Did Real Rulers Rouse a Real Jesus?
Proof of Jesus Series: Article 2
(Sentinel, April 12-18, 2012)
In the March 22, 2012, issue of the
Sentinel, Article 1 of the Proof of Jesus Series (entitled, "Was Jesus Christ a Real Person?") appeared
wherein scholarly observations and archaeological evidence combined to validate the veracity of statements about Jesus made
by Gospel writers.
Critics of the Bible have classified Jesus
Christ in the same category as Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. "If you believe in Jesus you probably
believe in unicorns and leprechauns," say the scoffers, "and are frantically searching for that elusive pot of
gold at the end of a fading rainbow!"
But these critics--amateur
taxonomists, to be sure--are overlooking critical evidence that speaks to a historical Jesus. For example, a consideration
of very real rulers who were contemporaries of Jesus of Nazareth more than suggests the very real existence of this "Son
"Pontius Pilate" Appears!:
Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor who ordered Jesus' death. (Matthew 27:1, 22-24) However, outside
the pages of the Bible, and "the vague recollections of Roman and Jewish historians" (as one observer put
it), there was no hard evidence or archaeological proof that he existed. So, basically, Pilate didn't exist, and neither
did Jesus exist. Suddenly, at the beginning of the decade that would give us the Beatles, the Vietnam
War, the assassinations of a King and two Kennedys, a startling discovery was made by a humble worker
a world away."In 1961," writes Michael J. Howard, "an
Italian archaeological expedition was working in the ruins of the ancient Roman theater in Caesarea. A workman overturned
a stone that had been used for one of the stairways. On the reverse side was the following, partially-obscured inscription
in Latin: ‘Caesariensibus Tiberium Pontius Pilatus Praefectus Iudaeae.' (To the people of Caesarea Tiberium Pontius
Pilate Prefect of Judea.) It was a fatal blow to the doubts about Pilate's existence....For the first time there was contemporary
epigraphic evidence of the life of the man who ordered the crucifixion of Christ."--John 19:13-16; Acts 4:27.
A simple inscription on a partially damaged limestone slab thirty-one by twenty-three
inches that states in full, "Pontius Pilate, the Prefect of Judea, has dedicated to the people of Caesarea a temple
in honor of Tiberius," shatters the arguments of Bible critics and strengthens the faith of stalwart
More details about the archaeological team from the University of
Milan and its visit to the site of the ancient coastal city of Caesarea (situated about fifty-four
miles north-northwest of Jerusalem), are found in the book Evidence for the Historical Jesus
"Two Italian archaeologists excavated the Mediterranean port
city of Caesarea that served as the Roman capital of Palestine. During the dig they uncovered a two-by-three-foot
inscription in Latin. Antonio Frova was able to reconstruct the inscription. To his surprise it read:
‘Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea, has presented the Tiberium to the Caesareans.' This was the
first archaeological discovery of a historical reference to the existence of Pilate."
Horrible Herod, the "Messiah"?: Herod the Great, who reigned
over Judea when Jesus was born, thought he himself was the Messiah. According to Professor Jim Fleming, "Herod
did everything to become recipient of the messianic prophecy he had heard. The Macedonian helmet and Macedonian/Hasmonean
star on his coin from the year 40 B.C. make it clear that his messianic aspirations go back to the very beginning of his
Little wonder, then, that King Herod "was angered upon hearing"
that Eastern astrologers came to Jerusalem to pay their respects to Jesus, "the boy-king of the
Jews." (Matthew 2:1-3, Carr's Christian Translation) Viciously intolerant of any perceived
rival--no matter how young--Herod was quick to act. "He sent his soldiers out to kill all the boys
in Bethlehem from two years of age and under," figuring Jesus to be around this age. (Matthew 2:16,
CCT) Does Herod's murderous jealousy jibe with extrabiblical literature of his day?
Insight on the Scriptures states: "His greed for power and his suspicions
now moved him to cause the murder of his wife Mariamne, three of his sons, his wife's brother and grandfather (Hyrcanus),
several who had been his best friends, and many others." "Josephus, in books 17 and 18 of
his Antiquities," reports Evidence, "details how troubled all Jerusalem became
as Herod neared the end of his life and had three of his sons slain out of suspicion that they sought
to usurp his kingdom."
Jesus Christ was as real as
the rulers who shadowed his birth and death. Stay tuned for Article 3.