Archaeological Evidence for Jewish Christianity

Archaeological Evidence for Jewish Christianity September 29, 2015

Eldad Keynan has been looking for archaeological evidence of ancient Jewish Christianity in Israel for a long time, and has turned up a number of intriguing finds. His most recent, and possibly most important, is what appears to be a Jewish Christian mikveh – the only one of its kind. Click through to read his article about it in The Bible and Interpretation.

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  • John MacDonald

    References to the synagogue appear 11 times in Mark, 9 times in Mattthew, 16 times in Luke, and five times in John (The Christian movement was eventually expelled from the synagogue, which is probably why the references drop off in John).

  • Gary

    Wine collection tank? I don’t know much about wine making, but a big hole in the ground with no drain at the bottom, not too appetizing. Besides, seems like the constant presence of wine residue in a tank would leave a stain, or at least a testable residue, even 2000 years later. All together, rather disgusting. They must have wanted wine, really badly.

    • No drain means you can use the yeasty sediment at the bottom to make more yummy wine. I did this when I lived in the mid east when brewing yeast was in somewhat short supply. And yes I did want wine, really badly 🙂

      • Gary

        But what about the bugs, dead rats, bird poop….and a dash of listeria.
        Makes me happy about stainless steel vats for beer. I vote for Jewish mikveh, with the cross added at a later date by some crazy monks, hoping to purify the gunk at the bottom with a Christian exorcism.

        • I kid you not, traditional recipes for scrumpy (hard cider) commonly involved putting a piece of meat or even a dead animal in with the apples. And African recipes for beer included a dob of spit. Helped with the fermentation before people understood what yeast was all about, I guess. A reasonable alcohol content kills off any nasties so you probably wouldn’t get sick.


          • Gary


  • eldadkeynan

    Hi all; basically, ancient wine industry worked by a firm “model”: a pit for the grapes juice with an adjacent stepping surface; both facilities are connected by a short tunnel, cut in the rock in between. Below you can see the stepping surface (front) and the “tank” (back). The small hole in the center is the tunnel. I don’t think the entire process of “wine-for- jiuce” took place in those pits. I think the owners only collected the juice in the pit and then they used jars for the chemical process. There is no any watre reservoir around this winery – what seems to be the closest water reservoir is about 35-40 meters away (this winery is about 10 minutes drive from my place).
    Mikvehs have NO stepping surface adjacent or nearby. Of course – no tunnel needed. Many of them have a water reservoir very close but not adjacent and nothing links the reservoir to the mikveh. Jews used some sort of buckets to move water from the reservoir to the mikveh.
    Yet I do love the wine-humor here. Cheers!

    • Gary

      Thanks for the update. Stepping surface to collection well ratio on the winery makes sense.

      • eldadkeynan

        Gary: the stepping surface mentioned above is about 2.20 m X 2.20 m. The pit is about 1.60 X 1.60 m (and 1.50 m deep). In all the wineries I know the stepping surface is wider than the pit. Whether there is a certain ratio – I’m not sure. I can check it up. A few minutes ago one of my Galilean friends notified me of another similar winery not too far. I’ll go there to take some photos, of course.

        • Gary

          Thanks again. But I don’t know much about any of this. By the ratio, I just meant that the mikveh with stepping stones down into it, was huge! For collecting wine, it didn’t make sense. But your picture of the wine making pit did make sense. A shallow, large area for squashing grapes, and a small deep area to collect the juice, actually I assume you might even just put a pottery jar into the pit, and lift it out when it’s full. Minimum bug residue!

          • eldadkeynan

            Gary, some wine pits have steps down as they are really large and deep. The small wine pit above has one. Besides filling jars people had to clean the pit when the season ended. Yet each and every rock-cut mikveh has steps, usually seven. Large, deep mikvehs had large steps, while small mikvehs had small steps, to keep them seven in number.