September 29, 2019
Archaeology is perhaps the best way to PROVE that the Bible is legitimate.
When I found out how supported both the New Testament and Old Testament were in biblical archaeology, I was utterly astonished.
In this blog, we will be focusing on our New Testament archaeology series.
Here are the biblical archaeology discoveries we are going to be covering (click on link to scroll directly to that archaeological find):
So let's get right into it.
First, we will cover the ossuary of Caiaphas (pictured above). An ossuary is a bone box. Caiaphas was the high priest during Jesus’ crucifixion, mentioned in Matthew 26:57.
Was this a real person? Yes, it was.
His ossuary, or bone box (again, pictured above) was found in 1990, near Jerusalem. Apparently, they were trying to build a water park out there, and came across a very ornate ossuary; his name is inscribed on the side of the ossuary.
Here is a video from Drive Through History about Caiaphas and the discovery of the ossuary:
Interestingly, on June 29, 2011, the ossuary of Caiaphas’ granddaughter was also found. This find was backed by the Israeli Department of Antiquities.
Pictured below is the ossuary found of Caiaphas' granddaughter.
Another find is called ‘Pilate’s Stone’ and is from the famous Pontius Pilate, the governor who crucified Jesus.
But how do we know Pilate was a real person, apart from the Bible?
Pilate has been attested by Josephus, a 1st century Jewish historian, by Philo, a 1st century Jewish philosopher, and by Tacitus, a 1st century Roman historian.
Pilate's inscription was found in Caesarea Maritima in 1961. The inscription reads, “Tiberium Pontius Pilate – Prefect of Judea”. Prefect was a military term used in the Roman empire. His inscription is pictured below.
They have also found the ossuary of Alexander, son of Simon of Cyrene. You will remember from Mark 15:21 that Simon was the one who was honored enough to help carry the cross of Jesus up to Golgotha.
Was this a real person? Did Jesus really die on the cross and raise again as the Bible says? Yes and here is some more proof.
Here is a picture of the ossuary.
This inscription has been in a Houston museum, near the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls. More on the Dead Sea Scrolls in our "21 Greatest Old Testament Biblical Archaeology Discoveries Ever (2019)", here:
Our next find is related to Herod the King, or Herod the Great.
Now, the story of the Herods of the New Testament is interesting in its own right, as the New Testament is teeming with mentions of Herod.
There is the Herod (Herod the Great/ King) who sought the wise men in Matthew Ch. 2.
There is Herod Archelaus, mentioned later in Matthew Ch. 2.
There is Herod (Herod Antipas) who has John the Baptist beheaded in Matthew Ch. 14.
And there is a Herod (Herod Agrippa I) mentioned in Acts Ch. 12, and Herod Agrippa II (mentioned in Acts Ch. 25), who Paul appears to. We mention both of these Herods in the blog below.
It is fascinating to do a study of all the different Herods in the New Testament. Here is an article by Don Stewart who describes some of them:
But let's get back to Herod the Great, or Herod the King. The New Testament mentions Herod the King in Matthew 2:16.
We have coins with his likeness on them. We have also found Herod’s palace at Caesarea Maritima. Coins of King Herod are pictured below.
The late Ehud Netzer (pictured below), of Hebrew University, found Herod's ancient tomb, or sarcophagus.
BBC News even reported on this in 2007. This sarcophagus had been beaten to pieces which is not surprising if you look into the history of who Herod was; he was not a very nice man. His sarcophagus is pictured below.
They have also found coins and busts of Herod’s grandson, Herod Agrippa I, mentioned in Acts 12:22-23.
Here is a coin and bust of Herod Agrippa I.
Archaeologists have also found numerous coins of Herod’s great grandson Herod Agrippa II, who is mentioned in Acts 25:13.
Here is a coin archaeologists have found from Herod Agrippa II.
In Dr. Norman Geisler and Dr. Frank Turek’s book, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, they note how Luke records 84 historically-backed details, regarding cities, people and places, so why doubt the 35 miracles that he, as an historian, also records?
Luke's credentials, as an historian, have proven so accurate, that it takes more faith NOT to believe in the miracles accounts than it takes to believe them.
Another archaeological find is called “Gallio’s Inscription”, or is also referred to as the Delphi Inscription. Gallio was a proconsul (proconsul was an official in Ancient Rome who acted on behalf of a consul). His inscription was found in 1905, in Delphi, Greece. The inscription is pictured below.
The inscription is from Claudius Caesar, who was emperor of Rome from 41-54 AD. We will talk more about Claudius below.
The inscription (again, from Claudius Caesar) says, “To Gallio, my friend and proconsul…” You will remember Gallio, mentioned in the New Testament, from Acts 18:12.
This inscription has been dated to about 52 AD.
