Intriguing evidence suggests you might be wrong about those first century Christians...
New finds prove early stories of Christians and Jews have a solid basis in fact.
In the minds of some, Christians and Jews are supposed to be natural adversaries, at least they were in the ancient world in the decades following the death of Christ. However, historians have long disputed that assumption and now they have the evidence to back their claim. Christians and Jews actually got along just fine and perhaps better than anyone imagined.
We know that the first Christians were largely thought to be Jews, after all, Jesus was Jewish himself. Historians refer formally to the first Christians as "Jewish Christians." The Romans certainly made little distinction during that time.
It is believed that the split between the two faiths was more gradual than popularly assumed.
The excavation site in Magdala where evidence of Christian and Jewish interfaith worship has been discovered.
The excavations at Magdala reinforce this notion. The synagogue, uncovered in 2009, dates back to the first century AD and evidence suggests it was in use until about 68 AD, around the time of a major Jewish revolt against Roman occupation.
Archaeologists from the Ark New Gate Company think the synagogue represents evidence of friendly cohabitation between Christians and Jews because at the same time the synagogue operated, Magdala was also a Christian enclave.
The ruins of the ancient synagogue where Christians and Jews may have worshiped together.
In the Christian tradition, it is also the place from whence Mary Magdalene came. It is known that Christ visited the town at some point in his travels. Mary Magdalene was one of Christ's most devoted followers.
To be fair, the suggestion that early Christians and Jews got along well is hardly new. The find represents new evidence of what has long been believed by many historians. Both Christians and Jews were persecuted by the Romans and believed in God, so they had much more in common than not. Like Christians of various sects today that sometimes worship together, the notion that early Christians and Jews also gathered to worship God together shouldn't come as a great shock.
An altar from the synagogue with Jewish carvings etched into it.
What is tantalizing is the amazing number of archeological discoveries that modern science and research are uncovering. As we learn more about the Holy Land, we find that there is in fact plenty of historical, physical evidence to suggest the stories we read about in Scripture are entirely accurate. It is a common claim of non-believers and critics that the Bible is a collection of myths. This is definitely not the case.
Each new discovery reveals that the people, places, and events often read about in scripture were quite real and that we now have physical evidence to bolster our long-held, cherished faith.
The site where the excavation is taking place, along the Sea of Galilee.
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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