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Galilee, Sea of

(462 words)

Author(s): Zangenberg, Jürgen
[German Version] (Kinneret, Gennesaret, Tiberias). With dimensions of approx 21×12 km (surface area 170 km2) and approx 4 billion m3 of water, the Sea of Galilee (Heb. יָם כִּנֶּרֶת/ yām kinneret, Num 34:11; Gk ϑάλασσα τῆς Γαλιλαίας/ thálassa tḗs Galilaías, Matt 4:18, etc.; Arab. baḥret ṭabariye) is the largest freshwater sea in the Levant. Fed by the Jordan, its water level hovers around -209 m, its depth totals approx 24 m (max. 43 m). The oldest traces of settlement in the region date back to the early Paleolithic. Because of the wealt…


(214 words)

Author(s): Zangenberg, Jürgen
[German Version] (et-Tabgha, from Gk ἑπτάπηγον/ heptápēgon, “seven springs”) is the name of the littoral area of the Sea of Galilee (Galilee, Sea of) three km southwest of Capernaum. In New Testament times used for agriculture (Jos. Bell. III 519), from the mid-4th century on, it was associated with NT episodes (Mark 6:35–44 parr.; John 21) and Beatitudes (first attested for Egeria in Peter the Deacon, De locis sanctis 5.2f.), probably because it was easily accessible to pilgrims; an unbroken local Jewish Christian tradition is most unlikely. By 350 ce there was already a church the…


(123 words)

Author(s): Zangenberg, Jürgen
[German Version] The village (κώμη/ kōmē, Jos. Vita LXIV, 206) of Κανά (τῆς Γαλιλαίας)/ Kaná ( tēs Galilaías; from Heb. קָנֶה/ qāneh, “reed”?) is to be identified with the site of Ḫirbet Qana and lies on the northern slope of the Bet Netofa Valley. According to Josh 19:28, Cana belonged to the tribe of Asher (Tribes of Israel). The New Testament mentions it only in John 2:1, 11; 4:46; 21:2, while Jewish sources locate the priestly family of Eliashib in Cana. Excavations have uncove…


(357 words)

Author(s): Zangenberg, Jürgen
[German Version] The ancient city of Tiberias (Τιβεριάς) was founded in 19/20 ce by Herod Antipas on top of an abandoned cemetery; it was named after the emperor Tiberius ( Jos. Ant. XVIII 36–38). It is situated on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee (Galilee, Sea of), north of ᾿Αμμαϑοῦς/ Ammathoús (Pliny the Elder, Naturalis historia V 71; Jos. Vita 85; Hammat Tiberias), already settled in the 2nd century bce, and south of the modern city of Tiberias, founded in 1099 by the Crusaders. The first city in the region to be both Hellenistic and Jewish, it had a pa…

Dead Sea

(333 words)

Author(s): Zangenberg, Jürgen
[German Version] Belonging geologically to the Syrian rift as the continuation of the course of the Jordan River, the Dead Sea constitutes the lowest point on earth (approx. 400 m below sea level). With a length of approx. 85 km and a breadth of 17.5 km, it covers a surface of approx. 10,000 km2. Its northern basin reaches 400 m in depth, the portion south of the Lisan peninsula is flat and, today, almost dried up. Although the high salt content (28–33% instead of …

Jordan (River)

(353 words)

Author(s): Zangenberg, Jürgen
[German Version] The Jordan (Heb.הַיַּרְדֵּן/ hayyarden, Gk ὁ ἰορδάνης/ ho iordánēs, Arab. al-urdunn; etymology disputed), divided into the upper and lower Jordan Valley, flows through the central Palestinian section of the Syro-African rift. With its four sources springing from the Hermon massif, with Lake Huleh, the Sea of Galilee (Galilee, Sea of), and especially the tributaries from the east, Yarmuk and Jabbok, and the Dead Sea (with the Arnon and the Zered) at its end, it is the largest inland water sy…


