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                         "CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS"

               Archaeological Support For The New Testament

INTRODUCTION

1. In examining the question of the New Testament's reliability as a
   HISTORICAL DOCUMENT...
   a. We saw in the previous study that the New Testament passes the
      "ACID TEST"
   b. That is, it was written in the same generation in which the events
      to place
      1) It was circulated among the very people about whom these
         documents spoke
      2) While they were still alive to confirm or deny it

2. So it was written early...WERE THE AUTHORS ACCURATE in their depic-
   tion of the events which took place?

3. This is where the science of ARCHAEOLOGY can be very helpful in deter-
   mining the historical reliability of the New Testament:
   a. If the archaeologists prove that the New Testament is filled with
      errors concerning people, places, and events...
   b. Then the New Testament could not be trusted as an accurate record
      of the life of Jesus and the early church!

4. Not too long ago, some discounted the Biblical record because it
   frequently referred to things not mentioned by any source outside the
   Bible

5. But discoveries by archaeologists in recent years have vindicated the
   New Testament and silenced the skeptics!

[In this study we shall consider just a few examples of how archaeology
has confirmed the New Testament as a reliable document...]

I. A CENSUS, AND QUIRINIUS GOVERNOR AT THE TIME OF JESUS' BIRTH?
   - Lk 2:1-3

   A. IT WAS ONCE ARGUED THAT LUKE WAS IN ERROR...
      1. In other words, that there was no such census
      2. Also, that Quirinius was not governor of Syria at that time
      3. And that people did not have to return to their ancestral home

   B. BUT ARCHAEOLOGICAL DISCOVERIES HAVE PROVEN OTHERWISE...
      1. We now know that the Romans:
         a. Had a regular enrollment of taxpayers
         b. Held censuses every 14 years (begun by Augustus Caesar)
      2. An inscription found in Antioch tells of Quirinius being
         governor of Syria around 7 B.C. (evidently he was governor
         twice!)
      3. A papyrus found in Egypt says concerning the conducting of a
         census:
         "Because of the approaching census it is necessary that all
         those residing for any cause away from their home should at
         once prepare to return to their own governments in order that
         they may complete the family registration of the enrollment..."

II. WHO IS THIS LYSANIAS? - Lk 3:1

   A. THE ONLY LYSANIAS KNOWN TO ANCIENT HISTORIANS...
      1. Was one who was killed in 36 B.C.
      2. This caused some to question Luke's reliability

   B. HOWEVER, AN INSCRIPTION WAS FOUND NEAR DAMASCUS...
      1. It speaks of "Freedman of Lysanias the tetrarch"
      2. And is dated between 14 and 29 A.D.!

III. WHOEVER HEARD OF "THE PAVEMENT" (GABBATHA)? - Jn 19:13

   A. FOR CENTURIES THERE WAS NO RECORD OF THE COURT CALLED "THE
      PAVEMENT" OR "GABBATHA"...
      1. This caused many to say "It's a myth"
      2. And, "See, it (the Bible) is not historical"

   B. BUT WILLIAM F. ALBRIGHT IN "THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF PALESTINE" SHOWS
      OTHERWISE...
      1. This court was the court of the Tower of Antonia
      2. The court was destroyed in 66-70 A.D. during the siege of
         Jerusalem
      3. It was left buried when the city was rebuilt in the time of
         Hadrian
      4. And was not discovered until recently!

IV. ICONIUM A CITY OF PHYRIGIA? - Ac 14:6

   A. ARCHAEOLOGISTS AT FIRST BELIEVED LUKE'S IMPLICATION TO BE WRONG...
      1. That Lystra and Derbe were in Lycaonia and Iconium was not
      2. They based their belief on the writings of Romans such as
         Cicero
      3. Who indicated that Iconium was in Lycaonia
      4. Thus, archaeologists said the book of Acts was unreliable!

   B. BUT IN 1910, SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY FOUND A MONUMENT...
      1. Which showed that Iconium was indeed a Phrygian city
      2. Later discoveries continued to confirm this!

V. WHOEVER HEARD OF "POLITARCHS"? - Ac 17:6

   A. CONCERNING THE TERM "RULERS OF THE CITY" (GREEK "POLITARCHS")...
      1. Since the term is not found in the classical literature of the
         Greeks...
      2. ...it was assumed that Luke was wrong to refer to such an 
         office

   B. HOWEVER...
      1. Some 19 inscriptions have now been found that make use of this
         title
      2. Five of these are in reference to Thessalonica!

CONCLUSION

1. This is just a sampling of the evidence, for entire books have been
   written providing further examples

2. Just how accurate is the New Testament in its historical description?

   "It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery
   has ever controverted a Biblical reference." -- NELSON GLUECK
   (noted Jewish archaeologist)

3. Of special interest is the testimony of SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY...
   a. Concerning his background:
      1) He was trained in the German historical school of the mid-
         nineteenth century
      2) He was taught that the book of Acts was a product of the mid-
         second century A.D.
      3) He was firmly convinced of this and started out his career in
         archaeology to prove it
   b. However, he was compelled to a complete reversal of his beliefs
      due to the overwhelming evidence uncovered in his research
   c. His conclusion:

      "Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his
      statements of fact trustworthy, he is possessed of the true
      historic sense...in short, this author should be placed along
      with the greatest of historians."

4. What have we established thus far in this series of lessons?
   a. That Jesus was a historical figure
   b. That the New Testament was written during the generation in which
      the events occurred
   c. That its reliability as a historical document continues to be
      confirmed by the field of archaeology

5. But another question remains... "How can we be sure that the New
   Testament we have today is the same as that penned by the original
   authors?"

Our next study will address that question...
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The "Executable Outlines" Series, Copyright Mark A. Copeland, 1999. You may freely use, copy, or distribute this material, provided it is done at no cost to others. "Freely you have received, freely give." (Matthew 10:8)

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