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(8/2019) New church found with decoration alluding to the “miracles of the multiplication of Loaves and fish”

hippos burnt church aerial

Aerial view of the “Burnt Church” discovered in Hippos-Sussita. (C) M. Eisenberg.

 In a recent article in “Haaretz” a sensational new discovery was presented – a mosaic floor of another church found in Hippos-Sussita . A discovery of an ancient church is not that rare, and four churches were already discovered in Sussita alone, but this was the first to be found at the site with an almost complete mosaic floor intact, and its decoration include fish and baskets, two of baskets even bearing 5  loaves of bread, matching the textual description of the “Miracle of the mulitplication of the loaves and fish (Mark 6). 

hippos burnt church bread and basket mosaic

Detail in the “Burnt House” in Hippos-Sussita showing a basket with five round loaves of bread, and image that is possibly linked to the “Miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and Fish (Mark 6). (c) M. Eisenberg

While it is indeed tempting to suggest that the church was commemorating the miraculous event, one should remember that:

A. The text specifically says that the miracle took place in a “deserted area” (Greek: EREMOS), not in a city (Mark 6:35).

B. The 12 baskets were filled with the left over of the meal, meaning fish and bread (only), not fruits, as appears in the mosaic.

sussita cathedral

Remains of the ancient Cathedral uncovered in Sussita in the 1970’s. Its pillars all fell in the same direction as a result of the devastating earthquake from January 18th 749 CE.

C. The basket at the other site of Tabgha indeed shows only four loaves, but it is presumed that a fifth real loaf of bread was presented on the altar of the church, and given to the visiting pilgrims. 

I believe that the church was commemorating the event indeed, but by being at a site where one could see, in the distance, where the miracle took place, i.e. Tabgha.

But the church was NOT claiming to be at the actuall spot where the miracle tool place.