A reader sent me a link to this floor plan of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, as it was described by the Jerusalem Pilgrim known as the Bishop Arculf in the seventh century. You can read about it here:
Of particular interest is the correspondence between the architecture and the Bible Wheel. Both are based on a pattern of three concentric circles, with the symmetry broken at three (not four) points. The three altars correspond to the three rays of the Bible Wheel, and both echo the traditional tri-radiant cruciform halo used in ancient Christian iconography (as shown on the banner bar above). Here is Arculf’s description of the ancient sanctuary (emphasis added):
And certainly this very great Church, the whole of which is of stone, was formed of marvellous roundness in every part, rising up from the foundations in three walls, which have one roof at a lofty elevation having a broad pathway between each wall and the next; there are also three altars in three dexterously formed places of the middle wall. This round and very large church, with the above-mentioned altars, looking one to the south, another to the north, a third towards the west, is supported by twelve stone columns of marvellous size.
This is a good example of how humans use geometry to convey theological truth. There can be little doubt that the three circles and three outer altars were meant to suggest the doctrine of the Trinity, one of the most fundamental doctrines of the Christian Faith. Furthermore, the cruciform pattern recalls the Cross and the fundamental doctrine of the Work of Redemption wrought by Christ. The pattern exhibits an extremely profound theology of the Cross, the Trinity, and the Deity of Christ.
Now it is extremely important not to misunderstand this correspondence. Nobody is suggesting that the architect of the church had the Bible Wheel in mind. On the contrary, I would be shocked to find that the pattern was explictly known back then, since there is no record of it before its discovery in 1995 AD. The implications flowing from this correspondence run much deeper than a conscious human choice. We have a threefold convergence of 1) the fundamental theological doctrines the Cross, the Trinity, and the Deity of Christ, 2) the architectural design of the the Church which is also known as the “House of God”, and 3) the geometric design of the Word – also a kind of “House” of God – in the form of the Bible Wheel. This shows that God designed the Bible as a great masterpiece of theological art (see For Beauty and for Glory).
Of course, the same tri-radiant pattern is displayed in Ezekiel’s prophetic temple which was designed by God as a prophecy of pattern of His Word – which is His “House” – in the form of the Bible Wheel. Whether or not the architect of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre consciously designed that building on the tri-radiant pattern of Ezkeiel’s temple I do not know, but I do know that the convergence of all of these theological ideas and geometric patterns goes well beyond any possibility of “mere coincidence.”