A Catholic priest decided to build a Christian retreat in Galilee and was required by Israeli law to check for remains of archaeological interest first. By pure chance (but we know God was the one behind it, of course) Father Juan Solana then unearthed the first synagogue in that region to be discovered from the first century period. We are not told how it was dated to the first century or whether it was closer to the second century end or the BCE end, or how we know it was a synagogue, but no doubt such details will quickly follow.
Some sceptical scholars till now had argued that the absence of synagogue buildings in the Galilee from the time of Jesus was easily explained by simply understanding that when the gospels tell us of Jesus preaching in synagogues they meant he was preaching in group gatherings in homes and other private dwellings. This discovery finally puts well-deserved dirt on the faces of those sceptics.
And there’s a bowl they discovered, too, 2000 years old so of course we must seriously accept the very real possibility that Jesus himself washed his hands in it. Accordingly it is now a holy relic.
The volunteers on the dig all pray before they start work so we can be confident they have divine guidance in all that they find and interpret.
They’ve even discovered what sounds very much like a veritable Jesus-miracle-working well:
Achaeologist Dr. Marcela Zapata shows the town’s purification baths. “It’s the most pure water in all of Israel,” Zapata says. Remarkably, the baths still work to this day.
“Today if I ask for some of the volunteers to take out all of the water and to clean the floor and steps in half hour the water starts to come again. Wow,” Zapata says.
It won’t be long before I’m sure they will be able to identify the probably street corner where Jesus first met Mary. But of course we are serious about all of this and we do sprinkle our reverential awe at what we are now witnessing with due qualifiers like “probably” and “possibly”. Those caveats serve to add a little more mystery to the edges of the whole story and allow our prayerful thoughts to be charged with even more spiritually guided hopes.
(And don’t let anyone dare think that Jesus was there looking for prostitutes with their respective demons to exercise: that foul rumour can be traced back to the tragically misguided on that particular point but a very great saint in every other respect 6th century pope, Saint Gregory the Great.)
I know there is still an odd Doubting Thomas (and his twin) among readers of this blog who don’t even believe Mary Magdalene was the first to really witness the resurrected Jesus and who think I’m just making all this up. But you can read it for yourselves at Dig in Israel near possible home of Mary Magdalene. My attention was drawn to this news via the Ancient Origins blog post, Archaeologists Excavate Possible Home of Mary Magdalene and Synagogue Where Jesus May Have Preached.
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10 thoughts on “Possible Discovery of Mary Magdalene’s House”
presumably the sceptical scholars on the matter of synagogues well deserve dirt [strong] because they were arguing from an absence of synagogues to an “un jewish” and more western idea of JC. Maybe you might comment.
“We are not told how it was dated to the first century or whether it was closer to the second century end or the BCE end, or how we know it was a synagogue, but no doubt such details will quickly follow.”
In other words, we have no factual basis-yet- for believing that the absence of synagogues in the Galilee dating from the time of Jesus does not persist to this day. We just have the assertions of people who have demonstrated a propensity to spin elaborate fantasies around simple objects like an old bowl.
I had in mind the argument used by a few scholars (e.g. Maurice Casey) to “rebut” the claims of anachronisms in the gospels — such as synagogues in Galilee. The anachronism argument says that Pharisees and synagogues did not appear in Galilee until after the fall of Jerusalem in 70. The response of some has been to remind us that technically the term synagogue (including as used in the gospels) can refer to a meeting — like a “church” is the people, not the building.
How is it, exactly, that one can go from finding an object that can be dated to the alleged life of Jeses in an area associated by the Bible with Jesus to concluding that object had anything at all to do with Jesus, let alone a complex imagining of how Jesus used that object on a daily basis? Pretty interesting.
And how the bloody he(double hockey sticks) do they figure the house belonged to Mary Magdalene? And that the other building was an actual first century synagogue? It’s not like they were bloomin’ common on the ground out there in that district, outside of Sepphoris of course.
Look Ed-M – they found it in Magdala. There’s only one famous person who came from Magdala. Ergo it must be the case that it was Mary Magdalene’s house. I don’t see how you can dispute it: Mary Magdalene must have lived in Magdala (hence the name). They found a house in Magdala. Therefore they have found Mary Magdalene’s house.
You have to see how logical it is. Just like when Helena, mother of Constantine, found a tomb in Jerusalem. Only one famous person ever died in Jerusalem, so she must have found the tomb of Jesus.
You have to excuse me, though – I have to start on my new business. I’ve just realized that my house is on old home of James Thurber’s. You see, Thurber lived in my city. And my house is here. Therefore he must have lived in my house. I need to start figuring out how to turn it into a
tourist attractionhistoric monument immediately.
That was the very bowl used to pour perfumed oil upon Our Lord’s tooties. It belongs in the sacred collection with the laces that tied his sandals, the holy grail from the last supper, and the chair from his Dad’s carpenter’s shop.
I seem to recall that the location of Magdala in ancient Palestine — or even the very existence of such a place — has been in question. Perhaps I am mistaken?
Is this further irony? Even the Wiki article on Magdala covers the basic questions (miraculously avoiding the usual confessional redaction on such issues). I think it more likely that the gospel character’s appellation was misinterpreted as a place-name from earlier traditions of other kinds of nick-names (like Judas the Assassin, John the Aristocratic Follower, and of course Jesus the Nasoraean).
Speaking of irony . . . when I first began to read the article I believed I must have been on the Onion page or some other satirical site. I had to double and triple check to see that it really was being written in all seriousness . . . . or perhaps someone really is very good at pulling my leg.