Why Akathleptos?

Why Akathleptos? Because it means Uncontainable. God is infinite. Hence, the whole universe cannot contain Him. The term also refers to the incomprehensibility of God. No man can know everything about God. We can know Him personally but not exhaustively, not even in Heaven.

Why Patmos? Because the church is increasingly marginalized and exiled from the culture.

Why Pen-Names? So the focus is on the words and not who wrote them. We prefer to let what we say stand on its own merit. There is precedent in church history for this - i.e., the elusive identity of Ambrosiaster who wrote in the 4th century A.D.

“Truth is so obscured nowadays, and lies so well established, that unless we love the truth we shall never recognize it." Blaise Pascal

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Archaeology and the Historical Reliability of the New Testament

Unlike Islam and Mormonism which have no archaeological support for the alleged historicity presented in those faiths, Christianity abounds with evidentiary support from archaeology. As I noted earlier here, God does not require blind faith of us. Peter S. Williams examines the historical reliability of the New Testament in the light of the findings of archaeology here.

“On the whole … archaeological work has unquestionably strengthened confidence in the reliability of the Scriptural record. More than one archaeologist has found his respect for the Bible increased by the experience of excavation in Palestine. Archaeology has in many cases refuted the views of modern critics.” – Millar Burrows, Professor of Archaeology, Yale University

Archaeologist William F. Albright observes:  The excessive scepticism shown toward the Bible by important historical schools of the eighteenth-and-nineteenth centuries, certain phases of which still appear periodically, has been progressively discredited. Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition to the value of the Bible as a source of history.

Joseph Free confirms: “Archaeology has confirmed countless passages which had been rejected by critics as unhistorical or contrary to known facts.”

Here are seven examples (of the many( that he cites ...

Crucifixion Victim

In 1968 an ancient burial site was uncovered containing about 35 bodies. One named Yohanan Ben Ha’galgol had a 7 inch nail driven through both feet. Yohanan’s legs were crushed by a blow consistent with the common use of Roman ‘crucifragium’ (John 19:31-32). This find proves that a victim of crucifixion (like Jesus) could receive a proper Jewish burial.

The Nazareth Decree

The ‘Nazareth decree’ is a marble slab found in Nazareth in 1878 and inscribed with a decree issued c. AD 41 by Emperor Claudius (AD 41-54) to the effect that no graves should be disturbed or bodies extracted, with offenders sentenced to death. A plausible explanation of both the decree and its location is that Claudius heard of Jesus’ empty tomb whilst investigating the Roman riots of AD 49 and decided not to let such reports surface again. This makes sense in light of the Jewish argument that Jesus’ body had been stolen (Matthew 28:11-15). But “even if there is no conscious connection with Jesus of Nazareth, this decree still reveals that the imperial authorities in this period saw grave robbery as an extremely serious crime – indeed as a capital offence. This only makes it yet more unlikely that the (already fearful) disciples would have risked such an act.”

Jerusalem and The Pool of Bethesda

John 5:1-15 describes a pool in Jerusalem, near the Sheep Gate, called Bethesda, surrounded by five covered colonnades. Until the 19th century, there was no evidence outside of John for the existence of this pool and John’s unusual description “caused bible scholars to doubt the reliability of John’s account, but the pool was duly uncovered in the 1930s – with four colonnades around its edges and one across its middle.”[38] Ian Wilson reports: “Exhaustive excavations by Israeli archaeologist Professor Joachim Jeremias have brought to light precisely such a building, still including two huge, deep-cut cisterns, in the environs of Jerusalem’s Crusader Church of St Anne.”

Jerusalem and The Pool of Siloam

In the 400s AD, a church was built above a pool attached to Hezekiah’s water tunnel to commemorate the healing of a blind man reported in John 9:1-7. Until recently, this was considered to be the Pool of Siloam from the time of Christ. However, during sewerage works in June 2004 engineers stumbled upon a 1st century ritual pool when they uncovered some ancient steps during pipe maintenance near the mouth of Hezekiah’s tunnel. By the summer of 2005, archaeologists had revealed what was “without doubt the missing pool of Siloam.”[40] Mark D. Roberts reports that: “In the plaster of this pool were found coins that establish the date of the pool to the years before and after Jesus. There is little question that this is in fact the pool of Siloam, to which Jesus sent the blind man in John 9.”

Bethany and The Tomb of Lazarus

Peter Walker writes: “There is no doubting the general location of Bethany. The Arabic village of El-Azarieh preserves in its name the way the Byzantines referred to it – as the ‘Lazarium’, that is, ‘the place of Lazarus’. Until recently this was a tiny village… There is a strong likelihood that Lazarus’ tomb has been correctly identified and preserved. Certainly the traditional tomb that is now known as his tomb was in a cemetery in the first century (other first-century tombs have been found just to the north). And there are references to the tomb going back to the third century AD (in Eusebius’ Onomastikon).”

Gallio, Proconsul of Achaea

“This designation in Acts 18:12-17 was thought to be impossible. But an inscription at Delphi notes this exact title for the man, and it dates him to the time Paul was in Corinth (AD 51).”[46] In the inscription the emperor Claudius refers to “Gallio, my friend and Proconsul”

 Pontius Pilate

“In 1961, in Caesarea Maritima, where Pontius Pilate lived, an inscription was found which, among other things, confirms not only the rule of Pilate in Judea but also his preference for the title ‘Prefect’. The inscription isn’t complete anymore, but there’s little question about what it once said.”[49] In Latin the inscription reads:

        ECTUS IUDA

The original wording was thus:


Translated, this reads: “To Tiberius, Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea.”

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