Episode Transcript: 

Coleson Lechner: [00:00:00] Welcome back to the reconstructed faith podcast. I’m Coleson Lechner alongside my partners in crime, Chris Legg, Chris Sherrod and Bryn Starnes. I’m excited today. We are going to be talking about archeology. Archeology. Now specifically archaeological. There you go.

Chris Legg: No one knew what archeology was until.

Coleson Lechner: Made it cool. I know I saw a clip of Harrison Ford and he walks out like at an Oscars to introduce. And they play that song and he looks really ticked. And he goes, that, that music follows me everywhere.

Chris Legg: Yeah. Oh, I’m so sad.

Coleson Lechner: We’re talking about archeology day, specifically archeological findings that are in support of scripture,

Chris Legg: correct?

Let’s say that, right? Yeah, that sounds good. Great. And

Coleson Lechner: so, I mean, we could just sit here and list a lot of them, but I’m excited to hear ones that you guys are excited about.

Chris Sherrod: I have a good quote from JP Moreland who was one of my first apologetics professors ever. And he wrote a book called [00:01:00] scaling the secular city, but just to, to intro why this is a big deal, he said, One of the central claims of Christianity is that Jesus of Nazareth was the incarnate son of God who died on the cross to atone for the sins of humanity and rose bodily from the dead.

Our acceptance of these claims depends on whether or not the new Testament documents are reliable historical sources about Jesus. So just to make sure people feel a little bit more of the weight of this is again, it could seem really like this small little pocket of nerds over here.

 But it really is a big deal. I actually, in the nineties, Chris, you probably read these too, but I, I subscribe at a monthly subscription to biblical archeology review. Yeah. Bar. This is where I was nerdy. Like, oh, look what came in the mail today, my new edition of BAR! But I really loved it.

I was a Bible teacher at the time and I loved it.

So I would, I would come to class the next day going like, [00:02:00] guys, let me share with you the newest, so anyways, it’s fun and it’s helpful. But to contrast what we’ve talked about before, again like the book of Mormon, for example, claims in it to have take taken place on this continent and specifically a lot of this stuff in upstate New York, and you’ve got all of this stuff in there about these elaborate temples and weapons that are used. And there are people who originally came from Israel actually. Um, and yet Joseph Smith said that the plates that he found were written in reformed Egyptian, and they’re this Christian faith.

And so that’s a great example of literally no evidence helping anything in the book of Mormon, like there’s zero evidence of the cities…

Chris Legg: And strong evidence against! There’s

Chris Sherrod: zero city, zero names or evidence that there was any Christian presence, um, zero temples, zero weapons, nothing. It’s not even like he was trying.

So they’ve tried to like go down to central America and say like, well, if you look and it’s like, but that’s not where he said all of this [00:03:00] took place, so, right. That’s an example of archeology not supporting the claims of your religious book. What’s fun about the Bible is over and over again, the more we discover, the more it just reinforces, the Bible’s claims and the historicity of it.

And even when people have claimed like, ah, that probably couldn’t have happened, it’s just a matter of time than archeology ends up, you know, helping it out.

Chris Legg: And it was it’s significant because in that case, Smith didn’t know, obviously didn’t know how to translate. And most people could not have translated it.

There were very few people in the world alive who could translate it. And then when the understanding on how to translate it was finally brought to it. We know exactly actually what those pieces of paper were. Yeah. And so nothing to do with nothing to do with locations, it was mostly embalming techniques.

That’s a bad sign that it would quite literally be like, as someone discovered a new test that the new test, one of the new Testament books. In Greek and no one spoke Greek and someone said, this is what it all says. And then someone uncovers how to, how to translate the Greek.

It’s [00:04:00] like, oh yeah, that’s not at all what it says. It’s not. So it’s pretty bad, which is different. From the history of Christianity with the Bible in regards to history and connection. We are not making the claim that the Bible is primarily a history textbook, right?

 It would not destroy somehow the Christian faith, if there was some kind of what we would think of in modern terms as historical error or something that didn’t happen exactly the way we understand it didn’t happen exactly the same way as described in scripture or something like that.

