Saturday, June 21, 2008

Is a Jordanian Cave the Oldest Extant Christian Church?

According to a group of excavators, the answer to the above question is "yes." A recently discovered cave beneath a third-century church may have been used by early followers of Jesus between the time of his crucifixion and that of the destruction of Jerusalem by Roman forces in 70 CE. If such an assertion were to be confirmed, the cave would stand as the earliest extant Christian place of worship, easily displacing the third-century house church of Dura Europos uncovered by Yale researchers in the 1930s. Not surprisingly, Herschel Shanks, the feisty editor of Biblical Archaeology Review, has already questioned these claims, and he will certainly not be the last to do so. Nevertheless, BAR has helpfully compiled a number of news agencies' reports of the discovery, as well as images of the excavation site and other information, which may be viewed here.

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