New Evidence Confirms Jerusalem Destruction as Bible Records

Jeremiah 52:12-13On the tenth day of the fifth month—which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guards, entered Jerusalem as the representative of the king of Babylon. He burned the Lord’s temple, the king’s palace, all the houses of Jerusalem; he burned down all the great houses. 

Around two weeks ago, it was announced by IFLScience that recent archaeological excavations have shown that about 2,600 years ago, during the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem, the Babylonians decided to cause a widespread fire that ended up burning down the city, the capital of Jerusalem. And indeed, these archaeological discoveries in ancient Jerusalem perfectly corresponds to what the Bible narrates in 2 Kings 25:8-9 and Jeremiah 52:12-13, thus we have yet another archaeological confirmation of the biblical narratives. This is the second time an archaeological find has proven the Bible this month, the first being earlier in July when archaeological excavations in Jezebel confirmed that the region housed vineyards.

The biblical books of II Kings and Jeremiah tell us that Nebuchadnezzar invaded Israel around 587 BC and eventually conquered the nation and burned down the houses of the city of Jerusalem. The excavations confirmed a widespread fire during this period by showing that the entire area was practically burnt around the early 6th century BC in accordance with Babylon’s invasion of Jerusalem. The story tells us that Nebuzaradan’s, a high-ranking military figure of Nebuchadnezzar’s army, brought the Babylonian forces and encircled Jerusalem. He then broke into the city, destroyed the Temple (hence ending the First Timple Period), burned down all that he could and forced the population into exile. We now know this entirety is a historical truth. Thank God.

Copies of copies, the telephone game

A few weeks ago, I was having a debate about the reliability of the New Testament with someone who goes by Professor Taboo. Once, he claimed that the New Testament couldn’t have been preserved because we know messages get corrupted throughout time as they’re continuously transmitted because of the telephone game. He said the following;

“But if the originals are lost, and the nearest-originals do not have as many additional events as the copies done 300-years later (which make up the vast majority of your 25,000+ manuscripts), what does that imply about the veracity of ANY manuscripts/testaments written AFTER Paul’s epistles about 52 — 60 CE? Wouldn’t this progression be similar/identical to the Chinese whisper/telephone game where the final story is convoluted or contaminated from its original content and meaning?”

Many people, when talking about whether or not the Bible is preserved or not, have sought to use the example of the telephone game to prove that the Bible couldn’t have been preserved. In the telephone game, you have a group of people that form a circle. One person begins with a message and whispers it to the person beside them, and then that person whispers whatever it is that they heard to the next person beside them, and so on and so on until the message gets finally passed on through the entire circle. By the end of the round, the original whispered message becomes completely corrupted as the message slowly becomes misunderstood through its transmission in the circle as it slowly becomes less and less like the original, and everyone has a good laugh at the end.

So wouldn’t the same happen to the Bible through its preservation? As the Bible gets copied and copied into more and more manuscripts, the message gets more corrupted through each transmission as happens in the telephone game, and what we have today is only the result of a long history of corruption and textual mistakes that is nothing like the original text, which we know happens because of the telephone game.

Here, I’ll show this analogy clearly doesn’t stack up. Indeed, trying to use the telephone game as an analogy for the transmission of the biblical text is actually fallacious, just because the two processes are so unlike. In a round of the telephone game, one person can only tell the next person the message one time, whereas when copying a manuscript, you can cross-check the original as many times as you want before copying it down. Furthermore, in the telephone game, you have to intentionally whisper the message to the person beside you, to try to make sure they have a hard time getting the message, something that is totally unparalleled when a scribe copies from a manuscript. The objective of the telephone game is to corrupt the message, whereas the objective of manuscript transmission is to preserve the message. As the prestigious scholar, Daniel Wallace remarks;

…it’s a ridiculous comparison, frankly. For one thing in the telephone game the purpose is to skew the message so you can have a big laugh, and in fact the message is usually somewhat convoluted right to begin with, difficult to remember, and not something that’s easily communicated. Secondly, it’s all done orally, by whispers without repeition. You don’t get a chance to say “tell me that message again.” Thirdly there’s a single line of transmission only. Fourthly you only get to interview the last person in the line of transmission. With the New Testament manuscripts we’re dealing with written documents, we’re dealing with documents that are copied multiple times, and even the original texts of the New Testament would have been copied multiple times, so you’ve got various streams of transmission, not oral transmission, you’ve got multiple copies, and you can interview the witnesses earlier on in the transmission, so the comparison is really quite silly, it just doesn’t work.

