Roman City That Was Home To Jesus’s Apostles Has Been Found In Israel, Archaeologists Say

Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida.   John 1:44

They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.”   John 12:21

Archaeologists say they have discovered a lost Roman city that was home to three of Jesus’s apostles—Peter, Andrew and Philip—on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel.

The Israeli researchers’ claim centers on the discovery of remains from a Roman-style bathhouse in the Bethsaida Valley Nature Reserve, which is said to be the former location of the lost Roman city of Julias.  JNSMap Source:  Daily Mail UK

A team found a Roman-style bathhouse on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel that could be a remnant of Julias, the city that Peter, Andrew and Philip called home, Haaretz reported.

The bathhouse, uncovered at a site called el-Araj in the Bethsaida nature reserve, suggests that there was once a city in that location, as opposed to just a fishing village, which backs up information from the first-century Jewish historian Josephus Flavius — he wrote that the Jewish monarch King Philip Herod, son of Herod the Great, turned the Bethsaida fishing village into a Roman city.  IBTimes

The lost Roman city of Julias, home of three apostles of Jesus. Zachary Wong

Josephus Flavius – Bethsaida

None other than the Jewish historian Josephus Flavius – in fact the only source describing this city’s existence – wrote that the Jewish monarch King Philip Herod, son of the great vassal King Herod, transformed Bethsaida, which had been a Jewish fishing village, into a real Roman polis (Ant. 18:28. Though whether it was built on Bethsaida, or by it, remains unknown.)

Philip flatteringly renamed the city “Julias” after Livia Drusilla, who after marriage would become known as Julia Augusta, the mother of the Roman Emperor Tiberius.

“Josephus reported that the king had upgraded Bethsaida from a village into a polis, a proper city,” Aviam says meticulously. “He didn’t say it had been built on or beside or underneath it. And indeed, all this time, we have not known where it was. But the bathhouse attests to the existence of urban culture.”

Josephus himself would take over fortifying Bethsaida’s defenses (as reported by himself) ahead of the Great Jewish Revolt against Rome that began in 67 C.E., and would end in disaster for the Jews in 70 C.E.  Josephus himself claims to have been hurt in battle in the swamp near Julias (Life 399-403). Haaretz

Pottery shards and a mosaic were also found at the site.  The Roman layer was discovered is 211 meters (about 700 feet) below sea level.

A Roman bathhouse with mosaic fragments.Zachary Wong

What the archaeologists found at el-Araj is an older layer dating from the late Roman period, the 1st to 3rd centuries C.E., two meters below the Byzantine level. That Roman layer contained pottery sherds from the 1st to the 3rd centuries B.C.E., a mosaic, and the remains of the bathhouse. Two coins were found, a bronze coin from the late 2nd century and a silver denarius featuring the Emperor Nero from the year 65-66 C.E.

And has a major missing church been found too? The excavators found walls with gilded glass tesserae for a mosaic, an indication of a wealthy and important church. Willibald, the bishop of Eichstätt in Bavaria, visited the Holy Land in 725 C.E., and in his itinerary, he describes his visit to a church at Bethsaida that was built over the house of Peter and Andrew. It may well be that the current excavations have unearthed evidence for that church, say the archaeologists. Haaretz

Online:  Haaretz – The Lost Home of Jesus’ Apostles Has Just Been Found, Archaeologists Say

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