Archaeologists, Prof. Steven Notley from New York’s Nyack College and Prof. Mordechai Aviam of Israel’s Kinneret College believe they have found an ancient Byzantine church located in Bethsaida said to built over the home of the Apostle Peter.
The Bible tells us that Peter, Andrew, and Philip were from Bethsaida (John 1:44). It was also the town that Jesus condemned because of its refusal to repent after all the miracles that had been performed there (Matthew 11:20-25).
The site, referred to as El-Araj, is located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
The archaeologists, who had previously found the remains of an ancient Byzantine church, announced that they recently discovered a round Mosaic medallion that was part of a larger mosaic floor in the church’s sacristy. This is the room where those leading the church service gathered to prepare.
The medallion contained two lines of Greek script, which refers to the donor, “Constantine, the servant of Christ,” and a petition to Peter who is called, “chief and commander of the heavenly apostles.” This was a title often given to Peter by the Byzantine Church.
This discovery suggests this is the Church of the Apostles located in Bethsaida mentioned in the travel logs of Willibald (700 – 787 AD), the Bishop of Eichstättm. He wrote of visiting the Church of the Apostles in Bethsaida, which he said was constructed on top of the House of Peter.
In a statement, Archaeologist Steven Notley from Nyack said:
“This discovery is our strongest indicator that Peter had a special association with the basilica, and it was likely dedicated to him. Since Byzantine Christian tradition routinely identified Peter’s home in Bethsaida, and not in Capernaum, as is often thought today, it seems likely that the basilica commemorates his house.”
Though other sites have been put forward as the possible location of Bethsaida, the archaeologists state that the discovery of the medallion is evidence that this is the Church of the Apostles, and obviously the village of Bethsaida.
There is also a competing claim that a ruin located in Capernaum was also once the home of Peter, a town where Jesus and the disciples lived and spent a lot of time (Matthew 8:14-17). An ancient Byzantine church was built over this site as well.
There are indications, that Peter came from a wealthy fishing family with multiple boats (Luke 5:1-11, specifically verse 7), so owning homes at different locations around the sea of Galilee is certainly realistic.
READ: Archaeologists discover mosaic with inscription to Peter that may point to location of his home AND New Inscription With Petition for Intercession by Apostle Peter Discovered at the Suggested Biblical Bethsaida AND Discovering Biblical Bethsaida AND The House of Peter: The Home of Jesus in Capernaum?