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The Jesus Boat: A Quick Look at History

For Christians, the Jesus Boat is one of the most precious and meaningful archaeological treasures in the world.


On a drought-dried shore of the Sea of Galilee in January 1986, two brothers who were fishermen from Ginosar—called Gennesaret in Jesus’ day (Matt. 14:34, Mark 6:53)—spied a mysterious object poking up out of the mud. Twelve days later, an ancient vessel saw the light of day for the first time since it sank nearly 2,000 years before.






The Sea's water level was drastically lowered at that time, the result of a severe drought. When water was no longer covering large areas of the shoreline, the brothers Moshe and Yuval Lufan discovered the remains along the northwest shore near the city of Tiberias.


A one-of-a-kind artifact, the Boat of Jesus (also referred to as the Sea of Galilee Boat) was identified as an ancient fishermen boat that dated back to 1st Century AD—the time of Jesus and His disciples. While the boat bears the name of Jesus, there doesn't seem to be a connection between the two.


It could be used with sails or oars, had room for four oarsmen, a helmsman and about ten passengers. Some believe such a boat could easily have transported Jesus and His twelve disciples across the Sea of Galilee. The remains measured 27 feet long, 7.5 feet wide and 4.3 feet high. That size would have been able to hold 15 people. The boat would have been used to transport passengers and supplies around and across the lake. It would have used a single square sail affixed amidships and could have been rowed or sailed.


The discovery of the boat rocked the archeological and spiritual world. Never before was such an ancient vessel found so complete. Scholars say it was a combined ferry and fishing boat and may have even served in a sea battle against the Romans. For the over one million Christians who have viewed it over the years—and for those looking forward to doing so—it will always be “the Jesus Boat.” While no one knows exactly who rode in the boat or what its purpose was, it functions as a powerful visual reminder of the Gospel stories of Jesus and His disciples, many of whom were fishermen themselves.


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