Has the Childhood Home of Jesus Been Found?

Jesus’ home in Nazareth

Excavation site in Nazareth

This essay originally appeared on Bible History Daily from the Biblical Archeology Society on March 17, 2017. It is an updated version of a 2015 posting.

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The childhood home of Jesus may have been found underneath the Sisters of Nazareth Convent in Nazareth, Israel, according to archaeologist Ken Dark.

The excavation site located beneath the convent has been known since 1880, but it was never professionally excavated until the Nazareth Archaeological Project began its work in 2006. In “Has Jesus’ Nazareth House Been Found?” in the March/April 2015 issue of BAR, Ken Dark, the director of the Nazareth Archaeological Project, not only describes the remains of the home itself, but explores the evidence that suggests that this is the place where Jesus spent his formative years—or at least the place regarded in the Byzantine period as the childhood home of Jesus.

The excavation revealed a first-century “courtyard house” that was partially hewn from naturally occurring rock and partially constructed with rock-built walls. Many of the home’s original features are still intact, including doors and windows. Also found at the site were tombs, a cistern and, later, a Byzantine church.

The remains combined with the description found in the seventh-century pilgrim account De Locus Sanctis point to the courtyard house found beneath the convent as what may have been regarded as Jesus’ home in Nazareth. Archaeological and geographical evidence from the Church of the Annunciation, the International Marion Center and Mary’s Well come together to suggest that this location may be where Jesus transitioned from boy to man.

Ken Dark also discusses the relationship between the childhood home of Jesus, Nazareth and the important site of Sepphoris. It has been thought that Sepphoris would have provided Joseph with work and Jesus many important cultural experiences. However, Ken Dark believes that Nazareth was a larger town than traditionally understood and was particularly Jewish in its identity—as opposed to the Roman-influenced Sepphoris. This is partially based on the result of his survey of the Nahal Zippori region that separates Sepphoris and Nazareth geographically.

For more on the childhood home of Jesus, read the full article “Has Jesus’ Nazareth House Been Found?” by Ken Dark in the March/April 2015 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

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Image: Bible History Daily. Description: “This very well could be the childhood home of Jesus. It doesn’t look inviting, but this rock-hewn courtyard house was quite likely Jesus’ home in Nazareth. The recent excavation by Ken Dark and the Nazareth Archaeological Project revealed evidence suggesting this is where Jesus was raised—or at the least the place venerated as such by the Byzantine period. Photo: Ken Dark.”

The Antonine Plague and the Spread of Christianity

Did a plague influence the spread of Christianity?

This post originally appeared in the “Classical Corner” column of the Bible History Daily

Quote . . .The year was 166 C.E., and the Roman Empire was at the zenith of its power. The triumphant Roman legions, under the command of Emperor Lucius Verrus, returned to Rome victorious after having defeated their Parthian enemies on the eastern border of the Roman Empire. As they marched west toward Rome, they carried with them more than the spoils of plundered Parthian temples; they also carried an epidemic that would ravage the Roman Empire over the course of the next two decades, an event that would inexorably alter the landscape of the Roman world. The Antonine Plague, as it came to be known, would reach every corner of the empire and is what most likely claimed the life of Lucius Verrus himself in 169—and possibly that of his co-emperor Marcus Aurelius in 180. Read the entire post on Bible History Daily

Archaeologist Says the Bible’s King Hezekiah Is Real

An interesting read for those whose study of the Bible includes the archeology of the ancient world, modern archeological science and methods, and current politics. Read the entire essay as you “keep learning”

From the Daily Beast, 12/03/15:

A recent find from Israel
A clay imprint, known as a bulla, which was unearthed from excavations near Jerusalem’s Old City

Israeli archeologists have discovered a mark from a seal of the biblical King Hezekiah—and the discovery is being touted in some circles as proof of the authenticity of the biblical record.

The small circular inscription was found as part of excavations of a refuse dump at the foot of the southern wall that surrounds Jerusalem’s Old City. The clay imprint, known to archeologists as a bulla, contains ancient Hebrew script and a symbol of a two-winged sun.

In the end, the discovery of the bulla may tell us as much about the politics of the present as it does the archeology of the past.

According to the Bible, Hezekiah ruled around 700 B.C. and, along with King Josiah, was one of the few good kings dedicated to eliminating idolatry. 2 Kings 18:5 implies that he was without equal: “there was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.”

Read the entire essay here

 

Is Israel’s Big New Find for Real?

A look at the difficulties of assessing the authenticity of ancient artifacts.

A piece of recently found papyrus is said to prove that Jerusalem was the center of a kingdom thousands of years ago. But the timing of its discovery has cast some doubt on it.

Source: Is Israel’s Big New Find for Real? – The Daily Beast

What do hear?

codex_vaticanus_b2c_2thess-_32c11-182c_hebr-_12c1-22c2

Catholic scholars drive a new wave on the New Testament (via Crux)

A new generation of scholars—many of them Catholic—are at last coming at the subject of New Testament scholarship with some humility and common sense.

The turning point in the scholarship has been the increased understanding of the relevance of the first century Jewish context  of the New Testament. As scholars and archeologists have uncovered an increasing amount of information about first century Jewish culture, beliefs and writings, they have come to understand more deeply the meaning and historicity of the gospels.

Put simply, a deeper understanding of first century Judaism has illuminated the New Testament, not only revealing new depths of meaning, but also affirming its early date and historical authenticity.

I encourage you to read the whole post on the Crux website. Let it inspire you to continue to do your own research and decision-making as you keep learning. ~Dan

Image: Page from Codex Vaticanus; ending of 2 Thes and beginning of Heb on Wikipedia

Biblical Archeology: Keep Learning

Judean Pillar Figurines
Judean Pillar Figurines

Were you aware that the Biblical Archeology Society has a website? If yes, I hope you use it often. If no, then a visit is in order: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/

Among other pages you will find a page for Free eBooks. Also, you will have the opportunity to create an account (for free) in order to receive their daily or weekly emails exploring the world of biblical archeology.

Judean Pillar Figurines is one of their current stories (8/21/14). Check it out.

An archeological find to share

Magdala Bimah

As we seek to “keep learning” here is a report to note. Please notice that the scholars quoted do not always agree about how to interpret what they are seeing. With that in mind, let’s, as a group, see what else we can discover about this dig in (ancient and buried Magdala) current day Migdal.

In a city where Jesus’ companion Mary Magdalene lived and perhaps even met with Jesus, the discovery and excavation of a first-century synagogue is shedding new light on Judeo-Christian worship 2,000 years ago.

In 2009 a team of researchers in the town of Migdal on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel discovered an ancient synagogue, one of only a handful dating back to the time of Jesus, when the town was a small fishing village known as Magdala. An ongoing excavation at the Magdala synagogue has since turned up valuable artifacts including a rosette mosaic and a special table that may once have displayed Torah scrolls with a stone relief of a seven-branched candelabrum, according to Haaretz.

What archaeologists know about the synagogue’s construction also suggests to some scholars that Jews and the earliest Judeo-Christians may have worshipped together at the holy site, per Haaretz.

Read the entire post (on Huffington Post Religion), and see more photos, too.