That wouldn’t destroy us. It just is significant to the degree to which it does match up historically, especially when it makes a claim on history. And there’s still a few of those that are mysterious. We might even get into those, but yeah,

Chris Sherrod: at the same point, the other side of that is just because it’s in line with history doesn’t mean it’s supernatural.

That’s right. So it’s just a helpful thing. When people make it sound like the Bible is unreliable or shouldn’t be trusted or things like that. That it’s another example of you can’t claim that archeology goes against it.

Coleson Lechner: I [00:05:00] think those are really great clarification’s because when you throw out we’re going to talk about archeology right now.

It might come across as, okay. Is this really relevant? And it is, and that is really relevant. So thank you for clarifying that.

Bryn Starnes: And I think even for, for those that may not subscribe to archeology digest, what was it called?

Chris Sherrod: Biblical archeology review, bar ,for those of us in the know

Bryn Starnes: yes, but I do think it is one of those things that regardless of how deep you dive it is encouraging to your faith. And it is another thing that even if you just want to scratch the surface, which often is, like we’ve said is only what we are able to do. Anyway. We just scratched the surface and then encourage you to keep deep diving. But I think archeology is one of those things, like even in the archeology that I’ve learned about, I may not have an extensive knowledge of it, but what I have learned has reaffirmed my faith in scripture. And so I think you’re right. Coleson, I think it’s important for that reason, [00:06:00] even if whether or not it’s something that you personally enjoy. it is encouraging and reinforcing to our faith. So it’s important.

I have one that stands out to me, probably the standard. Go ahead. Okay. I feel like the dead sea scrolls is probably the one that people know about the most, hear about first, but it was personally encouraging to me when I heard about it in high school.

I believe my parents taught me about it cause my mom loves history and. Loves apologetics. And so introduced us to the dead sea scrolls. And it’s an encouraging story to me and my faith and, and then even visiting Israel a couple of years ago and seeing where they were discovered was amazing. So the dead sea scrolls,

Coleson Lechner: give us a quick kind of overview

Bryn Starnes: and then you guys can fill in what I’m missing, but the dead sea scrolls were discovered in 1947 and they were discovered in the caves of Qumran and the Northern shore of the dead sea. So the dead sea, the area around it, it’s just [00:07:00] full of dry, dusty desert and lots of caves.

And so often we think. It was discovered in 1947. And so you would think, how did no one know that cave was there? Because if you were in Texas or Arkansas, any cave, everyone knows where it is because there’s not very many, but there are so many in that area that the countryside is just riddled with caves.

And so a shepherd or two shepherd boys were throwing rocks into a cave and heard a shatter in 1947. And. Allegedly went to, um, I went to see what it was and found what we now know are the dead sea scrolls, which were just tons and tons of, um, vases and containers of fragments of scripture.

And it contained like a hundred thousand fragments of scripture. And then I believe like 900 documents that had been pieced together from it. And [00:08:00] it included like a complete scroll of the prophet isaiah, I think fragments of every book of the Bible, except for Esther, if I’m correct in that, of the Hebrew scriptures, the Hebrew scriptures, the old Testament.

Yes. And then even included copies of the Greek translations of the old Testament. so the reason it’s important and it also included like non-biblical texts and some practices of earlier Judaism, but the reason that it was so prominent and so important in history is because it included the oldest pieces of the Hebrew old Testament that we had found up to that point.

And previously the pieces of the Hebrew old Testament dated back to AD 1000 or 1008. And so then after the dead sea scrolls were found, we had fragments and documents from third century BC. So like a millennia earlier to the actual composition of scripture, which is amazing [00:09:00] and helped confirm the Hebrew Bible was more reliable than even once thought and led to a greater recognition of the Septuagint.

 So just very , prominent discovery that had a lot of waves just made a lot of waves.

Chris Sherrod: That’s exactly right. That you jumped. We jumped back a thousand years from the earliest copies that we had and it put to rest again, the idea that.

It’s the telephone game, right? It’s changed over time because now we could compare. Cause we had a copy from…

Chris Legg: a thousand year jump. I mean, from an archeological or textual perspective, you can’t even wrap your brain around that. Right? Like I have found errors in copies of the Lord of the rings when I was reading them that was published, you know, 80 years ago and has mostly been published electronically since then.

