Abdel-Qader al-Housan, director of the Rihab Center for Archaeological Studies in Jordan, announced that they had found the world’s first church. It was not a building, but a cave located under Saint Georgeous Church near Amman. In the cave they found a circular worship area with stone seats and a tunnel leading to a source of water.
The reason why they believe it to be a church was an inscription found on the floor, which read, “the 70 beloved by God and the divine.” The theory was that this 70 referred to the seventy disciples who fled Jerusalem fearing Roman persecution.
Many have found this argument quite a stretch since organized churches did not exist till the time of the Gupta empire in India. There were small communities till then, like the ones which wrote the gospels, who mostly worshipped in homes, domestic buildings and by the riverside.
“If they are talking about a cave, it could have been a hiding place. In time—if there were martyrs there or something significant that took place there or a well-known individual who was among the disciples of Jesus—then you would have had reason to commemorate the site, which could later be used by the church’s monks.”
“But the cave that’s there is one that doesn’t necessarily commemorate anything … I don’t know how you can take an underground cave and say it could present itself as a first-century church.”[“Oldest Church” Discovery “Ridiculous,” Critics Say]