Synagogue Unearthed In Magdala Where Jesus Likely Preached


Archaeologists Are Excavating A Synagogue Where Jesus Likely Preached

Mark Strauss

Filed to: Archaeology

Archaeologists Are Excavating A Synagogue Where Jesus Likely PreachedExpand1

Since 2009, archaeologists have been slowly excavating the ancient town of Magdala—thought to be the home of Mary Magdalene—near the Sea of Galilee. Among their finds has been a first-century synagogue where, experts say, Jesus likely preached.

Image: Israel Antiquities Authority

Although Jerusalem and Bethlehem are the sites most commonly associated with Jesus, Father Eamon Kelly—vice president of Israel’s Magdala Center and vice chargé of the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center—points out that Jesus spent almost his entire life in what is now northern Israel.

“Eighty percent of Jesus’ public life was here,” he tells the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Archaeologists believe the synagogue was built in 1 AD and then upgraded into a more ornate building in 40 AD.

The Romans destroyed the synagogue in 67 or 68 AD, during the First Jewish Revolt. But significant parts of the structure remains intact, including ritual baths and a sculpted limestone block probably used for writing or reading the Torah. Its relief depicts the oldest menorah ever found on stone.

As Haaretz reports:

Experts say it’s highly likely that Jesus would have preached in the uncovered synagogue….Until Tiberias was built, the only town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee was Magdala.

Anyone touring the region, as Jesus did according to the New Testament, teaching and preaching in synagogues all through Galilee, would not have skipped Magdala, located on the Via Maris—the ancient trade route that ran along the Mediterranean and the western shore of the Sea of Galilee all the way from Egypt to Syria.

“He was a clever rabbi. He knew where to set up shop,” says Kelly. “If you walk from Nazareth to Bethsaida to Capernaum, you’re going to come out here.”

Matthew 15:39 also mentions Jesus setting foot there, saying “and he took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala (sometimes also translated from the Greek as Magadan).”

In the times of Jesus, people would gather in local synagogues to meet and assemble, not just for prayer.

“So if a strange rabbi came to town, a new rabbi, a new preacher, a new teacher, the logical place was to meet here,” Kelly says, standing on the two-thousand-year-old stones.



Trolls ignore them. Saying that Jesus did not exist. There is little doubt by historians theologians and other religious leaders from Christianity and other major world religions that he was a real man. Debate the messiah part, son of god miracle worker whatever, but in your ignorance don’t claim that he never existed especially when you don’t know anything about the historical record and New Testament. The impact this man or messiah had on the world can not be disputed. I hope that when in need the people in the blog that have no faith period, find some. In their god of your own choosing. There is no argument that can be had that the world would be better off without Faith.

 Look, I’m cool if you don’t believe Jesus is God incarnate or Messiah. Hell, I’m cool if you think he was a deluded apocalyptic preacher whose followers made up miracle stories and put some teachings in his mouth (although I don’t find this probable). But the “Jesus never existed” claptrap is not reputable history nor even in the realm of probability. Read Bart Ehrman’s “Did Jesus exist?”, and he is certainly no friend of any orthodox branch of Christianity.

Claiming Jesus just flat out didn’t exist is like claiming the moon landing was staged, or that Jesus was really an Aryan proto-Nazi, or that the holocaust never happened, or that the U. S. Founding Fathers were all Evangelical Christians, or denying anthropogenic climate change. It’s a species in the same genus of denialism, prone to the same solipsism, assuming what one wants to prove, and cherry picking evidence. There’s lots of ways to remain a rational, evidence-based skeptic and deny the tenets of Christian religion. Jesus-denialism isn’t one of those ways.

Just to start out with, the Gospels and New Testament weren’t written “centuries” after the purported events. We have copies of most of them found in Egypt from the second century (150-200 CE), which means they had to be written, copied, and circulated by them. After the NT time period, in the 100-150 CE era, there are “Apostolic Fathers” from who quote the NT (Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, etc), other books that didn’t make it in the NT that talk about Jesus (Gospel of Thomas, Didache, etc.), and other Jewish and Roman writers who talk about Christ and early Christians (Josephus, Pliny, Tacitus).

NONE of this means that the NT is completely (or even mainly) accurate in its portrayal of Jesus. There are good reasons for a wide variance of opinion about the “Historical Jesus”, from those on the “left” who think Jesus was highly mythicIzed and redacted by early Christians, to those on the “right” who think the Gospels are substantially reliable yet ideologically driven. What is outside of the bell curve of legitimate historiography are “Jesus never existed” propagandists on the “extreme left” and “Bible is inerrant” propagandists of the “extreme right”.

And if you reject the theological claims of Christianity and want a reason to read the New Testament, ponder this: There’s hardly any literature from that time period that shows any interest in the lives of peasants and non-nobility. If you poke around the NT behind the theology, there’s a lot that is interesting culturally from the first century.



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