Aurora, Colo. (EP) A Messianic Seal from the Christian church in ancient Jerusalem has been rediscovered after 2000 years. This ancient symbol was found on Mount Zion. It is believed to have been created and used by the Jewish believers who called themselves Nazarenes in the first Messianic Church.
Three companies Olim Creative Products of Tiberias, News About Israel (NAI) of Jerusalem, and Christian Floral Delivery of Colorado jointly announced the discovery of this ancient symbol, which has been copyrighted by NAI. It consists of three separate but integrated symbols: a menorah at the top, a star of David in the middle, and a fish at the bottom. In each of the renditions of the three-part symbol the star is created by interlacing the stand of the menorah with the fish.
The Messianic Seal was found etched or inscribed on eight ancient artifacts. The artifacts were presented to Ludwig Schneider, editor in chief of NAI's magazine, Israel Today, in 1990. They came from Tech Otecus, an elderly monk who lived as a hermit in the Old City of Jerusalem. Otecus said that in the 1960s he had personally excavated about 40 artifacts bearing the Messianic Seal from an ancient grotto located in the immediate vicinity of the Upper Room on Mount Zion.
What was once the main entrance to the grotto is now covered with a jail-like heavy wire mesh enclosure. Its door, leading down into the ancient baptismal place, is tightly secured with a heavy chain and lock. According to Schneider, the last remaining entry to the grotto was sealed shortly after he excitedly told the priests at the local monastery about the discovery of the Messianic Seal.
Schneider photographed eight artifacts which were given to him by Otecus, and showed the pictures to the curator of the Israel Museum. "When he had carefully studied my pictures," Schneider recalled, "the curator immediately promised me that these artifacts and their unique symbol were an important find. He told me that the museum had seen other artifacts bearing the same three-part symbol from some other sources he did not specify."
According to Bob Fischer, president of Olim Creative Products and co-author with local historian and artist Reuven Schmalz of their book, The Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church, the ancient three-part symbol has, since 135 A.D., been suppressed by various Israeli groups or agencies, such as the Israel Museum and Orthodox rabbis in the Old City of Jerusalem, while simultaneously being buried for these nearly two millennia by the church.
According to Fischer, at least two of the eight artifacts were obviously ceremonial pieces which may have well been used by James the Just, the brother of Jesus, who is said to be the first pastor of the church, or perhaps even by one or more of the Twelve Apostles.
One of the eight artifacts is a brick-sized block of well-worn local marble. This piece bears an etched version of the Messianic Seal with a Taw (the last letter in the ancient Hebrew alphabet that looks exactly like a sign of the cross) in the eye of the fish symbol, as well as the ancient Aramaic lettering proclaiming the use of this artifact as a stand to hold a vial of anointing oil. The ancient Aramaic is transliterated as, "La Shemen Ruehon" (For the Oil of the Spirit). Another of the eight artifacts is a small, almost intact, vial which could well have sat on top of the marble stand.
Commenting on what he characterized as the "monumental importance" of this archaeological discovery, Fischer said, "Beyond the historical background of the Nazarenes, the first Jewish believers who founded the Jerusalem Church, the Messianic Seal itself proclaims to the world the pervasive Jewishness of Jesus Christ and the decidedly Jewish foundation and roots of the church founded in His name."
"The Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church," Fischer continued, "strikes at the very roots of anti-Semitism while proclaiming a compelling message that restores unity: Jew with Jew, and Jew with Gentile. The importance of this discovery cannot be minimized. The Messianic Seal is not only just the key to understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls, it can and should shake the foundations of the church and orthodox Judaism with its incredible message of unity and love. It breaks down barriers that have existed for millennia and points the way toward restoration."
The Most Ancient Symbol of Christianity
For the Oil of the Spirit
FOUND: The First Century baptismal grotto of James the Just and the Apostles on Mount Zion, Jerusalem. James, the brother of Jesus, was the leader of the first Nazarene (Messianic) church located in the Upper Room on Mount Zion.
Our story begins in 1963, when a small ceremonial silver lamina (a thin plate) was found in the Judean Desert near Jerusalem, dating back to the first Century. A Catholic priest and archaeologist named Emanuel Testa deciphered the Aramaic text of this artifact, the first line of which reads: For the Oil of the Spirit. Testa was amazed to find that the text was nearly identical to James 5:14-16. This tiny lamina (3"x1") is a sort of pass card or certificate of belief in Jesus, used in early Jewish-Christian baptism to confirm the forgiveness of sins and right of passage into the Kingdom of Heaven.
