Archaeologists in Israel have unearthed an ancient marble statue of a ram that is believed to be a representation of Jesus Christ for Christians during the Byzantine church era in Israel.
PLEASE NOTE: All throughout the Bible, JESUS is referred to as the “sacrificial lamb”, “the passover lamb”, or “lamb of God”, and nowhere in scripture is there ever a depiction of JESUS as a RAM.
Archaeologists found the statue on Thursday (Dec. 24), but they say its unclear whether it was carved by Byzantine artisans, or if it was made by Romans and then later repurposed by the Byzantine church, the Israel Antiquities Authority said.
“We found a marble statue of a ram that quite possibly dates back to the Roman era,” Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Peter Gendelman told Tazpit Press Service. “It’s a very interesting discovery and its level and status of preservation are quite rare.”
The researchers found the statue during the excavation of an ancient church in Caesarea Harbor National Park, a landmark about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Haifa. Several photos were posted of the well-preserved ram by the IAA.
“Caesarea never ceases to surprise, as evidenced by this amazing statue,” Peter Gendelman and Mohammad Hater, directors of the excavation working on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in a statement.
While Gendelman admitted it is hard to say precisely how old the statue is, he suggested it could be 1,500 years old, and that it might have been used as a decoration by a sixth or seventh century Byzantine church in Caesarea.
Despite the artifact’s age, the original carvings can still be seen on the 1.3-feet-tall by 1-foot-long statue (40 centimeters by 30 centimeters). The ram’s textured fleece and curly horns are visible, the archaeologists said.
“We know that Christianity adopted the lamb as a symbol of Jesus so it could very well be associated with the Christian community,” Gendelman added.
Another interesting note is that Cornelius, the first Roman officer who converted to Christianity, was originally from Caesarea.
Arutz Sheva reported that rams were a common Christian symbol during the time period. Rams, along with lambs, are frequently used in Christian art to represent faithful Christians, though sometimes it is also used to represent Jesus himself, the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement. Sometimes, ancient artisans depicted rams around the shoulders of Jesus. Other times, a ram is shown on the left or right of the “Good Shepherd,” depicting how he tended to his flock.
“In ancient Christianity, Jesus was not portrayed as a person,” Gendelman and Hater said. “Instead, symbols were used, one of which was the ram.”
It’s possible that ancient artists carved the ram for religious reasons, the archaeologists said. In the New Testament of the Bible, there is a verse that refers to Jesus as a lamb:
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29 KJV).
Rams have been used in pagan religions as well. Archaeologists have spotted rams alongside the Greek gods Hermes and Mercury, as well as the Egyptian god Amun, a deity associated with Egypt’s royalty.
“The statue that we found might have been part of the decoration of a Byzantine church from the sixth [to] seventh centuries C.E. at Caesarea,” Gendelman and Hater said. “By the same token, it could also be earlier, from the Roman period, and was [later] incorporated in secondary use in the church structure.”
“We know, for example, that the ram was a symbol of several deities from nearby ancient Egypt,” Gendelman noted.
Gendelman reflected that Jesus was not often portrayed as a person in early Christian art.
“It may or may not be a coincidence, but the statue was uncovered on Christmas Eve,” he added.
The archaeologist suggested that the statue could be even older than it seems, possibly from the Roman period, and that it was incorporated in secondary use in the church structure.
All throughout the Bible JESUS is only referred to as LAMB, never a ram. The lamb, is symbolic of Jesus, being the sinless Passover Lamb- a sacrifice for our sin. It was also clearly a symbol, an amazing fulfillment of prophecy.
Read the story: The Amazing Fulfillment of Prophecy: Jesus The Sinless Passover Lamb- A Sacrifice for Our Sin
Earlier in December, researchers announced another significant find concerning early Christian communities in Israel, with the discovery of Hebrew inscriptions on a 1,500-year-old slab of marble on the shores of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).
The inscriptions serve as evidence that the ancient village of Kursi near the lake was once inhabited by early Christians or Jews. Kursi is believed to be the town where Jesus once drove out demons from two possessed men, and sent them into a herd of pigs, as found in the Bible in Matthew 8:28-34.
“This is the first indication that there was a Jewish presence, and it reinforces the belief that the town of Kursi was where Jesus performed the ‘Miracle of the Swine,'” the team of researchers working at the site said.
Source: Christian Post and Lisa Muhar
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