In a House in Capernaum: Encountering the Foreign Characters of the New Testament

The companion course to In the Valley of Elah: Encountering the Foreign Characters of the Old Testament, In a House in Capernaum focuses on the archaeological, geographical and cultural backgrounds of the New Testament by discussing the individual characters who either authored or were described by its texts.  Please check my availability below if you are interested in hosting this adult bible study in your community.

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Study introduction

The essential unit of Israelite culture since the time of the patriarchs was the bet av (“house of the father”). The ideal life was made up of a patriarch living with his wife (or wives), and his sons and their wives, down to the fourth generation — all on a single parcel of land, frequently in a single home. The home was the primary place culture and faith could be recreated and passed down.

The home served a second purpose though. The home was the essential unit in matters of foreign affairs. A foreigner, widow, orphan, or alien did not seek refuge in a government storehouse or FEMA trailer, they sought to be the honored guests of individual hosts in their private homes.

By the time of the first century, particularly in Hellenized areas of Galilee, many urban homes had been organized into what were known to the romans as insulae. In Rome, the insulae were considered the slums, but in backwater Capernaum, the insulae lay over the bet av family structure. What would have been a complex of apartments for unrelated families in Rome, was turned into a complex of rooms for a single extended family in Capernaum.

One such house in Capernaum, was the home of Peter, his wife, his mother-in-law and likely, his brother Andrew. As it just so happens, it also became the base of operations for Jesus in Galilee. It was a home that would see all sorts of foreign guests knock on its door:

  • Roman centurions
  • Pharisees
  • God fearing gentiles
  • Tax collectors
  • Lepers
  • Fishermen,
  • Paralytics,
  • Disciples and
  • mobs of Sidonians, Galilleans, Judeans, Hellenists, and Jews;

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, that same house in Capernaum would become, perhaps the first house-church, welcoming tens, or hundreds of new people to “the way” made possible by Christ.

Foreign to one another, they would all come to encounter each other around Jesus in a house in Capernaum.

Join Us

We too are foreign to that world. In order to better understand the foreign characters of the New Testament we will have to become honored guests of a gracious host in that same house in Capernaum.

In a House In Capernaum explores the where, when and how of the biblical text in hopes of encountering the characters of the New Testament in their own time and place. It is designed to introduce you to the the archaeological, geographical and cultural realities faced by people like:

  • Herod the Great
  • Mary and Joseph
  • Peter
  • A madman from the decapolis
  • Judas
  • Cornelius
  • Paul, and
  • A Jewish Rabbi named Jesus

Three delivery formats are available

Eight week adult bible study

Each week we will encounter a new character from the New Testament in his/her original and ancient archaeological, cultural, and geographic setting. The course is designed so that each session is a stand-alone unit.

Weekend seminar

We will encounter the foreign characters of the new Testastament in two three hour sessions of in depth study time.  Depending on what best serves your community this could be accomplished on a Friday night / Saturday morning schedule, or in a single day.

One night Bible Study

This is the two hour crash course. We will focus on encountering just one or two of the interesting characters of the new testament in their original setting. This is a great way to introduce your community to the transformation that comes with realizing that these characters were real people, who lived in real places, in real times.

If you would like to host “In a house in Capernaum” in any of the formats above, you can start the conversation by checking my availability below.


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If you are interested in In the Valley of Elah: Encountering the foreign Characters of the Old Testament you can find the details here.

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