Wednesday, 11 June 2008

World's 'oldest Christian church' discovered in Jordan

From The Telegraph
If this story pans out it'll be fascinating. Imagine - conclusive proof of the historicity of Jesus.

Picture sourced from The telegraph:

Archaeologists claim to have found the world's oldest church dating from shortly after Christ's crucifixion.
According to a report in the Jordan Times newspaper, a very early underground church was found beneath the ancient Saint Georgeous Church, which itself dates back to 230 AD, in Rihab, northern Jordan near the Syrian border.
"We have uncovered what we believe to be the first church in the world, dating from 33 AD to 70 AD," Abdul Qader al-Husan, head of Jordan's Rihab Centre for Archaeological Studies, said.
We have evidence to believe this church sheltered the early Christians – the 70 disciples of Jesus Christ."
A mosaic found in the church describes these Christians as "the 70 beloved by God and Divine". Mr Husan said they believed to have fled persecution in Jerusalem and founded churches in northern Jordan.
He cited historical sources which suggest they both lived and practised religious rituals in the underground church and only left it after Christianity was embraced by Roman rulers in the fourth century AD.

Oh dear. My skepticism kicks in. Phrases like "claim to have found" and "evidence to believe" and "sources which suggest" set my bullshit alarms off.

Researchers recovered pottery dating back to between the 3rd and 7th centuries, which they say suggests these first Christians and their followers lived in the area until late Roman rule.
Unless I've misread the article, this would suggest that the users of the church from "33 AD to 70 AD" always cleaned up after themselves and were a remarkably tidy lot, until those careless plate-smashers from the 3rd century took over.

Either that, or Jesus' disciples were eating of plates that weren't yet made.

We have no historical or archeological evidence for the existance of Jesus but for gospels and churches that date from a couple of hundred years after he was supposed to be around. Now, some archeologists reckon that because a mosaic mentions "70 disciples" that dates it to "33 AD to 70 AD"?

The claim was treated with some disdain in online chatrooms focusing on biblical knowledge with most contributors suggesting the claim was made up to boost Rihab's tourist status.

No! Who could imagine such a thing? That would be like suggesting that James Cameron making a documentary about finding the tomb of Jesus based on some names that sound a bit like some of his contemporaries was made just for self-promotion and publicity. That could never happen.

Believe me, I would like for this to be true, I love history, and a church dating within the first century would be a real find.

But I call bullshit.

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