In other words, the analogy of the telephone game falls apart when trying to challenge the preservation of the New Testament, especially when you just take a look at the astounding preservation of the biblical text we have through our many tens of thousands of copies we have preserved from ancient times.

Old or Young Earth?

Once, I had a conversation with a very nice fellow Christian who told me that I presented my arguments for my claims in a very clear, concise, decisive and convincing way. He only had one disagreement with me though, and that was regarding the age of the universe. I think it is billions of years old, however, he believed that this view was incompatible with Scripture. I responded to him, and I think that I’d like to share this response with everyone else who decides to read it to give everyone a better understanding of my view on the Bible, and why I take it. This was my response to him;

Hello, and thanks a lot for your kind words about my argumentation, research, and presentation of my facts.

It seems that you have a word or two for me about the age of the Earth. Listen dude, God gave us two ways to know the truth, and one of them is the Bible. The other one is nature, and the fact is that these two can’t contradict each other. If it is an objective fact that clouds exist in nature, then it must also be an objective fact that clouds exist in the Bible because these two sources cannot conradict each other, they both have the same source of course, God. Likewise, if it’s an objective fact that the universe is billions of years old in nature, then it’s an objective fact that the universe is billions of years old in the Bible, because these sources cannot contradict one another.

On that note, I do think there is good reason to think the universe is billions of years old, and there are good reasons why the primordial history of Genesis (Genesis chapters 1-11) is non-literal. Firstly, the age of the universe. There are galaxies that are located billions of light years away from our own galaxy, and light from those galaxies has reached our own galaxy. So, light that is located, for example, three billion light years away from us has arrived to our galaxy, meaning that it took three billion years to do so (since light travels one year in a light year). In other words, as far as I know, there is good reason to believe that the age of the universe is rather large. If my scientific theory is true, then the same is true in the Bible regardless of how ‘clear’ a simple reading of scripture might be, since it is true in nature. So this is why I think the age of the universe is very large.

Now, for my reasons for not interpreting Genesis 1-11 necessarily literally. It’s possible, and I’m always open to it. I’ve been a young-earth creationist in my life before. I’m simply trying to find the truth and I’ll leave old earth creationism in an instant if I don’t find it viable. But for now, I do. Let’s go to the flood story in Genesis. Specifically, the following passage;

Genesis 7:1-2: Then the Lord said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before me in this generation. You are to take with you seven pairs, a male and its female, of all the clean animals, and two of the animals that are not clean, a male and its female,

God tells Noah to take seven pairs of every clean animal and two pairs of every unclean animal. However, God only revealed the list of clean animals in the Torah to Moses, meaning that the entire concept of clean and unclean animals was non-existent in Noah’s time — so how could God have told Noah to take pairs of clean and unclean animals? It makes no sense. I think it’s possible to make sense of Noah’s flood story in the following way: Jesus died for the sins of the world and took its punishment upon Himself, so that we don’t have to. On the other hand, God is showing us that, with Noah, what happens when humanity and the entire world pays for its own sins. God destroys the entire world and kills almost all of humanity, besides Noah, the one righteous man. God destroys the world for its sins, in effect. And what happens almost immediately after Noah gets off the Ark? According to the Bible, he got drunk (Genesis 9:21). So what happens now? Noah is destroyed and the world ceases to be. But that’s not what happens, as Noah’s keeps on having descendants. I think that Noah’s story presents a message, alongside the rest of the Genesis’ primordial history, about the coming of Christ and God’s plan for the world.

