Hold Fast

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:1-2, ESV)

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Location: Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

Monday, November 07, 2005

Ancient Church Found in Israeli Prison


Prisoners digging in part of their prison compound have uncovered what could be the oldest existing Christian church.

The find is quite incredible, as indicated by pictures taken at the site.

The picture at left (from Reuters) clearly shows the ancient Christian use of the fish as a symbol, as well as Greek script at right. I wish I could read it - the time will come, God willing...

At right (AP photo) here is another mosaic found at the site. Again, I really can't read Greek, but the last four letters of the third line read theos - God in English.

Archaeologists believe the church, found near the town of Megiddo (Armageddon) dates from the third century AD. This estimate is based on pottery fragments found at the site, as well as the style of Greek used in the mosaics. Furthermore, the use of the fish as a symbol as opposed to a cross indicates an earlier date.

The full story may be found here.

Why is this important? Well, Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code has been the hottest bestseller of the last couple of years, and will be released as a major movie next spring. Central to the storyline is the idea that Christ was not actually divine; rather, He was a mere mortal, Brown claims, marrying Mary Magdalene and fathering a child before He died.

Brown introduces his book with an assertion to the effect that although the story itself is fiction, it is based on historical fact. Obviously, a denial of Christ's divinity is serious, and Brown makes the astounding claim in the novel that Christians prior to the fourth century did not worship Christ as God. He states that the Church only began teaching that Christ is divine at the Council of Nicaea, and that the Emperor Constantine pushed this idea onto the Church. In short, according to Dan Brown, the reason we worship Christ as God today is because Constantine won out at Nicaea.

How does this find fit in? One of the mosaics clearly refers to Jesus as God - and the church dates from before both Nicaea and the reign of Constantine!

So, as James White pointed out at his blog today, the dating of this site is yet more blatant proof that Brown has no historical credibility whatever. If you want a closer look at the issue, I recommend Dr. White's running series on the Da Vinci Code (start here, and then read Parts I, II, III, IV, and V).

And yes, I am happy I finally figured out the pictures function!

3 Comments:

Anonymous Betty said...

Ummm, I'm pretty sure that people thought Christ was divine before the Council of Nicea, but perhaps I am mistaken ... I thought that the Council of Nicea merely confirmed what was believed or something of that nature? Hmm, I'm definitely no scholar in the area. I must be mistaken then :P

Those pictures are pretty cool by the way. Good job on figuring out how to put them in :P

(By the way ... we all have to hang out someday! You guys are not leaving without it happening!!! :) )

6:44 AM  
Blogger Jeff Jones said...

Betty, you're absolutely right, and this church confirms that.

Nicaea, indeed, did confirm what was already a widely held belief - by an overwhelming vote - that Christ was indeed God. The council was originally convened as a response to the Arian controversy - Arius believed Jesus was only a man, and his views were making headway. But pre-Nicene Christians definitely recognized Christ as God.

It's Dan Brown claiming that early Christians didn't, and he's flat-out wrong, as history and archaeology (not to mention theology) demonstrate!

Just goes to show - don't believe everything you read.

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Betty said...

Score! :)

I love being right ...

(I hope that didn't sound terrible ... lol :) )

12:08 PM  

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