A convent… built on top of a Byzantine church… built on top of a 1st century Jewish home.
Before you start telling your friends that Rose Publishing is blogging like a Dr. Seuss book, hear us out: British archaeologist Ken Dark, also a professor at the University of Reading in Great Britain, believes he may have discovered the childhood home of Jesus of Nazareth. His excavation led him to a dwelling beneath the Sisters of Nazareth convent in Nazareth.
So what makes Dark draw this conclusion? His findings have concluded that the mortar-and-stone house precedes the Early Church and was most likely erected before the time of Jesus. In addition, Christians in the Byzantine empire treated the dwelling as a major religious site — so much so that a church was established there sometime between the 4th and 6th century AD.
The preservation of the church is an enormous sign of its significance: Dark believes that unless the Byzantines believed this to be a place of importance, they would not have maintained it so well. “Great efforts had been made to encompass the remains of this building within the vaulted cellars of both the Byzantine and Crusades churches so that it was thereafter protected,” Dark writes. “Both the tombs and the house were decorated with mosaics in the Byzantine period, suggesting they were of special importance and possibly venerated.” Much of first century Nazareth is long gone, having been knocked down or built over.
What else? Dark believes the home to have belonged to a Jewish family because of the cooking vessels found within that date “no earlier and no later than the 1st century.” They were made out of limestone, which is what traditional Jewish families would have used to keep kosher.
Another kicker? The features and layout of this church match the writings of a monk named Adomnan (circa 670 AD). In these detailed recordings Adomnan describes the very location to be “where once there was the house in which the Lord was nourished in his infancy.”
As exciting as the headlines read, it’s difficult or impossible to draw a hard conclusion about whether or not Jesus really grew up in this house. “As it is a first-century house, then perhaps the Byzantines were correct in identifying it as where Jesus was raised — but we have no way of telling if that was so,” Dark explains. Dark used traditional methods to date the architecture and the stoneware found within, and a lot of the speculation comes from oral tradition, as well as writings written by scribes who lived much nearer to Jesus’ time than we do, which has significant bearing.
We may never know whether or not Jesus actually stepped foot in this home, but it’s certainly an exciting prospect and brings us to the revelation that Jesus was a real flesh-and-blood person that walked on earth.
10 Top Biblical Archaeological Findings
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