Israeli Archaeologists Find 1,500-Year-Old Christian Inscription

by johnsmith

A 1,500-year-old inscription that reads ‘Christ, born of Mary’ has been discovered by a team of archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

The 1,500-year-old ‘Christ, born of Mary’ inscription. Image credit: Tzachi Lang, Israel Antiquities Authority.

The 1,500-year-old ‘Christ, born of Mary’ inscription. Image credit: Tzachi Lang, Israel Antiquities Authority.

The early Christian inscription, written in ancient Greek, was found in the village of et-Taiyiba in the Jezreel Valley.

It comes from the frame of an entrance door of the Byzantine-period (5th century CE) church.

“It is a dedicatory inscription that was engraved while casting the foundations of the church,” said Dr. Leah Di-Segni, a researcher in the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who deciphered the text.

“It reads, ‘Christ born of Mary. This work of the most God-fearing and pious bishop [Theodo]sius and the miserable Th[omas] was built from the foundation. Whoever enters should pray for them’.”

“The formula ‘Christ, born of Mary’ was intended to protect its readers from the evil eye, and it was commonly used at the beginning of inscriptions and documents of the time. Christ (Christos in Greek, or ‘Messiah’) refers to Jesus.”

“The inscription greets those who enter and blesses them. It is therefore clear that the building is a church, and not a monastery. Churches greeted believers at their entrance, while monasteries tended not to do this.”

Theodosius, whom the text refers to as the building’s founder, was one of the first Christian bishops.

He served as the regional archbishop — the supreme religious authority of the metropolis of Bet She’an, to which et-Taiyiba in the valley belonged.

“This is the first evidence of the Byzantine church’s existence in the village of et-Taiyiba, and it adds to other finds attesting to the activities of Christians who lived in the region,” said IAA archaeologist Dr. Walid Atrash.

“Remains of a church from the Crusader period were previously uncovered at the site, and a monastery was discovered more recently.”

“The excavation yielded finds from a variety of periods, shedding light on the long settlement sequence at et-Taiyiba in the valley, and on its status among the local settlements,” said IAA archaeologists Dr. Tzachi Lang and Dr. Kojan Haku.


This article is based on text provided by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

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