The Dome of the Rock
Great article about the Dome of the Rock in the current BAR (Biblical Archaeology Review). It was built shortly after Islam took Jerusalem, anno Domini, 638, with the express purpose of challenging Christian claims.
"Many Arabs believed the Dome of the Rock was originally built to compete in beauty with the splendor of the churches, especially the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This... would prevent Muslims from being enchanted by the Christian holy places."
The dome itself is made of wood, painted (not plated) with gold. The rock it enshrines is believed to be the same spot over which Solomon built his temple, and from which Muhammad ascended to heaven.
Something new I learned in the article: the Muslims forged ties with Jews as they took over the city. They allowed them in the city (Byzantine Christianity had not) and had them perform some quasi-temple rites in the newly dedicated Dome of the Rock. Jews before Byzantium had lamented the temple's fall, in front of the Rock. This was quite a successful political bit of triangulation against the Christians.
Most striking are some inscriptions found on some gates going in to the Dome:
"The Unity of God and the Prophecy of Muhammad are true."
"The Sonship of Jesus and the Trinity are false."
And then inside:
"The Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, is indeed a messenger of God. So believe in God and all the messengers, and stop talking about a Trinity. Cease in your own best interests! Verily God is the God of unity.... It is not fitting that God should beget or father a child."
I found myself throughout the article musing whether or not Islam is a candidate for the antichrist. He sets himself in the temple [where it was]. He conspires with others who have rejected the true Messiah [Jews]. I'll have to look into this one...
Posted by Steve at 2:29 PM