The Trial Of Jesus In Archaeology And History -- By: Titus Kennedy

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 25:4 (Fall 2012)
Article: The Trial Of Jesus In Archaeology And History
Author: Titus Kennedy


The Trial Of Jesus In Archaeology And History

Titus Kennedy

The narratives of the trial of Jesus of Nazareth, recorded primarily in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, are full of historical claims about people, places, and events that can be evaluated for accuracy through an analysis of archaeological data and ancient texts (Mt 26:57-68, Mt 27:11-26; Mk 14:53-65, Mar 15:1-15; Lu 22:66-23:25; Jn 18:12-19:16). The story is not written as a myth—it contains a precise timeline in history, historical locations, historical figures, and historical events which can be compared to ancient historical texts and archaeological discoveries. The narrative of the trial contains four prominent figures, two key locations, and the decision to crucify Jesus.

Set in first century Jerusalem in the spring of ca. 33 AD, Jesus is arrested one night and eventually brought before the chief priests and scribes—most notably the acting high priest of the time named Caiaphas (high priest ca. 18-36 AD). After accusing Jesus of blasphemy, He is taken to Pontius Pilate (prefect ca. 26-36 AD), the Roman official presiding over Judaea Province at the time. Pilate initially finds no guilt, and discovering that Jesus was from Galilee, sends him to Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee. Following a mocking, Herod Antipas (reign ca. 4 BC–39 AD) sends Jesus back to Pilate who finally gives into the demands of the Jewish leadership to crucify Jesus. The high priest Caiaphas, the tetrarch Herod Antipas, the prefect Pontius

Pilate, and the defendant Jesus of Nazareth are the most prominent figures in this narrative. Each of these characters is attested outside of the New Testament by archaeological artifacts and ancient texts. The meeting place of the Sanhedrin, or Jewish council, and the Praetorium of Pilate are the two key locations of the trial narrative. These were real locations in the first century, and while debate exists about their exact location, both have probably been discovered and are at least partially visible today. Finally, the decision to crucify Jesus is not only recorded in the New Testament, but by historians of the first and second centuries.

Caiaphas is the first of these prominent figures that Jesus appears before (Lu 22:66; Mt 26:57; Jn 18:24). Joseph Caiaphas was the full name of this man (Antiquties 18.34-35)...

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