A Jordanian Archaeologist claims to have discovered the earliest first century church in Rihab, northern Jordan. Remember that Israel claimed to have found the earliest church outside of Meggido on the property of a local prison, a couple of years ago.
Now is there another Christian church? A cave discovered by Jordanian archaeologist Abdel-Qader al-Housan, director of the Rihab Center for Archaeological Studies is reported to have been used by early Christians (33 A.D. to 70 A.D.). The cave situated beneath a 3rd century church of St. George (one of the worlds oldest churches), contains a circular structure that may have been an apse, and the floor of the later church above contains a mosaic that refers to the “70 beloved by God and the divine.” Could these be the first disciples fleeing persecution?
A lot of questions still remained unanswered at this point. It is known that the first Christians were meeting in synagogues and not churches in the first century. Could this cave have been the locations that the Christians later believed was a holy place and used by early Christians and thus built a church on this location. Artefacts and pottery from this site will be extremely important to date this cave and may be virtually impossible to connect it to Christians in the first century. BAR magazine has a number of links for further information and photo's of the cave.
This will certainly be an important site for Jordanian tourism and Christian pilgrims now that it has been identified with the first century Christians. Whether it is indeed a church that the first century Christians used will require more evidence at this point.
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