EL-ARAJ, Israel (BP) — Archaeologists believe they may have solved a mystery: the location of Bethsaida, the biblical town that was home to the apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip.
Image: iStock/license purchase required.
In addition to its identification as the hometown of three apostles (John 1:44), Bethsaida is mentioned in Scripture as the site Jesus healed a blind man (Mark 8:22) and fed the 5,000 (Luke 9:10).
Southern Baptist archaeologists, who were not involved in the project, said pinpointing Bethsaida may shed light on the biblical text, but archaeology should not be viewed as a catalyst for faith.
“Archaeology is only a tool that can develop significant insights into the biblical world,” said Daniel Warner, associate professor of Old Testament and archaeology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. “But don’t look to archaeology to build up one’s faith, for only the Bible can accomplish this, for Romans states ‘faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God’ (10:17), not [by] archaeology or any other outside source.”
Yet Warner added, “If archaeology can confirm this is Bethsaida and the Bible says the apostles were there, why would we doubt it?”
The key to tentatively identifying el-Araj, a site on the Sea of Galilee’s northern shore, with the ancient fishing village of Bethsaida is a Roman bathhouse unearthed by researchers this summer, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported Aug. 8. The bathhouse dates from the first to third centuries and confirms the presence of a major Roman city during that period,…