And still we have errors that are copy errors that are happening periodically. To have a thousand years where there is no such thing of any way to do that other than handwritten copies, [00:10:00] they should be, they should be radically different. I mean, there should be wild differences between them. And there just was so little of any significance.

I mean, there were like, y’all talked about on that, on the talk with them when I wasn’t here about the various. And so yes, of course there were thousands and thousands of variances, but they were for the most part spelling, um, word order changes, things like that. It was shocking. You either had to chalk it up to supernatural protection and, or maybe the most serious copyists of all time, which is the case.

Chris Sherrod: They were able to compare like the copy of Isaiah that you’ve had, that they found a full, a full Isaiah with a copy that we had from 1008 AD. And it was essentially the same. I mean, it was, it was like amazing. I actually, again, geeked out the first time I went to Israel, we went to the dead sea scrolls museum and got to see all of them firsthand.

 Anything that you do back over there in the middle east. If you go on a tour, like in Israel, it’s so fun [00:11:00] because the things that you see remind you, first of all, how old things are like, we’ve we think of like over in the east coast of like the pilgrims and stuff, we’re like, oh, this is so old stuff, but it’s like, no, this is REALLY old.

Yeah. But it just reminds you that this really happened. Like you’re going there and you’re saying this wall was built, this is the one that talks about in scripture or whatever. I think it’s, it’s definitely one of, if not the most significant archeological discoveries for Christianity.

Chris Legg: Maybe in all of history, one of the most important ever.

Bryn Starnes: Yeah. And it’s just encouraging again of the Lord preserving his word. And revealing the authority and the historicity and just the reliability of scripture, even confirming it to us in modern day, just, shows God’s kindness to us,

Next time I go to Israel, I’m going to hike to that cave. That’s my next goal. Find another one,

Chris Legg: actually hike up there, stop and get out and look at it.

Usually what we do is we stop at a bridge [00:12:00] at a Wadi at a dry river bed and we stopped, but some, some bus drivers get cause it’s a busy road and it’s really, they’re not supposed to. They’ll stop and let us all get out and we’ll walk out into the Wadi and look at it and throw rocks into it. But it’s a little, a little far for that, but I can’t tell you going up on the Qumran.

So on another trip, I climbed up to the top of the mountains there Qumran and anything that looks even vaguely like a cave, we all were picking up rocks.

Because by the way, there is every reason to believe there probably are. There could be thousands more pottery buried in that area of ancient Hebrew scriptures which

Bryn Starnes: is also a reminder. I remember in high school, when we first were talking about this, it’s a reminder, you know, when this was discovered, believers were nervous because there were all these new documents that hadn’t been.

Read yet. So it’s just a reminder to me. Okay. Next time, this happens and more are discovered. It’s not something to fear [00:13:00] because God does preserve his word.

Coleson Lechner: So if, if the dead sea scrolls are the number one that in your mind super affirming to what we believe, what are some others?

Chris Sherrod: The Hittites are mentioned all through the old Testament that people used to think they were non-existent because we just didn’t have anything else and eventually things were discovered. We just took them out of time. If you go to the middle east, archeologists know, there’s like a city that’s basically ends up getting built on a city, which built on a city and that’s called a tell.

And so you’ve got to dig down further to get to which they’re still, I mean, you can get. Volunteer over there to be a part

digs if you want to do. So they discovered numerous cities and evidences of treaties that the Hittites, held with other nations, but that’s an example of, they thought like, no, they couldn’t have existed because outside of the Bible, and then it just took a matter of time.

I like the Ebla tablets. Um, they are. Um, roughly going back to the third millennium BC, and there’s these five cities of the plane that are mentioned in Genesis 14. And, um, [00:14:00] they just give evidence that those five cities were historical like they were from a lot of people used to think that even the culture of Moses writing in his day was too primitive to have used writings, and these showed almost a thousand years before Moses, they had these customs and events that were recorded in writing in some of the same area of the world that, that Moses and the patriarchs live.

