Was Jesus a Real Person?

Archaeology

The sands of time have buried many mysteries about Jesus that only recently have been brought to light.

Perhaps the most significant discoveries are several ancient manuscripts unearthed between the 18th and 20th centuries. We will look closer at these manuscripts in a later section.

Archaeologists have also discovered numerous places and relics that agree with the New Testament accounts of Jesus. Malcolm Muggeridge was a British journalist who considered Jesus a myth until he saw such evidence during a BBC television assignment to Israel.

After reporting on the very places written about in the New Testament account of Jesus, Muggeridge wrote, “A certainty seized me about Jesus’ birth, ministry and Crucifixion…I became aware that there really had been a man, Jesus….”[5]

However, prior to the 20th century no tangible evidence existed for the Roman governor Pontius Pilate and the Jewish chief priest Joseph Caiaphas. Both men were central figures in the trial leading to the crucifixion of Christ. Skeptics cited this apparent lack of evidence as ammunition for their Christ-myth theory.

However, in 1961 archaeologists discovered a block of limestone inscribed with the name of “Pontius Pilate prefect of Judea.” And in 1990 archaeologists discovered an ossuary (bone box) with the inscription of Caiaphas. It has been verified as authentic “beyond a reasonable doubt.”[6]

Also, until 2009, there was no tangible evidence that Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth existed during his lifetime. Skeptics like Rene Salm regarded lack of evidence for first-century Nazareth as a deathblow to Christianity. In The Myth of Nazareth Salm wrote in 2006, “Celebrate, freethinkers.… Christianity as we know it may be finally coming to an end!”[7]

However, on December 21, 2009, archaeologists announced the discovery of first-century clay shards in Nazareth, confirming that this tiny hamlet existed during the time of Christ (see “Was Jesus Really from Nazareth?”).

Although these archaeological finds don’t prove that Jesus lived there, they do support the Gospel accounts of his life. Historians note that mounting evidence from archaeology confirms rather than contradicts the accounts of Jesus.”[8]

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