The single greatest spiritual asset a man can have for successful living
is the ability
to discern what is true from what is not.
- Michael Armstrong and Stuart Talbott
Archeology, History Concerning Jesus
Archeology, Ancient History and Mythology
What percentage of all the archeology of the ancient world has been done
that theoretically could be done? By the most generous estimates based on
practicality, less than 10%. Given that a fair amount of ancient ruins are
buried too deeply or are under water, given that archeologists generally
just cut trenches or cross sections through a site, given that religious,
political and cultural factors preclude a fair amount of archeology done by
responsible professionals, the less practical answer is very much lower.
What percentage of all the written material of the ancient world has been
translated that theoretically could be done? Pick a small number! A better
question would be: What percentage of the total material has been translated
more or less correctly? Pick a much smaller number.
In terms of ancient history, serious problems with chronology, understanding
the geophysical context and the cultural mindset of the time, plague
the whole enterprise of determining history from myth.
What percentage of all the mythology of the ancient world has been assayed
that theoretically could be properly translated and interpreted into its
intended meaning? Pick a very small number.
Thus as time goes on, we can rightfully expect more material in these realms
to shed light on the historicity and activity of Jesus.
The Gospel Setting
In terms of places and major political figures, the general outlines of the
Gospel setting have been corroborated to a remarkable degree, because around 90%
of the archeological discoveries in the New Testament territory affirm the
accounts. The balance of the discoveries do NOT DISCONFIRM. Two examples
will serve to give the idea. In 1962 a sculpted stone
was found at the ancient waterfront theater in Caesarea with a two inch
clear inscription in Latin reporting that the governor Pontius Pilate was
endowing the theater to the people of Caesarea in honor of the emperor Tiberias.
In 1990 the bones of Caiaphas the High Priest were found in a 1st
century burial site enclosed in an ornate ossuary. In addition see:
Brother? James Ossuary
As to the Old Testament and New Testament geography of places–towns,
cities, etc.–93% of the sites have been confirmed. Coinage and inscriptions also support
the physical existence. This background of geographical places in the
Testaments being correct is what one would expect for the story settings. In the Old Testament it is the
"allegorical stories" taken for literal history that flunk archeology,
not the geography of sites and names. See:
Bible Flunks Archaeology
Historical References to Jesus
For decades I was told that we had only two secular or extra-Christian
historical references to Jesus. Paul Maier, professor emeritus of Iowa State
College, assures us that we now have a dozen such references, five of them considered
major with sterling credibility. As time goes on and research goes further,
more such references will be exposed. Isn't this just what you would expect
concerning a controversial man that was widely known in the day for only a
couple of years, one who left only a misunderstood spiritual legacy, but not
one who ever built any tangible structures, nor held any political or
religious office that would be recorded in the historical record.
Dr. Daniel Wallace - Corrupted NT issue:
"The more I studied the manuscript tradition of the New Testament, the
more I realized just how radically the text had been altered over the years
at the hands of the scribes....It would be ...wrong to say–as people
sometimes do–that the changes in our text have no real bearing on what the
texts mean or on the theological conclusions that one draws from
them..." - Bart Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus, p. 207-208
Professor Wallace shows us that this sentiment by Ehrman is unjustified.
These are the four questions that professor Wallace raises and answers:
1. How many textual variants are there?
Considering there are over 138,000 words in the NT, there are more textual variants (500,000
not counting capitalization or punctuation) than words in just the Greek
What kinds of textual variations are there?
These include misspellings, words left out, Greek words in different
order, some additional text, some word substitutions, etc. These are all
considered to be expected and trivial
What theological beliefs depend on textually suspect passages?
TVs are somewhat meaningful, and virtually none are significant.
Has the essence of the Christian faith been corrupted by the scribes?
We have about 5500 Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin, 5-10,000 in a dozen other languages
www.CSNTM.org is the source for
digital and graphic NT manuscripts.
A comparison to other ancient manuscripts of the same era and region:
About 1000 times as much NT sources versus classical authors, and dating
to about 1000
Just to be clear about something important: Translation and textual
variant issues are NOT the same thing at all, and have almost no impact on