Chris Legg: Which one was that one?

Chris Sherrod: The Ebla tablets. It’s one of those things where an outside source verifies these five cities of the plane that’s mentioned in Genesis 14.

And the only other one I was going to say is the Amarna tablets. Because it’s a letter from these officials in Palestine and Syria written to Egypt asking for help from the attacking “Haber Ru” and, one letter from Megiddo to actually lists some of these fallen cities that had already been intact. And it follows this same Israelite conquest pattern, when they came in with Joshua to the land. So the assumption there is with the “Haber Ru” talking about the Hebrews that were coming through, [00:15:00] asking for help.

That’s called the Amarna tablets.

Chris Legg: That was a fascinating one that if I remember correctly, that took a while because they had to realize that the word Hebrew was a phonetic word. For a while, no one connected these people to the Hebrews, because it doesn’t look like the words for Hebrew, but when they did it phonetically, they were able to discover like, wait a minute, that sounds, a group of strangers, which essentially what it means, who showed up and then kind of started pushing people out and like that’s starting to sound kind of familiar.

Coleson Lechner: Really cool. So the Hittites that Ebla tablets and the Amarna tablets.

Chris Legg: So let me start with a couple that I love because I’ve gotten to live through them and get to see them. Here’s a couple of examples. So I went to Israel for the first time in 2009. In the year, 2007, for example, the pool of Siloam had been discovered. Yes. And so when we went, it was still like essentially just some steps covered in dirt. They were still uncovering it. And what’s extra [00:16:00] cool is that the pool of Siloam had been thought to have been discovered long before, such that earlier paintings of people trying to show like people at the pool of Siloam showed something that was totally wrong because all they had to go by was this really dumpy little pool at the end of Hezekiah’s tunnel, which I’ll get to in a second.

 So there’s actually paintings that show this wrong location, but that’s all that people knew existed. And there was always a concern because it’s not exactly in the right place. It’s not where they thought it would be. It’s not very big. It’s not very big and Herod the Great didn’t do things small.

And so he built this giant pool and everybody’s like, eh, but literally for years I would still take pictures every year of the sign that still said pool of Siloam over the old site after they discovered the new one. It turns out it’s massive. It’s a massive pool, which is exactly what you would expect.

It’s right. Where the, it should be. They started then excavating out from it. They’re like, well, then there should be some stairs going all the way up to the temple nearby, let’s start uncovering and they found those. [00:17:00] And so literally strictly from some biblical accounts and Hebrew records, they figured out where all these things would be, which then indicates, where the stairs to the city of David is.

Cause the city of David is a Southern section of Jerusalem, which allowed them to then confirm that a structure that had recently been found in the city of David was David’s palace. And now that at first cause partial, because it was a woman who discovered it, a woman archeologist discovered it, so she got a lot of pushback from a lot of her compatriots at the time, like, oh, you’re saying you finally found the palace of David after all these years. And in fact, more and more evidence, even including like a stamp was found on the property of the the palace, that was a stamp for one of the men listed as David’s advisers in the Bible, they then found that stamp. Understand David is a, is a historical figure who for years was dismissed as probably fully fictional or largely fictional.

They’re like, there’s no written [00:18:00] vacation that the Jewish tribes ever united under anybody until maybe Solomon at some level, and then immediately divided under his son’s. This David character is this, this king Arthur kind of character meant to present Solomon as a real thing. Cause Solomon, there’s history of Solomon around the world because he was very powerful and all that.

And they were like, ah, king David was probably just as kind of pathetic little war Lord who had a little following if that, you know, had 30 men well, more and more what we’re discovering is that whole section of Jerusalem is being uncovered now and is revealing there was this very powerful local king who apparently took this city built a significant palace of his own. That then was probably enlarged later. It’s it is all straight from the biblical account. All the way down to there, uh, down to the pool Siloam.

Chris Sherrod: It was taking so long because the city’s there, and tourists come through, like you can’t just put a halt to everything.

Chris Legg: And on top of that everything is owned by multiple different people. And so something this big, like literally if you get to go to the pool of Siloam, it’s only half uncovered.

