Archaeologists have made a new discovery in the Holy Land that may contain the homes of the apostles Andrew and Peter, two of Christ’s closest disciples.
An inscription found in the ruins of an ancient church on the coast of the Sea of Galilee in Israel is believed to indicate the church was built on the site of the home of the two apostles. Andrew and Peter are described as brothers in the Gospel of John.
A 1,500-year-old mosaic found with a prayer to ‘the chief and commander of the heavenly apostles’ suggests a town in northern Israel is the lost biblical city of Bethsaida.https://t.co/WorUStt7Zw
— Marina Amaral (@marinamaral2) August 18, 2022
The scripture identifies the two as living in the town of Bethsaida, which has not existed since the biblical era.
Scientists working at the El Araj Excavation Project now believe that they have uncovered a Byzantine basilica that was built on the ruins of Bethsaida. The location is in present-day Israel’s Betiha nature preserve.
The key inscription in the church is written in Greek and identifies Peter as “chief and commander of the heavenly apostles.” The inscription provides direct evidence that the church was dedicated in his honor at his ancient homeplace.
Other inscriptions in the church ruins identify Constantine as a donor who helped to fund the building of the church. The name is a possible reference to the Roman Emperor Constantine who formally brought Christianity to the empire in the early 4th century.
Christian writers in medieval times referred to a basilica in the Holy Land that was built over the site of a residence shared by the apostles.
Academic director of the excavation Steven Notley said that the new discovery is the “strongest indicator that Peter had a direct relationship to the basilica and that it was probably dedicated to him personally.
Notley added that the Byzantine Christian tradition has typically described Bethsaida as Peter’s home. It appears likely that the newly discovered basilica is a monument to his homeplace.
The excavation project is being conducted by researchers from Kinneret College and Nyack College as well as the Center for the Study of Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins, the Museum of the Bible, the Lanier Theological Library Foundation, and HaDavar Yeshiva.
As the archaeologists continue to restore parts of the buried church, they hope they will uncover additional inscriptions providing further evidence of the building’s history. Work is also ongoing to compare the latest findings with writings from Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who wrote that Bethsaida became a village named Julias.
Peter and Andrew became disciples of Jesus when they worked in Galilee as fishermen. Peter became a prominent leader of the early church after the death and resurrection of Christ. Peter served as the bishop of Antioch in present-day Syria before he was martyred in Italy.