Ritmeyer on the House of the High Priest in Jerusalem
In an interview posted this morning on Justin Taylor’s blog, Leen Ritmeyer describes the “Palatial Mansion” that overlooked the Temple Mount in the first-century. This impressive structure inside today’s Wohl Museum is frequently skipped by tourists to Jerusalem, if I can judge by the private visits my groups usually enjoy at the site. Many who have been to Jerusalem may thus “see” this ancient home through the Leen Ritmeyer’s eyes, as the supervisor of the reconstruction effort provides a helpful “walk-through.”
The house also provides the opportunity to clarify a difficult portion of the New Testament. How could Peter be warming himself by a fire in the courtyard on the night he denied Jesus, and yet be able to “go outside” the house of the high priest (Luke 22:54-62)? Ritmeyer explains and illustrates the concept of an open courtyard inside the palace.
While I appreciate the way that Ritmeyer makes these discoveries so accessible to the average Bible reader, I am less optimistic that this particular house is the very house where Jesus stood on trial and Peter denied the Lord. In favor of making this positive identification is the fact that this is the largest house known from this time period in Jerusalem. On the other hand, most of the land in the Old City has never been excavated. If there were 100 houses in Jerusalem in the first century, how likely is it that the only complete one excavated is the same one mentioned in the Bible?
See the post for the full interview, some of Ritmeyer’s famous diagrams, and links to his excellent resources. A commenter to the post also shares 63 high-resolution photos he took on a visit. These are particularly valuable because photography is not allowed unless you pay a lot of money.