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Reasonable Faith UTD: Does Archaeology Support the Accuracy of the New Testament? Jan 17, 2013 Allen Hainline

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Presentation on theme: "Reasonable Faith UTD: Does Archaeology Support the Accuracy of the New Testament? Jan 17, 2013 Allen Hainline"— Presentation transcript:

1 Reasonable Faith UTD: Does Archaeology Support the Accuracy of the New Testament? Jan 17, 2013 Allen Hainline

2 Jan 17 – Archaeological Confirmations of the New Testament (Allen) Jan 24 – Response to New Atheists (Allen) Feb 7 – A skeptical look at skepticism (Beau Bishop) Feb 14 – Contradictions in the Bible (Dr. Justin Bass) Feb 21 – Prophecies in the Bible (Dr. Justin Bass) Feb 28 – Consciousness: evidence that you are a soul and that God made you (Beau) Mar 7 – Did Jesus really claim to be Divine? (Dr. Justin Bass) Mar 14 – Spring Break Mar 21 – Hume’s Argument Against Miracles (Steve Lee) March 28 – The Historical Case for Jesus’ Resurrection (Blake Giunta) April 4 – The Historical Case for Jesus’ Resurrection – Part 2(Blake Giunta) Fri April 5 – Special Event: Dr. Frank Turek speaks on “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist” – in auditorium ( CN 1.112), part 2 from his Sept 23 talk at UTD April 11 – Quantum Physics – Are there any implications to Christianity? (Allen) April 18 – The Problem of Evil (Steve Lee) posted at 2 Reasonable Faith UTD Spring 2013 Schedule

3 Intro Why important? Some critics challenge early dates of Biblical writings or eyewitness testimony – If so, accounts could not have accurately reflected so many details verified through archaeology “The sum total of the literary, historical and archaeological evidence from the ancient world dramatically supports the New Testament record on Jesus. Those who claim it does not are sadly misinformed, tragically closed-minded, or dishonest.” Dr. Paul L. Maier, professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan “On the whole … archaeological work has unquestionably strengthened confidence in the reliability of the Scriptural record. More than one archaeologist has found his respect for the Bible increased by the experience of excavation in Palestine. Archaeology has in many cases refuted the views of modern critics.” Millar Burrows, Professor of Archaeology, Yale 3

4 Biblical Archaeology What can it show? – Only a “fraction of a fraction of a fraction” remains Most artifacts did not survive past their time Only a fraction of those survived 2000+ years Less than 2 per cent of sites have been excavated – Provides insight into Biblical culture and times – Validates accuracy/reliability of text "It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever contradicted a biblical reference.” Nelson Glueck (highly respected Jewish archaeologist) What can’t it show? – That Bible divinely inspired 4

5 5 Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Absence Many ancient historical events have no archaeological confirmation So-called gospels that were rejected from inclusion in NT were forgeries written 100-300 years after Christ – Virtually no place names or details that could be confirmed archaeologically Very different than New Testament! Long history of overly skeptical claims refuted by archaeology – We’ll look at several examples






11 Archaeological Confirmations of Latest Gospel (John) John 5:2 mentions a pool with 5 porticos in Bethesda located near a Sheep Gate – Skeptics questioned all 3 of these features – took 5 porticos as being symbolic Now archaeologically confirmed after digging in location specified in Bible In John 9:1-9 Jesus heals blind man - tells him to wash in the Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem – Pool has now been discovered 11

12 Archaeological Finds Refute Skeptics’ Dating 12 Gospel of John – Critics: “written after 160-170 A.D.” – P52 found in 1920 in Egypt dated to 125 A.D. Papyrus fragments of 4 verses from John 18 – One scrap rendered mounds of skeptical articles worthless!

13 Surprising Confirmation of Incidental Details “Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings.” (Rom 16:23) In Corinth, this 1 st century pavement is inscribed: “Erastus Pro Aedile S.P. Stravit” – Erastus provided pavement at his expense 13 Archaeological confirmation that Gallio was proconsul in Corinth at in year indicated in Acts 18 1 year tenure 51-2 AD

14 14 New Testament Archaeology Sir William Ramsay (renowned archaeologist) – Initially skeptical of NT accuracy due to supposed late authorship (2 nd century) – Investigated for 30 years 300+ references to events, people, places, districts, official’s titles etc. (Politarch, Tetrarch, Archon, Proconsul, etc.) – Concluded: "Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy... this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.“ " For example, skeptics claimed Acts 14 wrong - Iconium in Lycaonia not Phyrgia Based on Cicero’s writings dealing with a slightly different time period In 1910, Ramsay discovered an inscription declaring Iconium under authority of Phyrgian district from A.D. 37-72 (only)

