Does Archaeology Support the Bible?
A Study Guide
“There is, I imagine, no body of literature in the world that has been exposed to the stringent analytical study that the four gospels have sustained for the past 200 years. This is not something to be regretted: it is something to be accepted with satisfaction. Scholars today who treat the gospels as credible historical documents do so in the full light of this analytical study, not by closing their minds to it.” - Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels
People love the Indiana Jones series because it is good fiction. People however wonder, when it comes to the Bible, if it also is fiction. Indiana Jones lived as an archaeologist and worked in the world that produced evidences of history. That same world produces for us the real history of the Bible because it puts the Bible back in its accurate historical context.
The Answer: All of the things that were part of the original Christian message were things that were in fact fact. When we look at the real world, we understand that we have things in it that explain to us and clarify for us the world of the Bible.
Examples of Biblical Archaeological Findings include a jar from the first century A.D., the time of Jesus, a jar from the time of Joshua (e.g. the Late Bronze Period), bricks made by the Israelites in the land of Goshen, scarab seals, (e.g. those of Amenhotep II, Pharaoh of Egypt candidate), mud bricks from the Wall of Jericho, and ancient weapons used by the Canaanites (e.g. bronze sickle swords).
Not everything we have from historical record, or certainly from the Bible, has been discovered. Some say that absence of evidence is a problem. . . . In fact, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. In other words, just because archaeological evidence for a particular aspect of the Bible remains undiscovered does not mean that evidence does not exist, or that the Bible is false. It simply means the evidence has not been discovered, yet.
Evidence for Biblical Personages Once Thought Non-Existent: The Hittites - Remnants of their civilization were found in Boghazkoy, including 15,000 clay tablets. King David - a stone monument excavated at Tel Dan was found dedicated to the “King of Israel of the House of David.”
Archaeology and the Old Testament:
Evidence for the Accuracy of the OT: The Qumran Scrolls - Near high limestone caves in a place called Qumran have come jars [in which] an ancient Jewish sect hid copies of scrolls. Every single book of the Old Testament, except for the Book of Esther, was found among these scrolls. These scrolls now take our knowledge back to 300 years before the birth of Jesus, some 1300 years before the oldest copy of the Bible previously. Now we know these books of the Bible, (the oldest that we have) comparing with our [modern-day] texts, are almost 95% accurate. The small percentage is simply differences in spelling. So we know that the scribes who wrote these books very carefully transmitted the Hebrew text down through the ages so that they were almost without error.
Evidence for OT Miracles: The Taylor Prism - Clay prism inscribed with Sennacharib’s invasion of Israel. In it Jerusalem is spared for no apparent reason. It gives credence to the Biblical account of the city’s salvation as recorded in Kings, Chronicles, and by the prophet Isaiah.
Archaeology and the New Testament: The central figure in the NT is Jesus. Although the archaeological record gives us back- ground concerning Jesus’ birth and His life. It is the last days of jesus days are the most signifi- cant, both archaeologically and spiritually.
Archaeological Evidence Corresponding with the NT Account of Jesus’ Last Days: (A) Israelite Supper Cups - Indiana Jones in his film The Last Crusade went searching for the last supper cup of Jesus called the Holy Grail. The archaeological record has given us that very type of cup.
Pontius Pilate Coins - Jesus’ trials were both Roman and Jewish. In the Roman trial of Jesus, a man named Pontius Pilate presided over that trial. From the archaeological record we have the very inscription that gives the name “Pontius Pilate” found at Caesarea. [We also have a] coin minted by Pontius Pilate and on the back is the Roman year 17, the very year historians believe Jesus was crucified.
First Century Nail/Bone Remanant from a Crucifixion - Jesus own death on the cross was . . . remarkable. Historians tell us they never have found evidence of crucifixion and yet there were tens of thousands of people crucified. One of the reasons . . . is that those remains were used over and over again. But in Jerusalem they did come up with [evidence for] one crucified victim.
The Temple Scroll - Longest of the Dead Sea Scrolls. This scrolls mentions that based on a passage in Deuteronomy the sentence against a seditious act, an act of treason against the nation could only be enacted by “hanging on a tree.” Now the Jewish authorities believed that Jesus’ claim to be the “Son of God” . . . was an act that the Romans would consider “anarchy” . . . and would be something that would overthrow their nation . . . so they took Him to the Romans to enact that sentence.
Bar Kochba Period Coins - From [these] coins . . . we have a picture of the facade of . . . Herod’s temple.
Stone from Herod’s Temple - Stones thrown down by the Romans.
Remains of Jewish People Caught in the Conflict Over Herod’s Temple.
Bottom Line: You’ve seen the witness of the archaeological record, and we know that not one of these archaeological discoveries has ever contradicted a Biblical fact. In fact, they have only complimented its witness. The archaeological record has shown us the Bible can be trusted. If the Bible is a reliable archaeological witness, then the message of the Bible can be trusted.
1 John 1:1; Luke 19:40
Recommended Further Reading:
The Case for the Resurrection of Christ, by Gary Habermas
The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ, by Gary Habermas
The Bible in Its World: The Bible and Archaeology Today, by Kenneth A. Kitchen
The Stones Cry Out: What Archaeology Reveals about the Truth of the Bible, by Randall Price