And then there’s like [00:19:00] a wall of dirt. That’s like eight feet tall at the halfway mark, it’s because that’s owned by someone else that won’t sell it to the nation of Israel. Because now they know it’s worth a lot of money.

At some point the pool of Siloam was a big place and people would say like the pool of Siloam Jesus references, a tower at the pool of Siloam. There are no towers at the pool of Siloam it’s just this dinky little puddle. It turns out exactly what Jesus described.

We also have the pool of Bethesda. Great discovery. The pool of Bethesda in John chapter five, we get this account, there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate, a pool in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades that’s pretty specific. I mean, John is being very specific.

He says where it is in the city, because we know where the sheep gate is and it’s called Bethesda five roof. And these lay a multitude of invalids blind, lame and paralyzed. One man who was there had been an invalid for 38 years when Jesus saw him lying there and knew what he had been there a long time.

He said, do you want to be [00:20:00] healed? Et cetera. There’s this whole thing in Mark talks about how the pool would be stirred up. Mark makes it clear that it is a legend. Mark does not say this is the truth. He says that it was thought that an angel, a spirit would stir up the waters. People would go down in the water and be healed.

So they uncovered, they couldn’t, they hadn’t found the pool of Bethesda. Finally, someone dug actually where the Bible says that it was got permission dug down there and found, lo and behold, a pool with five colonnades exactly as is described in John and evidence that it was used by the Romans as a, I’m gonna say the word wrong, Asclepius.

The god, the snake wrapped around the pole god, where people would have gathered to be healed and the legend that the pool would, they actually even uncovered that have, y’all heard this, um, they then discovered that the base of the pool of Bethesda was linked to the sewage system at the [00:21:00] Antonio fortress, which is right there. And so the Antonio fortress apparently periodically, so it had cool water because it was connected to a spring. And then apparently a periodically the Antonia fortress when it dumped its sewage into the sewage system, the warm sewage would they’re assuming this is probably what would cause the water to stir.

And people thought that would heal them. Um, probably, probably didn’t have that effect very much. The pool, by the way, that pool was discovered in 1888. So until then for 1800 years, no one knew where it was.

 So there’s one. I love that one. I’ve gotten to experience those.

Another one in 2009, a first century house was discovered in Nazareth because for a while there was question as to whether or not there really was a village in Nazareth from first century. And the thought was there probably that, in fact, there were a lot of people saying there, there was not a first century settlement yet there that had, there was like a village.

And so discovering a, a individual home, which again, you find a home, a family home in [00:22:00] Nazareth from first century. It probably isn’t Jesus’s house, but it could be, he could have been there. This often happens in Israel. Um, I went there the next year and we had to uncover it.

They were not advertising it, it, well, they were keeping it a secret as they could there, they had it behind a bunch of walls and, and you kind of had to bribe people to find out where it was. And we had to peek through the walls to see where it was and they were already in the process of reburying it.

That is not uncommon because whoever owned it didn’t want to turn it into a tourist site. Oh wow. And so it’s like the only other option is they were filling, they were filling it full of sandbags, probably with the intention of concreting over the top of it.

Bryn Starnes: So if it’s a prominent discovery, they either make it a tourist site or recover it.

Chris Legg: Yeah. What else are you going to do?

Chris Sherrod: Are you going to talk about your favorite one when, when you’re there, when you’re taking a tour.

Chris Legg: There’s two favorite ones there, while I’m there. One is Hezekiah’s tunnel. Oh yeah, that’s awesome.

And so in 2nd Kings [00:23:00] 20:20 it says this, the rest of the deeds of Hezekiah and all of his might and how he made the pool and the conduit and brought water into the city. Are they not written in the book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. And by the way, they are referenced in the book of Chronicles. If that’s the book that’s being referenced here, there’s very likely, there’s a different Chronicles book that we don’t have.

But, and how it was done, which would sure be cool to have. Um, but, um, in 1837, so again, 1800 years later, these tunnels were found and they are carved straight into the bedrock of the mountain.

Chris Sherrod: Well, actually even longer more than 1800 years.