This discovery is SUPER important because it allows us to definitively date the Apostle Paul's writings. The proconsulship was generally a 1 or 2-year position, which means that Paul was first in Corinth preaching the Gospel around AD 51 or 52.
Therefore, we can date his writing of 1 Corinthians, as well as give approximations for many of his other writings (all between around 49 and 64 AD), very soon after Jesus was crucified (around 30 or 33 AD).
In Matthew 22:20, Jesus tells the Pharisees to show Him the coin they use to pay taxes, before He delivers His famous, “Render to Caesar what is Caesars, and render to God what is Gods” line. The image that was on this coin was of Tiberius Caesar, who was Roman emperor from AD 14-37. His bust and coins are pictured below.
Another archaeological find is of Sergius Paulus, who we meet in the New Testament, in Acts 13:6-12.
Archaeologists have found his inscription, around 1996, just outside of Paphos. The inscription reads, “Paulus proconsul…” (again, proconsul was an office in ancient Rome).
They have also found another inscription of him, in Rome.
Another find is from Romans 16:23, which introduces us to Erastus, the city Treasurer.
Among the ruins that were found at Corinth is this pavement stone, which says, “Erastus the office of Treasurer, at his own expense...” and then is cut off, but probably says, “Laid this pavement”. This inscription dates to the 1st century AD.
In Luke 2:2, we learn about a governor of Syria, named Quirinius, who takes a census from Caesar Augustus.
We have busts of Caesar Augustus (pictured below), who was Roman emperor from 27 BC to 14 AD.
As far as Quirinius, around 1991, in Antioch of Prisidia, they found a stone dated to around 11 to 8 BC, which says the name Quirinius, pictured below.
Another documentation of Quirinius was found in Venice, Italy. The Roman soldiers came from Venice, Rome, and other places where Roman soldiers lived. The inscription says, “Secundus for the Palestine tribe in the service of the divine Augustus (who claimed divinity), under Quirinius the Legate of Caesar in Syria”.
Pictured (though a bit blurry) is the discovery.
It goes on to say that this soldier conducted a census under the order of Quirinius, just as the Bible describes.
Check out this video below we did on the Greatest New Testament finds, for more information on Quirinius.
We are told about Claudius Caesar in Acts 11:28, who again was the Roman emperor between AD41-54. Many statues and coins have been found with his likeness (including the statue below).
Following Claudius was Nero (pictured below) (Roman emperor from AD54-68), who apparently persecuted Christians, burned them, impaled them on stakes, covered them in pitch, and used them as lanterns in AD64.
Nero was followed by Vespatian (pictured above), whom we also have coins of (Roman emperor between AD69-79). Vespatian was also the father of Titus (Roman emperor from AD79-81), whom we have a bust of (pictured above).
Now, before Titus became emperor, he led the 10th Roman legion and destroyed Jerusalem and its temple in AD70, which was prophesied by Jesus.
In 2004, they found the Pool of Siloam, in Jerusalem, which is the site of Jesus’ miracle, recorded in John 9:1-11. Here is a picture (below) of the pool of Siloam. The picture is from a quick but very interesting podcast by Eric Metaxis.
Now let’s talk about some of the oldest New Testament manuscripts that we have found. We found the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri (pictured below) between 1931-1935, in Cairo, Egypt, which are 3 papyri dating to about the year AD200, which contain most of the New Testament.
Then, in 1952, in Pabau, Egypt, they found the Bodmer Papyrus II (pictured below), which contain most of John’s gospel, and have been dated at between AD150 and AD200.
And in 1920, they found what’s called “Rylands Papyrus P52” (pictured below), the oldest universally accepted manuscript of the New Testament, which papyrologists have dated to about the year AD125.
As you can see, there is a ton of archaeological evidence from the New Testament.
If you haven't already, check out our "21 Greatest Old Testament Biblical Archaeology Discoveries Ever (2019)".
Now It’s Your Turn: I hoped you enjoyed our list of the 17 greatest New Testament archaeology discoveries ever. Now I want to hear from you: Which was your favorite archaeology find? Was it Pilate's Stone or Gallio's Inscription? Let me know by leaving a comment.
September 30, 2019
Hey Craig, thanks for the comment! Yeah, that find was SUPER tempting to put up, and I still might add it later (because…it’s AMAZING), but because there was some controversy on that (early on), I left it out for now. Just because, if someone sees this list for the first time, they might be very excited and want to share it with their friends, and then if one of their friends sees the list and then Googles “the discovery of James, the brother of Jesus, son of Jospeh”, and then a controversy pops up (again, even though I am pretty sure it has now been confirmed), they might be discouraged about the whole list. SO, I may revisit that at a later time, but for now I kept it off the list….although again, SUPER exciting stuff! Thanks again!
September 29, 2019
Wasn’t the james ossuary confirmed as geniune recently?
October 09, 2019
September 21, 2019