Capernaum

 

I would have to say that the site of most interest to me was at Capernaum (Kepher Nahum, “village of Nahum”) on the north side of the Sea of Galilee.  It is the site of greatest interest to me because 1) the degree of certainty that Jesus actually lived and ministered here, 2) the degree to which the site is preserved and untouched by the ravages of history and Christian worship. 

 

This latter comment is not an indictment of cathedrals, liturgy, or medieval worship per se.  It is an acknowledgement that the Holy Land is filled with sites where churches have obscured, destroyed, or rendered inaccessible various sites of great importance.  While I deeply respect the catholic tradition of worship and like cathedrals, these are places where my Reformation biases most come out.  I’m ultimately interested in Jesus the Son, not this highly elaborate planetary system that revolves around him in all its showy complexity.

 

I must also say that the Franciscans have obscured the value of the site to me by putting this spider church on top of it.  They deserve great praise for buying and preserving the site these last 100 years, but you now need a flashlight and to be able to stoop to see it very well. 

 

Accordingly, my photos are poor representations.  The best photos were the aerial photos before 1990ish when the spider spun its web.

 

Entrance to the site:

 

 

 

 

The earliest octagonal church (there are outer rings of later church expansions) on top of a housing area (several rooms opening on to a common courtyard).

 

 

 

Below is the later synagogue.  It is agreed that the top part is much later than Jesus’ day.  However, some scholars think that a first century synagogue lies somewhere beneath. 

 

Nevertheless, we must consider the strong possibility that the “synagogues” of Galilee were not buildings at this time but gatherings in the village centers.  My sense is that if there were structures in which synagogues took place (the word simply means “gathering”), they were likely used for all types of village functions: political and community functions in addition to religious ones.  In other words, they were simply the village meeting places.

 

 

 

The current monstrosity below (not me, the spider church in the background):