The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Thirteen

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Thirteen July 2, 2014

There are many sites in Israel where the tour guides will take you, and sometimes they will and sometimes they won’t say ‘this is the site where, according to tradition….X took place’. You should be wary of such claims. Sometimes, as at a site like Caesarea Philippi, you know you’re in the right spot, and Jesus and the gang was there. Sometimes not so much. Below is a picture taken from on the Sea of Galilee of Tabgha (right end of the picture right at the shoreline) with the cliffs of Arbel in the background (where Zealots used to hide out from the Romans).

Tabgha, the ‘traditional’ site where Jesus multipled the loaves and fishes is on the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee just up from Capernaum and Migdal. It is a lovely site, a good place to meditate on the miracle of the feeding on the 5,000, but if you read Mark 6 closely, it is unlikely to be the right spot, as Mark describes that feeding as happening not by the sea, but in a grassy meadow. Tabgha is hardly a grass meadow. So when they take you up to the altar area and show you a rock under the altar where the guide may say ‘and this is the very rock on which Jesus laid the five loaves and two fish’ you have every right to take that with a grain of salt. Here’s that rock,

I haven’t blown up this picture, as I have no desire to amplify a later Christian myth. As I said, it is a lovely spot, and the ancient church is especially noteworthy for its beautiful floor mosaics (see below).

For reasons I don’t understand, there is a mosaic depiction in this church floor of a column with the Greek alphabet on it, starting with Alpha on the bottom…

Tabgha really is a beautiful worship spot…

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