BEMA: In classical literature a semicircular platform at the end of a basilica, which supported the official seat of the judge. When the basilican style was adapted to Christian use (see ARCHITECTURE, ECCLESIASTICAL), the apse, or similar semi-circular termination of the building, was reserved for the seats of the bishop and clergy, and the same name was sometimes applied to it. In a more restricted sense it signifies any elevated place in the church, such as that from which the gospel was read, and is thus synonymous with ambo (q.v.).