Interior Household Alterations 164
The Byzantine House Renovations, without altering the exterior, were carried out on a house with eight ground floor rooms, a staircase to the roof, and a central courtyard. They were converted before the middle of the third century into a building better suited for group worship and activities. The new room after the renovations, was sixteen by thirty seven feet and could have accommodated perhaps sixty-five to seventy five people. Carolyn Osiek and David L. Balch in "Families in the New Testament World - Households and House Churches" note, "A built-in baptistery with canopy supported by columns was also added in yet another room." When the Byzantine house renovations were carried out by the Christians, several major changes were introduced according to Ralph P. Martin and Peter H. Davids in the "Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Development."✞
- The wall dividing the dining and the adjoining room was removed, thereby creating a large assembly hall.
- At the east end of the room, there was a small platform, or dais, which was likely used during the reading and teaching.
- A smaller room was transformed into a baptistery. In it stands a shallow stone bath. Anyone to be baptized stood there, while water was poured over him or her. A canopy was also installed, and the walls were decorated with frescoes.
- The central courtyard was tiled and benches (eighteen inches wide and fifteen inches high) were built around the walls.
- All of these Byzantine house renovations suggest a developed and organized Christian community. It is difficult to determine, however, whether communal meals were eaten in this particular "domus ecclesiae" or not.
"Byzantine House Renovations"
by Ron Meacock © 2017