Magdala: A Galilean Town

BY LARRY HURTADO on March 5, 2019

For anyone seriously interested in Galilee in the time of Jesus, the recently published multi-author volume edited by Richard Bauckham is a must-read:  Magdala of Galilee: A Jewish City in the Hellenistic and Roman Period (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2018; the publisher’s online description here.)

Magdala is of particular interest for students of the Gospels on account of Mary (the) Magdalene, whose sobriquet indicates that she came from Magdala.  It was a town on the western shore of Lake Genessaret/Galilee, whose main industry during the early first century CE was fishing and the related preparation of fish for export.

In recent decades there have been some intensive archaeological projects conducted on the site of ancient Magdala, and this book harvests the results.  The lead essay is a 67 pp. summary of matters by Bauckham:  “Magdala as We Now Know It:  An Overview.”  There follow detailed studies of the particular discoveries:  “The Harbor” (Anna Lena), “Domestic and Mercantile Areas” (Marcela Zapata-Meza), “The Domestic Miqva’ot” (Ronny Reich and Marcela Zapata-Meza), “The Synagogue” (Mordechai Aviam), “The Synagogue Stone” (Mordechai Aviam and Richard Bauckham), “Magdala and Trade” (Santiago Guijarro), “Magdala and the Fishing Industry” (Richard Bauckham), “Magdala/Taricheae and the Jewish Revolt” *(Morten Hørning Jensen), “Magdala in the List of the Twenty-Four Priestly Settlements” (Richard Bauckham), “Magdala in Rabbinic Literature” (Richard Bauckham), and “The Prosopography of Magdala” (Richard Bauckham).  There are also maps of sites around Lake Genessaret, plus 49 illustrations.

Read more on Larry Hurtado’s blog