Ny lokalisering av Betsaida?

Betsaida, heimstaden til tre av Jesu disiplar, er ein av dei nytestamentlege byane som hittil ikkje er sikkert lokalisert. Arkeologar som denne sommaren har arbeidd på staden El Araj nordaust for Gennesaretsjøen, meiner det nå er gode grunnar for å anta at dette er den korrekte lokaliseringa av byen.

Eg har nokre gonger vore på et-Tel, ein stad som i dag blir vist fram som det bibelske Betsaida. Eg har visst at det har vore fagleg tvil om denne lokaliseringa, men har likevel opplevd det interessant å oppleva utgravingane der.

Det kan forresten vera verdt å merka seg at dei to stadane ikkje ligg langt frå kvarandre. Betsaida låg uansett på nordaust for Gennesaretsjøen, på bildet over i området øverst til høgre der det er ein del grønt. Det at det nå kjem fram ny kunnskap som opnar opp for ei ny geografisk forståing, er bare flott.

I tillegg til spørsmålet om kvar det bibelske Betsaida låg, gir også utgravingane i El Araj ny kunnskap om nivået på Gennesaretsjøen i romersk tid. Funn på staden viser at sjøen må ha lege minst 211 meter under havet, noko som visstnok er lågare enn tidlegare antatt.

Has the Lost City of Jesus’ Apostles Finally Been Discovered?

NEW YORK, NY — Excavations this summer on the north-eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee have uncovered what may appears to be evidence forof the ancient city, Bethsaida-Julias, home to three of Jesus’ apostles: Peter, Andrew, and Philip (John 1:44; 12:21). It was also a location for Jesus’ ministry (Mark 8:22), and is near the land place where Luke’s gospel reports the miracle of Jesus feeding five thousand people with only five loaves of bread and two fish (Luke 9:10-17).

(…)

Because of its importance in Christian tradition, scholars have long tried to identify the site. Historical sources place the site near the Jordan river, in the large valley between the Galilee and the Golan Heights. For the last 30 years, popular opinion identified it with at the site of et-Tel where archaeologists found settlement in the late Hellenistic (2nd cent. BCE) and Roman periods (1st-2nd cent. CE), including two private houses. However, traces of the Greco-Roman city developments reported by in historical reports are lacking. Now new evidence suggests that Bethsaida-Julias was located at another site, El Araj, located in the Bethsaida Valley Nature Reserve on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

At El Araj, Roman pottery dating between the 1st – 3rd centuries was uncovered under the a Byzantine level floor discovered in the previous season. A bronze coin of the late 2nd century CE and a beautiful silver denarius of the emperor Nero that reads “Nero, Caesar Augustus” from the year 65-66 CE were also found. Additionally, a Roman wall was discovered at a depth nearly 693 feet (211.16m) below sea level, completely rewriting the assumed level of the lake in the first century by seven feet. Adjacent to the the Roman wall there was found a large piece portion of mosaic flooring with a white and black meander pattern still attached to the its original plaster and similar to other mosaics known from the first- century villages settlements around the lake. The discovery of clay bricks and ceramic vents (tubuli), which are typical to Roman bathhouses, strongly indicates the presence of Roman period urbanization and evidence of the first- century improvements on the village of Bethsaida-Julias.

(Les meir)

Eg har tidlegare skrive om et-Tel i notatet Om Betsaida. Sjå også notatet Gennesaretsjøen.

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