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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Finding Divinity in the Dirt.

Sometimes I think it has to be amazing to be an archeologist working in Israel. I mean, think of all the cool stuff you could discover. But, then I think about the heat, and the dirt, and the lack of modern conveniences at many dig sites, and then I decide that I'll leave that fun to the Indiana Jones types.

You have to admit, though, that they've found some amazing stuff lately. A month or so ago, Israeli archeologists found what might be one of the first Christian churches on the grounds of the Megiddo prison.
"A discovery of this kind will make Israel more interesting to all Christians, for the church all over the world," said Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Vatican's envoy to Jerusalem. "If it's true that the church and the beautiful mosaics are from the third century, it would be one of the most ancient churches in the Middle East."

Two mosaics inside the church - one covered with fish, an ancient Christian symbol that predates the cross - tell the story of a Roman officer and a woman named Aketous who donated money to build the church in the memory "of the god, Jesus Christ".

Pottery remnants from the third-century, the style of Greek writing used in the inscriptions, ancient geometric patterns in the mosaics and the depiction of fish rather than the cross indicate that the church was no longer used by the fourth century, Tepper said.
And, if that wasn't cool enough, they also found a 6th century seal with Jesus' likeness on it.
A lead seal from the sixth century depicting Jesus was recently discovered in excavations by the Antiquities Authority in the Old City of Tiberias.

The other side of the seal has a cross with an abbreviation of the name “Christos.”

This is the first time a seal with the image of Jesus has been discovered in excavations in Tiberias. A number of similar seals have been found in Caesaria, which in ancient times was the capital of the province.
Jesus told Thomas, "Because you have seen me, you believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe." (John 20:29) It's human nature to want proof. Granted, God has provided proof of His existence throughout our world, but many times people can't see the Creator in His Creation. So, we look for more "proof," and we are discouraged when we don't find it. In these archeological finds, we see that the Early Church was not just a figment of someone's imagination, and they did believe that Jesus was the Messiah, our Lord and our God.

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