The Archeological Evidence

I. The Archaeological Evidence:

Examples of historically or archaeologically verified details that once were doubted:

  • John 5:1-15 Pool of Bethesda
  • John 9:7: Pool of Siloam
  • John 4:14: Jacob’s Well
  • John 19:13: The Pavement near the Jaffa gate
  • Luke 3:1: Lysanias as Tetrarch of Abilene
  • Acts 17:6: City officials called “Politarchs”

Three Long-standing Puzzles of the Gospels

  1. The Roman Census: (Luke 2:1-5.) Many scholars believed this did not happen until archaeology bore it out. The Practice was confirmed independently in a piece of Egyptian parchment in AD 104. The names of the rulers (Herod) have been disputed. This has also been confirmed by examination of coins, printed with the rulers’ names from that time.
  2. Nazareth: (Luke 1:26, 2:4) Did it actually exist at the time of Christ? Some have doubted. Tombs excavated at the site and dated to the first century, as well as records of priestly assignments, confirm its existence as a Jewish settlement at the time.
  3. Slaughter of the Innocents: (Matthew 2:16-18) How could such a tragedy go unnoticed by other sources? It’s a question of scale. Bethlehem would have been a small village, with relatively few children, and the slaughter of its children by a bloodthirsty ruler such as Herod would not be surprising or really noticed in those days. He killed members of his own family!

II. Rebuttal Evidence: The Jesus Seminar and the Search for the “Historical Jesus”

What are the criteria that the Jesus Seminar applies to Christ and the Gospels?

  1. If what he says looks like something a later rabbi or Christian father would say, he must not have said it.
  2. If only one Gospel says it must not be Christ’s because we would never just take a single person’s word for it. And since Matthew and Luke drew on Mark they can’t be trusted anyway.
  3. If there is a parallel example in another tradition or culture, then Christians must have copied it and fit Christ into that mold.

To the Jesus Seminar and similar critics we must apply the same standards as to the Gospels:

  • Are they biased, do they have an ulterior motive?
  • Does their method create its own results, like loaded dice?
  • Does their method reflect reality; can it be proved or disproved?