God created all reality and everything in it. I don’t exactly accept evolution, and I do lean towards the idea that God started humanity with Adam and Eve. I can’t claim to know how God did it all, but I don’t think that God did it in the way that you think it happened. I’d like you to see this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9h-hmlMz5c

Canaanites still alive?

Recently, some geneticists found out that the ancient Canaanite’s are still around. Some people around Lebanon have retained over 90% of their ancient Canaanite DNA. How did they (the geneticists) figure this out? Quite simple, really, they found some DNA belonging to some dead ancient Canaanite’s about 3,700 years old, deciphered the DNA, and compared it to DNA patterns in the modern Middle East and found a match!

The Canaanite’s aren’t what they used to be, but they’re still around. But doesn’t the Bible say they were to be wiped out thousands of years ago?

Deuteronomy 20:16-18: However, you must not let any living thing survive among the cities of these people the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance. You must completely destroy them—the Hethite, Amorite, Canaanite, Perizzite, Hivite, and Jebusite—as the Lord your God has commanded you,so that they won’t teach you to do all the detestable acts they do for their gods, and you sin against the Lord your God.

These verses caused a lot of media outlets to declare that the Bible had been wrong about the Canaanite’s, with one outlet (sciencemag, unfortunately one that usually publishes good media coverage of science) going so far as to title its report something as odious as “Ancient DNA counters biblical account of the mysterious Canaanites”. So, has the biblical account been “countered”? As already proven, hardly.

Let’s take a look at the passage above. First of all, we need to start with the fact that the Bible never, at any one point, declares that the Canaanite’s had in fact been ever wiped out — in fact, later biblical books after Deuteronomy continue to mention the Canaanite’s. This account says that the Canaanite’s will be wiped out, as the Israelite’s continue taking the promised land. However, we know that the Israelite’s never took the entire promised land (or even close) because they continued to break their covenant with God and disobey His commandments — hence, His promise to the Israelite’s to grant them the entire promised land, contingent on them following His laws, never went through. Thus, the ancient peoples inhabiting the promised land were also allowed to remain in it because of the sin of Israel. That is the biblical account in its full context, and now that we know exactly what the biblical account says, the latest skeptical assault on the authority of the Bible has been countered, one might say.

Update: The ScienceMag article realized its mistake when trying to discredit the veracity of the biblical account, and so it recently changed the title of its page from Ancient DNA counters biblical account of the mysterious Canaanites to Ancient DNA reveals fate of the mysterious Canaanites

Why Naboth had a Vineyard

1 Kings 21:1: Some time passed after these events. Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard; it was in Jezreel next to the palace of King Ahab of Samaria.

Yet another fascinating archaeological discovery tells us why Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard — because Jezreel, the land where he lived in was filled with wine-production in biblical times, and in biblical times, wine came from vineyards, and so Jezreel was full of vineyards, and we indeed do know now there were vineyards in Jezreel. In essence, archaeology has helped confirm another story in the Bible (which made some headlines in the last week) as well as increased our understanding of the texts. It seems as if not a single year goes by without archaeology affirming yet another narrative in the most important book to all Christians in the world.

In 1 Kings 22, we are told the story of a man named Naboth, who had a vineyard in Jezreel that he inherited from his father. The king, Ahab, sees Naboth’s vineyard and wants it, so he offers up some silver to Naboth in order to purchase it from him. Naboth rejects the kings silver, unwilling to sell off his inheritance. Ahab gets bitter about it, lies on his bed and refuses to eat, which catches the attention of his wife, Jezebel. Jezebel finds out why Ahab is having a bad day, and stages a mock trial to execute Naboth so her husband can get the vineyard. Jezebel’s mock trial works out, Naboth is stoned based on false charges of cursing God, Ahab hears about it and possesses the now ownerless vineyard formerly belonging to Naboth.

God saw the entire thing. God ends up delivering a prophecy of destruction to Ahab on his household through his prophet, Elijah, and the story continues from 1 Kings 21-22. Now, according to the archaeologists excavating Jezreel, because we know that in fact there were vineyards in and around Jezreel as the Bible notes and that their purpose was to supply national commodities like wine, we have good enough reason for considering the narrative as historical. God is great!

