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Other Articles on 
and the Bible

Archaeology Verifies the Bible as God's Word

Ch. 1 - A Christian Skeptic Discovers God in Ancient Israel

Ch. 2 - Sir William Ramsay
Defends the New Testament

Ch. 3 - Was the Jesus of the Bible Fact or Fiction?

Ch. 4 - Bible Minimalists
Back Again!

Ch. 5 - King David
Was for Real!

Ch. 6 - Archaeological Evidence Verifies Biblical Cities

Archaeological Evidence
Verifies Biblical Cities

The Devil's War Against Biblical Archaeology



Archaeology Verifies the Bible as God's Word


Was the Jesus of the Bible

Fact or Fiction?

Chapter 3


The first evidence comes from within the four Gospels and has been proven to be accurate. Outside of the biblical text are several witnesses as well. The Jewish historian Josephus (37 A.D.-100 A.D.) recorded the history of the Jewish people in Palestine from 70 A.D. to 100 A.D. In his work Antiquities, he states:

Now there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the gentiles. He was the Christ and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him. For he appeared alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct to this day.

Although he mentions Jesus in a sarcastic way, Josephus confirms the facts that Jesus did do many great miracles, drew a following, was crucified, and was proclaimed alive on the third day.

Pliny the Younger, Emperor of Bythynia in northwestern Turkey, writing to Emperor Trajan in 112 A.D. mentions:

They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang an anthem to Christ . . . and bound themselves by a solemn oath not to commit any wicked deed, but to abstain from all fraud, theft and adultery, never to break their word, or deny a trust when called upon to honor it; after which it was their custom to separate, and then meet again to partake of food, but ordinary and innocent kind.

One of the most important Romans historians is Tacitus. In 115 A.D. he recorded Nero’s persecution of the Christians, in the process of which he wrote the following:

Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, . . . but even in Rome.

There are over 39 extra-biblical sources that attest to over one hundred facts regarding the life and teachings of Jesus!

Accuracy of the Gospels

The accuracy of the Gospels has been supported by archaeology. The names of many of the Israelite cities, events, and people described in them have now been located. Here are a few examples.

The Gospels mention four neighboring and well-populated coastal cities along the Sea of Galilee: Capernaum, Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Tiberias. Jesus performed many miracles in the first three cities. Despite this testimony, these cities rejected Jesus and, therefore, were cursed by Him (Matt. 11:20-24; Luke 10:12-16). These cities have eventually disappeared from history and their locations have remained missing for centuries. Their demise fulfills the prophetic condemnation of Jesus.

Capernaum has been extensively excavated. The present site at a tell 1.5 miles north of the Galilean shoreline is believed to be Bethsaida, while Tell Khirbet Kerezah, 2.5 miles northwest of Capernaum, is thought to be Chorazin.

King Herod Was Real

The various excavations at Herodian sites (Masada, the Herodium, the Temple Mount) have certainly confirmed the image of Herod as a builder with dreams of grandeur. Matthew 2 states that Jesus was born during the reign of Herod. Upon hearing that a king had been born, the frightened Herod ordered all children under the age of two to be killed. His slaughter of innocents is consistent with the historical facts that describe his character.

Herod was suspicious of anyone whom he thought might take his throne. His list of victims included one of his ten wives, who was his favorite, three of his own sons, a high priest, an ex-king, and two of his sister’s husbands. Thus, his brutality portrayed in Matthew is consistent with his description in ancient history, especially in Josephus’ writings.


In the early 1990s the finding of the burial box of the high priest Caiaphas caused a great deal of stir. This highly ornate limestone burial box reminded one and all that Jews between 20 B.C. and A.D. 70 practiced reburial.

Pool of Bethesda

The accuracy of John’s Gospel has also been attested to by recent discoveries. In John 5:1-15 Jesus healed a man at the Pool of Bethesda. John described the pool as having five porticoes. This site had long been in dispute until recently.

Forty feet underground, archaeologists discovered a pool with five porticoes, and the description of the surrounding area matches John’s description. In 9:7 John mentioned another long disputed site, the Pool of Siloam. However, this pool was also discovered in 1897, upholding the accuracy of the Gospel of John.

Pontius Pilate Confirmed

Evidence for Pontius Pilate, the governor who presided over the trial of Jesus, was discovered in Caesarea Maritama. In 1961 a fragment of a plaque that was used as a section of steps leading to the Caesarea Theater was uncovered. The inscription, written in Latin, contained the phrase, “Pontius Pilatus, Prefect of Judea, has dedicated to the people of Caesarea a temple in honor of Tiberius.”

This temple was dedicated to the Emperor Tiberius who reigned from 14-37 A.D. This fits well with the chronology of the New Testament which records that Pilate ruled as procurator from 26-36 A.D. Tacitus, a Roman historian of the first century, also confirmed the New Testament designation of Pilate. He wrote, “Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus . . . .”

Confirmation Regarding the Crucifixion

All four Gospels give details of the crucifixion of Christ. Their accurate portrayal of this Roman practice has been confirmed by archaeology. In 1968, a gravesite in the city of Jerusalem was uncovered containing thirty-five bodies. Each of the men had died a brutal death that historians believe was the result of their involvement in the Jewish revolt against Rome in 70 A.D.

The inscription identified one individual as Yohan Ben Ha’galgol. What intrigued archaeologists were the evidences that this man had been crucified in a manner resembling the crucifixion of Christ. A seven-inch nail had been driven through both feet, which were turned outward so the nail could be hammered inside the Achilles tendon.

Archaeologists also discovered that nails had been driven through his lower forearms. The victim of a crucifixion would have to raise and lower his body in order to breathe. To do this, he needed to push up on his pierced feet and pull up with his arms. Yohan’s upper arms were smoothly worn, indicating this movement.

John records that in order to expedite the death of a prisoner, executioners broke the legs of the victim so that he could not lift himself up by pushing with his feet (John 19:31-33). Yohan’s legs were found crushed by a blow, breaking them below the knee.

The Dead Sea Scrolls tell that both Jews and Romans abhorred crucifixion due to its cruelty and humiliation. The Scrolls also state that it was a punishment reserved for slaves and any who challenged the ruling powers of Rome. This explains why Pilate chose crucifixion as the penalty for Jesus.

The historian Thallus wrote in 52 A.D. Although none of his texts remain, his writings are cited in Julius Africanus’ work, Chronography. Quoting Thallus on the crucifixion of Christ, Africanus states,

“On the whole world, there pressed a most fearful darkness, and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down.” Thallus called this darkness, “as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.”

All the discoveries made are consistent with the details in the crucifixion account given by the writers of the Gospels. These facts lend indirect support for the biblical accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion and that the tomb was empty.

Mentored by William Albright, Dr. Nelson Glueck’s notable archaeological finds in the 1950s and 1960s hammered the final nails into the coffin of the Wellhausen school of higher criticism with his famous quote—

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.

Of course, there were archaeologists who attempted to push the Wellhausen school of higher criticism. At times referred to as “Biblical minimalists,” they were no match for the likes of Albright, Ramsay, and Glueck.