Some are suggesting that an ancient stone house located beneath the Sisters of Nazareth Convent in Nazareth may actually be the house that Jesus grew up in.
In his book, The Sisters of Nazareth Convent: A Roman-period, Byzantine and Crusader site in central Nazareth, Professor Ken Dark, an archaeologist at the University of Reading, states that there is evidence that the home partially carved into the side of a limestone hill was constructed in the first century or earlier and was revered by early believers.
A group of archaeologists had been working at the site since 2006. The property was donated to the Sister of Nazareth Convent in the 19th century, and led to the construction of their convent.
But prior to this, the archaeologists discovered that previous churches had been built at the site. A Byzantine cave church had been built into the hill beside the first-century house in the fourth century.
The larger cave church had mosaics and a large marble screen common to Byzantine churches of the day. There is also evidence that the church and house were connected, because painted mosaics were also discovered on the walls of the house.
In the fifth century a second Byzantine church was built over both the house and the earlier cave church. Significantly, this second church was the largest Byzantine church of that era, suggesting the site had major religious importance. Byzantine churches were often built over sites considered to have historical religious value.
So, why would they consider a house in Nazareth to be so important? The only real justification would be an ancient oral tradition indicating this was the home that Jesus grew up in. Similarly, in Capernaum, a Byzantine church was built over what was considered to be the home of Peter.
If, this was Jesus’ childhood home, it also tells us something about Christ’s earthly father, Joseph. The outside of the house was built of stone and mortar and probably included a courtyard and a roof over the yard. The remainder of the home was built into a pre-existing limestone cave in the hill that had a couple of rooms with a carved staircase going up to a second-story room.
There is also evidence that the home was inhabited by a Jewish family because many of the household items were made from limestone, that are commonly found in Jewish homes because they considered this type of rock “clean”.
According to Professor Dark, the construction revealed someone who was skilled at working with rock and understood stone construction.
But this leads to a second question would Joseph, a carpenter, have been involved in the construction of a stone home?
Though traditionally we have looked upon Joseph as a carpenter, evidence suggests he was more likely a stone mason. The Greek word ‘tekton’ translated as carpenter in Matthew 13:55, can also be translated stone mason.
The New American Commentary explains it this way:
“The word translated “carpenter” is tektōn, which can be observed in the last half of the English word “architect.” It could refer to any kind of craftsman: mason, smith, shipbuilder, sculptor, and even physician.”
And in the Septuagint, an early Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, the Greek word ‘tekton’ is used to describe both carpenter and stone masons in 2 Samuel 5:11.
But is there any evidence that Joseph was a stone mason? The best is found in ancient Nazareth itself where over 90% of the construction is made of stone because of the rarity of wood in the area. As well, a mile and a half outside Nazareth there was a large stone quarry.
And of course, being the son of a stone mason, Jesus probably helped his dad. This would explain why in Mark 13:1-2, as they were passing by the temple, one of Jesus’ disciples said, “Teacher behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings.”
Notice that the disciple focussed specifically on how well carved the individual stones were. This is a bit unusual and suggests that the disciple knew that Jesus would have appreciated the skill involved.
READ: ‘Childhood home of Jesus Christ’ is identified under the ruins of the Sisters of Nazareth Convent in Northern Israel AND Could Jesus’ Childhood Home Be Under This Well-known Convent? UK Archaeologist Believes So AND JESUS SLEPT Childhood home of Jesus ‘found’ by Brit archaeologist in Nazareth under ruins of convent