Is The Lake Of Fire In The Old Testament?

The most fearful thing for an unbeliever is being cast by God into the lake of fire. As Hebrews 10:31 illustrates, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” The human fear of God and judgment is readily noted throughout our Bible, and it’s something that most of us all likely have come about. But what if… Later biblical authors just made it up?

Recently, I’ve been coming across the claim by non-believers that I’ve been talking with that say the concept of eternal torture in the afterlife is nowhere to be found in the Old Testament, and thus, is a New Testament invention as the biblical tradition continuously became more exaggerated with the passing of time. So, I took to studying the Old Testament in some way, and see if this claim stacks up. I’ve come across this claim by many people in many contexts, and so this is certainly one of those online skeptic classicals.

Firstly, before we see what the Old Testament has to say, we need to understand what the New Testament says about the eternity of torture in the afterlife. Although people refer to this as hell, in the entire Bible, this is most certainly not hell. Hell is not a place of eternal torture, biblically speaking, it is the lake of fire that is the place of eternal fire and tortureIn fact, towards the end of the New Testament, we are not only specifically told that hell and the lake of fire are two different things, but we are told that hell and death will literally be cast into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:14: Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

So, the final place of unrelenting agony is the lake of fire, not hell. So, how does the New Testament actually refer to the place of hell anyways? In reality, the actual English word hell only came into existence in the 8th century AD from Germanic derivation. Thus, it becomes immediately clear that the New Testament never refers to hell in the original Greek language, that term is only found in our modern English translations. In reality, the original Greek uses a single specific term for ‘hell’, that is, hades.

Hades is a place deep within the Earth where the souls of all the wicked dead lay after their death, and stay there until they are cast into the lake of fire by God, where they will be tortured in fire forever. Now that we’ve clarified this, the question becomes if the concept of the lake of fire (an eternal torture and fire) appears in the Old Testament. The deniers say it doesn’t. What does the Old Testament say?

Daniel 12:2: Many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to eternal life, and some to disgrace and eternal contempt.

In this verse, things become quickly clear. We are told that some people are resting in the “dust of the earth” (sheol), and soon, they will either depart to one of two places, either eternal life or eternal contempt (an eternity after death either way). The places of eternal life and eternal contempt appear to be opposites — eternal life being heaven, and eternal contempt being the lake of fire. It does appear, from this verse, that the concept of an eternal torture awaiting the wicked does appear in the Old Testament. There are more verses to examine, of course, before relenting in our study.

Jeremiah 23:40: I will bring on you everlasting disgrace and humiliation that will never be forgotten.”

Again, we see another explicit reference, by God Himself in this verse, where God will throw someone into some form of eternal unpleasance. These two aforementioned verses do not yet speak of an eternal fire, but there is one last verse to look at before deciding on whether or not the skeptics are right about this.

Isaiah 66:24 “As they leave, they will see the dead bodies of those who have rebelled against me; for their worm will never die, their fire will never go out, and they will be a horror to all mankind.”

The last verse of Isaiah’s book tells us that some people will be in an undying fire after death, a place where their worm will never die (see Jesus speak in Mark 9:48). This verse unambiguously declares the unrighteous will enter into an eternity of fire and doom in the afterlife, consistent with both what we know from Daniel 12:2 and Jeremiah 23:40. Interestingly, another verse (Isaiah 50:11) also says that God says to the wicked “you will lie down in a place of torment.” So, I think it’s clear now that the lake of fire is explicitly mentioned in the Old Testament, hence, not a later invention that comes about through the advent of the New Testament. Thus, the skeptics turned out to be wrong.

How Can You Belive In a God that Damns your children?

This is a hard question, one that not many parents which to take into consideration. What if my, very own children are condemned to Hell by the God I love?

