My Favorite 5 New Testament Archaeology Discoveries in Recent Years!

To download the full article with all images and notes, click here: Shogren_Archaeology of the New Testament

Usually it’s the Old Testament that garners all the publicity for archaeological finds, and for good reasons: the Israelites inhabited the land for centuries and left behind all kinds of artifacts. Jesus and the apostles did not erect buildings or put up inscriptions or make special clay pots.

Nevertheless, New Testament archaeology has yielded some excellent and surprising finds. My criteria here are: finds from the last few years; finds that reveal some sort of physical evidence for the New Testament story; and frankly, things that I find cool. Consult an expert for rankings of findings in order of scholarly importance.[i]

#5. The Pool of Bethesda. The Pool of Siloam (John 9) was discovered in 2005, and it fit very neatly with the biblical description of the place where the blind man washed and was healed. The Pool of Bethesda, by contrast, was discovered long ago but positively identified only recently.[ii] It lay just north of the Temple, by the Sheep Gate, as John states.

In John 5, Jesus visits Bethesda and sees the lame man who had been waiting for years. John describes the structure as a pool “surrounded by five covered colonnades.” Now, a five-sided structure would have been rare indeed, and some skeptics used to dismiss John’s description and other elements of his gospel as a myth. But sure enough, the ruin of Bethesda shows that it definitely did have five colonnades and porticos, just as John describes it – and its architectural oddness is probably the reason why he mentioned it in the first place! It appears that the pool was a mikveh, that is, a place where people would bathe to purify themselves before entering the temple.[iii] The Pool of Bethesda backs up what John says, and suggests that he had reliable information about its details.

The Pool of Bethesda

#4. The Magdala Synagogue. We remember Magdala principally because it gave Mary her nickname, Mary Magdalene (more…)

Lady Apostle Lands in Jail!

If I asked you “Who were the martyrs of the early church?” you would, quite properly, begin with Stephen in Acts 7; James in Acts 12; and then go on to Peter and Paul.

“Brave, godly men were early martyrs” = a right answer

But not a complete answer.

Why not? Because we all, simply by being human, look at history through our own set of lenses. Because of such “cognitive bias,” the data that confirm our expectations stand out in bold print, and the data that don’t fit into our grid fade into the background. To answer our question, may I suggest that:

“Brave, godly men and women were the early martyrs of the church” = a better answer

Christian women were singled out for persecution in a way that their Jewish and Gentile contemporaries were not.

lady-martyr

Let us first honor those Jewish women who were victims of (more…)

Was Jesus Married? Eight Days in September, 2012

UPDATE. On April 10, 2014, scientists announced their finding that this document is not a fake, that is, it’s not a modern forgery. It is a centuries-old copy of an earlier book, but not from as early as the time of Jesus. That doesn’t mean Jesus was married, but as Dr. King originally said, it may attest to the belief of some in the early church that Jesus was married, to Mary Magdalene. Nevertheless, marriage is probably a metaphor for spiritual union rather than literal marriage.

FURTHER UPDATE, May 3, 2014. Although the ink is ancient, it now appears that the text itself is not – that is, the best guess is that someone in the last couple of years forged the text, by moistening ancient ink and using it to write a new text.  As usual, the guys from Tyndale Fellowship are on top it this! http://ntweblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-gospel-of-jesus-wife-latest-news.html

Also http://ntweblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-gospel-of-jesus-wife-latest-news.html

In December of 2011, Dr. Karen King of Harvard welcomed an antiquities dealer to her office. He offered for sale the sort of artifact that makes historians’ mouths water: sealed in glass was a piece of papyrus, about the size of a business card. In it there was a cryptic reference to Jesus’ wife; and it was old, perhaps from as early as the 4th century AD.

The section in red reads “and Jesus said, My wife…”

 

Dr. King spent some months analyzing the tiny scrap; since she is a Harvard professor of history she lends a certain authority that the document is genuine. She submitted an article to the prestigious journal Harvard Theology Review, which accepted her work for publication. Then she introduced the world to its content in a paper she gave in Rome, last week, on September 18. The next day it hit the press (click HERE). Today, eight days later, the theme has been announced, affirmed, batted back and forth in the media, used by people with pent-up feelings against Christians (more…)