New Testament Archaeology
New Testament Archaeology
OK, that research helped me dramatically with the historical veracity of the Old Testament, but what about New Testament archaeology? The Old Testament was maintained as the historical archives for an entire nation by a well-organized system of recorders and scribes. However, wasn't the New Testament merely a collection of religious books and letters written by a few independent zealots trying to encourage followers after the death of their religious leader?
At this point, I was on fire for exploring this stuff. Nobody ever told me this material was available. I thought the Bible was a collection of moral mythology stories used to support "blind faith" in a couple of major world religions. I had no idea that the Bible was grounded in historical, geographical and archaeological evidence. As I turned to the evidence for the New Testament writings, I was reading and digesting up to four books per week...
Guess what? It was remarkable! Like the Old Testament, I found that the historical record of the New Testament was upheld again and again...
The foundations of the Jewish Temple Mount
built by Herod the Great still stand in Jerusalem. The "Southern Steps" where Jesus and his followers entered the Temple are preserved in an active excavation site. The Church of the Nativity
in Bethlehem is generally considered a credible site for the birth place of Jesus. The huge Church of the Holy Sepulcher
in Jerusalem is also considered a reliable historical site covering the locations of the crucifixion and burial of Christ. These sites were covered over (and thus, preserved) by the Romans in the second century AD.
On the Sea of Galilee
, towns such as Nazareth are still active. Capernaum and Chorazin, two sites Jesus visited often, have been excavated and preserved. Sites of famous teachings such as Kursi (the swine miracle), Tabgha (loaves and fishes), Mount of Beatitudes (Sermon on the Mount) and Caesarea Philippi (Peter's confession) are all preserved as reliable historical sites.
I was spending hours at my desk with the latest New Testament archaeology books and periodicals, cross-referencing the latest finds with the New Testament passages... It was fascinating...
The synagogue at Capernaum
where Jesus cured a man with an unclean spirit and delivered the sermon on the bread of life. The house of Peter at Capernaum where Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law and others. Jacob's well where Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman. The Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, where Jesus healed a crippled man. The Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem, where Jesus healed a blind man. The tribunal at Corinth where Paul was tried. The theater at Ephesus where the riot of silversmiths occurred. Herod's palace at Caesarea where Paul was kept under guard. 1
It went on and on...
Of course, none of this New Testament archaeology proved the underlying theology to me, but it was still powerful. The places existed and the historical events happened. I wasn't convinced of the miraculous extent of these events, but there was nothing denying their historicity...
I was ready to go one layer deeper and see who these history writers were. In my mind, I needed to further establish their credibility in order to start understanding where they were coming from with their record of such profound events...
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1 Bryant Wood, Associates for Biblical Research, 1995-2001, http://christiananswers.net/q-abr/abr-a005.html#nt See also, Price, The Stones Cry Out, 295-318. Scripture citations, in order, Mark 1:21-28 and John 6:25-59; Matthew 8:14-16; John 4; John 5:1-14; John 9:1-4; Acts 18:12-17; Acts 19:29; and Acts 23:33-35.