Galilee is one of the most evocative locales in the New Testament—the area where Jesus was raised, where many of the Apostles came from, and where Jesus first began to preach. We’ve selected a number of articles to widen your knowledge of this important region, focusing on how Jewish the area was in Jesus’ time, on the ports and the fishing industry that were so central to the region, and on several sites where Jesus likely stayed and preached.

The articles below were hand-selected by Biblical Archaeology Society editors especially for members of the BAS Library.

Scroll down to read a summary of these articles.


When Jesus walked through the towns and cities of Galilee, did he encounter mostly Jews or gentiles? Excavations reveal widespread Hellenistic and Roman culture in Galilee after Jesus’ lifetime. In “How Jewish Was Jesus’ Galilee?” Mark Chancey highlights Galilean archaeology to confirm that the majority of the inhabitants in Jesus’s time were, in fact, Jewish.

Why did Jesus establish his ministry in provincial Galilee rather than populous Jerusalem, the hub of political and religious power? In “Why Jesus Went Back to Galilee” Jerome Murphy-O’Connor suggests that only a compelling commitment to something—or someone—in the north can explain the decision.

In “The Galilee Boat—2,000-Year-Old Hull Recovered Intact” Shelley Wachsmann details the discovery of an ancient boat from Jesus’ lifetime discovered in the Sea of Galilee. Jesus probably sailed the Sea of Galilee in a boat like this; so did Jews who fought the Romans in the battle of Magdala during the First Jewish Revolt.

Excavations beneath an octagon-shaped building in Capernaum rumored to be St. Peter’s house may have uncovered his actual home, according to James F. Strange and Hershel Shanks in the article “Has the House Where Jesus Stayed in Capernaum Been Found?”

In “Synagogue Where Jesus Preached Found at Capernaum” Strange and Shanks continue their Capernaum research to suggest that a building beneath the famous synagogue may have been the first-century synagogue in which Jesus preached and taught.


How Jewish Was Jesus’ Galilee?
Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 2007 By Mark Chancey

The pendulum is beginning to swing back again. Before 20th-century archaeologists began uncovering it, Jesus’ Galilee was generally considered rural Jewish terrain. Then archaeologists made some astounding finds. Excavations at Sepphoris, less than 4 miles from Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth, revealed inscriptions in Greek, Roman architecture and some breathtaking Greco-Roman art, including the […]

Why Jesus Went Back to Galilee
Bible Review, February 1996 By Jerome Murphy-O’Connor

Why did Jesus go back to preach in Galilee? The question may seem a silly one. After all, he was a native of Nazareth in Galilee, and it was natural that he should preach to his own people. The prophet Amos, however, came from Tekoa (Amos 1:1), a village that differed little from […]

The Galilee Boat—2,000-Year-Old Hull Recovered Intact
Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 1988 By Shelley Wachsmann

A severe drought gripped Israel in 1985 and 1986. The winter rains barely came. Water was pumped from the Sea of Galilee to irrigate parched fields throughout the country. Predictably, the Kinneret (the Hebrew name of the freshwater inland lake also known as the Sea of Galilee) shrank. Wide expanses of lakebed, normally covered […]

Synagogue Where Jesus Preached Found at Capernaum
Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 1983 By James F. Strange , Hershel Shanks

The first-century Capernaum synagogue in which Jesus preached has probably been found. Because more than one synagogue may have existed in Capernaum at this time, we cannot be sure that this new find was Jesus’ synagogue. But this recently discovered first-century building is certainly a likely candidate.a At the moment, the synagogue is not a […]

Has the House Where Jesus Stayed in Capernaum Been Found?
Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 1982 By James F. Strange , Hershel Shanks

Italian archaeologists claim to have discovered the house were Jesus stayed in Capernaum. Proof positive is still lacking and may never be found, but all signs point to the likelihood that the house of St. Peter where Jesus stayed, near Capernaum’s famous synagogue, is an authentic relic. Nestled on the northwest shore of the […]