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And Julian was able to take advantage of the pious enthusiasm of Jews from across the empire, some of whom contributed money to the effort, others volunteering as laborers, according to accounts from early Church writers.
Special tools of silver were forged for the occasion. The small army of workers poured right into the work, toiling right up until nightfall.
As Warren Carroll has written in The Building of Christendom, It is one of the most remarkable events in Christian history, for which no natural explanation is possible, and which all too many historians have seen fit to ignore despite the high repute of Ammianus Marcellinus as a historian, the confirming of his account by many Christians historians, and his obvious lack of bias and the lack of time before he wrote which would have been required for an unhistorical legend about the event to have developed.
Stephen Beale is a freelance writer based in Providence, Rhode Island.
Raised as an evangelical Protestant, he is a convert to Catholicism.
Marcellinus, of course, does not call this a miracle, and the significance of the event in the history of Judaism and Christianity seems lost on him.
But his account—presented without any qualification about the credibility of the story—stands as an extraordinary corroboration of the five accounts by Christian authors.