The truth is, your children are not only your children but children of God, and all moral accountability is ultimately directed to God. For perhaps the greatest answer ever given to this question by one of the worlds best philosophers, click here or the link below:

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/worshiping-a-god-who-might-damn-your-children

Confirmed Earthquakes in the Bible

Earthquakes happen 12,000 times a year, and twice in the Bible. Let’s take a look.

Image result for epic earthquake

Amos 1:1: The words of Amos, who was one of the sheep breeders from Tekoa—what he saw regarding Israel in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah, and Jeroboam son of Jehoash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.

The first earthquake is recorded in the Book of Amos, and also is a major help to dating the document. Amos tells us in Amos 1:1 that the events he writes of happened “two years before the earthquake” — Amos plainly tells his readers that he is writing two years before “the earthquake”, and it is therefore safe to assume that Amos understans his audience knows that his readers know what earthquake he is talking about as it was a very recent event for them . And indeed, this earthquake has been located and identified. Amos also tells us that he is writing in the reign of Uzziah, king of Judah, and Jeroboam, king of Israel, which means that if an earthquake really happened here, it should take place about 780-740 BC (the time of the reign of these kings). And indeed, in 2000, a paper was published by three geologists titled Amos’s Earthquake: An Extraordinary Middle East Seismic Event of 750 B.C. In this papers, the geologists analyze the stratigraphy of the Dead Sea and walls of ancient constructions, and discovered that in Judah, about 750 BC (+/- 30 years), an overwhelming 8.2 magnitude earthquake took place, which by any means of measurement, is utterly enormous. This fact corroborates the account of Amos, which is self-dated by the reigns of Uzziah and Jeroboam to about 750 BC as well.

The second earthquake of the Bible is more well-known, and is explicitly mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew as having took place shortly after the crucifixion of Jesus ca. 30-33 AD.

Matthew 28:2: Suddenly there was a violent earthquake, because an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached the tomb. He rolled back the stone and was sitting on it.

After the crucifixion of Jesus, we are told an earthquake miraculously took place, devastating the surrounding region as a consequence of the death of Jesus, the true Messiah. In 2012, the journal International Geology Review published a study, where a geologist found and confirmed that somewhere between 26-36 AD in Jerusalem, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake ruptured the region, in the perfect time allotted to the historical record of Matthew’s Gospel. A fantastic achievement indeed, verifying the historicity of the biblical earthquake.

Matthew 27:54: When the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they were terrified and said, “This man really was God’s Son!”

Why Historians Know Jesus Was Crucified

Jesus Christ, one of the most influential figures in all of human history, met His end at the hands of the Romans, whom crucified Him. His crime was calling Himself the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One, and He paid dearly for it. Indeed, this is a record of history written by Christians, Jews and pagans alike, and is has been established in the frame of history beyond a reasonable doubt. Indeed, it is a fact, and so I decided to put together exactly why it is universally recognized as one of the most well-established historical facts in all of ancient history, by every single expert on the planet. Indeed, the great historian E.P. Sanders says this;

I shall first offer a list of statements about Jesus that meet two standards: they are almost beyond dispute; and they belong to the framework of his life, and especially of his public career… Jesus was born c 4 BCE near the time of the death of Herod the Great; he spent his childhood and early adult years in Nazareth, a Galilean village; he was baptised by John the Baptist; he called disciples; he taught in the towns, villages and countryside of Galilee (apparently not the cities); he preached ‘the kingdom of God’; about the year 30 he went to Jerusalem for Passover; he created a disturbance in the Temple area; he had a final meal with the disciples; he was arrested and interrogated by Jewish authorities, specifically the high priest; he was executed on the orders of the Roman prefect, Pontius Pilate.

E.P. Sanders correctly notes that the crucifixion of Jesus at the hands of Pontius Pilate is virtually beyond dispute, and indeed, this fact is affirmed by all credible historians in the entire field. Therefore, it is important to know why scholars hold this opinion. Here, we will be reviewing the overwhelming historical data and evidences to affirm the veracity of the crucifixion narrative.

