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Written in Byzantine period Greek, they are “full of mistakes in Greek,” he said.
But beyond their names, there are other reasons why the archaeologist believes the villagers were originally pagan, including the types of pottery found onsite, as well as remnants of pagan temples.
This ideological conflict laid ground for a decades-long battle and eventual schism in the Byzantine period church.
Associates of Nestorius such as Irenaeus saw their fates rise and fall alongside their friend.
Until the discovery of the mosaic this summer, it was unclear in which year Irenaeus was ordained as bishop of Tyre.
According to the 2011 anthology, “Episcopal Elections in Late Antiquity,” a date of circa 445 is often given.
“In one church we had three pedestals which were reused in the building of the church in the walls,” he said.
One had an image within a wreath, which for archaeologists is a very clear sign of pagan influence, he said.However, since he was historically thought to be exiled along with Nestorius to Petra for 12 years in 436 — “along with two horses to carry their luggage” — the authors present a strong case for a later date.The newly discovered mosaic, whose inscription provides the date of the church’s completion as 445, accords Irenaeus the title of “episkopos” or bishop of Tyre, capital of Phoenice.According to a recent article in Christianity Today, “in the upper echelons of society, women often converted to Christianity while their male relatives remained pagans, lest they lose their senatorial status.This too contributed to the inordinate number of women in the church, particularly upper-class women.” The idea of an independent women of means in rural Western Galilee came as a surprise to archaeologist Aviam, who heads the Institute for Galilean Archaeology.“They are local people,” said Aviam, “who probably couldn’t bring the best artists, and as a result one sees many mistakes.” For the most part, the names listed in the inscriptions are of local people, mostly of Greater Syrian origin, and some with a marked Phoenician influence.