This blog looks at Capernaum, a village on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. This is where Joshua lived as an adult. By starting with a tour on the ground we can make sense of a few more stories. We finish up with project status.
Sea Of Galilee
The ancient village of Capernaum is on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is also called Lake Tiberius or Kinneret. It is a fresh water lake, the lowest fresh water lake on Earth. The lake level is around 700 feet below sea level.
That lake is at the north end of the Jordan River valley. The Jordan river itself flows down from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is around 1400 feet below sea level. These are both quite some distance below sea level.
The Sea of Galilee has also traditionally marked the border with Syria. The Golan Heights are on the north/east shore of the lake. This was Syrian territory before the 1967 war. These areas are now controlled by modern Israel.
To get a feel for Capernaum as a place on the ground, here is a link to a walking tour of Capernaum as it stands today.
This link is to another video by Zahi Shaked, the same guide as in last week's video. Across 32 minutes he gives some tourists to Israel a feel for the modern remains of Capernaum.
The first point of interest is the north shoreline of the lake itself. You can see the hills rising on the far south shoreline. Straight across is a gap in the hills, this is the exit of the lake down into the Jordan river valley.
For readers who know the Columbia River Gorge, the 2 locations look very similar.
All the fishermen in the New Testament are basically working this lake and look to be based at Capernaum.
Shaked points out some important context to Capernaum. He calls it out as the town of the ancient border crossing into the region of Syria. So part of the function of this town was to collect import duties for goods crossing through this place along the road linking these 2 different regions. He points out it was an excellent place to live if you needed a quick escape from local officials.
Shaked shows the 'floating church' — a building suspended on stilts above ruins of a church. That church itself was built atop ruins of Peter's House. The modern floating church design was chosen to not disturb the ruins of that ancient church. By construction style you can tell the floating church is a relatively recent building.
You can see in the video the ruins of an octagon shaped church under the floating church. Nearly all early churches were of this design. The octagon shape used by church buildings in that era might be getting inspiration from the crown tabernacle item. That item would sit in a central spot in any sort of larger collection of items. Note that it is not much bigger than a modern 2 car garage.
The part of the ruins thought to be Peter's house itself are significantly larger than the church ruins. The church was built in the middle of those house remains at some point later in history. Again perhaps built where the crown item was located.
Shaked then shows off more ruins of the ancient village of Capernaum. It appears to have been a warren of small structures. The ancient builders of Capernaum used black stone. That stone color marks the oldest construction in Capernaum.
Shaked then shows the location of the Capernaum Synagogue. It sits east of Peter's House. That location has had 2 different structures, one older than the other.
The older Synagogue structure was built in black stone, typical of the other oldest structures in the town. It is lower and nearest to the ground. The newer Synagogue is built in the same footprint as the remains of the older and it is built in white stone. Shaked ends his tour showing the inside of the remains of the newer Synagogue in Capernaum.
This second video is by Sergio and Rhoda. It is also of Capernaum, but it uses a drone. It is shorter, only 10 minutes long. I have included it here because the drone does a much better job of showing the overall map of Capernaum.
There is an Israeli national park with a boat dock on the far east side of Capernaum. I would imagine that tour boats on the lake make stops here so tourists on boats can visit the Capernaum ruins. It is a short walk from there back to the floating church.
There is an Orthodox church and an un-excavated area of Capernam which you can see in this video too. Most of the main holy sites in that region have both Catholic and Orthodox representation. Capernaum seems to be no different.
This video also shows off the modern highway going past Capernaum. That road is up the hill from the shoreline. The ancient Roman road was closer to the shoreline. This was the trade route to Syria in ancient times.
With the tour finished, now let us turn to references to these places in the text.
The link here is to Matthew 4:13 in the BRB. This is where we learn how Joshua left Nazareth for Capernaum. It also references the borderlands nature of Capernaum itself. In the Matthew 4 case the border is said to be between Zebulun and Naphtali.
Though this is not a reference to the border with Syria, it is calling out the border nature of the town that Shaked speaks about in his video.
I have never heard anyone in Church circles discussing why we need to know that Capernaum was on a border. This detail of the town is significant enough to get called out. It does seem to inform certain passages.
The link here is to Matthew 8. It is a story of Joshua returning to Capernaum when he is approached by a centurion. He has a boy, presumably a young son, who is sick at home. The centurion is commended for his faith to not need Joshua to physically visit the boy in order for the boy to be healed.
Now think about Capernaum as a border city. Would there be a reason for a company of Roman troops to be stationed there? Yes. They would be charged with watching the border. That group might not be filled out to a full group of 100. This particular centurion might be the head border guard.
This line of reasoning agrees with the idea of the town being on the border. In this example we are applying that knowledge of the town to understand events going on there. Now, we can add another possible detail.
Perhaps the Centurion's house is across the border from Joshua's house. If so, then the centurion is offing this to Joshua in order to not trouble him in the formalities of a border crossing.
The link here is to a story early in Mark. Joshua has apparently returned to Capernaum after some amount of travel, and/or after calling some of his disciples.
It then discusses how Joshua taught in the Capernaum Synagogue on the Sabbath. That would be the black stoned structure seen in the ruins in the video.
Once you've seen the video and the size of that building, you can estimate that most of the town could have gathered there on any given Sabbath.
