WEB Notes: There is so much proof of Christianity in Israel that it baffles the mind how it can be ignored.
A prison built by the British on an archaeological site in northern Israel in the 1940s is finally going to be evacuated. The walls and barbed wire of Megiddo Prison will be replaced with an archaeological park featuring one of the earliest-known houses of Christian worship, which was found in the ancient Jewish village of Kefar Othnay (a.k.a. Kfar Otnai), as well as the remains of a vast Roman army base across the Qeni river, Megiddo Regional Council announced this week.
The new park will also encompass seven Ottoman-era flour mills built along a stream, the council says.
Thanks to Israel adopting European standards for minimum space per inmate, the Megiddo inmates will be moving to a new, improved facility, as will the people incarcerated in three other Israeli jails that also fail to comply with the new standards, Megiddo Regional Council spokeswoman Yael Barnir told Haaretz on Wednesday.
The authorities controlling British Mandatory Palestine until 1948 knew perfectly well they were erecting Megiddo Prison on a historic site, Dr. Yotam Tepper of the University of Haifa tells Haaretz. Upon Israel’s independence, control of the prison passed from the British to the Israeli army, and later to the Israel Prison Service.
The salvage excavation, following earlier surveys and conducted from 2003 by Tepper (then affiliated with Tel Aviv University) and the Israel Antiquities Authority – identified ruins in the prison grounds as the Jewish and Samaritan village of Othnay, mentioned in Jewish sources as existing from the first to the fourth centuries, and a large structure that seems to have been a pre-church house of Christian worship, as well as unexpected clues about the complicated nature of early Christianity. Such as, maybe the Roman army wasn’t entirely negative about the upstart religion after all.
Jesus the god
Some of the most extraordinary finds within the Megiddo Prison grounds were made by prisoners, excavating from 2003 to 2008 under the auspices of the Antiquities Authority and Tepper. It was an inmate who in 2005 uncovered a well-preserved mosaic, 54 square meters in size, that had an extraordinary message to convey
Dated to the year 230, very early in the Christian era, the mosaic bears three inscriptions in ancient Greek – one explicitly calling Jesus a deity.
“The god-loving Akeptous has offered the table to God Jesus Christ as a memorial,” the writing says, in black tesserae letters 7.5 to 9 centimeters in height. Akeptous is believed to be the name of a woman who paid for a communion table that probably served for the Eucharist ceremony.