereafter cited MPL).


Charlesworth, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, p. 736.


Charlesworth, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, p. 386.


Baldi, Enchiridion, no. 728.


Baldi, Enchiridion, nos. 729, 886.


See Herbert Donner, Die ersten Palstinapilger (Stuttgart: Catholic Bibelwerk, 1983), pp. 41f.


Baldi, Enchiridion, no. 735.


Baldi, Enchiridion, no. 730.


Eusebius, Church History 3.11, 32:4ff.


The church fathers (Eusebius, Epiphanius, Jerome and others) called it “a cottage in a cucumber field” (MPG 22, p. 43–44; Baldi, Enchiridion, nos. 733, 734).


G. Pasquali, ed., Seconde Lettre (Berlin, 1935), pp. 11–17.


MPG 41, p. 845.


Michel van Esbroeck, Les plus anciens homiliaires Georgiens (Louvain, Belgium, 1975), pp. 314–315.


van Esbroeck, “Jean II de Jerusalem,” Analecta Bollandiana 102 (1984), pp. 99–133.


Baldi, Enchiridion, no. 734.


Baldi, Enchiridion, no. 732.


Baldi, Enchiridion, no. 745. The ancient Georgian liturgical calendar gives us this information: “Commemoration of John, the Archbishop of Jerusalem, who first built Sion and of Modestos who rebuilt it after the fire.” (Gerardo Garitte, Le calendrier Georgien du Sinaiticus 34 [Brussels, 1958], p. 187.)

The reference to John II’s activity can only be to the Theodosian building, since everyone knew that the apostolic synagogue stood already on Mt. Zion for centuries. John’s activity is probably so strongly stressed because John was not only the Jerusalem bishop at the time Theodosius constructed the vestibule church, but also the man who enlarged it into the big rectangular church of Hagia Sion. (In the first Byzantine Zion church, the Column of Flagellation was part of the architecture of the portico; in the second, it stood in the center of the church. See Baldi, Enchiridion, nos. 732, 734, 739, 740, 741, 745, 746.)


MPL 41, p. 813.


From this time on, this building is often called in Greek the diakonikon, that is, a side chapel of the Haigia Sion church.


Baldi, Enchiridion, no. 763.


The Syrian Christians transferred the traditions of Mt. Zion to the church of St. Mark near the Armenian quarter, which they venerate also as the cenacle.


Baldi, Enchiridion, no. 760.