House At Capernaum
We have been working recently on the mystery of Joshua's house at Capernaum. Much was going on there that is lost to typical Bible readers. This post explores.
The link here is to Google Maps, zoomed in on the location of ancient Capernaum. This map location includes a marker for 'Capharnaum -- The Town of Jesus.' This is an archaeological museum for the remains of the house and then later a church.
There are also Franciscan and Orthodox monasteries in this area which you can see on the map. It is a tourist destination, and there are various photos and other links if you click on the icon in the maps app.
I suggest messing around a little with the map so you understand this very real ancient place.
This particular house appears to be referenced in Matthew 4:13. In that verse we are told Joshua left Nazareth to dwell at Capernaum. As a standalone statement, this verse means Joshua moved from Nazareth and took up residence in Capernaum. Peter is given the house after Joshua departed, which is perhaps why it eventually became a church.
Problems of Editors
We have been trying to understand the amount of editing done to the New Testament generally, and in particular to the Gospels.
If you think about edits in, say, the Pauline Epistles, the editors were adding theology to pull these writings into line with the temple system at Jerusalem. We can understand their motives, they were trying to keep power to themselves by trying to make Christianity into a Jewish sect.
The normal Acts 15 rules of additions is pretty good at identifying edits within the Epistles. Those rules are not as helpful in the Gospels themselves. Something else was going on.
In general, the Gospels have the problem of significant redundancy and within that redundancy are often found contradictory details. Detail differences are often only a word or phrase difference, not whole cloth additions as seen in most of the rest of the text.
Redundancy in the Gospels is evidence of tampering. This is normally explained away as different authors had different points of view. In our modern world this is a normal explanation.
In car accident investigations, say, contradictory testimony as to what happened is normal. Indeed when accident investigators find no contradiction in accident reports, it can indicate collusion, yet another crime. So some contradiction is expected in these cases.
But under the principle of divine inspiration, the actual source of the writing is Joshua himself. He is god, with complete view to all of history on earth, including every single detail of everyone's lives. Contradictory points of view are impossible under the doctrine of inspiration.
So the editor's strategy in the redundant stories of the Gospels was to duplicate stories and shift minor details. Sowing confusion and obfuscating details that must have threatened them.
So to find the inspired narrative in the gospels is not just applying Acts 15 rules of additions, but picking sides in subtle differences between stories. Then, considering those subtle differences, matching subtle differences of meaning against editor motives.
This is a very hard problem, which has troubled us for years. It is perhaps the hardest problem presented in the text itself. Let me give you a simple example.
The account of the women's encounter at the empty tomb tells specific details of what the women were told. In particular, they were told to tell the disciples to go to Galilee so they could see Joshua.
This point is made in vs. 7, outside the tomb and then again inside the tomb in vs. 10. They are told to head to Galilee in order to see Joshua.
Galilee is a region, so there is shared knowledge as to where, specifically, they were to meet with Joshua. That place, of course, is Joshua's house in Capernaum. The trembling guards were within earshot of the conversation, so Galilee is not precise enough for those guards to inform their bosses on where they went to meet.
But, in the Luke 24 account of that first day of the week there is the first encounter between Joshua and his disciples, which apparently takes place in Jerusalem.
This account changes the time of day, from after 6:00 PM on Saturday in the Matthew account to sometime before sunrise on Sunday morning here in Luke.
So the text is contradictory on where and when these first encounters took place. There are a bunch of different possible ways this reconciles. The editors either added these encounters at Jerusalem or added this directive to go to Galilee or they changed the location of those encounters.
Can we ascribe motives to editors for inventing stories of Joshua encounters at Jerusalem? Or moving accounts of otherwise inspired encounters to Jerusalem? Of course.
Ananias wants Jerusalem as the center of this budding sect. The editor's hands on these stories does not happen until after the 'Jerusalem Council' perhaps 15 years later. They know this movement cannot be stopped, but they can repurpose it to their own ends.
Just moving stories to Jerusalem is working to their ends. They may go further, and add disputes against leaders at Jerusalem in order to reinforce their non-inspired idea that Jerusalem rules. This makes Christianity a sect of Nebuchadnezzar's religion, not a recovery of the inspired way to escape endless reincarnation here on earth.
So the Jerusalem Council, itself, is now suspect as to location. Maybe it was really a Capernaum Council? Depending on the contents of that house there may have been no choice but to meet there.
After the disciples returned to Galilee, Peter decides to go catch fish. The tone of this story is Peter's despair. He now owns what was Joshua's house. He will need to pay the next tax bill. Having been involved previously, he knows how that goes. He also fears being crucified himself as Joshua was. (See Matt. 16 for more.)
Peter decides to return to the job he knows, fishing.
The other disciples are not sure what to do either. So they go with Peter. Joshua eventually appears. Peter is given charge over what was Joshua's ministry at his own house in Capernaum. Peter will now 'feeds sheep' to use an idiom for this work.
We suspect that house in Capernaum was the inspired alternative to the Synagogue system. The editor motive for making textual changes in the Gospels was not just to draw Christianity back to Jerusalem and its children, the synagogue system. Modern churches are simply a rebranded form of Jewish synagogues.
The editors were trying to hide as many details as they could about how public meetings are to work and how their meeting houses are set up. A massive example is their tax paying nature as explained in Matt. 17:24-27.
That example shows how the tax authorities knew Joshua as a tax paying master of a house. He was paying the taxes of both himself and his disciples. This reinforces the idea that he was not always itinerant. He was on the local tax roles.
Joshua also explains in that passage how only sons of the king do not pay taxes. As he is not such a son, he pays taxes. (Tax exempt charities exist to fix problems created by kings and their priests.)
Depending on how the text was tampered this may have also been a place of public meetings. It may have been the place of Pentecost.
Anything on the timeline ahead of year 30 would have been at Capernaum too.
Peter's later Epistles would be informed by running that house for many years after Joshua's departure. He may be giving more clues as to the place, the contents, purpose, and leadership style.
We are working through the text with this place as our working center of Joshua's adult life and ministry. Expect to see changes in the TT as we continue to work this out.