Book launch: The Lateran Church in Rome and the Ark of the Covenant: Housing the Holy Relics of Jerusalem

Why did the twelfth-century canons at the Lateran church in Rome claim the presence of the Ark of the Covenant inside their high altar? Eivor Oftestad's new book argues that the claim responded to new challenges in the aftermath of the First Crusade in 1099. Welcome to book launch! 

Book cover, reliefThe Christian possession of Jerusalem questioned the legitimation of the papal cathedral in Rome as the summit of sacerdotal representation. To meet this challenge, what may be described as translatio templi (the transfer of the temple) was used to strengthen the status of the Lateran. The Ark of the Covenant was central as part of the treasure from the Jerusalem temple, allegedly transported to Rome, and according to contemporary accounts depicted on the arch of Titus.

The author explores the history of the Lateran Ark of the Covenant through a reading of the description of the Lateran Church (Descriptio Lateranensis Ecclesiae), composed around 1100. She follows the transmission of the text both in the Lateran Archive and in a monastic settings in northern France and Belgium, comparing the claim to the Ark with similar claims in texts from Jerusalem. The book also includes a new edition of the Descriptio and an English translation. 


Short introduction by Eivor Oftestad

Responses by:

  • Unn Falkeid, Professor of History of Ideas, UiO
  • Sible de Blaauw, Professor of Early Christian Art and Architecture, Faculty of Arts, Radboud University Nijmegen
  • Tarald Rasmussen, Professor of Church History, UiO

Panel discussion led by Kristin B. Aavitsland, Professor of Medieval Culture and Church History, MF.

Light refreshments.

The event is arranged by the NFR-funded research project Tracing the Jerusalem Code: Christian Cultures in Scandinavia (MF/UiO/AHO) and The Humanities and Social Sciences Library, UiO. 

You can buy the book at half price at the event.

Published Apr. 29, 2019 10:23 AM - Last modified Aug. 20, 2020 1:56 PM