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Digging Deep

Several archeological sites of interest:

On Malta, where St. Paul was shipwrecked, there are tours of the remains of a first-century Hellenistic Jewish community: “ancient Jewish tombs … carry religious symbols and other engraved decorations, such as crosses, palm fronds, or doves with olive branches – or, in some cases, the Jewish seven-branched candlestick (menorah).”

In Egypt archeologists have found another underwater early Christian church: “Forty metres beneath the surface the divers discovered a complete portico of the temple of Khnum; two huge, unidentified columns; and four pollards from the Coptic era. Hawass said these pieces would remain on the river bed as they were too heavy to be lifted out the water. Early studies show that the pollards may be part of a Christian church that may have once been located in the area but for unknown reasons was demolished or destroyed.”

Jim Davila reports on digs related to the messianic claimant Shimon bar Kokhba. SBK was an anti-Roman Jewish rebel whose story is told by several of the Fathers. According to his contemporary Justin Martyr, Simon ordered Christians “to be led away to terrible punishment” unless they joined his cause and cursed Jesus of Nazareth (First Apology 31.6).

And how often did the pagan Romans beat their wives? New books dig into the literary and archeological evidence, which Rodney Stark also discussed in The Rise of Christianity.

One thought on “Digging Deep

  1. I got to visit the Domus Romana and St Paul’s Catacombs in Feb/March of 2005 (just weeks before JPII died). The Jewish catacombs would have been interesting to see. Actually the article doesn’t mention St Agatha’s catacombs which while being quite small is actually far more interesting artistically with some beautiful wall paintings and there are agape tables. Also St Agatha’s has a couple of skeletons laying in a couple of the graves which lends a certain ambience to the place and definitely reminds you that you are in a cemetary. I also went into the cave St. Paul stayed in when he was on Malta although I didn’t see much because it wasn’t lighted except for a hanging votive candle. Malta is tiny but well worth a visit. Americans generally don’t go there but Europeans go there the way northeasterners head to Florida in the winter. Malta – tiny but fascinating!

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