Posts Tagged ‘archaeology’

Truth shall spring out of the earth”

Psalm 85: 11a

Archaeology is another brick in the wall of helping us to validate the claims of the Bible. Archaeology itself is not going to convince us that Jesus died and was resurrected but it goes some way to validating the background information we find in the Bible. Again, unless some archaeologist digs up the actual bones of Jesus Christ and manages somehow to prove that this was the case (not quite sure how this would be done) it is very unlikely that archaeology will disprove the claims of the Bible.

The Bible is not written in isolation. Many places, people, and buildings are mentioned. Now, proving that these places or buildings exist or even that certain people exist doesn’t make the other events written about true. Just as proving that the Louvre and Paris exist proves that Robert Langdon in the Da Vinci Code is a real person. However, the writers of the Bible weren’t setting out to entertain but to teach, inform and to report. Some were writing an historical account of what they saw around them, some were writing letters not thinking they would be published. Archaeological evidence helps to give credence to these writings. As F.F. Bruce, professor of biblical studies, says of Luke’s work: “A writer who thus relates his story to the wider context of world history is courting trouble if he is not careful; he affords his critical readers so many opportunities for testing his accuracy. Luke takes this risk, and stands the test admirably”.

For years critics have used, so called, historical facts to try to disporve the credibility of the Bible. Time after time scholars have had to backtrack from earlier statements as additional archaeological evidence has come to light. An example of this was the Hittites, for a long time known only from the biblical record and denided by many historians as having existed. “Until the discovery of the Hittite empire at the beginning of the last century, the ‘Hittites’ mentioned in Genesis 10:15 as descendants of Canaan were unknown … But in 1906 Hugo Winckler began excavating a site known as ancient Hattusha … in what we today call Turkey. As a result a people whose existence was seriously doubted previously is well documented with literally tens of thousands of clay tablets” (Walter Kaiser, The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable and Relevant? 2001, p. 102).

Again critics used to argue that Jesus could not have lived in Nazareth as it was not in habited during the times mentioned in the Bible. The conventional understanding is that Nazareth was a fairly small community, of no great historical importance, which is why it is not mentioned outside the New Testament. But there is now plenty of archaeological evidence that Nazareth existed before, during and after the time of Christ. And the latest discoveries may completely overturn the idea that it was small and insignificant. Either way, the idea that it did not exist, and therefore that Jesus could not have existed, is out of date, and not supported by contemporary evidence.

Frank Gaebelein, an eminently qualified author and general editor of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, has remarked that “the attitude of suspended judgment toward Bible difficulties … is constantly being vindicated, as archaeology has solved one Biblical problem after another, and as painstaking re-examination of discrepancies has finally led to answers” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 1979, Vol. 1, p. 31).

As eminent archaeologist Nelson Glueck concluded: “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper valuation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries” (Rivers in the Desert: A History of the Negev, 1959, p. 31).

Archaeology will never convince you that God exists. It will also not convince you that Jesus was His son and walked this earth. What it may do though is help us to understand that the Bible has more validity than some would have us believe. It has an historically correct context. It fit’s in with historical evidence and repeated new findings. You would have thought that by now if these were made up accounts by lots of different people that evidence would have come to light of mistakes made in their historical context. The more we dig up from the past the more evidence is found to corroborate Biblical events not the other way around.

I leave you with a table taken from the New International Bible of major Biblical events and archaeological evidence that has been found to back them up.

Israel

Herod’s temple Jerusalem Lk 1:9
Herod’s winter palace Jericho Mt 2:4
The Herodium
(possible site of Herod’s tomb)
Near Bethlehem Mt 2:19
Masada Southwest of Dead Sea cf. Lk 21:20
Early synagogue Capernaum Mk 1:21
Pool of Siloam Jerusalem Jn 9:7
Pool of Bethesda Jerusalem Jn 5:2
Pilate inscription Caesarea Lk 3:1
Inscription:
Gentile entrance of temple sanctuary
Jerusalem Ac 21:27-29
Skeletal remains of crucified man Jerusalem Lk 23:33
Peter’s house Capernaum Mt 8:14
Jacob’s well Nablus Jn 4:5-6

Asia Minor

Derbe inscription Kerti Huyuk Ac 14:20
Sergius Paulus inscription Antioch in Pisidia Ac 13:6-7
Zeus altar (Satan’s throne?) Pergamum Rev 2:13
Fourth century BC walls Assos Ac 20:13-14
Artemis temple and altar Ephesus Ac 19:27-28
Ephesian theatre Ephesus Ac 19:29
Silversmith shops Ephesus Ac 19:24
Artemis statues Ephesus Ac 19:35

Greece

Erastus inscription Corinth Ro 16:23
Synagogue inscription Corinth Ac 18:4
Meat market inscription Corinth 1 Co 10:25
Cult dining rooms
(in Asklepius and Demeter temples)
Corinth 1 Co 8:10
Court (bema) Corinth Ac 18:12
Marketplace (bema) Philippi Ac 16:19
Starting gate for races Isthmia 1 Co 9:24, 26
Gallio inscription Delphi Ac 18:12
Egnatian Way Kavalla (Neapolis), Philippi, Apollonia, Thessalonica Cf Ac 16:11-12,17:1
Politarch inscription Thessalonica Ac 17:6

Italy

Tomb of Augustus Rome Lk 2:1
Mamertime Prison Rome 2 Ti 1:16-17, 2:9,4:6-8
Appian Way Puteoli to Rome Ac 28:13-16
Golden House of Nero Rome Cf Ac 25:10; 1 Pe 2:13
Arch of Titus Rome Cf Lk 19:43-44,21:6, 20