SENTINEL 5-3-2012
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Martyrs, Meetings, & Movies

Proof of Jesus Series: Article 4

The Firpo Files

(Sentinel, May 3, 2012)

Tomorrow is the release of the sci-fi action movie The Avengers (2012), starring Marvel superheroes Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow as they battle the sinister Loki.

It's already a megahit in Europe, and is expected to dethrone Steve Harvey's hit romantic comedy Think Like a Man (2012), which has topped the box office for two weeks straight.

While Harvey's offering is closer to reality, fan groups (who convene on a regular basis) of Marvel's superheroes know that these characters never existed.

Conversely, followers of the very real Super Hero of all of mankind living now and who has ever lived, Jesus of Nazareth, have been regularly convening for nearly two thousand years; sometimes under threat of death.  (Fans of mythical or imaginary superheroes are not likely to meet under such circumstances.)

In the April 19, 2012, issue of the Sentinel, Article 3 of the Proof of Jesus Series (entitled, "Jesus Christ & the Fishy Tax Story?") appeared wherein environmental and governmental factors in connection with what Jesus of Nazareth discussed combined to authenticate the reliability of his existence as recorded by Gospel writer Matthew. But where did Jesus' followers meet?

First-Century ‘Church-Houses': Early Christians met in houses to worship.  (Hebrews 10:23-25) For example, the apostle Paul sent greetings to the Christian couple Prisca and Aquila, as well as to "the congregation that is in their house."--Acts 16:3-5; 1 Corinthians 16:19, New World Translation.

He also sent greetings to "Nympha and to the congregation at her house" (Colossians 4:15); and wrote to Philemon and the congregation that met in his house. (Philemon 1, 2) Some homes were presumably quite large.  (Acts 4:23, 31; 12:12) Recent excavations bear this out.

Second & Third Centuries: "During the second and third centuries, Christian pilgrims incised graffiti into the plaster walls of the house-church," says the book Evidence for the Historical Jesus (2011).

"Writing, including the name of Peter and invocations to Jesus, was found on 134 fragments of plaster recovered from these walls."

Interestingly, on the walls of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses are "writings" in the form of a scriptural yearly text. Around 380 CE, one observer said she saw a first-century house that "has been made into a church, with its original walls still standing."

Of another site, Evidence reports: "The church in question was centered on one room of the block beneath. This room is 7.0 by 6.5 meters, large for an ancient house....

"The lowest floors of this room had early Roman pottery and coins sealed between them, which must mean that the founding and earliest use of this room, and therefore of the entire block of houses, was in the first century B.C.E.

"Either late in the first century or early in the second century C.E. this room received extensive interior remodeling: The floors were renewed several times and plastered, as were the walls.

"Sometime before the fourth century C.E. the pottery ceased to be simply domestic items. Ceramics discovered here dated after the first century tend to be storage jars and other ‘public' wares."

Fourth & Fifth Centuries: "The remains of such a church from the fourth and fifth century have been excavated at Capernaum," declares Evidence.

"Directly beneath the church are the remains of an insula which revealed continuous occupation from the time of Jesus to the time the church was built. (Eleven levels of floors were revealed.)

"Additional walls and rooms were added to the first insula to form what apparently was a house-church."

"Holy Sites": Interestingly, Constantine's mother was the first on record to construct a church building over a ‘holy site.'

"Queen Helena, the mother of Constantine, had a church built over the site that had been indicated as the dwelling of Jesus' family.

"It was her practice to erect churches over sites mentioned in the gospels in order to preserve their memory.

"Through the ages, the Roman Catholic Church has continued the tradition whenever a church is destroyed by building a succeeding church where the previous one stood."

To Die For: Banned Christians today meet under threat of death and/or imprisonment from governments and regimes that oppose their work.

Followers of Jesus Christ have been both incarcerated and executed.

And while superheroes and super-villains capture the imagination of millions, and enthusiasts form clubs that meet online and elsewhere around the world, an infinitesimally small few would be willing to die either for Thor, or the Fantastic Four, of comic book lore.  

Stay tuned for Article 5.