True U / Is the Bible Reliable: Building the Historical Case
I. The thesis of the Lesson: The five major figures in the trial of Christ have all been independently attested by both documentary and inscriptional evidence over the last 100 years.
II. Key Figures in the Trial of Christ:
1. Herod Antipas—Luke 23:8-11
HISTORIANS: Flavius Josephus—Antiquities and War / Philo On the Embassy to Gaius / Suetonius Caligula / Dio Roman History
COINS from his region
2. Peter’s Betrayal—Luke 22:54-55
INSCRIPTIONS: North shore of Sea of Galilee in Capernaum -= 4th century AD record of Peter’s house being turned into a church. There is graffiti inside the house from the 2nd century identifying it as Peter’s house.
3. Pontius Pilate—Luke 23:1-7
INSCRIPTION: Caesaria Meratima—In early 1960’s and inscription was found that had his name and title as Perfect of Judea
HISTORIANS: Philo (Ad Gaium 299) / Tacitus (Annals 15.44) Josephus (War 2.169, Antiquities 18.55)
4. Joseph, Son of Caiaphas / High Priest from 18-36 AD—Matthew 26:57;
In the 1990’s ossuaries in the family tomb of Caiaphas were discovered, dating to the 1st century A. D. One of the says Joseph, Son of Caiaphas.
Documentary Evidence: Josephus (Antiquities 18:63-64) Scholars have been suspicious of this passage because of the unqualified affirmation. It may have been doctored a little bit by Christians who had this version. Recently another version was discovered in the Muslim world that had some differences, but it reports the same basic facts with a more neutral tone.
III. Other sources: You get the feeling that the basic facts of the life of Jesus were well known, and he is often discussed in unflattering terms.
Cornelius Tacitus (112 A.D. Annals 15:44) Mentions Christus being put to death while talking about Nero’s persecution of Christians.
Justin Martyr (Letter to Emperor Antonius Pius, ca. 150 A.D.refers to a document he expected the Emperor would be familiar with that described the crucifixion and referred to the Acts of Pontius Pilate.
Mara Bar-Serapion (letter in the British Museum, ca. 73 A.D.) refers to the destruction of Jerusalem as connected to the Jews killing “their wise king.”
· It is a reasonable thing to trust that the Bible is reliable.
· Truth stands up to scrutiny, and the truth that you find in the Bible is something you can build your life upon.