Great Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology, New Testament

 

Associates for Biblical Research

P.O. Box 144, Akron PA 17501

www.BibleArchaeology.org

 

 

Times of Jesus

 

Capernaum, Jesus’ Own Town (Matthew 9:1)

 

            1. In the 1970s the foundations of the synagogue where Jesus preached were discovered beneath a later fourth century synagogue (Mk 1:21–28; Lk 4:31–37; cf. Mt 8:5–13; Lk 7:1–10).

 

            2. Peter’s house where Jesus healed Peter’s mother, a paralytic and others was excavated in the 1970s (Mt 8:14-17; 9:1–8; Mk 1:29–34; 2:3–12; Lk 4:38–41; 5:18–26).

 

            3. Jesus cursed Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida (Mt 11:21, 23; Lk 10:13–15).  Jesus’ words were verified when archaeologists determined that all three cities lie in ruins. Capernaum was abandoned around A.D. 700, Chorazin in the 15th century and Bethsaida in the third century.

 

Jerusalem, the Holy City (Mt 4:5; 27:53)

 

            4. Ossuary (bone box) with the inscription “James son of Joseph, brother of Jesus,” originally purchased on the antiquities market in the mid-1970s and eventually published in 2002.  If legitimate (there is currently a debate about its authenticity), it would be the first nearly-contemporary record mentioning Jesus.

 

            5. Pool of Siloam where Jesus healed a blind man (Jn 9:1–4) was discovered south of the Old City of Jerusalem in 2004 when workers exposed steps leading into the pool while making repairs to the sewer system.

 

            6. Excavations around the Temple Mount over the last 30 years have revealed the southern steps and double gate entrance undoubtedly used by Jesus and His disciples when entering the Temple (Mt 21:12, etc.), and evidence of the destruction of the Temple predicted by Jesus (Mt 24:1–2; Mk 13:1–2; Lk 21:5–6).  The Arch of Titus in Rome was built to honor Titus’ defeat of the Jews and his destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.  A relief inside the arch depicts spoils from the Temple being carried in a victory procession, including a menorah, silver trumpets and a golden tablet.

 

            7. Ossuary of Caiphas the High Priest was found in 1990 when the family tomb was discovered while bulldozing for a new road in a park south of the Old City of Jerusalem.  Caiphas’ name was inscribed on the limestone box and inside were the remains of a 60-year-old man, surely those of Caiaphas himself. Caiaphas led the conspiracy to crucify Jesus and persecuted the early Church (Mt 26:3, 5, 7; Lk 3:2; Jn 11:49; 18:13–14, 24, 28; Acts 4:6).
Times of Paul

 

Ephesus

 

            Paul stopped briefly at Ephesus while returning from his second missionary journey (Acts 18:19–21) and spent 2 years there on his third missionary journey (Acts 19:1–20:1).

 

            8. Temple of Artemis, the main goddess of western Asia Minor, was discovered in 1869 after many years of searching.  Craftsmen who made their living producing religious items for pilgrims visiting the temple were upset at the success of Paul’s preaching (Acts 19:23–27).  The temple is specifically mentioned in Acts 19:27.

 

            9. Since the late 1800s the theater at Ephesus has been excavated and refurbished.  It was the scene of a riot caused by the Artemis craftsmen (Acts 19:28–41).

 

Caesarea

 

            Herod the Great built the city between 22 and 10 B.C. and named it after the emperor Caesar Augustus (27 B.C.–A.D. 14; Luke 2:1).  It became the Roman capital of the Jewish nation for over 600 years.  In A.D. 60 the population was approximately 50,000.

 

            10. In 1961, while excavating the theater, archaeologists found an inscription mentioning Pilate, the Roman governor who tried Jesus (Mt 27; Mk 15; Lk 3:1; 13:1; 23; Jn 18–19).

 

            11. Herod’s Palace was excavated in the 1990s.  It is the building where Paul was held as prisoner (Acts 23:35; 24:23, 27) and where he appeared before the Roman governors of Judea Felix (Acts 24) and Festus (Acts 25:1–12), and the Roman ruler of northern Galilee Agrippa II (Acts 25:13–26:32).

 

            12. The harbor at Caesarea, Portus Augusti, was the largest in Palestine and was the key to the city’s economic prosperity.  Paul traveled by ship often. He left from Caesarea when he went to Tarsus early in his ministry (Acts 9:30), retuned to Caesarea at the end of his second and third missionary journeys (Acts 18:22; 21:8) and departed from here when he went to Rome to be tried.  Since the 1960s the harbor has been investigated by means of underwater archaeology.