Archive for November, 2018

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A ring found 50 years ago has just recently been deciphered to bear the inscription of Pontius Pilate’s name, the Roman prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, serving under Emperor Tiberius from AD 26/27 to 36/37 during the time of Jesus.

The ring was found amongst thousands of other artifacts in 1968-69 excavations at Herod’s burial tomb and palace at Herodium. The current director of the Herodium archaeological site Roi Porat ordered the 2,000 year old small copper alloy ring cleaned recently and given a thorough scholarly examination.  What was discovered was the inscription “of Pilatus” on the ring. The ring was originally discovered by  Professor Gideon Forster from the Hebrew University in the late 1960s.

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Borschel-Dan reports for The Times of Israel that:

Pilate, a Roman prefect who ruled the Roman province of Judaea from circa 26–36 CE, is mentioned in several accounts in the New Testament, as having ordered the trial and crucifixion of Yeshua, a Second Temple-period radical preacher from the Galilee, more commonly known as Jesus.

Image result for pontius pilate stoneUntil know, the only object to bear his name was the Pilate Stone discovered in 1961 at  Caesarea Maritima which is now currently located at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.  The Pilate Stone inscription included the following:

“Pontius Pilatus, Prefect of Judea, has dedicated to the people of Caesarea a temple in honor of Tiberius.”

Hasson goes on the report about the discovery of the inscription on the ring for Haaretz:

The name Pilatus has been linked to that of Roman governor Pontius Pilate, mentioned in the New Testament as Jesus’ executioner. Pilate was the fifth of Roman leaders in Judah, and apparently the most important of them. He ruled in the years 26 to 36, and some say even from the year 19. The name was rare in the Israel of that era, says Professor Danny Schwartz.

“I don’t know of any other Pilatus from the period and the ring shows he was a person of stature and wealth,” Schwartz said.

The Israel Exploration Society published the findings of this inscription discovery in their journal the Israel Exploration Journal Volume 68, Number 2.

Resources:

2,000-Year-Old ‘Pilate’ Ring Just Might Have Belonged to Notorious Jesus Judge” by Amanda Borschel-Dan | The Times of Israel, Nov 29, 2018

Ring of Roman Governor Pontius Pilate Who Crucified Jesus Found in Herodion Site in West Bank” by Nir Hasson | Haaretz, Nov 29, 2018

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Post about other biblical archaeological discoveries from this blog include:

Caiaphas Ossuary

The Prophet Isaiah

23 New Testament Figures Confirmed

History Has Gone to the Toilets-The Ancient Latrine of Lachish

Virtual Unwrapping of Levitical Scroll

City of Geza

Philistine Cemetery

Ancient Shopping List Provides Evidence of When Bible Was Written

Hezekiah Bulla

12th Dead Sea Scroll Cave Found!

Bethsaida

53 People in the Old Testament Confirmed Archaeologically

New ESV Archaeology Study Bible

 

 

 

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I am sure you have heard that when Jesus cried out in a loud voice from the cross saying “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:33-34; Matthew 27:45-46) that this was when God the father turned his back on Jesus because as He bore the sins of the world and God could not face Him.  People as notable as William Lane Craig have asserted as much:

 

While I understand the sentiment behind the unbelievable treatment of Jesus, I find the interpretation unwarranted, implausible, and incoherent.

It is Unwarranted

No where in the passages (either Mark or Matthew) do the gospel authors communicate that God turned his back on Jesus because the sin of the world was laid upon Christ.  While this idiosyncratic interpretation is not Un-Biblical (goes against anything the Bible directly states) it seems to be Non-Biblical (the Bible does not say that God turned his back on Jesus at anytime in scripture).  Non-Biblical is not problematic in any orthodox sense (leisure suits are not mentioned in the Bible but they do not violate any Biblical principle), but to state that God turned his back on Jesus is simply not found in the Bible, thus it is Non-Biblical.

It is Implausible

The Protestant Reformers set forth a principle of scriptural interpretation to govern biblical hermeneutics. It is sometimes called the analogy of faith. R. C. Sproul explains:

we are to interpret Scripture according to Scripture. That is, the supreme arbiter in interpreting the meaning of a particular verse in Scripture is the overall teaching of the Bible.

