Artifacts at biblical Corinth: Jewish Presence

December 18, 2019

Fant and Reddish make these interesting observations about biblical Corinth:

No city in the ancient world both benefited and suffered from its location more than Corinth. Situated on the main north-south route between northern and southern Greece, and with two good ports that linked it to Italy on the west and Asia Minor on the east, Corinth quickly became a center for commerce. But the location of Corinth also had its downside. The city often found itself caught in the middle between hostile neighbors, Athens to the north and Sparta to the south. Armies crisscrossed its streets as often as merchants, and more than once the city had to arise from ashes and rubble. Today only Athens attracts more interest in Greece for its historic antiquities than Corinth. It ranks as a must-see location for every traveler to Greece. (A Guide to Biblical Sites in Greece and Turkey, p.45).

Synagogue Inscription. There is a section of a lintel with a partial inscription, [Syna] goge hebr [aion], “Synagogue of the Hebrews.”

Synagogue Inscription at Corinth. Corinth Museum. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

It is thought that this artifact is to be dated as late Roman or early Byzantine, and hence would post-date the time of the Apostle Paul.

But the Bible shows there was certainly a Jewish presence at Corinth in Paul’s day. In fact, upon Paul’s arrival there (2nd Missionary Journey), he stayed with fellow-tent-makers Aquila and Priscilla, who were Jews, and were there “because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome” (Acts 18:1-2). Claudius was emperor AD 41-54.

Roman Emperor Claudius. Istanbul Archaeology Museum. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The text in Acts 18 continues, relating Paul’s “reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath” (v.4), and also including brief notation of the conversion of Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue:

3 and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working, for by trade they were tent-makers. 4 And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. 5 But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. 6 But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 Then he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized. (Acts 18:3-8).

 

Capital with Menorahs and Palm Branches. There is also on display at the museum there at Corinth a capital decorated with menorahs and palm branches. It is thought that this once decorated the top of a pillar, probably from the synagogue.

Capital with menorahs and palm branches. Corinth Museum. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Paul’s one desire was to live in such a manner as to save as many as possible, whether Jews or Gentiles:

“To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.” (1 Cor.  9:20-22).

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Synagogue at Magdala

October 17, 2013

There are numerous ongoing excavations in Israel. We were excited to begin our day today with a stop at Magdala. A volunteer told our group about some of the discoveries there.

Volunteer at Magdala informing our group about discoveries there.

Volunteer at Magdala. Photo by Leon Mauldin

I had been to Magdala twice before, but today was the first time I was able to walk around the site and take photos. There were several matters of interest there, but I especially wanted to see the synagogue, as the remains date back to the first century!

1st century Synagogue at Magdala. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

1st century Synagogue at Magdala. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Magdala was the home town of Mary Magdalene. The designation means “Mary of Magdala.” This was a fishing village in the time of Jesus. Fish were salted here and exported to Rome.

We had a good day, packed full with good photo opportunities. Everyone is well so far and for that we are thankful.

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Capernaum, Jesus’ Home During Galilean Ministry

March 13, 2011

Last evening we arrived in Jerusalem, but I did not post last night as I was having internet problems.

Before leaving Galilee yesterday morning we visited Capernaum. Capernaum means “town of Nahum” (New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, p.209), and is called “the most important city on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, p. 245). Though Jesus’ home town was Nazareth, Capernaum was where He lived during the Galilean ministry. Note the wording of the NET in Matt. 4:13, “While in Galilee, he moved from Nazareth to make his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.” To that compare Mark 2:1: “Now after some days, when he returned to Capernaum, the news spread that he was at home,” with its parallel in Matt. 9:1, which says Jesus came “to His own city.”

The impressive remains of a beautiful white limestone synagogue can be seen at Capernaum. While these ruins are post 1st century, excavations below these remains show evidence of an earlier synagogue, built of black basalt stones, which hasbeen determined to be of AD 1st century usage.

Synagogue at Capernaum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

 

Capernaum was among three cities Jesus publicly rebuked for their unbelief manifested in their refusal to repent at the preaching of Jesus. The inhabitants of Capernaum had received much, but believed litt.e There is a biblical principle here: “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more” (Lk. 12:48).

While at Capernaum I took a group shot as our guide Elie was giving info re: the site.

Group shot at Capernaum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

 

Thanks for following our travels. It is a joy to do biblical studies on location.

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More on Qatzrin

August 20, 2010

Qatzrin is located in the central Golan, 13 km northeast of the Sea of Galilee.  A settlement was here during the Iron Age, as well as the Hellenistic period, but it was during the Roman-Byzantine period that the village grew and became prosperous.  Our photo here features the synagogue.

Qatzrin Synagogue. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The synagogue, along with most of the village, was destroyed by an earthquake in AD 749.  The synagogue was excavated by D. Urman, M. Ben-Ari and S. Barlev, and later by Z. Maoz, R. Hachlili and A. Killebrew, on behalf of the Israel Department of Antiquities.

The Qatzrin houses were two-story structures.  As you look on the rooftop in our photo, think of that day in Joppa described in Acts 10:9: “On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.”

Housetop at Qatzrin. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The ancient housetop would have been much like today’s patio.  That was the setting when God showed Peter that the gospel message of salvation was for Gentiles, and not for Jews only (Acts 10-11).

Remember to click on image for higher resolution.


Sardis Synagogue

June 3, 2010

There is evidence that each of the Seven Churches address in Rev. 2-3 were in cities which included Jewish populations. The synagogue at Sardis has been excavated. Fatih Cimok, in A Guide to the Seven Churches, writes:

The synagogue in Sardis is the largest of its type known to date.  Excavations show that the building was originally a civic basilica which was built between the main street and the gymnasium and converted into a synagogue sometime between 150-350 C.E.  Its unusually large dimensions and rich decoration, as well as the titles of the Jews mentioned in the inscriptions here, show the high status that the Jewish community in Sardis held.

In its final form the synagogue which is thought to date from about 320-40 CE consisted of a colonnaded entrance court and a long assembly hall (p.81).

Pictured below is the Sardis synagogue:

Sardis Synagogue. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Click on photo for larger view. In our photo you can see the forecourt fountain.  In the distance you can see the main hall with table.  Cimok gives the seating capacity of the main hall as one thousand occupants.

More to come.