(366 words)

Author(s): Zangenberg, Jürgen
[German Version] Nazareth, Greek Ναζαρέτ (or – ρέϑ, – ρά), Hebrew נצרת, situated at an elevation of about 540 m some six km south of Sepphoris, first appears in the New Testament as the home of Jesus and his parents, Joseph and Mary (Matt 2:23; Mark 1:9; Luke 1:26; 2:4; John 1:45f.; etc.). There are no earlier references to it, nor does Josephus mention it. In the time of Jesus, Nazareth was an agricultural village, with a population of barely 400. After the Bar Kokhba Revolt, the priestly Happizzez family relocated to Nazareth (inscription from the 3rd or 4th cent.ce found at Caesarea; Mishm…


(526 words)

Author(s): Zangenberg, Jürgen | Schwemer, Anna Maria
[German Version] I. Archaeology Tarsus (Ταρσοί, Xenophon, Anabasis I 2,23; ἡ Ταρσός, Arrian, Anabasis II 4.5), city west of the Cilician Gates (Cilicia; for location see Asia Minor, map). Thanks to its situation on the navigable lower reaches of the Cydnus and at the crossroads of the routes between Antioch and the Aegean and from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, Tarsus had always served as a bridge between East and West. The finds of Goldman, especially pottery from the 1st millennium bce, for which there had long been no comparative material, are presently being evaluate…


(202 words)

Author(s): Zangenberg, Jürgen
[German Version] Magdala (Gk Ταριχέαι/ Tarichéai or Μάγδαλα; Aram. מִגְדַּל־נוּנַיָּא/ migdal nûnayyāʾ; Arab. el-Mejdel) lies on the northwest coast of the Sea of Galilee; Strabo (XVI 2.45) already mentions it in the 1st century bce as a prosperous Jewish city. Mary Magdalene, a disciple of Jesus, came from Magdala (Mark 15:47; Luke 8:2; John 20:1). Fortified in the First Jewish Revolt (Jos. Bell. II 606–609), Magdala was the site of a famous sea battle ( Bell. III 462–542). Excavations have revealed the remains of a small Hellenistic (cf. its Gk and Sem. names) city of…


(1,337 words)

Author(s): Berlejung, Angelika | Zangenberg, Jürgen
[German Version] I. Ancient Near East and Old Testament A symbol of lordship (of humans or gods [Insignia] found in pictorial art and literary sources of the Ancient Near East and Egypt (less often as an archeological discovery). Portable thrones enable mobility. The earliest evidence of a throne from Çatal Hüyük shows the neolithic mother-god on a Felide throne. Egyptian throne-forms from the Old Kingdom to the New include the cube-shaped block with a short back (from the 1st dynasty) and the lion thron…


(227 words)

Author(s): Zangenberg, Jürgen
[German Version] Although sherds from between 3000 and 2000 bce document earlier habitation (no Iron Age remains have been found), Capernaum (Gk Καφαρναούμ/ Kapharnaoúm, Heb. כֶפַּר נַתוּם/kepar naḍûm, Arab. Telḍum) was apparently founded only in the 5th century bce; with the advantages of the long-distance route running through it and the fertility of the area, Capernaum grew steadily. Capernaum reached its floruit in the Byzantine period, when it had approx. 1500 inhabitants; from the 9th century the settlemen…

Simon Magus/Simonians.

(427 words)

Author(s): Zangenberg, Jürgen
[German Version] We know little about Simon’s life. According to Just. 1 Apol. 26.1, he came from Gitta, on the western edge of the Samarian hills; under Claudius (41–54) he appeared in Rome, where he “performed feats of magic by means of art given him by demons” and “was considered a god” ( Just. 1 Apol. 26 and 56; Dial. 120.6). Displays of power, the claim to be “something great,” and the acclamation “this is the power of God, which is called great” characterize Simon’s religiosity (cf. Acts 8:9–24). In the light of Acts 8, it is reasonable to associ…