Has the Childhood Home of Jesus Christ Actually Been Found in Nazareth?
An archaeologist believes that he may have found the childhood home of Jesus Christ. He has evidence that the remains under a convent in Nazareth are probably those of the family home of Mary and Joseph. Ken Dark, a distinguished professor of archaeology and history at Reading University, in the United Kingdom, has spent the last fourteen years investigating a site in Nazareth, which according to the Bible was the town where Jesus grew up. The expert has been painstakingly examining ruins that date from the 1 st century AD. They are the only remains from the era when Jesus lived that have been found in Nazareth.
It has been identified as a private dwelling and it once had a staircase. The site is located under the Sisters of Nazareth Convent which is not far from the Church of the Annunciation, which marks where an angel told Mary that she was pregnant with Jesus. According to the MailOnline, “the dwelling was probably a courtyard house, with living and storage rooms beside a courtyard, and a roof terrace for outside domestic activities.”
Professor Ken Dark from the University of Reading has published a book which presents a plausible case that the site under the convent in Nazareth is the childhood home of Jesus Christ. (Ken Dark)
Where Jesus Grew Up: Jesus’ Childhood Home
The dwelling under the convent was found in the 1880s and was first excavated in the 1930s. Experts, including the nuns living in the convent, have asserted that the site was Jesus’ family home. Despite this, and according to MailOnline, before Professor Dark initiated a new project in 2006 it was “almost forgotten by scholars.” He has been investigating the dwelling for almost 14 years and he believes that the dwelling under the convent was possibly the home of Joseph and Mary. Modern archaeological techniques have revealed more of the house in recent years.
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The archaeologist told CBS News that so far his investigations have concluded that it is “a typical family home of its time and place.” It was not particularly poor and it was just an average Galilean family home. Dark believes that proof that it was Jesus’ childhood home is evident in the quality of the construction, which is skilfully cut into the hillside. Ken Dark told MailOnline that “it has become clear that whoever built the house had a very good understanding of stone-working.” Nowadays Joseph is popularly believed to have been a carpenter, but the Bible actually describes him as a craftsman who would have had a range of construction skills.
Image shows the 1st-century house which Ken Dark argues was the childhood home of Jesus Christ. (Ken Dark)
Analysis of Byzantine and Cave-Church
The fact that limestone was used in the construction of the building suggests that the occupants were Jews, as Mary and Joseph were. At the time, it was believed by many Jews that limestone was a stone that would protect people from pollution and impurities. The archaeologist also examined a cave church that was built adjacent to the site in about the 3rd century AD and a later Byzantine church that covered the dwelling. The expert told MailOnline that the later structure is “the largest in fifth- to seventh- century (that is, Byzantine) Nazareth.”
Dark also examined the cave church and found that it was lavishly adorned with mosaics. This suggests that it was built to commemorate something of great importance to Christians, such as a location with links to the son of Mary. Also taken into consideration is the fact that the Byzantine Church was built in such a way that the 1st century AD house would have been incorporated into the crypt of this church. It probably was built to preserve and venerate the house. This could be interpreted as indicating that it was the family home of Jesus and his parents.
The academic later examined the description of the larger church from a 7th century AD Byzantine source. He found that the remains matched the Church described “which was said to have stood on the site of Jesus’ home and was an important pilgrimage destination,” reports the MailOnline. This, the professor believes, supports his argument.
Idealized depiction by John Everett Millais of Jesus Christ in his childhood home in the workshop of his father Joseph. ( Public domain )
So, Has Jesus’ Childhood Home Been Found?
RT News also reports that Dark “discovered that people in the area believed that the building was Jesus’ house from at least the 380s.” Based on tradition, archaeology and documentary evidence the expert believes that he has made a case that the site is where Jesus and his family lived. He has published his findings on his years of work in a book, The Sisters of Nazareth Convent: A Roman-period, Byzantine and Crusader site in central Nazareth .
The archaeologist explained to CBS News that although there is strong evidence in favor of his hypothesis that this was indeed the family home of Jesus Christ , it is “by no means a conclusive case.” He believes that he has presented a plausible case that the site under the convent is Joseph and Mary’s home. He acknowledges that we may never be able to know for sure. However, even the possibility that he has “found” the family home of Jesus may result in it becoming a pilgrimage site for the faithful.
Top image: Has archaeologist Ken Dark really “found” the childhood home of Jesus Christ? Image shows part of the archaeological site underneath the Sisters of Nazareth Convent in Nazareth, Israel. Source: Bahnfrend / CC BY-SA 4.0
By Ed Whelan