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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Bethlehem As a Symbol

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In an ancient mosaic of the Church of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, in the Via Sacra, at Rome, two flocks, each of six sheep, pass from cities labelled respectively Hierusaleh and Bethleem towards the figure of a Lamb, representing the Lord, which stands on a mound in the centre. Similar representations are found elsewhere. The abbe Martigny supposes Jerusalem and Bethlehem to symbolize respectively the Jewish and Gentile Churches; but this is not a probable opinion. Bethlehem could scarcely represent the Gentile Church, and the twelve sheep are generally supposed to represent the apostles, none of whom came forth from the Gentiles. The issuing forth of the flock of Christ from Jerusalem and Bethlehem probably symbolizes the fact that the Church is founded on the Nativity, the Passion, and the Resurrection of the Lord. Bethlehem was the scene of the former, Jerusalem of the two latter.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Bethlehem As a Symbol'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/b/bethlehem-as-a-symbol.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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