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Jerusalem: A Walk Through Christian History - Part 2

24 September, 201324 September, 2013 0 comments Christian History Christian History

Christ Church

Click Here for Part 1 of this post.


In Part 1 of this article, I explained how, as a licensed tour guide in Israel, I see Jerusalem's Old City as a living museum of Christian History. There are so many churches built by so many different denominations, many of which are less known even to religious Christians, that by exploring them one can actually take a walk through the development of Christianity itself.


We explored St. Mark's Syriac Church as an example of a Non-Chalcedonian Church and then we looked at the Russian Orthodox Church of St. Alexander Nevsky. Today we will look at Protestantism and Catholicism, but even those who are familiar with one or either of these may still be surprised by the specifics.


Christ Church


Probably the most famous split in Christendom occurred in the 16th Century – the Protestant Reformation. Although Protestantism has since grown into a vast array of distinctive churches, the Anglican church is one of the earliest. 200+ years later, they built the first Protestant Church in the Middle East.


Built in the mid-1800s, Christ Church is located just inside of Jaffa Gate, opposite David’s Citadel (a misnomer, as I may explain in another post). The first Protestant Bishop here in Jerusalem, Michael Alexander, was a converted Jew, and thus Christ Church’s design is quite surprising. There is quite a bit of Hebrew writing inside, as well as a menorah (the candelabrum that stood in the Jewish Temple) in the apse. Beyond this, however, the stark but beautiful design is fairly traditional for a mainstream Protestant church.


Christ Church still focuses on reaching out to Jews and Muslims in Israel, as well as Christian Arabs and pilgrims.


Melkite Church


Melkite Church of the Annunciation


And what about the fourth major branch of Christianity – Catholicism? There are, of course, myriad Latin Catholic churches and monasteries throughout Jerusalem, but there are also some surprising ones. Many people are unaware that, throughout history, many members of the Eastern churches re-entered communion with the Catholic Church. The Vatican allowed them to maintain many of their individual practices, so long as they recognized the Pope’s supremacy.


The Melkite Church is another name for Greek Catholics. Most of the Arab Christians in the Holy Land are members of this stream. In brief, many of them rejected the Greek-centric focus of the Greek Orthodox Church, and rejoined with the Catholics who allowed them to maintain their Arabic culture.


The Church is located on Greek Catholic Patriarchate Street, near the Jaffa Gate. Interestingly, there is an iconostasis inside, indicating one of the Eastern traditions the church maintains. Also notable is the Arabic writing above the Greek writing throughout the artwork of the church.




An interesting thing about museums sometimes is what is not found in them. This post would not be complete without mentioning a fifth branch of Christianity, the first to split from the main church in 431. Named for Nestorius, the then Archbishop of Constantinople, the Nestorian Church or Church of the East left following the Third Ecumenical Council at Ephesus. Though they once had a community in Jerusalem, they no longer have any churches or followers here.


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Joel Haber is a licensed Israeli tour guide, based in Jerusalem. Originally from New Jersey, he posts regularly for Travelujah. He can be reached for all of your Israel touring needs at www.funjoelsisrael.com or via email at joel@funjoelsisrael.com


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I am a licensed tour guide in Israel. This blog will focus on sites and activities in Israel that you may be less familiar with. My website is located at www.funjoelsisrael.com



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