Mike Aquilina

Digging Deep

Monday April 28th 2008, 7:51 am

Several archeological sites of interest:

On Malta, where St. Paul was shipwrecked, there are tours of the remains of a first-century Hellenistic Jewish community: “ancient Jewish tombs … carry religious symbols and other engraved decorations, such as crosses, palm fronds, or doves with olive branches – or, in some cases, the Jewish seven-branched candlestick (menorah).”

In Egypt archeologists have found another underwater early Christian church: “Forty metres beneath the surface the divers discovered a complete portico of the temple of Khnum; two huge, unidentified columns; and four pollards from the Coptic era. Hawass said these pieces would remain on the river bed as they were too heavy to be lifted out the water. Early studies show that the pollards may be part of a Christian church that may have once been located in the area but for unknown reasons was demolished or destroyed.”

Jim Davila reports on digs related to the messianic claimant Shimon bar Kokhba. SBK was an anti-Roman Jewish rebel whose story is told by several of the Fathers. According to his contemporary Justin Martyr, Simon ordered Christians “to be led away to terrible punishment” unless they joined his cause and cursed Jesus of Nazareth (First Apology 31.6).

And how often did the pagan Romans beat their wives? New books dig into the literary and archeological evidence, which Rodney Stark also discussed in The Rise of Christianity.