This text from the Book of James clearly indicates that the earliest Jewish Christians anointed believers with oil. What has not been clearly understood until now is how this anointing was connected with baptism and the entry into the faith. This is no longer a mystery.
Detail of inscription on the face of the oil stand. (at right above)
Pictures from Schmalz, Reuven Efraim et al, The Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church, Olim Publications, Tiberias, Israel, 1999
In 1990, Ludwig Schneider, editor in chief of the magazine Israel Update, struck up a friendship with an old Greek Orthodox monk who lived as a hermit in the Old City of Jerusalem. On one occasion, the monk showed Schneider a cache of artifacts that he had secretly excavated on Mount Zion before the Six Day War in 1967. Scheneider was taken aback. Many of these pottery shards, oil lamps and stone pieces were engraved with an unknown symbol. The symbol consisted of a menorah on top, a Star of David in the centre and a fish at the bottom. Schneider was immediately convinced that this must have been a symbol of the first Jewish-Christian church (assembly).
The monk then led Schneider to a cavity in the rock adjacent to the Tomb of David and the Upper Room on Mount Zion, and told him that this is where he found the artifacts. Today, the cave is dark and musty and sealed off with iron bars. As legend has it, some great secrets are hidden there. Some say that according to the Dead Sea Scrolls, it is a cache of Second Temple treasures. The most popular legend is that deep within this cave lies the long lost Ark of the Covenant.
As it turns out, this is the sacred baptismal grotto of the first Nazarene (Messianic) church, and the treasure hidden there was the First and Second Century artifacts (about 60 in all) found by the monk. Among these artifacts is a brick-shaped piece of local marble inscribed with the Messianic Seal and the words in ancient Aramaic: For the Oil of the Spirit. This seems to have been the base for a vial of anointing oil. A small pottery flask with a Messianic Seal found nearby supports this theory.
In my opinion, this piece of marble came into use in the earliest Nazarene times at this baptismal site, below the church in the Upper Room established by James the Just and the Apostles. This was, of course, a perfect place for the first church, because the Upper Room is where the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples at Pentecost. The church was located in the heart of the Essene (a strict, contemplative Jewish sect) Quarter, and was probably a Qumran-like Essene community. According to the Book of Acts, there was strict discipline and a hierarchy. It stands to reason that this group would have immediately established Nazarene ritual, including a ceremonial healing and baptismal centre where conversions were sealed by immersion in water and anointing with oil. Judging from the inscription. For the Oil of the Spirit, the anointing was symbolic of baptism in the Holy Spirit. The Book of Acts records 3,000 conversions here on the day of Pentecost alone.
I believe that James and the Apostles administered the Oil of the Spirit from this very stone base. That would make this piece, if my suspicions are correct, the earliest known Christian artifact. I believe that the previously discovered lamina with the same inscription was also used in this congregation.
But ten years after its discovery, this historic, amazing find remains a well-kept secret. Ludwig Schneider approached the Israel Museum with the artifacts, and was promised that they would be put on display. But it never happened. It seems that the Israeli authorities do not want the mystery of the Messianic Seal to come to light.
By Reuven E. Schmalz.
Selo da Antiga Sinagoga Netsarim Messiânica em Jerusalém
Esta descoberta em Jerusalém por arqueólogos judeus sobre a primeira congregação Netsarim em Yisrael é a maior descoberta já existente para os discípulos do Messias. Apesar deles afirmarem que que é a Igreja Cristã”, pois os judeus erroneamente comparam os Netsarim como os Cristãos. A diferença é tamanha, pois os Netsarim foram discípulos direto do Messias no primeiro século e os cristãos só vieram a existir no século 3!