Chris Legg: You’re exactly right. That’s not first century. Oh my gosh. Yeah. So it’s a lot further back. Uh, in fact, there’s Hezekiah was even a questionable figure until Sennacherib’s Annals. Called the Taylor’s tablet in 1830,

It references the war between Israel and Sennacherib again, which is straight, which is in the Bible. They could find more of these tomorrow. Yeah. It happens all the time.

The other one, he wanted me to reference, I think it was the Pilate stone. So [00:24:00] Pontius Pilate who, who’s obviously a significant person in the, in the biblical account and account of Jesus’s death, especially. There were references to Pilate but not great ones.

Ones that were easily kind of dismissed. Like, was this a real historical figure? Um, was there really, was it, was there really Pontius Pilate? And was he really governor and all that kind of stuff?

Chris Sherrod: Was he only mentioned because the gospel mentions him like that

Chris Legg: Did other people later mentioned him because of the gospels?

Yeah. And, in 1961 in Cesarea Maritime, when they were digging for a different building, they found a dedication stone that was dedicating the building to the divinity of the Cesar at the time and references Pontious Pilate. Not only does it reference him, but it references him as governor.

And it’s from the first century, like it literally was probably done by him while he was alive. To the degree you can have any absolute knowledge from history, especially ancient history, this is it. And once again, though, I [00:25:00] know that if, if we were playing for the other team, we could bring up examples of things like, exactly what year Jesus was born.

And, when was Quirinius exactly doing? And there’s some differences between historical accounts and biblical accounts and even between several different ones. We could come up with some, some historical events to say, man, this, this seems like maybe the Bible got it wrong a little bit historically or whatever.

That’s not what I’m saying, but if I was trying to push to find holes in it, there are plenty of places where there’s either not much information or the information is unclear or even what is there seems to be an error. I we’ll tell you. Because of how many times that we have thought the Bible was wrong about history and it turned out to be what was right, like with the Hittite tablets that you go from essentially in 1906, you go from, we’re not sure there was such a thing as a Hittite. How could we have ever missed them? They’re a nation who rivaled the Egyptians and we’ve never found anything about them. Nah, the Bible made it up [00:26:00] and there wasn’t tons written where that was mocked.

Everybody knew that ancient history’s tough. And then to discover 10,000 clay tablets that referenced them over a short period of time. And you’re like, okay, well it turns out the Bible is exactly right about it. That happens enough time now that when I have people even say, even with Roman history, like, oh, but they have Quirinius being, you know, in charge of this time.

But Luke seems to say, it was this time. I lean towards going, man. I, I, it won’t surprise me if Luke turns out to be right about this and that the other historical accounts we have are, are actually, even though they’re Roman and we usually trust Roman accounts. If you’re talking about a two or three-year difference, and that’s what this is talking about, by the way, or that he served multiple times. So I know there are plenty of questions out there that people have about this stuff.

 The, one of the things I love about biblical archeology is when I was there last time, our guide told us that there was a city

that they had uncovered that had two gates and it was rare for the cities to have two gates. And it was real close to the valley of Elah and, and one of the cities that David chased it [00:27:00] when it lists all the cities that David chased the Philistines through after defeating Goliath, one of them, the city name is two gates and, and they were like, that’s weird because cities don’t have two gates in this part of the world.

And then they uncover a city within four or five miles of the valley of Elah and it has a front gate and a back gate because it’s on a ridge, so it could go either direction. And they’re like, wow, that’s quite an amazing coincidence. None of the two gates. And every time you run into that with biblical account that they go, no, there is no Gath.

And then someone says, you know what, I’m going to use the Bible to see if I can pinpoint Gath and find it. And then they find it.

Bryn Starnes: If someone’s wanting to deep dive more, are there websites that are go-to’s or books that if they just want to dig more or there’s a reputable source for archeology that supports scripture.

Chris Sherrod: Yeah. I still think because I’m old school that the thoroughness of the Evidence that Demands a Verdict book, which has been updated now with Sean [00:28:00] McDowell and his dad still stands as a really good helpful one.

I just looked in biblical archeology review does have a website. There you go. And there’s still a magazine.

You can still get it if you want…