The “Burnt Church” in Hippos is believed to have been burnt down some 1,400 years ago, but the ash from the fire has helped preserve the mosaic allowing archaeologists to uncover it. The feeding of the 5,000 is mentioned by all four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). Luke says the event took place near Bethsaida in which Jesus fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish.
Traditionally, people believe the miracle took place near the Church of Multiplication in Tabhga on the northwest side of the Sea of Galilee.
However, this new finding could point to it taking place near Hippos.
Speaking to Cbn, Dr Matthew Eisenberg, who was part of the team, said: “There can certainly be different explanations to the descriptions of loaves and fish in the mosaic, but you cannot ignore the similarity to the description in the New Testament: for example, from the fact that the New Testament has a description of five loaves in a basket or the two fish depicted in the apse, as we find in the mosaic.”
Matthew and Mark also share a story that Jesus fed 4,000 with seven loaves and a few small fish in a separate miracle.
Dr Eisenberg said: “Nowadays, we tend to regard the Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha on the north-west of the Sea of Galilee as the location of the miracle, but with careful reading of the New Testament it is evident that it might have taken place north of Hippos within the city’s region.
“According to the scripture, after the miracle Jesus crossed the water to the north-west of the Sea of Galilee, to the area of Tabgha/Ginosar, so that the miracle had to take place at the place where he began the crossing rather than at the place he finished it.
“In addition, the mosaic at the Church of Multiplication has a depiction of two fish and a basket with only four loaves , while in all places in the New Testament which tell of the miracle, there are five loaves of bread, as found in the mosaic in Hippos.”
Further supporting the Hippos theory is there are 12 baskets in the mosaic, the same number the disciples were supposedly left with.
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He added: “We will finish the excavation and cleaning of the remaining twenty percent of the mosaic and will carefully examine this assumption.”
“The fish themselves have a number of additional symbolical meaning in the Christian world, and their interpretation requires caution.”
Two Greek inscriptions have also been found on the mosaic.
The first discusses the fathers of the church, Theodoros and Petros creating a sanctuary in honour of a Christian martyr.
The second reveals his name as Theodoros but offered little background information.
Christianity is the largest religion in the world.
Some sources estimate it to have 2.4 billion followers worldwide.
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The most prevalent religion in Asia is Islam.
Israel itself is noted for being home to plenty of sites of important religious significance.
Jerusalem is considered a holy city in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.