Nestorius was vilified for speaking against the “Theotokos,” the philosophy that Jesus’s mother Mary was the “God-bearer.” Instead, he promoted a radical idea that she gave birth to a human who was divine.
This ideological conflict laid ground for a decades-long battle and eventual schism in the Byzantine period church.
Working in tandem, the rare multidisciplinary partnership of scholars is drawing from their respective fields to paint a comprehensive picture of 4th-5th century Christian life in the region.
A newly uncovered mosaic in the western Galilee speaks to the relatively high status of women in the early Church.
Dating to the 5th century, a Greek-language inscription memorializes one “Sausann” (or Shoshana) as a donor for the construction of a village church.
According to the 2011 anthology, “Episcopal Elections in Late Antiquity,” a date of circa 445 is often given.
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.
In addition to Bishop Irenaeus, other insights into church hierarchy are gleaned from the inscriptions.
Listed names include deacons and a special bishop who wandered among the villages to answer religious problems, as well as another bishop who was responsible for their economic resources.
This Sausann is thought to have been a woman of some standing, perhaps following in the footsteps of her presumed namesake, the female disciple Susannah, who was among the women named in Luke 8:3 who provided for Jesus “out of their resources.” Get The Times of Israel's Daily Edition by email and never miss our top stories Free Sign Up The find buttresses the position taken by a growing number of early church scholars that women played an important role in its foundation.
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.
There are indications that the villagers were originally pagan converts, said Aviam.