Stunning proof of early Christianity has been found in a Galilee village in northern Israel, as a Greek inscription has been unearthed in a hitherto unknown 5th Century Byzantine church which reads: ‘Christ Born of Mary.’
In a small Arab village near Nazareth, archaeologists have made an amazing find which provides the first evidence of an early Christian settlement in the region from 1,500 years ago, according to Israel Antiquities Authority researchers.
Archaeologists working in excavation in Taibe, located in the Jezreel Valley in northern Israel, led to the discovery of in a wall of the late-Byzantine era structure.
What they found was an inscribed stone, written in Greek, with the words: “Christ, born of Mary.”
But the text revealed more. It tells that the early Christian church there was founded under the auspices of the well-known late 5th century Beit She’an regional archbishop Theodosius, whose name in the partially destroyed text provided the archaeologists with a secure dating, The Times of Israel reported.
According to Dr. Leah Di Segni, researcher at the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the full inscription reads: “Christ born of Mary. This work of the most God-fearing and pious bishop [Theodo]sius and the miserable Th[omas] was built from the foundation. Whoever enters should pray for them.”
“The inscription greets those who enter and blesses them,” Dr. Di Segni explained. “It is therefore clear that the building is a church, and not a monastery – churches greeted believers at their entrance, while monasteries tended not to do this.”
The inscription was found at the entrance of an impressive building, determined to be a church from the Byzantine or early Islamic period which featured mosaic pavements decorated with a geometric design, the Jerusalem Post reported.
“We did not know what to expect ahead of the work, but we knew that this was an area where archaeological remains had been found. When we came across the inscription, we knew we had a church,” Yardenna Alexandre, an archaeologist with the Antiquities Authority (IAA) told The Jerusalem Post.
“The importance of the inscription is that until now we didn’t know for certain that there were churches from this period in this area,” Walid Atrash, archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities told The Times of Israel, adding that the new inscription has “closed the circle, and now we know there were Christians in this area during this era.”