The first thing to look at is the gospel narratives, however, we will not yet look at what they say about the historicity of the crucifixion. First, we will examine their reliability.

Indeed, it is now understood in scholarly circles that the four gospels are generally pretty reliable historical sources, and the data that has brought historians to this conclusion is nothing less than overwhelming. The genre that the gospels were written in is ancient biography. Craig Keener, professor of the New Testament thus remarks;

Through most of history, readers understood the Gospels as biographies, but after 1915 scholars tried to find some other classification for them, mainly because these scholars confused ancient and modern biography and noticed that the Gospels differed from the latter. The current trend, however, is again to recognize the Gospels as ancient biographies.

Likewise, Richard Burrige, professor of Biblical Interpretations also remarks;

In recent years, many genres have been proposed for the Gospels, but increasingly they have been again seen as biography. The work of Charles Talbert and David Aune has contributed greatly to this development, while my own work has attempted to give a detailed argument combining literary theory and classical studies with Gospel scholarship

So, why exactly have historians come to this conclusion? This conclusion is based off of a wealth of resources, to say the least, and one especially is the overwhelming historical confirmation of the gospel narratives. Countless figures of the New Testament, especially important ones like Peter, John, and Paul are well attested in historical records, and sometimes themselves wrote. For example, Paul is credited with at least seven epistles bearing his name, including Romans, Galatians, Philemon, Phillipians, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, and 1 Thessalonians (and he wrote as many as thirteen). So for example, the historicity of Paul is well beyond dispute, as we have his very writings. Clement of Rome (70-96 AD) tells us about the martyrdom of both Paul and Peter. He says;

Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the Church] have been persecuted and put to death. Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. -1 Clement, V

The apostle John is even mentioned as a known baptizer by Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews 18.5.2! Countless other of the early disciples, if not every single one of them, are all historical and well known. The gospels record not only the historical figures of the gospels, but countless other historical figures, including the Roman emperor of the time Tiberius Caesar (Luke 3:1), Lysanius, the tetrarch of the time of Jesus (Luke 3:1), the high priest of the time of Jesus Caiaphas (John 11:49), and countless others. Other cities recorded in the New Testament, such as Bethlehem, Nazareth, Capernaum, etc, have all been found confirmed in and before the time of Jesus, despite being small cities. The gospel narratives record that an earthquake erupted during the crucifixion of Jesus (Matthew 27:54). In 2012, a scientific report published to the International Geology Review titled An early first-century earthquake in the Dead Sea confirmed that a major, 6.3 magnitude earthquake took place sometime between 26-36 AD, the exact time of the crucifixion of Jesus. The gospel narratives are overwhelmingly substantiated by countless historical facts, and are simply embedded into historical narratives.

In fact, the author of the Gospel of Luke has even been confirmed to have been a historian! Sir William Ramsay, one of the foremost scholars of his time said “Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy… [he] should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.” To know why historians acknowledge this, one will need to try to look into the overwhelming compilation of historical details confirmed from the smallest aspects of the Gospel of Luke and Book of Acts (both written by the same author) available, and perhaps they can start by reading about 84 confirmed historical details in the last 16 chapters of Acts alone by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek. The Gospel of John, which is traditionally dated to the 90’s AD is so familiar and well versed in the archaeology of Jerusalem before 70 AD, that renowned scholars including James H. Charlesworth have come to the belief that the Gospel of John was originally written before 70 AD, but enlarged into its current form later in the 90’s AD.

This brings us to the first reason why we can consider the crucifixion a historical fact, beyond potential dispute. The story of the crucifixion of Jesus simply emerges from historical reality, it is filled, detail by detail, with confirmed facts and simply woven into historical reality, especially that of the 30’s AD. Let’s see exactly how it does so. The beginning of the crucifixion narrative begins when he is first tried before the authorities of his time, the high priest Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate.

Mark 26:57-58: Those who had arrested Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had convened. Meanwhile, Peter was following Him at a distance right to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and was sitting with the temple police to see the outcome.