Applying this interpretative principle to this passage, you will not find other scripture stating that God turned his back on Jesus thus resulting in Christ crying out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  If we want a scripture to enlighten our understanding of Mark 15:33-34 and Matthew 27:45-46, we should turn to Psalm 22.  Interestingly, verse 1 of Psalm 22 is the line, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Ironically, Craig provides insight to the despairing cry of Jesus:

This is thought to be the moment at which, so to speak, God the Father turned His back on His Son and allowed him to experience the separation from God that is sinners’ just desert for sin. This seems plausible; but upon reflection second thoughts arise. In the first place, once one realizes that what Jesus is doing here is reciting the words of Psalm 22, which is the prayer of God’s righteous servant in distress, then a very different perspective emerges. Far from showing Jesus’ alienation from God at that point, his praying Psalm 22 seems to show his deep reliance upon God at this bleakest moment of his life. Moreover, a little later he prays, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23.46). Here he addresses God as his Father.

Psalm 22, in a general sense, is a psalm written about a person who is crying out to God to save him from the derision and torture of his enemies, and then thanks God for saving him in the last ten verses. Given the salvation of the person in the latter part of the psalm, it is not a cry of despair, but a cry of help, in which God rescues. God has vindicated Jesus, not abandoned him. As Psalm 22:24 declares “For he has not despised or abhorred the torment of the oppressed. He did not hide his face from him, but listened when he cried to him for help.”

It is Incoherent

Not only is the interpretation of God turning his back on Jesus on the cross unwarranted and implausible, it is incoherent. Given the doctrine of the Trinity, Jesus, who is fully man and fully God, it is metaphysically impossible for there to be a separation in the Trinity.  If God had to turn his face or back away from Jesus (obviously metaphorically speaking) then Jesus would have to turn away from himself, because he is God. It would be metaphysically impossible for there to be a rift in the Trinity.

Apologetic Value of “My God, My God”

One of the values of interpreting Mark 15:33-34 in light of Psalm 22 is apologetics.  I find the most warranted, plausible, and coherent understanding of Jesus’ cry as a declaration to those who are standing at the foot of the cross.  In essence, Jesus is NOT looking UP crying out to God in despair, but looking DOWN to those surrounding him and citing the first line of Psalm 22.  Why is he citing the first line?  Because he is telling the listeners to read that psalm.  David E. Garland in the NIV Application Commentary to the Gospel of Mark states that, “Without chapter and verse divisions in the Hebrew Scriptures, specific passages were cited often by the first verse or key phrases.” It is like when a person sings the first line of a song and everyone knows the song they are singing.

Why is Jesus telling those at the foot of the cross to read Psalm 22?  Because it has prophetic declarations for the coming Messiah.

Verse 16 declares, “For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced by hands and feet.” This is a perfect description of what is happening to Jesus as he cries out “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” David, who wrote the psalm, did not have his hands and feet pierced, but Jesus, hanging on the cross, certainly had.  This is described hundreds of years before Roman crucifixion had even been invented.

Notice verse 17 and 18: “I can count all my bones-they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” Jesus is declaring, read Psalm 22, it is a messianic psalm, I am the fulfilling this prophecy in your presence, so you know that I am the messiah.

Cover artThis is evidence of Jesus being the Christ, the Son of the Living God as Peter pointed out in Mark chapter 8 when Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?” Jesus is pointing to the evidence that it is true, He is the Christ (the anointed one), the Son of the Living God. Josh and Sean McDowell elaborate in their recent book Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Life Changing Truth for a Skeptical World on the Old Testament prophecies of the messiah fulfilled in Jesus Christ:

The numerous and pervasive instances in the Old Testament of description and detail that correspond to the life of Jesus are like threads in a tapestry that is gradually filled in to reveal him as the Messiah. Put another way, the Old Testament can be compared to a jigsaw puzzle. The numerous pieces remain puzzling until they are assembled enough to fill out the intended picture. In the same way, the Messianic references in the Old Testament remain puzzling until patient study begins to reveal them as a picture of the person of Jesus Christ. The New Testament is thus the decryption key for unlocking the meaning of the Old Testament Scriptures.