It may not be clear when reading the text exactly what Joshua's relationship was to the Synagogue there. He may have had better access to the floor than most visitors do in churches today. In any case, it is a reference to what we see on the ground in Capernaum. Luke 4 has a similar reference to the Capernaum Synagogue.
The link here is to Matthew 16:17-19. The conversation is not taking place in Capernaum. Joshua and his disciples are in Caesarea Philippi. In this passage Joshua tells Peter that he is giving Peter the keys to the kingdom.
Joshua is describing how Peter will be used to establish Joshua's assembly. It also is discussing the authority that Peter is given to bind and loose on land and in the skies.
It is likely the passage where Joshua is giving title to his house in Capernaum to Peter. All of the other disciples are witnesses to this event. This is the story of when Peter gained control of the place we see in the videos from Capernaum.
This last passage is where we think Peter is now running the house. Note that the passage in stock Bibles says they returned to Jerusalem. The edit here likely hiding a simpler fact that they just returned home. They returned to what is now Peter's house in Capernaum.
Peter is standing up to lead because he is the master of this house now that Joshua is ascended.
With these quotes we establish the chain from Joshua in Capernaum to Peter's House in Capernaum.
This is where Joshua lived for most of his adult life. This is where the tabernacle items were kept. This is where the Acts 15 council was later held.
Last week I discussed how the Jerusalem temple references in the early life of Joshua could have been venue shifted from the Gerizim temple. The Samaritan temple was just as large as the temple in Jerusalem and likely as well attended.
Note that today there are around 800 Samaritans still living in Israel. In the early 1900s their numbers had dropped to around 140. Around 1000 years ago they had around 1.5 million people living in the territory of today's modern Israel. They were a larger presence than the Jews and a competitor to them in terms of religion.
Besides shifting the temple at Gerizim to Jerusalem, other events could have been shifted to the Jerusalem area too. The Acts 15 council is perhaps the most important.
That chapter begins with the problem of men sent from Jerusalem who are trying to change the teaching of the disciples. As the chapter opens the villain of the story is someone in Jerusalem sending people out. That person is not mentioned by name in the Acts 15 intro.
Jerusalem is the counter city to the work done at Capernaum by Joshua and later Peter. It was the nemesis of the Samaritans.
So imagine that the Acts 15 council was held in Peter's house in Capernaum. Imagine that location was also where most of the NT was written. Does this make sense? Yes. It is highly likely there was a venue shift by NT editors to hide the degree to which this was a different movement.
Are there any clues in the text that would support that idea?
The link here is to Luke 2. Pay attention to the first paragraph in that chapter. It speaks of the census count that was called at the time of Caesar Augustus. It happened while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
If this is being written in a border town with Syria, then the governor in Syria is important to the people in the room. It is more important than the governor ruling over Jerusalem.
This is but 1 example that suggests the NT writers were thinking about the issues around Capernaum more so than issues around Jerusalem. It helps give support to the general idea that this was the center of the NT action.
The other curious feature of the modern ruins of Capernaum is the floating church located over the ruins of Joshua's house.
It has some resemblance to a UFO, or more abstractly a hollow moon. Seeing that church in the videos above made me think about Eden.
Joshua may well have inspired that design in the imagination of the modern builders so that it points up to the skies. A fitting marker for his house.
If there is a Qu Map across the lands of the text, then the 4 legs of that church would mark the 4 dots of the Quad on a Qu Map. The Quad on the Qu Map is of course Joshua's location, no matter the scale.
The bibletime.com website has been updated again this week. In particular the bible quote boxes now support their 2004 era function. In those days, and again now, visitors to the site can select the Bible version for all quotes. They can do this right at the quote in an easily discoverable way.
In those days each quote had a set of version tabs. It was in keeping with the tabbed style of the rest of the site. But, it was a little ponderous. We switched to a different style a few years later. That sleeker form is now used again. Available Bible versions are now shown in the border below the box. Click the version that is interesting and all quote boxes on the site switch to that version.
Bible Related Code
There is quite a bit of new code to make all this go. Many longstanding formatting bugs are now gone. We are setup to start adding new tags into the text as we find need.
We had expected to spend this week working through the TT versions of the code, but we were delayed. We found some places where code was guessing about how to make verse breaks. We don't like code making guesses and we wanted precise control of whatever might preceed verse markers in quoted text. An example of this is paragraph breaks, but there are other cases.
To remove this code completely required some fundamental changes to the file format we use for marking up Bibles. The files now define exactly where verse breaks are within the larger flow of tagged text. This now supports precise Bible text formatting throughout all of our apps and websites.
We spent the week working through all the details of getting these files converted and adjusting the code to match. Only the BRB is converted, others Bible versions should get converted next week.
I now expect to work through TT related tags next week, and I hope to get Ryan back to weekly updates on the scripture apps by the end of next week.
I would guess another week, but we will see. I will shift back to heavy 3d work once this new Bible related code is stable.
The new Voron made it through calibration this week. Doors went on Thursday. The first test prints were running by Thursday afternoon.
The instructions on calibration indicated that the printer also needs to be tuned. This is a step I have not seen with other printers that I have used in the past.
Printer specific tuning is needed in part because it was built from a kit. Every single copy is slightly different. Tuning will determine maximum possible print speeds on the machine. It should also fix some issues that I can see now on the first few prints that have come off the machine.
There are a few more mods that the printer itself will be printing. These next few prints should shake out any lingering build problems.