Sunday, March 24, 2019

Why is there no archaeological record of Jesus?

RELIGION PROF: Archaeology and Jesus. James McGrath collects many good links.

As James and Bart Ehrman note, the vast majority (99.99%) of people who lived in Jesus' time and place left no archaeological imprint. Nothing.

A few political figures did. There is the tomb of Queen Helena in Jerusalem, although the sarcophagus inscription may be for another woman in the royal family. And there is also material evidence (coins and inscriptions) for some members of the Herodian family. Also for Pontius Pilate (here, here, and probably here). I'm sure there are others, but I don't have time to be comprehensive.

But most people from Jesus' place and time who left such an imprint were unimportant regular people. It just happens that the epitaphs on their gravestones or ossuaries survived to the present.

How much of an archaeological imprint will you have left two thousand years from now? Humbling thought.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.