The words of Peter recorded by Luke resonate clearly when one contemplates the fulfilled prophecy of Christ: “But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He has thus fulfilled” (Acts 3:18)

Resources on Fulfilled Prophecy:

Videos:

 

 

Online Articles:

55 Old Testament Prophecies about Jesus” The Jesus Film Project, Jan 4, 2018

New book out titled Unbelievable: 7 Myths About the History and Future of Science and Religion by Michael Keas.  Michael Keas earned a PhD in the history of science from the University of Oklahoma, and is adjunct professor of the history and philosophy of science at Biola University.  The book covers much of what I have posted about here on this site such as the myths concerning Galileo, the flat earth, and the dark ages.

Image result for Unbelievable: 7 Myths About the History and Future of Science and ReligionThe product description of the book:

Lies Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson Told Me

Scientists love to tell stories about the quest to understand the universe—stories that often have profound implications for belief or disbelief in God. These accounts make their way into science textbooks and popular culture.

But more often than not, the stories are nothing but myths.

Unbelievable explodes seven of the most popular and pernicious myths about science and religion. Michael Newton Keas, a historian of science, lays out the facts to show how far the conventional wisdom departs from reality. He also shows how these myths have proliferated over the past four centuries and exert so much influence today.

The seven myths, Keas shows, amount to little more than religion bashing—and especially Christianity bashing. Unbelievable reveals:

• Why the vastness of the universe does not deal a blow to religious belief in human significance

• Why the “Dark Ages” never happened

• Why “Flat Earthers” had basically disappeared by the third century B.C.

• Why the real story of Giordano Bruno’s life and death is far more complicated than the popular account of him as a martyr for science

• What everyone gets wrong about Galileo, and why it matters today

• Why the notion that Copernicus “demoted” humans from the center of the universe didn’t gain traction until centuries after his death

• The futuristic myth that scientists and others are positioning to challenge religion

In debunking these myths, Keas shows that the real history is far more interesting than the common account of religion at war with science.

This accessible and entertaining book lays out powerful arguments that will be embraced by religious believers tired of being portrayed as anti-intellectual and anti-science.

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Post about other issues concerning science from this blog include:

Scientism and Secularism

Science Series: C. S. Lewis on Scientisim, Evolution, and Intelligent Design

Science Series: The Myth that the Church Hindered the Development of Science

Science Series: The Myth that Galileo Goes to Jail

Science Series: The Flat Earth Myth

Science Series: Finely Tuned Cosmos

Science Series: The Dawkins Delusion Continues

Science Series: “Inherit the Wind”

Science Series: Was Belief in God a Science-Stopper? Not for Newton

Science Series: Oxford Professor-Atheism in Decline, Will be Defeated by Faith

Science Series: Creation Confusion – Resources for Research on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design

Science Series: Bill Nye the Pseudo-Science Guy

Science Series: Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God – the Most Popular Article in Wall Street Journal History

Warfare Myth: Science vs. Religion

A new book in apologetics is being released today: Stand Firm: Apologetics and the Brilliance of the Gospel by Paul M. Gould, Travis Dickinson, R. Keith Loftin:

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Gould, Dickinson, and Loftin make are professors at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  They have been putting together an annual apologetics conference at the Seminary for several years also called “Stand Firm” in which they have had some keynote speakers including Timothy McGrew, John Mark Reynolds, J. P. Moreland and J. Warner Wallace.  I have also, had the privilege of occasionally speaking at the conference.

Contents of the book include the following topics: Truth, God, Miracles, Reliability of the New Testament, Jesus, the Resurrection, the Problem of Evil, World Religions, and New Religious Movements.

A quick description of the book: “In an age of skepticism and disenchantment, people long for something that satisfies our mindÕs search for truth and our heartÕs desire for beauty and meaning. Stand Firm: Apologetics and the Brilliance of the Gospel argues that the gospel satisfies both of these needs. It is true and rational, but it is also inherently attractive and provides meaning and purpose. In short, the gospel is brilliant. It is brilliant, in one sense, because of the broad variety of evidences for its truth. But it is also brilliant given its beauty, goodness and the meaningful life it offers. The book provides up to date responses to questions about the existence of God, the reliability of the Bible, Jesus and the resurrection, and the problem of evil. It also treats unique topics such as understanding truth, knowledge and faith, the claims of alternate faiths, religious disagreement, etc. Each chapter attempts to connect these considerations with the gospel so that we may stand firm in our faith.”