A United Kingdom archaeologist says the remains of a first-century house in Nazareth, Israel, could have been the home of Joseph, Mary and the boy Jesus.
Ken Dark, a professor of archaeology and history at the University of Reading, told the BBC there is a “strong case to be made” that the site – which lies beneath the Sisters of Nazareth Convent – was the home in which Jesus was raised.
He began researching the site in 2006 and wrote about his findings in a new book, The Sisters of Nazareth Convent: A Roman-period, Byzantine, and Crusader site in central Nazareth.
The dwelling dates to the first century, he says.
“I didn't go to Nazareth to find the house of Jesus, I was actually doing a study of the city's history as a Byzantine Christian pilgrimage center,” he told the BBC. “Nobody could have been more surprised than me.”
Whoever built the house, he told the BBC, would have had excellent knowledge of stone-working. The Bible, in Greek, calls Joseph a “tekton,” which can be translated “craftsman” or “builder.”
“We know from written evidence this church was believed in the Byzantine period to have been built on the site of Jesus' home and the dwelling preserved in its crypt,” Dark told the BBC. “It's almost certainly the Church of the Nutrition, which was dedicated to the upbringing of Christ, and mentioned in a Seventh Century pilgrim's account.”
Still, it is impossible to conclude for certain that the house was Jesus’ earthly home, Dark told CBS.
“[It’s] by no means a conclusive case,” he said. “On the one hand, we can put forward a totally plausible case that this was Jesus’s childhood home. But on the other hand, actually proving that is beyond the scope of the evidence. It’s debatable whether it would ever be possible to prove that.”
The home, he said, was “a typical family home of its time and place.”
“There was nothing unusual about it. It’s not pitifully poor, but there’s no sign of any great wealth either. It’s very ordinary,” Dark told CBS News. “If this is the childhood environment of Jesus, there’s no reason to believe He grew up in anything other than a very typical Galilean rural home of its time.”
Photo courtesy: ©University of Reading
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.