As previously noted, Caiaphas has already been historically confirmed to have been a high priest during the time of Jesus, and he was specifically so in the 30’s AD, not a period later on. Secondly;

Mark 15:2So Pilate asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “You have said it.”

According to the gospels, Jesus was tried before the procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate. Pontius Pilate has also become a historically established figure, and is known to have reigned over Judea between 26-36 AD. As we’re seeing so far, the crucifixion narrative is immersed in the historical reality of the 30’s AD. Later on, we are told exactly where Jesus was crucified:

Mark 15:22: And they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means Skull Place).

According to the crucifixion narrative of the Gospels, Jesus was crucified in a place called Golgotha. Golgotha has been found in the site where the biblical requirements of its location have been called for, and it was an ancient site of crucifixion. The gospels tell us that Jesus carried His own cross (John 19:17), but it becomes apparent that because of the extreme torture he had undergone before, he was no longer able to carry it, and thus a man named Simon from Cyrene had to carry the cross of Jesus for Him. Nevertheless, we are told by the gospel narratives that Jesus was initially carry His own cross, and it’s a well known Roman method during crucifixion to force the victim to carry his own cross before he is actually crucified. In Plutarch’s Moralia, section 554, he writes “every criminal who goes to execution must carry his own cross on his back” — confirming this practice mentioned in the gospels. The crucifixion narratives write that after the crucifixion, a Jew, likely an admirer of Jesus (Joseph of Arimathea) requested permission from Pontius Pilate to bury the body of Jesus. That Jews were concerned with burying their fellow Jews after their death, even their enemies, is confirmed by the first century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who recounts  “We must furnish fire, water, food to all who ask for them, point out the road, not leave a corpse unburied, show consideration even to declared enemies” (Against Apion II.29). To recount as well, we’ve also previously seen that the gospels record an earthquake during the time of the crucifixion, one that has been confirmed.

In other words, as we can see, the crucifixion narratives document an account that is filled to the brim with historicity, especially history known from the time of the crucifixion of Jesus (c. 30-33 AD). This is important for two reasons. One, ancient fictions do not contain significant historical details, especially when they are talking about events that happened decades earlier — when historical accounts try to create fictions of events that have transpired decades ago, they usually get those details wrong. However, the gospel writers, even though they write decades later, all easily get the right emperor, procurator and high priest of the time. Secondly, if the gospel authors were inventing a fiction, they do not embed historical detail and historical customs into them, especially at a significant scale. However, the complete contrary is to do with the gospel accounts when they speak of the narrative of the crucifixion, they clearly outline the practices of crucifixion that occurred to Jesus, a region where crucifixion actually happened, and Jewish practice that was applied to Jesus after His crucifixion.

The reality is that, because almost every single thing about the crucifixion narrative of Jesus is historical for a fact, the evidence speaks that it is most certainly true that the crucifixion itself was not invented, rather the authors of the gospels were doing nothing more then writing the history as it happened. As we’ve seen earlier, the gospel accounts contain significant historical accuracy, and thus there is not the slightest reason for us to belief that Jesus crucifixion, which is immersed in historical data, was some kind of fiction all of a sudden popping out.

Jesus’ crucifixion is recorded by countless figures. For one, all four gospel narratives record it, and as we’ve seen, the gospels are historically reliable accounts (and again, Luke’s account was written by a historian, because the Gospel of Luke was written by a historian). Matthew and Luke likely have some dependency on Mark, but John is correctly recognized as a completely independent account, therefore we have at least two independent sources from the gospel narratives both confirming the same thing: Jesus was crucified. Secondly, Jesus’ crucifixion was recorded by an even earlier source, Paul. In the Book of Galatians, Chapter 3, Paul records “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?” Paul’s writings were first written in the 50’s AD, and are also independent of the gospel narratives as well, as well as being a very early, and reliable source about the crucifixion of Jesus, especially by a man who lived contemporaneously with Jesus Christ.

