Israel Lends Greek 'Jesus Mosaic' From Armageddon to Controversial U.S. Bible Museum

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In a significant cultural exchange, Israel has decided to loan the Megiddo Mosaic, an ancient and crucial Christian artefact, to the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. This decision, however, is not without controversy.

The mosaic, discovered in 2005 within the confines of a northern Israeli maximum-security prison, adorned one of the oldest Christian prayer halls ever unearthed. This historic piece, dated around 230 C.E., includes an early reference to Jesus as God, making it a precious testimony from a period when Christianity was still emerging within the Roman Empire. For years, the mosaic remained hidden from public view due to its location within the prison grounds.

Is4Last week, Israeli expert conservators completed the delicate task of packing and transporting the Megiddo Mosaic. This artefact will be on display for nine months at the evangelical-backed Museum of the Bible, marking its first public exhibition. The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) noted that the mosaic is undergoing conservation treatment before its journey.

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The Museum of the Bible, funded by evangelical Christian donors, has faced criticism for its acquisition practices and its religious agenda. Critics argue that the museum promotes a specific religious ideology and has previously displayed artifacts of dubious provenance. Notably, in 2017, Hobby Lobby, the chain owned by the museum's founders, was fined for smuggling ancient tablets out of Iraq.

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The Megiddo Mosaic’s loan to this institution underscores Israel's strengthening cultural and political ties with evangelical groups in the United States. Some scholars express concern that the artefact's historical context might be overshadowed by the museum's ideological narrative.

The site of Megiddo, also known as Armageddon in Greek and Christian tradition, holds significant prophetic importance for many evangelicals who believe it to be the location of the final battle between good and evil at the end of times. This connection further amplifies the mosaic's symbolic value to the museum’s evangelical audience.

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The temporary exhibition in Washington, D.C., is seen as a potential opportunity to raise awareness about the Megiddo sites. It is hoped that this high-profile loan will draw attention to the need for conservation and the ultimate goal of displaying the mosaic within its original archaeological context.

(Haaretz)

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