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UNESCO recognizes site of Jesus' Baptism, despite dispute over location

July 14, 2015

UNESCO has declared a site in Jordan, believed to be the place where Jesus was baptized, as a World Heritage site. The decision will displease the many people who argue that Christ’s baptism occurred at a different location, in Palestinian territory under Israeli control.

UNESCO chose Al Maghtas, Jordan—also known as Bethany Beyond the Jordan—for the World Heritage designation. The site is on the eastern bank of the Jordan River.

However, many authorities contend that Jesus was baptized on the western side of the Jordan, at Qasr al Yahud. That site was closed to the public in 1967, because of the fighting during which Israel captured the west bank. After clearing mines in the area, Israel finally re-opened the Qasr al Yahud site four year ago.

Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis have all visited the Al Maghtas site, in Jordan, during papal trips to the Holy Land.


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  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Jul. 14, 2015 10:40 PM ET USA

    This is terrific: the Jordan site is the best documented of those in contention. It fits the Gospel description and it is close to the transJordan site of THREE early churches that commemorated the baptism of the Lord.