BESTMANN, best"män', HUGO JOHANNES: German Lutheran; b. at Delve, Holstein, Feb. 21, 1854. He studied in Leipsic, Tübingen, Kiel, Berlin, and Erlangen (lic. theol., 1877), and was privat-docent in theology at Erlangen 1877-83. He was then instructor in the gymnasium of the orphan asylum at Halle 1883-84 and at the Missionary Seminary in Leipsic 1884-86. Since the latter years he has been pastor in Mölln
BETH, KARL: German Protestant; b. at Förderstädt (15 m. s. of Magdeburg) Feb. 12, 1872. He studied in Tübingen and Berlin (Ph.D., 1898), and was privat-docent in Berlin 1901-06. Since 1906 he has been professor of systematic and symbolic theology at the University of Vienna. He has written Die Grundanschauungen Schleiermachers in seinem ersten Entwurf der philosophischen Sittenlehre (Berlin, 1898); Die orientalische Kirche der Mittelmeerländer, Reisestudien zur Statistik und Syrnbolik der griechischen, armenischen und koptischen Kirche (1902); Das Wesen des Christentums und die moderne historische Denkweise (1904); and Die Wunder Jesu (1905).
For the Hebrews its fame rests upon its being
the home of David (
More secure is the tradition about the birthplace of Jesus, covered by the celebrated Church of St. Mary, a basilica mentioned as early as 334 as built by Constantine's order. Eusebius ("Life of Constantine") confirms this report; Socrates and Sozomen ascribe its erection to the empress Helena; and Eutychius to Justinian. De Vogüé supports the first hypothesis on the ground of the unity of plan, conformity of extent of choir and grotto, and absence of architectural marks of the Justinian period. In this opinion he is supported by the architect T. Sandel, who made a new examination in 1880. This may well be the oldest church in the world. It was thoroughly restored by the emperor Manuel Comnenus, who adorned it with mosaics, of which work but little remains, though a description by F. Quaresmio (1616-26) with what is left suffices to give a good idea of the whole. In 1478 (or 1482) the roof was repaired by Philip of Burgundy and Edward IV of England, and renewed in 1672 by the Greek patriarch Dositheos. In the latter year the Greeks obtained possession, which the Latins had had since the crusades. In 1852 Napoleon brought it about that the Latin, were given a share in holding it. The church, now in decay, can not be restored for fear of renewing outbreaks among Latins, Greeks, and Armenians.
From the southeast the church rises prominently like a fortress; the north, east, and south sides are less pleasing to one approaching from those directions because of the cells of the monks of the different communions. It has a nave and double aisles, and its floor space is about ninety-eight feet by eighty-seven between the cross aisles. The transept and apes are unfortunately concealed by a wall built by the Greeks in the seventeenth or eighteenth century. The entire length of the present church, including the entrance hall, is about 230 feet. Two flights of steps to the north and south lead from the choir to the chapel of the nativity, the walls of which are marble-lined and hung with tapestries. The place of birth is marked
This subterranean room, according to tradition continuous since Constantine, is accepted as the place of Jesus's birth. A tradition can be traced back to Justin Martyr that Jesus was born in a cave, since Joseph could find no accommodation in the village. But it has been disproved that the present chapel is a [natural] cave, while it must be noted that as early as 728 it was reported that the form of the cave was changed and an oblong room hewn out. The use of caves as adjuncts to inns or "shelters" is in Palestine a peculiarity of the country.
Five minutes southeast from the church of St. Mary is the so-called "Milk Grotto" of the Latins, in which Joseph, Mary, and the child are said to have concealed themselves from Herod's fury before the flight into Egypt. The white of the limestone is attributed to the fall of a drop of milk from Mary's breast. Ten minutes northeast from Beth Sahur (itself fifteen minutes east from Bethlehem) is shown the "Grotto of the Shepherds," in which the angels are said to have announced to the shepherds the birth of the Holy Child. The underground chapel is reached by a passage between two ancient olive-trees.
One of the fruits of modern missions is the honoring of Jesus in his birthplace, not by sanctuaries in stone, but by provision for the education of the young. Since 1860 there have been a number of Protestant and Roman Catholic schools and establishments, the founding of which has spurred the Greeks and Armenians to accomplish something for the instruction of children belonging to their communities.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Robinson, Researches, vol. ii; T. Tobler, Bethlehem in Palästina, Bern, 1849; V. Guérin, Description de la Palestine, Judée, i, 120 sqq., Paris, 1869; Survey of Western Palestine, Memoirs, vol. iii, sheet xvii, London, 1883; P. Palmer, Das jetzige Bethlehem, in ZDPV, xvii (1894), 89 sqq.; Baedeker, Palestine and Syria, pp. 119-127, New York, 1898; DB, i, 281; EB, i, 560-562. On the church consult M. de Vogüé, Les Églises de la terre sainte, Paris, 1860; Quaresmius, Elucidatio tarr sanct, ii, 643 sqq., Antwerp, 1639, reissued Venice, 1880-82; G. Ebers and H. Guthe, Palästina in Bild und Wort, 2 vols., Leipsic, 1883-84.
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