‘Jesus preached at site of ancient synagogue’

2014-12-28 15:00

An ancient synagogue unearthed on the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee might have been a temple where Jesus preached, the Catholic organisation Legion of Christ is claiming.

Father Eamon Kelly, vice-charge of the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Centre, told Israeli news website Ha’aretz there was now strong evidence that Jesus had preached there.

“This is the first synagogue ever excavated where Jesus walked and preached. He was a clever rabbi. He knew where to set up shop. If you walk from Nazareth to Bethsaida to Capernaum, you’re going to come out here.”

Father Kelly said although Jerusalem and Bethlehem were more commonly associated with Jesus, he actually spent 80% of his life in what is now northern Israel.

Father Kelly said the ancient synagogue would have served as a meeting point where people in the town would have gathered.

“If a strange rabbi came to town, a new rabbi, a new preacher, a new teacher, the logical place was to meet here.”

Archaeologists have been excavating the 2?000-year-old ruins, which date from the 1st century, in the town of Migdal.

The town is thought to sit atop what was the ancient town of Magdala, birthplace of Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus’ most devoted followers.

The synagogue’s ruins were first uncovered in 2009 and are thought to date back 2?000 years.

Archaeologists uncovered a delicately carved stone featuring a menorah, a seven-branched candelabrum that is a symbol in Judaism, during excavations in preparation for the construction of a new hotel on the beachfront.

The Legion of Christ, which is creating a Magdala visitors’ centre on the site, is also planning to build a hospice and restaurant with an interfaith chapel.

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