Is Bethsaida—the hometown of the apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip, and the site where Jesus fed the five thousand—one place or two? Volunteers can have a crack at this archaeological mystery by joining the Bethsaida dig, scheduled for this summer by the Golan Research Institute and Haifa University.
Known as the “place of the nets,” Bethsaida almost certainly lay on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee in New Testament times. But whereas John’s gospel places it in the Galilee (John 12:21), to the west of the Jordan River, other sources, including the historian Josephus, put it in the non-Jewish lands to the east of the Jordan. Because the other evangelists seem ambivalent, modern scholars resolve the confusion by postulating that there were in fact two Bethsaidas in relatively close proximity.
From June 16 through July 15, 1988, archaeologists intend to carry out a regional study of the whole Bethsaida plain to explore the two contending sites. The participation fee for volunteers, who will be accommodated in a youth hostel, will be announced shortly.
Contact: Dr. Rami Arav, Golan Research Institute, Qasrin P.O. Box 97–12900, Israel.