The Gospels suggest that Jesus made Kefer Nahum (the village of Nahum)=Capernaum his home away from home. The house of Peter’s mother-in-law seems to have been the spot where he visited and stayed and today that house appears to be the one underneath the Fransican boat-shaped modern church. As you enter the site, there is a new visitor awaiting you….a homeless figure lying on a bench, which upon closer examination has a hole in his foot, and is Jesus. This statue we saw last year in Dublin in front of the cathedral and was done by an Irish artist. Here’s the inside of the modern church…. And here’s what’s under it…. This last view comes from looking through the glass floor in the modern church. Archaeologists think what’s below, which is octagonal in shape, is a modified home used for early Christian meetings. Among various reasons for thinking this is the early Christian graffiti found scrawled on the walls there.
Equally importantly is the synagogue where Jesus preached. The synagogue one sees today…. is from a later period, perhaps the 3rd or 4th century, but it is built on top of the basalt foundation from the original synagogue, seen here…. This seaport town was cosmopolitan, involving both Greek speakers and Aramaic speakers. We know this from various of the honorific columns, not to mention the representation of the ark of the covenant as a Greek temple on wheels, and a star of David with too many points! Clearly a Greek artisan made these things for the synagogue….
This site is a must for Christian pilgrims. One more thing, the archaeological work here is excellent, and here for example is an ancient home made out of basalt rock. What I want you to notice is the petition wall in the back of the house, which allowed one to keep one’s beast of burden in the back of the house, so it would not go astray or be snatched at night.
I mention this because this is probably the configuration of the home Joseph and Mary stayed in, in Bethlehem. The Greek of Luke 2 does not say ‘no room in the inn’ it says ‘no room in the guest room’ so they were put in the very back of the house where the manger=feeding trough for the beast of burden would have been. We often get the Christmas story wrong!