The crucifixion of Jesus is also noted in the writings of the historian Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews XVIII.3.3). Although it is popular on the internet to try to claim that historians believe this is a forgery, actual historians have, contrary to these internet myths, concluded that the passage contains nothing more than a partial interpolation, whereas the account of crucifixion is well enough recorded in the original. Secondly, the crucifixion of Jesus is also recorded in the ancient Roman works, especially that of the historian Cornelius Tacitus. In Annals 15.44, Tacitus tells us about a group of people called Christians, whom were persecuted under the Roman emperor Tiberius. Tacitus then tells us that this group originated from a man known as Chrestus (a variant spelling of Christus, or Christ, in the time of Tacitus) had been executed and crucified in the reign of Tiberius, by the procurator Pontius Pilate. Tacitus information came almost certainly, directly from the Roman records themselves, as Tacitus almost certainly had access to them and most of his documented information came from such sources, or similarly reliable sources. Indeed, Tacitus always tells his readers whether or not the information he is recording comes from an unreliable resource, and in the case of Jesus, Tacitus makes no such disclaimer at all.

The execution of Jesus at the least, without precise notion to the crucifying part of this execution, is perhaps also noted by Mara Bar Serapion, who says “What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crime. What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning Pythagoras? In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King?” Mara Bar Serapion is generally thought to have written about 74 AD by scholars, and here, the Jews executing their ‘wise king’ (a well-known mockery title of Jesus by the Romans) most-likely means Jesus Christ Himself.

In other words, we have considerable attestation to the crucifixion of Jesus from sources throughout the New Testament, even ranging to many sources outside of it, be they Jewish (Josephus), Roman (Tacitus), or pagan (Mara Bar Serapion). It seems to have been a universally recognized historical fact from its inception, a detail only possessed by events that happened in the reality of history. Most events we know of ancient history are usually based on one account, but historians are usually very happy when they have two ancient accounts of an event. But of course, most are based on one. However, the accounts we have for the crucifixion of Jesus exceed much, much more than just two. Therefore, this is indeed one of the reasons why historians consider it one of the indisputable facts of history, right up there with events such as the Bar Kokhba Revolt, the reign of emperor Constantine and the expansion of the Egyptian empire that was undergone during the reign of the king of Egypt, Rameses II. In other words, as E.P. Sanders notes, indisputable.

We are not done, though. Another major reason for why we know that the crucifixion of Jesus happened was recounted by Bart Ehrman in his debate with the insane mythicist Robert Price, where Price was understandably demolished and most of the time hadn’t a clue what he was talking about. Ehrman revealed an overwhelming fact: That the crucifixion of Jesus would never have been invented, had it not happened in reality. For decades, centuries after the crucifixion of Jesus, many Jews mocked the Christians for believing in a man that had been crucified. The writer Lucian of Samosta, who wrote somewhere between 165-175 AD was a well-known mocker of the Christians, calling Jesus a “crucified sage”. That Jesus, whom was thought to be quite literally God to the Christians, was crucified couldn’t even have comprehensibly have been made up. Indeed, a truly mythical account would have claimed that, rather than being killed, Jesus was actually caught up into heaven and escaped death by the Romans (such as the Islamic account of the life of Jesus). Indeed, the Christians believed Jesus was the Messiah of the Old Testament, and according to contemporary Jewish thought of the 1st century AD, the Messiah would have come as a king on Earth who was going to destroy the Roman allegiance, and establish an eternal Jewish kingdom based in Jerusalem. This never happened with Jesus, Jesus was instead crucified. No Jew would have possibly made this up about their own Messiah. It was humiliating, and that was the way it was meant to be: Crucifixion was invented to humiliate the person being killed. Jesus was crucified. And that is the humble fact of Christianity.

Interesting Biblical Archaeology Resources

This site has some useful resources to look at when studying the history behind the Bible.

When I was a teenager, I received a beautiful, leather-bound Thompson Chain Reference Bible as a prize at church.  One of the resources it had at the end, just before the concordance and maps, was an “Archaeological Supplement,” written by Dr. G. Frederick Owens.  It was a fascinating, faith-boosting experience to read about the excavation of the very sites I was reading about in the Bible.

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