Ancient Find Proves Christ's Words?

Archaeologists have unearthed in Jordan what they believe to be the first Christian church in the world. Dating back almost 2,000 years to sometime between 33 AD to 70 AD, the church, which is actually a cave, was found underneath Saint Georgeous Church, which itself dates back to 230 AD, in Rihab in northern Jordan near the Syrian border.

Agence France Presse and The Jordan Times report that the church is thought to have sheltered the world's earliest Christians from persecution and certain death. "We have evidence to believe this church sheltered the early Christians--the 70 disciples of Jesus Christ," Abdul Qader al-Husan, the head of Jordan's Rihab Centre for Archaeological Studies, told AFP.

According to Wikipedia, the 70 disciples were early followers of Jesus. The Gospel of Luke 10:1-24 says that Jesus appointed them and sent them out in pairs to spread his message.

Those 70 early Christians that created this church are described in a mosaic as "the 70 beloved by God and Divine," says Husan. They fled persecution in Jerusalem and founded churches in northern Jordan.

Rihab is now home to a total of 30 churches, and Jesus and the Virgin Mary are believed to have passed through the area, Husan told AFP.

Citing historical sources, Husan explained that these early Christians lived and practiced their religious rituals in the underground church and only left it once Christianity was accepted by Roman rulers. The bishop deputy of the Greek Orthodox archdiocese, Archimandrite Nektarious, described the discovery as an "important milestone for Christians all around the world."

What did they find inside the world's first church? In addition to several stone seats that were probably used by clergy and a circular-shaped area that served as an apse, they found pottery that dates back to between the 3rd and 7th centuries, indicating the church was used until late Roman rule. There is also a deep tunnel that is thought to have led to a source of water.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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