Israel plans to relocate the ancient Christian mosaic bearing an early reference to Jesus as God from where it is believed to be very close to the location of the promised Armageddon to the Museum of the Bible in Washington.
The Megiddo Mosaic in northern Israel is thought to be the world’s oldest Christian prayer hall. It is said to have been buried there since the third century. It was found by local archaeologists in 2005. The mosaic contains a Greek inscription that reads “To God Jesus Christ.”
However, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) is contemplating lending the historic artifact which is located on a site planned for a prison expansion for Palestinian inmates, to US Museum, reports AP.
The officials told the Associated Press it plans to consult with an advisory board before deciding on whether to go ahead with the potential deal.
The prospective relocation has raised controversy within the academic and religious bodies. While some suggest that doing so would strengthen relations between Israelis and American evangelical Christians and would serve to advance the “Christian nationalist” viewpoints that the Bible museum is accused of promoting.
“My worry is that this mosaic will lose its actual historical context and be given an ideological context that continues to help the museum tell its story,” said Cavan Concannon, a religion professor at the University of Southern California.
The Museum of the Bible faced criticism for its previous purchase methods and for promoting evangelical religion. In 2018 it returned an ancient Mesopotamian tablet discovered in 1853 and stolen from the Iraqi museum after over 30 years.
The chief curator of the Museum of the Bible, Jeffrey Kloha responded to the criticism by telling a news outlet that the “museum initiated returns where appropriate to countries of origin without obligation to do so and encourages other institutions to do the same.”