The Place in the Temple Courts Where Jesus Taught
There’s an article in the Italian press (with a Google translation in English here) in which Dan Bahat allegedly claims that he knows the exact place where Jesus taught the rabbis at the age of 12 (HT: Explorator). He identifies an area on the south side of the Temple Mount where he says that excavations have uncovered the scales on which the teachers stood.
A few comments:
1. It’s always a tenuous matter to discern something that has been mediated through a journalist, particularly through an article written in a language I don’t know. The Italian article was published on March 6, but to date no other reports are showing up in Google.
2. I’m not familiar with the excavations that Bahat is referring to. There are no excavations on the Temple Mount itself, and if he’s thinking of Eilat Mazar’s recent work south of the Temple Mount, it’s hard to believe that he is making the announcement and not Mazar herself.
3. The New Testament says of the location only that Joseph and Mary “found Jesus in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers” (Luke 2:46). I assume that Bahat knows of some rabbinical source which speaks of a particular location where rabbis taught. If so, several questions come to mind: Is that source accurate for about the year AD 10? Was there only one place in the enormous temple complex where rabbis taught?
4. The article notes Bahat’s credentials as a long-time district archaeologist of Jerusalem. I’ve read his Atlas of Jerusalem and have concluded that I cannot trust what he writes unless I have corroboration from another source I do trust. On this matter, I will keep my eyes open to see what reality there might be behind the hype.
Jerusalem model showing the Temple Mount and on “Solomon’s Colonnade” (John 10:23; Acts 3:11; 5:12). Model now at Israel Museum. Photo from the Pictorial Library, volume 3.