Archaeological discovery: 1,300-year-old church found near site of transfiguration

A general view shows the Dome of the Rock and Jerusalem's Old City December 4, 2017.
A general view shows the Dome of the Rock and Jerusalem's Old City December 4, 2017. | (Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

Remains from a 1,300-year-old church were discovered at the location believed to be where the transfiguration took place, according to an announcement by the Israeli government.

The Israel Antiquities Authority reported Tuesday that a church with a detailed mosaic floor was unearthed at a village called Kfar Kama, located near Mount Tabor.

Excavation of the church was carried out by the IAA in collaboration with the Kinneret Academic College and led by archaeologist Nurit Feig.

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“The church ... includes a large courtyard, a narthex foyer, and a central hall. Particular to this church is the existence of three apses (prayer niches), while most churches were characterized by a single apse,” explained Feig.

“The nave and the aisles were paved with mosaics which partially survived. Their colorful decoration stands out, incorporating geometric patterns, and blue, black, and red floral patterns. A special discovery was the small reliquary, a stone box used to preserve sacred relics.”

The church dates to when the Byzantine Empire occupied the region and indicated that Christians from the time period viewed the area as religiously significant.

Mount Tabor is believed by many to be where the transfiguration took place, in which, according to Mark 9:2-9, Jesus showed His divine being to His disciples Peter, James, and John.

“After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them,” recounted the biblical text.

“His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.”

According to the apologetics website Got Questions, some believe Mount Hermon was the location for the transfiguration, including that the miracle occurs right after Matthew 16:28, in which Jesus predicts that some disciples would see Him coming in the Kingdom before dying.

“Mount Hermon is a much higher mountain, almost 10,000 feet, and it is closer to Caesarea Philippi where the previous events in Matthew 16 took place. For these reasons, some scholars feel that Mount Hermon is a more likely candidate to be the Mount of transfiguration,” noted the website.

“In the final analysis, we simply do not know what mountain is the Mount of transfiguration. It could be Tabor or Hermon or another mountain that no one has suggested.”  

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