Biblical Archaeology covers thousands of years of Old Testament history. It also includes three years of the public ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. Professor Craig Evans of Houston Baptist University has a new book, Jesus and the Remains of His Day, that focuses on some of the most important archaeological discoveries that tell us about Jesus, his ministry, and the world he lived in.
Jesus’ ministry was centered around the Sea of Galilee and today cities along the seashore are being excavated, including Magdala, the home of Mary Magdalene. But there’s a lot more, and we discuss these discoveries in these three programs.
UPDATE: This week’s Biblical Archaeology news is about the 12th cave discovery near Qumran. Up to now there’s only been 11 caves in which Dead Sea Scroll materials were found. Archaeologists have now identified one more. This week’s guest, Craig Evans, has an article on the Logos Academic blog, and also an article on the Fox News Opinion website. There’s always something new happening in Biblical Archaeology.
The cover story on the latest issue of ARTIFAX magazine is about the latest discoveries at the first century city of Magdala, along the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. The work there is ongoing. The latest discoveries may be relatively minor, they include an incense shovel. But incense shovels are not ordinary items in Israeli archaeology. And Magdala is no ordinary archaeological site, the connections to the ministry of Jesus are very strong so this site is worth keeping an eye on.
We also discuss the recent discovery of ancient burials near Bethlehem, and what they tell us about this city, whose biblical history stretches from the time of Jacob and Rachel to the birth of Jesus.
And finally, elephants in the Bible. What is their significance? They’re there if you know how to look for them.
The excavations at Magdala began as a salvage excavation, as a Catholic order began plans to build a retreat center along the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Father Eamon Kelly, the assistant director of the Magdala Center, says that they prayed that there would be no archaeology found, or if there was, that it would be something good like a Byzantine church. What was actually found exceeded everyone’s expectations, the intact ruins of a first century city from the time of Jesus.
Barely covered by a thin layer of soil, the first century city of Magdala is being excavated along the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. What does this excavation have to do with Magdala’s most famous resident, Mary Magdalene, the follower of Jesus who was the first to see him after his resurrection? We explore these issues with Steven Notley, the director of Nyack College’s Graduate Program in Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins.
Two recent articles on important developments in Biblical Archaeology are discussed: a New York Times article on the excavations at Magdala (hometown of Mary Magdalene) and a Biblical Archaeology Review article on the discovery of the oldest alphabetic inscription found in Jerusalem.
Todd Bolen, a professor of Biblical Studies at The Master’s College and editor of Bibleplaces.com, joins me to reflect on these two developments and how they add to our understanding of the biblical world.
We will be visiting Magdala on our Book & The Spade Archaeological Adventure Study Tour coming up next March, and I’m looking forward to my first visit to the site of this synagogue that was probably visited by Jesus during his ministry. Why don’t you join us?
In the same spirit as the Jezreel Valley Regional Project discussed by Matthew Adams a few weeks ago, Professor Ken Dark of the University of Reading Research Center for Late Antique and Byzantine Studies is working on a landscape study of the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, particular the Plain of Ginosar or Genneserat, along the northwest shore.
While surveying that landscape in 2012 he discovered the remains of a previously unidentified village. Based on a few biblical clues from the gospels, he’s suggested that the site may be Dalmanutha, the place to which Jesus retired after the feeding of the 4,000 in the gospel of Marka (not to be confused with the feeding of the 5,000).
On these two programs, professor Dark discusses his research and why this site may be Dalmanutha.