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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Porch

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is the rendering in the A. V. of the following words:

1. אוּלָם or אֻלָם, ulam (from אוּל, before), a vestibule or hall (Sept. αὐλάμ; Vulg. porticus [1 Chronicles 28:11]; ναός; porticus). It is used of the entrance-hall of a building (Ezekiel 40:7; Ezekiel 40:48); of the place where the throne was placed, and where judgment was administered (1 Kings 7:7, (See PALACE) ); and of the veranda surrounding a court (Ezekiel 41:15). It is especially applied to the vestibule of the Temple (1 Kings 6:7; Joel 2:17). (See TEMPLE). "The porch of the Lord" (2 Chronicles 15:8; 2 Chronicles 29:17) seems to stand for the Temple itself.

2. מַסְדְּרוֹן, misderon, a sort of colonnade or balcony with pillars (Judges 3:23); probably a corridor connecting the principal rooms of the house (Wilkinson, Ancient Egyptians, 1, 11). It may have been a sort of veranda chamber in the works of Solomon, open in front and at the sides, but capable of being enclosed with awnings or curtains, like that of the royal palace at Ispahan described by Chardin (7, 386, and pl. 39). The word is used in the Talmud (Middoth, 3, 7).

3. Πυλών (Matthew 26:71), probably the passage from the street into the first court of the house, in which, in Eastern houses, is the mastdbah, or stone bench for the porter or persons waiting, and where also the master of the house often receives visitors and transacts business (Lane, Mod. Eq. 1, 32; Shaw, Trac. p. 207). The word rendered "porch" in the parallel passage (Mark 14:68) is προαύλιον, the outer court. The scene therefore of the denial of our Lord took place either in that court or in the passage from it to the house-door. (See HOUSE).

4. The term στοά is used for the colonnade or portico of Bethesda, and also for that of the Temple called Solomon's porch (John 5:2; John 10:23; Acts 3:11; Acts 5:12). Josephus describes the porticos or cloisters which surrounded the Temple of Solomon, and also the royal portico (Ant. 8, 3, 9; 15:11, 3, 5; War, 5:5, 2). These porticos are described by Tacitus as forming an important line of defense during the siege (Hist. 12). (See SOLOMON'S PORCH).

PORCH (Lat. polticus) is the term applied in ecclesiastic architecture to the adjunctive erection placed over the doorway of a church. In the early ecclesiastical structures, raised after infant baptism became prevalent in the West, and the discipline of the catechumens (q.v.) had fallen into desuetude, the narthex (q.v.) was given the form of a vestibule, frequently closed, and sufficiently capacious to contain a large number of persons and permit the celebration of different ceremonials. This was really what we now understand by porch. Few churches, cathedrals, conventual or parochial, were, until the middle of the 12th century, unprovided with a central porch in front of the principal entrance; but after the 13th century they were not so common.

The earliest porches in the West, dating from the 8th to the 11th century, are shallow, and extended across the church front, as at Clermont. One of the earliest is at St. Font, Perigueux. In some cases they were recessed under the tower, as at St. Germain-des-Pres (Pais), Limoges, Poissy, of the 9th or 10th century, St. Benet-sur-Loire, Moissac, and St. Savin. During the 11th century this became the rule; in the 13th it was rare, but at a later date it reappeared at Caen, Fribourg, and Gralinrook. At St. Savin the porch is defensible and protected by a ditch, just as the castellated palace stands in front of the western entrance of Cashel Cathedral. The giant porch of Vienna, imposing as it is, is far exceeded by the three magnificent Early English porches of Peterborough, in which accord with the entire work, while those of many of the great French cathedrals are mere afterthoughts, noble but accidental additions. At Fribourg, Rheims, and Chartres (1250-80) the porches are covered with statuary.

Towards the close of the 12th century the ceremonies performed within them fell into desuetude, and they in consequence dwindled into a mere appendage of the nave. Then, from the exclusive use of western doors, large lateral porches, usually in cathedrals, as at Chartres, Mans, Bayeux, Puyen-Velay Chalons-sur-Marne, Wells, Salisbury, Lincoln, and Hereford, were built for the convenience of worshippers when entering or leaving the church, for benedictions, and the preliminaries of marriages and baptism, and the passage of funerals. The monastic churches in towns imitated the arrangement. These porches were usually closed at the sides, as in the Norman examples of Kelso, Selby, Southwell, Sherborne, and Malmesbury, although that of Alencon is open. At Hereford the outer porch (cir. 1513) is open, but the inner Decorated porch is closed. Until the close of the 14th century porches, generally of open form, were commonly built. The lateral porch fronted the side which faced the more populous portion of the city at Gloucester, Canterbury, Malmesbury, Chester, and St. David's, on the south; at Durham, Hereford, Exeter, Christchurch (Hants), and Selby, on the north. At Chichester it is on the south side, opening on the cloister to admit processions to the shrine; at Westminster (called from its beauty Solomon's Porch) it stood in advance of the north front of the transept; at Lincoln the bishop's porch is in the presbytery. There are Early English porches at St. Alban's and Barnack, the latter, like All Saints', Stamford, Albury, and St. Mary's, Nottingham, having external and internal stone roofs. At Tewkesbury the vast western arch may have formed a gigantic porch. At Lincoln three recessed porches exist, as once at St. Alban's.

Wooden porches occur at all dates, and of these also fine examples remain. At Covington, Suffolk, is a wooden porch of Early English date, but much impaired by modern work. In the Decorated style wooden porches are not infrequently found; they are of one story only in height, sometimes entirely enclosed at the sides, and sometimes with about the upper half of their height formed of open screen-work; the gables have barge-boards, which are almost always feathered, and more or less ornamented: good specimens remain at Warblington, Hampshire; Horsemondeil and Brookland, Kent; Aldham, Essex; Hascombe, Surrey; Northfiell, Worcestershire, etc. Stone porches of this date have, not unusually, a room over them, as they have also in the Perpendicular style. Of this last-mentioned style there are many wooden porches, which differ but little from those of the preceding, except that the upper half of the sides is almost always formed of open screenwork: examples remain at Halden, Kent; Albury, Surrey, etc.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Porch'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/p/porch.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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