15 New Testament Archaeology Census – Began by Caesar Augustus – Egyptian papyrus indicated need to return home to register Herod Agrippa killed during speech – Acts 12:20-3 records being killed after accepting praise for being a god – Same basic story recounted by Josephus Jesus tomb was likely beneath Church of Holy Sepulchre 15

16 16 Early Christian Artifacts Near Jerusalem Skeptics claim Christianity grew legendarily Oxford historian indicates 2 generations insufficient for legends Refuted by early Christian worshippers near Jerusalem and empty tomb Findings from Ossuaries (Bone Boxes) – Ossuaries used primarily prior to 70 AD – 3 archaeologists led excavations finding Christian ossuaries Clermont-Ganneau, Bagatti, Sukenik Sukenik (atheist Jew) dated site prior to 50 AD “World’s greatest authority on Jewish ossuaries” “All our evidence indicates that we have in this tomb the earliest records of Christianity in existence. It may also have a bearing on the historicity of Jesus and the crucifixion.” Christian symbols found (crosses, chi-rho, etc.) Critics questioned early use of symbols such as crosses Herculean cross cannot have been later than 79 Cross might not be symbolic but testify to actual event

17 Other Ossuary Evidence Ossuaries found that correspond to NT figures: – Caiaphas the High Priest – Sapphira of Acts 5 – Lazarus and Martha of Bethany – Alexander son of Simon of Cyrene (carried Jesus’ cross) – Matthias, Joseph Barsabbas (replacement apostles -Acts 1) – Simon bar Jona with cross in Christian tomb – James son of Joseph brother of Jesus? Forgery charges but skeptics agree patina for “Jesus” portion ancient 17

18 Dead Sea Scrolls First discovered in 1947 – First scrolls sold to make leather shoes! Some manuscripts dated as old as 3 rd century BC Confirmed level of accuracy of scribes’ copying – Isaiah scroll matched exact Masoretic texts in 95% of words – 5% variation almost entirely spelling alterations or slips of the pen 18 Masoretic Text Oldest ~1000 AD

19 Isaiah Scroll 19

20 20 Frank Zindler on Nazareth “[A]t the turn of the era, there was no place called Nazareth, and we do not know when the place now called by that name became so identified.... Nazareth was as mythical as the Mary, Joseph, and Jesus family that was supposed to have lived there.” —Frank Zindler, “Where Jesus Never Walked,” American Atheist 36 (1996- 7), pp. 33-42.

21 21 A Jewish archaeologist on recent excavations in Nazareth “The discovery is of the utmost importance since it reveals for the very first time a house from the Jewish village of Nazareth and thereby sheds light on the way of life at the time of Jesus. The building that we found is small and modest and it is most likely typical of the dwellings in Nazareth in that period.” Yardenna Alexandre, excavation director for Israeli Antiquities Authority, “For the Very First Time: A Residential Building from the Time of Jesus was Exposed in the Heart of Nazareth” (12/21/09)

22 Nazareth Decree Claimed to have been found in Nazareth in 1878 Imperial decree proclaiming death penalty for tomb robbers Some scholars date to time period of Emperor Claudius (41-54 A.D.) but possible range of dates is from 14-70 –Based on reference to Caesar and Jewish burial practices May have been inspired by growing movement that believed in resurrection of Jesus –And Jewish story that body stolen from tomb Some scholars skeptical of connection to Jesus but the timing and location seem significant –Consider that Nazareth was a tiny town not even mentioned by Josephus despite references to 50-60 other towns –Estimated 50 houses in 1 st century Nazareth Based on number of tombs 22

23 23 Robert M. Price on Synagogues in Capernaum “A major collision between the gospel tradition and archaeology concerns the existence of synagogues … in pre-70 C.E. Galilee.” Robert M. Price, The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man (2003), p. 14 Zindler also skeptical of this …

24 24 Implications of Gospel statements Luke suggests that synagogue at Capernaum was a particularly impressive structure requiring considerable construction costs Other passages in Gospels (e.g. Mark 1, Matthew 4) make it plain that Capernaum was Jesus’ principal base of operations in Galilee Have the Gospel authors been caught in a huge mistake?

