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NT Today: Ancient cistern proves location of Second Temple

by Stephen Hebert on Friday - 9 February 2007

in Biblical Studies

NT Today: Ancient cistern proves location of Second Temple

NT Today posts a link to an article in the Jerusalem Post which claims that a Hebrew University archaeologist, Joseph Patrich, has discovered the location of the Second Temple. His two major pieces of evidence are:

  • His study of an ancient cistern.
  • His study of the Mishnah.

The Jerusalem Post concurs:

Patrich based his research, which is about to be published, on a study of a large underground cistern on the Temple Mount that was mapped by British engineer Sir Charles Wilson in 1866 on behalf of the Palestine Exploration Fund, along with passages from the Mishna.

I have not had an opportunity to examine Patrich’s findings (since they are “about to be published”); however, one issue is obvious. Patrich’s positioning of the Second Temple must rely heavily on his interpretation of Mishnah Middot.

Even if a common interpretation of this text could be agreed upon, what would make us believe the author knew what he was talking about? As with all of the mishnaic tractates, dating Middot has got to be a bunch of guesswork at best. Was it written within recent memory of the Temple, or is it just some pious proto-rabbis remembering the Temple fondly?

I, for one, will be interested to see Patrich’s publication of his finding.

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