Have I mentioned that my boyhood calling (something that may never let go of me) was to become an archaeologist? My preaching focus on Capernaum, and the early call of the disciples has got me thinking about one of my favorite archaeological sites, Peter’s house, which is profiled in this and this linked articles. There are several things I like about this site in particular. First—the fact that the site has layers of worshiping communities built on top of it, with the “inner sanctum” of the Byzantine era church located very carefully over the central room of the original house where Jesus likely met with the first disciples, and perhaps even lived. I also enjoy that the Franciscans who operate the modern church built above both sets of ruins designed the church much like a UFO. I wonder about what kind of decisions, (besides protecting the original site, which is viewable from the center of the church via a big cut out hole in the floor) went into the design of the church back in the 60s. I can just picture some Franciscan monk at the committee meeting, “Hey, here’s an idea–let’s make it look like the Jetsons have come to pay homage to Jesus. I love the Jetsons, don’t you, Brother John?”
Secondly, I like that one of the hallmarks of early Christian worship helped identify the site as a church: graffiti. I guess we no longer inscribe our prayers directly on the walls because, well, paper is plentiful and handy, but sometimes I think that’s too bad. I like that my frequent prayer, “God help me,” is one of those represented on the walls of Peter’s house. “Lord Jesus Christ, help thy servant,” is what it says to be specific. Can you imagine the person who made a pilgrimage to this site 1900 years ago and inscribed those words? What was happening in that person’s life? One reason I love archaeology (and particularly Biblical Archaeology) is that it does give one a sense of connection to others who, though their lives were undoubtedly different with different pressures and concerns, were aligned with the same focus on worshiping and glorifying God.