This essay is going to discuss the ancient city of Jerash (Gerasa) that is in modern day Jordan, with particular emphasis on the Christian community and their churches. Along with the rise of the Christian community in Jerash, there was rapid increase of the building of multiple churches in the fifth and sixth centuries, and why this may have occurred in such a small amount of time. This culminated in the last church being erected just before 611 AD, which was before the city started on a slow decline beginning with a Persian invasion. Next the essay will discuss the Muslim invasion which happened after the Persian invasion and how this impacted on the Christian community within Jerash. Following on from this there appears to have been natural disasters which speeded up the decline of Jerash and the city’s fortunes and ending with the total abandonment by the 12th century.
The name, Gerasa (Jerash) which was how it was written by the Greeks, is a Semitic word. However there have been no traces of a settlement which is older than the Hellenistic period. Modern day writers know more about Jerash from the ruins rather than through ancient writers, with the few sparse references to the city not being the most insightful. The city of Jerash most probably was not a big feature in ancient history due to the fact that the city was too far removed from the major cities of the ancient world (Crowfoot, 1931, 2). This could be one of the reasons why Jerash was abandoned later as the world around it changed, and the inhabitants, including the Christian community who had put in so much time to the creation of the numerous churches left.
Jerash as a city had started to decline through the connection with Rome, and Rome’s deterioration, this...
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...us reasons such as economic, invasion by foreign power as well as natural disasters which hastened the city’s decline. The Christian community within Jerash appears to have made a quick impact upon the first few hundred years in the city setting itself up as a major player and showing their dominance of being a new popular religion as well as demonstrating how Jerash was an important city at the time of the rapid church building.
Berrett L (1996) Discovering the World of the Bible, Grandin Book Co, USA
Crowfoot JW (1931) Churches at Jerash: A Preliminary Report of the Joint Yale British School Expeditions to Jerash, 1928-1930,
Kraeling C (1938) Gerasa, city of the Decapolis, American Schools Of Oriental Research, New Haven, Connecticut
Ring T (1995) International Dictionary of Historic Places: Middle East and Africa, Fitzroy Dearborn, Incorporate
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