In the fourth century, the newly legitimate Christian religion in Jerash established itself by creating associations with paganism. This involved locating churches over or next to prominent pagan sites. This did not mean turning old temples into churches but building afresh, adopting a public form of Roman architecture, the basilica as the basis for of new church buildings.
The cathedral complex is an example of this. Situated in the centre of Jerash, it occupied the site of the old sanctuary of Dionysus and was right next door to the chief pagan sanctuary of Jerash, the temple of Artemis. Wharton believes that the new religion was legitimizing itself by associating itself with the old. At the same time, the new architecture showed the difference between the old and new religions.