14 pieces of archeology that fit the New Testament narrative
More exist, but these are the ones routinely mentioned
When I initially began investigating whether the Bible was true, I naively sought a single piece of irrefutable evidence that would prove or disprove it. Since learning more about how historians and cold case detectives evaluate evidence, I’ve shifted my approach when investigating the trustworthiness of the Old Testament or New Testament.
Now I look at data like what I’m sharing below to see if it points in a certain direction.
I’m in essence asking: What is the most reasonable conclusion we can draw given what archeologists and historians have found overall?
When you think about it, nearly everything in life is based not on absolute proof, but on what’s reasonable to believe. Being crushed to death in your bed by an elephant typically isn’t something people worry about. Why? They have an underlying, reasonable belief that everything that happens is caused by something. So an elephant can’t spontaneously appear in a bedroom.
This 26-minute video walks you through 10 archeological find that collectively seem to fit with what is written in the New Testament. I’ve summarized what they talk about below with links to those parts of the video, along with including a few more finds not mentioned in the video.
Items found that fit the New Testament narrative:
Yohanan Ben Ha'galgol was crucified with a nail through his heel bone, confirming the kind of crucifixion depicted in the Bible was practiced. — 20:58
Nazareth inscription warning specifically that the Jews were not allowed to steal bodies, likely issued in response to the story of Jesus rising from the dead. — 12:43
Pool of Silom mentioned in John 9:1-12 and Isaiah 8:6 has been located. — 4:53
Evidence of the second temple of the time of Jesus: The temple warning inscription limiting where the Gentiles could go, which was why people were upset when they erroneously thought in Acts 21:29 Paul had brought Trophimus the Ephesian past this barrier. — 10:10
Verification that certain people mentioned in the Bible really existed:
A piece of pavement was discovered in Corinth in 1929 confirming the existence of Erastus, the city treasurer Paul refers to in Romans 16:23. — 6:10
A first-century ossuary (a stone bone box) with the name Joseph son of Caiaphas has been found. It is possibly the bones of the high priest Caiaphas who presided over the Sanhedrin and pronounced Jesus worthy of death in the gospels. — 7:46
A piece of limestone was discovered in Caesarea bearing an inscription with Pontius Pilate's name, discussed at 15:43. Caesarea was a provincial capital during his term in 26 AD. "This single discovery corroborates what the gospel writers said about Pilate's existence in history, his position within the government and his relationship to Tiberius Caesar, J. Warner Wallace wrote on page 204 of Cold-Case Christianity.
Sergius Paulus was the proconsul from Cyprus in Acts 13. He has been confirmed by three inscriptions. — 2:45.
Luke 2:1-3 wrote that Joseph and Mary returned to Bethlehem because a Syrian governor named Quirinius was conducting a census. The Census by the Quirinius inscription revealed someone named Quirinius was a proconsul of Syria and Cilicia from 11 BC to the death of Herod. Quirinius's name has been discovered on a coin from this period and on the base of a statue errected in Pisidian Antioch, according to Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace. There's also a controversy surrounding the timing of the census mentioned in the Bible.
Two inscriptions have been discovered mentioning Lysanias by name, who Luke described as a tetrarch ruling over Abilene when John the Baptist began his ministry in Luke 3:1. One of these dated between AD 14 to 37 identifies Lysanias as the tetrarch in Abila near Damascus. So it's reasonable to believe two men named Lysanias ruled prior to the birth of Jesus - one of whom historian Josephus refers to as ruling from 40 to 36 BC — and the tetarch mentioned in Luke.
Locations and dating:
Luke described the city of Iconium in Acts 13:51 as having been in Phrygia. A monument was discovered in 1910 confirming Iconium as being in Phrygia, despite some ancient writers like Cicero writing that it was in Lycaonia, according to page 202 of Cold-Case Christianity.
19 inscriptions were discovered using the word "politarch" as Luke did. Five were in reference to Thessalonica, the very city in which Luke was claiming to have heard the term), according to page 204 of Cold-Case Christianity.
The earliest link to one of the original writings of the Bible is a small fragment containing John 18:31-33 and 37-38 called the John Ryland papyrus, or P52. It dates to between 125 -175 AD. Early church history records that the Apostle John did his writing late in the first century AD, so at worst, the fragment was copied within 100 years of John writing the original. It was also discovered in Egypt, meaning within 100 years of its original writing copies had already been widely distributed. — 18:22.