25 25 1 st Century Synagogue Found in Capernaum “The first-century Capernaum synagogue in which Jesus preached has probably been found. Because more than one synagogue may have existed in Capernaum at this time, we cannot be sure that this new find was Jesus’ synagogue. But this recently discovered first-century building is certainly a likely candidate.... The conclusion that this was a first- century A.D. synagogue seems inescapable.” James F. Strange and Hershel Shanks, “Synagogue Where Jesus Preached Found at Capernaum,” Biblical Archaeology Review 9 (1983) Unusually thick walls and much larger floor plan than other synagogues

26 Next Week: Responding to the New Atheists Who are the New Atheists? What are there claims and arguments?

27 Backup Charts 27


29 29 Excavations at Capernaum Trench 25 at Capernaum, showing: Limestone walls of the 4 th or 5 th century synagogue (A), Basalt wall of the 1 st century synagogue (B), and Cobbled pavement of the 1 st century synagogue (C)

30 30 The synagogue at Capernaum The walls of the 1 st century synagogue at Capernaum are unusually thick—well over a meter—and its floor plan shows it to have been a building with an interior space of nearly 450 square meters, larger than most 1 st century synagogues discovered elsewhere in Galilee. This fits very well with the implication in Luke 7:1-5 that this synagogue was particularly magnificent.

31 Lee Strobel notes that “Skeptics have been asserting for a long time that Nazareth never existed during the time when the New Testament says Jesus spent his childhood there.”[23] For example, “atheist Frank Zindler noted that Nazareth is not mentioned in the Old Testament, by the apostle Paul, by the Talmud (although sixty-three other Galilean towns are cited), or by Josephus (who listed forty-five other villages and cities of Galilee, including Japha, which was located just over a mile from present-day Nazareth. No ancient historians or geographers mention Nazareth before the beginning of the fourth century.”[24] However, Paul Barnett reports that “in 1961 a mosaic dated from the third century in which Nazareth appears was unearthed in Caesarea Maritima. Nazareth … is not mentioned in the Old Testament, nor in Josephus’s work. Questions as to its genuineness were resolved by this discovery.”[25] Dr James Strange notes that “when Jerusalem fell in AD 70, priests were no longer needed in the temple because it had been destroyed, so they were sent to various other locations, even up into Galilee. Archaeologists have found a list in Aramaic describing the twenty-four ‘courses’, or families, of priests who were relocated, and one of them was registered as having been moved to Nazareth.”[26][23][24][25][26] Moreover: “archaeological digs … have uncovered first-century tombs in the vicinity of Nazareth, which would establish the village’s limits because by Jewish law burials had to take place outside the town proper. Two tombs contained objects such as pottery lamps, glass vessels, and vases from the first, third, or fourth centuries.”[27] Archaeologist Jack Finegan states that “From the tombs … it can be concluded that Nazareth was a strongly Jewish settlement in the Roman period.”[28][27][28] 31

32 Note from Craig Evans book At one time it was fashionable to assert that the early Christian confession of Messiah Jesus as ‘Son of God’ arose not from Jewish and Old Testament antecedents (2 Sam. 7.14; Ps. 2.2, 7, for example) but from the influence of the Greco-Roman world, where Greek kings and Roman emperors were hailed as sons of the gods. The discovery of 4Q246, comprising two columns of Aramaic text from Qumran’s fourth cave, demolished this view. The author of this first- century BCE text anticipated the coming of a deliverer who will be called ‘Son of God’ and ‘Son of the Most High’. The remarkable parallels to the language of the annunciation (Luke 1.31–35) Other minimalists have suggested that there were no synagogue buildings in the time of Jesus; that the New Testament Gospels, which refer to these buildings, are anachronistic. As we shall see, archaeological discoveries have demolished this position. 32

33 Early Attestation of Jesus Being Worshipped Alexamenos Graffito This piece of graffiti, from near the Palatine Hill in Rome and rather roughly dated to late in the second-century AD, was apparently drawn by one Roman soldier to mock the faith of a fellow soldier who was a Christian. It shows a man standing by a crucifixion victim with the head of a donkey. The Greek caption reads: “Alexamenos worships [his] God”. 33

34 Shroud of Turin – Wrist wounds not located in palms as depicted in Medieval times Art historian Phillip McNair states that not one of hundreds of depictions portrays wounds on wrists – Pierced scalp covers entire skull Very different than medieval expectations – Abnormal for crucifixion victim Decent burial with cloth Side wound (post-mortem flow of blood and water) rather than broken legs – Body wrapped in shroud didn’t decompose the body does not appear to have been moved by conventional means, either, due to the condition of the bloodstains, which are anatomically correct, including precisely outlined borders, with blood clots intact. If the cloth had been pulled away from the body, the blood clots would have smeared or broken. Kinds of things faked would not be important in medieval times 34

35 Top Ten New Testament Archaeological Finds of the Past 150 Years "How do shrouds, boats, inscriptions, and other artifacts better help us understand the Christ of the Ages?" ptemberweb-only/9-22-21.0.html?start=3 35

