Capernaum Church House
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Capernaum Church House
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Most Ancient Evidence

Capernaum Church HouseThe archaeological excavations at Capernaum suggested that the former house of Peter also called the "Pilgrimage Church of St. Peter in Capernaum" was later transformed into a "domus ecclesiae" or "church house" and may well have been the most ancient evidence of an original house church. Unlike the house church remains at Dura-Europos, the building at Capernaum did not allow an unambiguous reconstruction of the original building and its history of structural development according to Ralph P. Martin and Peter H. Davids in the "Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Development." The fifth century construction of an octagonal Byzantine church on the same site and the subsequent invasion by the Persians in 614 AD resulted in the end of Byzantine Christian rule and the demolition of Christian worship places. But with renewed interest in Galilee and detailed archaeological field reports, a satisfying reconstruction was made possible. Being in Capernaum on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and just down the road from a very early synagogue it could well be the house of Saint Peter's mother-in-law. It was here that Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law as recorded in Matthew 8.14-15, "When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him." This episode took place after Jesus had been preaching in the synagogue of Capernaum in Mark 1.21, "They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach." It is interesting that there are many Christian symbols engraved upon the stones in the Capernaum Synagogue called the "White Synagogue" because of it's imported white limestone, which again ties the two places together. According to local tradition a Gentile centurion built the community's synagogue. This may refer to Luke 7.4-6, "When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, 'This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.' So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: 'Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.'"

"Capernaum Church House"
by Ron Meacock © 2018

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