Aurora, Colo. (EP) — Um Selo Messiânico da “igreja cristã” na antiga Jerusalém foi redescoberta após 2000 anos. Este antigo símbolo foi encontrado no Monte Sião. Acredita-se que ele foi criado e utilizado por judeus crentes que chamavam-se a sim mesmo de Nazarenos na primeira Congregação Messiânica. Três companhias – Olim Creative Products de Tiberíades, News About Israel (NAI) de Jerusalém e a Christian Floral Delivery do Colorado – se uniram e anunciaram a descoberta deste antigo símbolo, pelo qual a NAI adquiriu direitos autorais. Ele consiste de três separados, porém intergrados símbolos: uma menorá ao topo, uma estrela de Davi ao centro e um peixe na parte de baixo. Em cada uma das formações do símbolo de três partes, a estrela é formada pelo entrelaçamento da base da menorá como o peixe.
O Selo Messiânico foi achado gravado ou inscrito em oito antigos objetos. Os artefatos foram mostrados a Ludwig Schneider, editor chefe da revista da NAI, Israel Today, em 1990. Eles os obtiveram de Tech Otecus, um velho monge que viveu como eremita na parte antiga da Cidade de Jerusalém. Otecus disse que nos anos 60 ele pessoalmente escavou cerca de 40 objetos com o Selo Messiânico numa antiga gruta localizada nas proximidades da Sala Superior no Monte Sião. O que uma vez era a entrada principal da gruta está agora cercada com uma pesada grade igual a de cadeias. Esta porta, que leva abaixo de um antigo lugar de batismo, está fortemente protegida por uma pesada corrente e cadeado. De acordo com Schneider, a última entrada para a gruta foi fechada logo após ele ter contado aos padres do monastério local sobre a descoberta do Selo Messiânico.Schneider fotografou oito artefatos que foram dados a ele por Otecus, e mostrou as fotos para o curador do Museu de Israel.
“Quando ele cuidadosamente analisou minhas fotos”, lembra Schneider, “o curador imediatamente disse-me que aqueles objetos e seu exclusivo símbolo eram um importante achado. Ele disse-me que o museu já havia visto outros objetos feitos com o mesmo símbolo de três partes de uma fonte que ele não mencionou”.De acordo com Bob Fischer, presidente da Olim Creative Products e co-autor com o historiador local e artista Reuven Schmalz do livro The Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church, o antigo símbolo de três partes tem sido desde 135 A.D abafado por vários grupos israelitas ou agências, como o Museu de Israel e pelos rabinos ortodoxos da parte antiga da Cidade de Jerusalém, enquanto simultaneamente eram (literalmente) enterrados por eles ao longo de dois milênios de igreja. Ainda, de acordo com Fischer, pelo menos dois dos oito objetos era obviamente utilizados como peças cerimoniais poderiam ter sido usadas por Tiago, o irmão de Jesus, que é dito como tendo sido o primeiro pastor da igreja, ou talvez até mesmo por um ou mais dos Doze Apóstolos. Um dos oitos objetos é um bloco bem gasto feito um mármore local e tamanho de um tijolo. Esta peça possui um versão entalhada do Selo Messiânico com um Tav (a última letra do antigo alfabeto hebraico que parecia-se exatamente com o sinal de uma cruz) no olho do símbolo do peixe, assim como uma escrita em aramáico informando o uso deste artefato para ser a base de onde se coloca o frasco do óleo de unção. O antigo aramáico é transliterado como “”La Shemen Ruehon” (Para o Óleo do Espírito). Outro dos oitos objetos é um pequeno, e quase intacto, frasco que deveria certamente ser colocado no topo da base de mármore. Comentando o que ele caracterizou como de “monumental importancia” desta descoberta arqueológica, Fischer diz, “Além do fundo histórico dos Nazarenos, os primeiros judeus crentes que fundaram a Igreja de Jerusalém, o Selo Messiânico por si só proclama ao mundo a penetrante judaicidade de Jesus Cristo e decididamente a fundação e raízes da igreja fundada no Seu Nome”.
“O Selo Messiânico da Igreja de Jerusalém”, continua Fischer, “ataca todas as raízes de anti-semitismo enquanto proclama a urgente mensagem que restaura a unidade: Judeu com Judeu, e Judeu com Gentil. A importância desta descoberta não pode ser desprezada. O Selo Messiânico não é apenas a chave para entender os Pergaminhos do Mar Morto, ele poderá abalar as fundações da igreja e do judaísmo ortodoxo com sua incrível mensagem de unidade e amor. Ele quebra as barreiras que existiram por milênios e aponta o caminho para a restauração.”