36 Contrast Bible with Book of Mormon The latter has no arch. confirmation religions/beginner/what-to-say-to-mormons--- ch-3-mormon.htm 36

37 Capernaum sites – Simon Peter’s house – Synagogue where Jesus taught Artemis of the Ephesians statue found (Acts 19) Erastus (city treasurer of Corinth mentioned in Rom 16:23) – Inscription found in road in Corinth (bottom left) 37 New Testament Archaeology

38 Capernaum sites – Simon Peter’s house – Synagogue where Jesus taught Jericho problem – Mark 10:46 – healed beggar as Jesus was leaving Jericho – Luke 18:35 - healed beggar as Jesus was approaching Jericho – Archaeology has revealed that there were 2 Jericho’s in Jesus’ time Jesus could have visited both towns, beggar at entrance to richer town Artemis of the Ephesians statue found (Acts 19) Skeptics once claimed Pontius Pilate never existed – Inscription found in Caesarea (top right) Erastus (city treasurer of Corinth mentioned in Rom 16:23) – Inscription found in road in Corinth (bottom left) 38 New Testament Archaeology

39 The Greek term translated here as ‘city officials’ is politarchs. Since the term doesn’t appear in classical literature, “Critics of the New Testament asserted for many years that Luke was mistaken in his use of the term ‘politarchs’ … for the officials of Thessalonica…”[13] However, an inscription using this term was found on a first- century AD arch torn down in 1867.[13] 39

40 Cave 4 40




44 Jon Rittenhouse – Can the Bible Really Be Trusted? Podcast is really helpful starting at about min 35 – Luke’s historical accuracy No tetrarch … – Ramsay (skeptic) greatest archaeology … 44

45 Old Testament Archaeology - Backup 45

46 Old Testament Archaeology Old Testament shown to be unique: – Documents non-flattering aspects – Countless cases where skeptics proven wrong by later findings Hittites – 19 th century critics questioned whether or not such a people even existed – Countless Hittite artifacts now known Who was the last king of Babylon? – Critics said book of Daniel incorrect in claiming it was Belshazzar because Herodotus indicated it was Nabonidus; “Belshazzar made up” – Artifacts found indicating Belshazzar was Nabonidus’ son and was in charge while his father was away for several years from Babylon 46

47 Flood Archaeology Ancient Flood Stories – Every continent had flood stories South America: Incas North America: Iroquois, Aztecs Europe: Celts Africa: Hottentots (Southern Africa) Asia: Babylonians, Sumerians, Hindus, Burma(Myanmar) Oceania: New Guinea, Aborigines, New Zealand Similarity to Biblical account is proportional to separation in time and space 47

48 48 Jericho Joshua 6: Jericho walls came down, city burned but not looted “The walls fell outwards … This is remarkable … the city walls always fall inward, not outward.” Garstang “The city's walls had fallen in a way suggestive of sudden collapse. A thick layer of soot at the site … supports the biblical idea that the city was burned, not simply conquered. “ Says Wood: "It looks to me as though the biblical stories are correct.“ Time Magazine Score One for the Bible – Estimated date consistent with Exodus date C14 dates to ~1400 BC (exact right time frame) – Burned artifacts recovered indicating no looting of city (very unusual!) Found large stores of grain – No long siege Unusual time of attack matched Biblical account

49 Old Testament Archaeology Tophets – Liberal disbelieved Biblical accounts of child sacrifice Despite Greek and Roman historical accounts concerning this also – 20,000 Phoenician urns uncovered of young children Included animals in sacrifice, inscriptions like “Given to fulfill a vow” Hazor – Joshua’s Conquest? – heads of idols chopped off – “Everyone is a potential destroyer of Hazor, if not mentioned in any document, except those specifically mentioned in the Bible as having done so.” – Yadin – No other ancient peoples would degrade idols – Tablet Fragment found mentioning king of Hazor by same name as Biblical account 49

50 Old Testament Historical Validation Sennacherib’s Prism – Assyrian king admits failure to conquer Jerusalem just as Bible records (King Hezekiah prayed for deliverance) – Conquered 46 out of 47 cities – Seems miraculous that tiny Judah could survive against mighty Assyria! Cyrus Cylinder – records King Cyrus of Persia’s Babylonian conquest and his decree to allow captives to return & restore temples – Skeptics questioned whether any ruler would allow this 50

51 Archaeology of Early Israel Amarna Letters Letters to Pharaoh about Habiru invaders in Palestine in 14 th century BC Merneptah Stele Records a Pharoah’s victory over Israel in 13 th century BC – Word used for Israel corresponds to people group but not nation – Consistent with status during this time period of Judges 51

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