David Clausen, The Upper Room and Tomb of David: The History, Art and Archaeology of the Cenacle on Mount Zion (McFarland, 2016). This fascinating Medieval structure, visited by millions of Christian a year as the “Room of the Last Supper,” whereas the lower floor is revered by Jews as the “Tomb of David.” These two sites, located in a single structure, represent the second most-Holy sites for both traditions–for Christians, only the Church of the Holy Sepulchre would rank ahead, and for Jews the Western Wall and Temple Mount. The foundations of this structure date back to the Byzantine period, and according to some the first century CE. In this groundbreaking study of all our major textual and archaeological evidence, my former M.A. student, David Clausen, who worked with Shimon Gibson and me on this project, has published an engaging, readable, study, the first such monograph to put all the evidence together with a new and significant proposal regarding the history of this important site.
Claimed by Jews, Christians and Muslims, the sacred structure continues to evoke passionate controversy. Does it date back to the time of Christ? Was the Last Supper celebrated there? Is this the place where the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles on the first Pentecost following Easter Sunday? Did King David’s remains ever lie there?
I highly recommend this definitive study. These and many other questions are explored in this first-ever study, offering a readable, fully researched narrative account of the Cenacle’s history, archaeology and imagery. Artistic, architectural and photographic illustrations document the Cenacle and its surroundings over the past 1,500 years.
For further background see the earlier study by the late Bargil Pioneer, published as an important, ground-breaking cover story published in Biblical Archaeology Review, “Church of the Apostles found on Mt Zion,” available at this link.
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