cirafesi and ruins at capernaum

Photo Credit: Wally Cirafesi, Location: Capernaum

New Member Highlight: Wally Cirafesi

On 1 January, MF welcomed Postdoctoral Fellow Wally Cirafesi, and joined the MF CASR community.

Cirafesi's new project, titled "Of Limestones and Octagons: A History of Jewish - Christian Relations in Capernaum from the Time of Jesus to the Byzantine - Islamic Transition," examines the Christian and Jewish communities that lived together in Capernaum.  This town, well known to Christians as the home of Peter and an important location for Jesus's teaching and miracle-working, is a great deal more complex in stone than a New Testament reader might expect.  One of the most striking elements of this site is a large limestone synagogue from Late Antiquity, only 25 meters away from a fifth century Byzantine church, probably built to commemorate Peter's house.  Add to that rabbinic literature from the second to fourth centuries referring to the Jews and "heretics" living there, and you have a town that went from being a small Jewish village to a major multicultural pilgrimage site full of social and religious complexity.  Cirafesi hopes to unravel the cultural and social history of this site, and how "Christianity" and "Judaism" emerged there.

In discussing his new position, Cirafesi said, "I feel very fortunate to be conducting my research project at MF, especially in light of the strengths of the New Testament staff and those scholars here working in Late Antiquity. Additionally, to have a center like MF CASR as a facilitator really provides my research with a fantastic support network."

MF CASR is very pleased to have him on board as a new Research Member.