<< Previous | Index | Next >>"CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS" Archaeological Support For The New Testament INTRODUCTION 1. In examining the question of the New Testament's reliability as a HISTORICAL DOCUMENT... a. We saw in the previous study that the New Testament passes the "ACID TEST" b. That is, it was written in the same generation in which the events to place 1) It was circulated among the very people about whom these documents spoke 2) While they were still alive to confirm or deny it 2. So it was written early...WERE THE AUTHORS ACCURATE in their depic- tion of the events which took place? 3. This is where the science of ARCHAEOLOGY can be very helpful in deter- mining the historical reliability of the New Testament: a. If the archaeologists prove that the New Testament is filled with errors concerning people, places, and events... b. Then the New Testament could not be trusted as an accurate record of the life of Jesus and the early church! 4. Not too long ago, some discounted the Biblical record because it frequently referred to things not mentioned by any source outside the Bible 5. But discoveries by archaeologists in recent years have vindicated the New Testament and silenced the skeptics! [In this study we shall consider just a few examples of how archaeology has confirmed the New Testament as a reliable document...] I. A CENSUS, AND QUIRINIUS GOVERNOR AT THE TIME OF JESUS' BIRTH? - Lk 2:1-3 A. IT WAS ONCE ARGUED THAT LUKE WAS IN ERROR... 1. In other words, that there was no such census 2. Also, that Quirinius was not governor of Syria at that time 3. And that people did not have to return to their ancestral home B. BUT ARCHAEOLOGICAL DISCOVERIES HAVE PROVEN OTHERWISE... 1. We now know that the Romans: a. Had a regular enrollment of taxpayers b. Held censuses every 14 years (begun by Augustus Caesar) 2. An inscription found in Antioch tells of Quirinius being governor of Syria around 7 B.C. (evidently he was governor twice!) 3. A papyrus found in Egypt says concerning the conducting of a census: "Because of the approaching census it is necessary that all those residing for any cause away from their home should at once prepare to return to their own governments in order that they may complete the family registration of the enrollment..." II. WHO IS THIS LYSANIAS? - Lk 3:1 A. THE ONLY LYSANIAS KNOWN TO ANCIENT HISTORIANS... 1. Was one who was killed in 36 B.C. 2. This caused some to question Luke's reliability B. HOWEVER, AN INSCRIPTION WAS FOUND NEAR DAMASCUS... 1. It speaks of "Freedman of Lysanias the tetrarch" 2. And is dated between 14 and 29 A.D.! III. WHOEVER HEARD OF "THE PAVEMENT" (GABBATHA)? - Jn 19:13 A. FOR CENTURIES THERE WAS NO RECORD OF THE COURT CALLED "THE PAVEMENT" OR "GABBATHA"... 1. This caused many to say "It's a myth" 2. And, "See, it (the Bible) is not historical" B. BUT WILLIAM F. ALBRIGHT IN "THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF PALESTINE" SHOWS OTHERWISE... 1. This court was the court of the Tower of Antonia 2. The court was destroyed in 66-70 A.D. during the siege of Jerusalem 3. It was left buried when the city was rebuilt in the time of Hadrian 4. And was not discovered until recently! IV. ICONIUM A CITY OF PHYRIGIA? - Ac 14:6 A. ARCHAEOLOGISTS AT FIRST BELIEVED LUKE'S IMPLICATION TO BE WRONG... 1. That Lystra and Derbe were in Lycaonia and Iconium was not 2. They based their belief on the writings of Romans such as Cicero 3. Who indicated that Iconium was in Lycaonia 4. Thus, archaeologists said the book of Acts was unreliable! B. BUT IN 1910, SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY FOUND A MONUMENT... 1. Which showed that Iconium was indeed a Phrygian city 2. Later discoveries continued to confirm this! V. WHOEVER HEARD OF "POLITARCHS"? - Ac 17:6 A. CONCERNING THE TERM "RULERS OF THE CITY" (GREEK "POLITARCHS")... 1. Since the term is not found in the classical literature of the Greeks... 2. ...it was assumed that Luke was wrong to refer to such an office B. HOWEVER... 1. Some 19 inscriptions have now been found that make use of this title 2. Five of these are in reference to Thessalonica! CONCLUSION 1. This is just a sampling of the evidence, for entire books have been written providing further examples 2. Just how accurate is the New Testament in its historical description? "It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference." -- NELSON GLUECK (noted Jewish archaeologist) 3. Of special interest is the testimony of SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY... a. Concerning his background: 1) He was trained in the German historical school of the mid- nineteenth century 2) He was taught that the book of Acts was a product of the mid- second century A.D. 3) He was firmly convinced of this and started out his career in archaeology to prove it b. However, he was compelled to a complete reversal of his beliefs due to the overwhelming evidence uncovered in his research c. His conclusion: "Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy, he is possessed of the true historic sense...in short, this author should be placed along with the greatest of historians." 4. What have we established thus far in this series of lessons? a. That Jesus was a historical figure b. That the New Testament was written during the generation in which the events occurred c. That its reliability as a historical document continues to be confirmed by the field of archaeology 5. But another question remains... "How can we be sure that the New Testament we have today is the same as that penned by the original authors?" Our next study will address that question...
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The Executable Outlines Series, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2001
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