Dr. Tom McCollough, expert New Testament archeologist, has long been skeptical of the location traditionally shown to Christian tourists as the site where Jesus turned water into wine.
In John 2, we’re told that Jesus performed this miracle at a wedding in “Cana of Galilee.”
According to McCollough, “When tourists visiting Israel today are taken to ‘Cana,’ they are taken to Kafr Kanna.”
“However, this site was not recognized as a pilgrimage site for those seeking Cana until the 1700s. At this point the Franciscans were managing Christian pilgrimage and facilitating easy passage rather than historical accuracy.”
And new evidence discovered by McCollough and his team in Israel suggests the site is actually in another ancient Jewish village called Khirbet Qana which existed between 323 BC and AD 324 but is now in ruins.
Among the ruins of this ancient village, McCullough and his team have unearthed an ancient site of worship for early Christians.
And what they’ve found there has convinced academics that Khirbet Qana is the true location where this miracle was performed.
The archeological site is a “veneration cave” clearly used for worship by early Christians. It is marked throughout with carvings of crosses and the name Lord Jesus. In addition, there is an altar and a shelf made specifically to hold six stone jars.
Only one of the six jars remains intact today, but the fact that it was originally intended to hold exactly six should be of significance to anyone familiar with the account in the Gospel of John.
“Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.” Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.’”
The presence of a shelf for six stone jars suggests that the early Christians who built this site of worship believed this to be the location where this miracle occurred.
And early Christians who had a closer knowledge of the history of the time have an increased credibility when determining these things.
In addition, McCullough strengthens his case with the fact that “this complex was used at the beginning of the late fifth or early 6th Century and continued to be used by pilgrims into the 12th Century Crusader period.
“The pilgrim texts we have from this period that describe what pilgrims did and saw when they came to Cana of Galilee match very closely what we have exposed as the veneration complex.”
But these pilgrim texts aren’t the only ancient sources that point to Khirbet Qana as the true location of Jesus’ transmutation miracle. Dr. McCollough also cites the writings of first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus.
“His [Josephus’] references to Cana align geographically with the location of Khirbet Qana and align logically with his movements.”
“The reference to Cana in Josephus, the New Testament and in the rabbinic texts would argue the village was a Jewish village, near the Sea of Galilee and in the region of lower Galilee.”
“Khirbet Qana fulfills all of these criteria.”
McCullough added that no other historical site “has the ensemble of evidence that makes such a persuasive case for Khirbet Qana,” he said.