Two Towns’ Eureka Moments

How a fishing village and an old lumber station are revealing mysteries about the galaxy and ancient Jewish worship. /

There once was a little fishing village on the Sea of Galilee. It was known for its pickling factories that received large catches of fish daily along its long and prosperous quay from the hundreds of small merchant ships working the lake. Though not as well known as other cities of the region, the town was well planned, urban, and modern. Visitors recognized the town from afar, nestled as it was at the base of a large cliff, with a small tower overlooking the lake. An important general-cum-historian once described the town as “abundant” and “very warm to strangers,” and these portrayals stuck with it for some time.

The town has been known by a number of names, most recently el-Mejdel in Arabic. Much earlier it was Taricheae to the Greeks, and in Hebrew some derivative of Migdal. To us today it is known by a more familiar name: Magdala. The same Magdala mentioned in the New Testament, the place name associated with Mary Magdalene, close companion of Jesus. A town set right in the heartland of Jesus’ public ministry.

There is another tiny town in the middle of southern Louisiana—a former lumber station that today is surrounded on all sides by rambling pine forests. It’s just off Exit 22 on I-12, a small patch of interstate off of the longer, southern stretch of I-10. At first glance, the town is unexceptional Americana, with a flea market, fireworks store, True Value Hardware, and Dollar General. At the local deli you can get a lunch plate for $4.59. A number of empty buildings stand on Main Street, a reminder of the tough economy through the long recession. The people, though, are about as warm to strangers as one could expect.

The town is Livingston, Louisiana, and it is home to the ...

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Issue 48 / May 12, 2016
  1. Editor's Note from May 12, 2016

    Issue 48: A spiraling world of numbers, a revealing stone, and our distinct differences. /

  2. How Plants Count

    The language of the universe starts “1, 1, 2.” /

  3. A Peculiar People

    We’re made different from each other to be different together. /

  4. The Bat

    “The bat is dun, with wrinkled wings” /

  5. Wonder on the Web

    Issue 48: Links to amazing stuff.

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