If the Megiddo ruin discovered recently would appear to date to the third century AD, it would be a marvellous find. The site would show us something of the lives of Christian people in the period before Constantine. For example, it would illustrate nicely that early Christian people did not generally share orthodox views on the nature of Jesus, as illustrated by Akeptous.
If the ruin would date to a more recent age, it would be a marvellous find as well. The site would tell us something about Christians living in a period after Constantine. It would show us, for example, that even post-Nicaean Christians did not unanimously share orthodox views either.
Neither of both findings would be new or surprising. But why should we lose our interest because of that minor detail?
Thank you, Shahar, for asking me to write these lines. In real earnest, it's my honour to do so. Thank you for your interest in the subject. I am neither an expert on Early Christianity, nor on epigraphy, nor ancient history. I'm just a teacher of Latin and Greek who read a funny little story in a Dutch newspaper and who decided to make a website (in English) , (in Dutch) . People who know more on these matters than I do are, among many others, Brandon Wason, Rod Decker and Philip Harland.
As you know, the "building" was discovered less than two months ago by a Megiddo jail prisoner. He and his team found a mosaic floor showing not only a medallion with two fish but also three inscriptions.
The first inscription reads the names of four women and calls upon us to "remember" them. Unfortunately, we don't know (for sure) who they were. They could very well have been members of the local community.
The second inscription was made (or commissioned) by a woman named Akeptous. She has "offered a table", it says, "as a remembrance, to (the) God Jesus Christ". It is pretty likely that the so-called table was in use as the place where the ritual Last Supper (or Eucharist) took place.
The third inscription was commissioned by an alleged Roman army officer named Gaianos, also known as Porphyri(o)s, who had donated the mosaic floor. The name of the mosaicist was Brouti(o)s.
Scholars and scientist disagree on the question when this building was in use. As you can see on my website, a number of arguments pro and contra are used, arguments from epigraphy, ancient history, absence or presence of particular ancient written sources, archaeology etcetera. Sometimes the same type of argument is used in both ways. For instance: the Megiddo building doesn't look like an old fashioned Church. It has no basilica plan (i.e. a rectangular plan, subdivided by two long rows of pillars). So it has to be a very old 'spontaneously' built Church. But this is rushing into conclusions, others say. The building could have been a (sort of) monastery from a later period.
Of course, I can't tell the original date of the find. Some specialists say we just have to wait for the preliminary archaeological report from the IAA. They are particularly curious to hear about numismatic evidence. That is to say: are there any ancient coins found, that could tell us more about the period of the Megiddo Church?
One last remark. Megiddo is a well-known, very old city, mentioned many times in the Bible. Armageddon is a place-name (real or fictitious) that occurs only one time in the New Testament (Revelation 16,16). Some specialists say this may well mean "hill of Megiddo" *. Of course we could ask ourselves: has this old 'Church' something to do with 'Armageddon' known from Revelation? Is it more than accidental that Akeptous dedicated her table to "(the) god Jesus Christ" right here? The newspapers that report on the find are rather prudent. They mention the name "Armageddon", but without linking this to the find itself. I (as a layperson) think they are right. We could only answer our questions positively if two conditions are met simultaneously. First: it must be clear that the early Christian readers interpret the place-name "Armageddon" as Megiddo. Second: it must be clear that Revelation was read as a prophecy about the near future. Both interpretations are very problematic. But please, ask a specialist about these matters.
Shahar, and readers, this was all I could tell about the Megiddo inscriptions. Happy Christmas or Chanukah (or ...), and a happy new year.
Best regards, Bouke Slofstra.
* "Har" in Hebrew is a mountain or hill. Megiddo was also called in ancient times Megiddon. Thus "Mountain of Megiddo" in Hebrew would be "Har-Megiddo", or "Har-Megiddon" which is easily mispronounced as "Armageddon". –Shahar.
I highly recomend Bouke Slofstra's web site. for an deeper understanding of the Greek inscriptions. http://home.planet.nl/~slofs018/Megiddo.htm
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