This paper examines Christian responses to Emperor Julian’s attempt to build a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem (ca. 363 CE) and compares these reactions to those elicited by early Islamic construction on the Temple Mount, especially ʿAbd al-Malik’s construction of the Dome of the Rock (ca. 692 CE). Both projects sparked Christian rhetoric that was often “apocalyptic,” combining a potent mix of biblical citations with a deep-seated fear of a Jewish alliance with a pagan tyrant. But how should we read this apocalyptic rhetoric? Was the late antique religious environment, as many have recently suggested, one of particular eschatological foment? This essay suggests otherwise. An analysis of contemporary responses to Julian and ʿAbd al-Malik reveals that Christian reactions to these highly charged architectural endeavors were often classical invective clothed in biblical garb. This scripturalized polemic was flexible and self-consciously contingent on the successes and failures of historical actors. Rather than arguing about the end of the age, Christians were arguing about how best to interpret contemporary history. They were arguing, moreover, how best to position religious competitors—Jewish or Muslim—within this shifting story.

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