Published On: Tue, Oct 7th, 2014

Smithsonian Conference to Reveal History, Archaeology and Religious Traditions of Mary Magdalene’s City


On Oct. 20, 2014, Nyack College, in partnership with the Center for the Study of Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins, will host a gathering of scholars and dignitaries from 4:00–7:30 pm at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Manhattan, focused on discoveries from the excavations at Magdala.

The unexpected archaeological discovery of Magdala, presumed to be the city of Mary Magdalene, includes ruins of a first-century synagogue (unique in Galilee), ritual baths, evidence of fishing industry, and other artifacts. This archaeological site is one of the most important finds of the century, and is located where Jesus likely traveled and taught.

On May 28, 2014 Pope Francis, while in Jerusalem, blessed the tabernacle for the Main Chapel at the new Duc in Altum Center. His blessing followed Pope Benedict’s blessing of the cornerstone five years earlier. Magdala is the first consecrated holy site in the Holy Land in the new millennium.

“Nyack College is privileged to host the first conference in the U.S. to give central profile to this important site, ” said Dr. Michael Scales, president of Nyack College. “We are proud to partner with the Center for the Study of Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins to facilitate this important gathering.” On exhibit during the event will be a full-scale facsimile of the Magdala Stone, one of the most important incised works of stone art ever found in Israel.

“Perhaps the most significant discovery at Magdala is its synagogue, ” describes Dr. R. Steven Notley, director of Nyack’s graduate program in Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins. “Within the walls of the synagogue was found a stone artifact engraved with distinct and meaningful images, giving students of Judaism, early Christianity, and ancient art a tangible piece of religious history from the late Hellenistic and Roman periods.”

The conference presentations will include:

  • Magdala: History And Geography During The Late Hellenistic And Roman Periods by R. Steven Notley, Nyack College
  • The Importance Of Magdala’s Synagogue by Steven Fine, Yeshiva University
  • Mary Magdalene In Eastern Orthodoxy by John McGuckin, Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University
  • Mary Magdalene in Armenian Orthodoxy by Roberta Ervine, St. Nersess Theological Seminary
  • Visual Journey Of The Magdalene Liturgical Cycle In Late Medieval Art by Sarah Wilkins, Pratt Institute:
  • Magdala Today And Its Importance In Christian Pilgrimage by Father Eamon Kelly, LC, Pontifical Institute of Notre Dame of Jerusalem.
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