Has Archaeological Evidence for Jesus Been Discovered? | The Institute for Creation Research

Has Archaeological Evidence for Jesus Been Discovered?

Skeptics have often pointed out that no archaeological evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ has been discovered. And they are correct, at least perhaps up until the present. A recent incredible discovery may put to rest that criticism.

A secondary issue must first be considered. Is it reasonable to expect such artifacts or inscriptions? After all, the man Jesus was not a prominent governmental leader. He was essentially an itinerant preacher, with few possessions, and eventually suffered the death of a common outlaw. Would the Romans have recorded His life or death with an inscription or statue? Certainly not.

Actually, Jewish archaeological evidence of the entire period is rather sparse. There are the remains of large and extensive Roman cities, and adequate inscriptions of leaders, including Herod, Pilate and Festus. There are also influential Jews such as Caiaphas, but almost nothing can be found recording the lives of ordinary individuals. And remember that in A.D. 70 Jerusalem was totally destroyed by Titus. What may still exist is buried under the thriving modern city. Certainly the odds are against an artifact's survival.

The scarcity of archaeological artifacts can be contrasted, however, with the wealth of historical evidence for Christ. Soon the apostles had written letters detailing Christ's life and teachings, to be followed by the writings of Paul all widely copied and circulated, within the lifetime of eyewitnesses. The Roman historian Josephus mentioned Christ several times while relating noteworthy civic events, including the execution of one named "James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ/Messiah" referring evidently to Jesus' brother James, leader of the early church and author of the New Testament book bearing his name.

The new artifact is an ossuary, a medium-sized box in which human bones were placed for permanent burial after the flesh had all decayed away. This practice was employed for only a brief period of time from about B.C. 20 to A.D. 70. The box is made of a soft, chalky, limestone, common to the area. The contents have long since vanished.

Most remarkably, an inscription has been etched into the side which reads, "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" in the Aramaic script of the time. Careful studies, including scrutiny under a scanning electron microscope show the inscription to be genuine. The patina, or oxidized surface equally covers both box and the interior of the etched letters. The recognized expert on such matters, Dr. Andre Lemaire, concludes: "I am pleased to report that in my judgment it is genuinely ancient and not a fake."

All three names used were common in that era, but seldom was the deceased's brother mentioned, unless that brother was noteworthy. To have all three listed, in correct Biblical relationship certainly supports the possibility of this being the ossuary of the Biblical James.

With or without the ossuary or other archeological evidence, we can still be confident that the events are true. The Christian faith is a reasonable faith, well grounded in the facts of history, and the Bible is an entirely accurate document. On its teachings we can base our lives and eternal destiny.

Cite this article: John D. Morris, Ph.D. 2002. Has Archaeological Evidence for Jesus Been Discovered?. Acts & Facts. 31 (12).

The Latest
NEWS
Fossil Chromatin Looks Young
What are the odds that a buried animal would still have intact DNA after 125 million years? Researchers publishing in the journal Communications Biology...

NEWS
Inside October 2021 Acts & Facts
How is the Lord’s handiwork on display at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park? Does the universe look old? What can we learn about science and...

NEWS
Two-Volume Series: Restoring the Truth about Origins
The subject of origins continues to attract interest from the public and the scientific establishment. Understanding our origins informs us of who we are...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Floods Form Fossils Fast
Christy Hardy and Susan Windsor* You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation with...

ACTS & FACTS
A Battle for Hearts
Since the ICR Discovery Center for Science & Earth History opened in fall of 2019, tens of thousands of people have walked through our doors. They...

APOLOGETICS
Eating Bugs Isn't Always So Simple
The Lord Jesus Christ deserves glory for why He made Earth’s diverse creatures, and He also deserves glory for the complicated details of how...

ACTS & FACTS
Does the Universe Look Old?
Since distant galaxies are billions of light-years away, some understandably assume that distant starlight must have taken billions of years to reach...

ACTS & FACTS
Hawaii Behind the Scenes
ICR Research Scientist Dr. Brian Thomas and ICR Video Producer Clint Loveness, with help from friends and family, recently shot footage in Maui, Hawaii,...

ACTS & FACTS
Mutation, Design, and Faith
Any alteration in a cell’s DNA sequence is a mutation. These changes can come from copying errors, exposure to chemicals or radiation, or from...

ACTS & FACTS
Another Function of 'Junk DNA' Discovered
For decades, evolutionists suggested that huge sections of our genome (about half) did not actively code for the production of proteins or polypeptides—and...