Practical Evidence

Science, archaeology, and history continue

validating the Biblical account of events.


The past discourse was dedicated to showing the Biblical proof of the deity of Christ. I understand this may not be enough for some. The next line of debate for skeptics is usually attacking the truth and accuracy of the Bible. Critics often claim the Bible has been changed, or is just a mythical book. If the Bible is God’s Word, there should be corroborating facts. This chapter will focus on practical evidence. If Jesus is deity, there should be historical facts supporting that, as well. If the truth can be proven by faith only, the case will seem weak to some skeptics. Truth, however, stands up to every test. Obviously, if it cannot do that, it will not be the truth. Let us now look at facts substantiating the premise of the previous three chapters. We will examine historical information and validate some Biblical accounts many unbelievers bring into question. We will demonstrate proof of Scriptural soundness, its accuracy, and that none of its meaning has been lost over the last two millenniums. If the data and accounts of the Scripture can be verified, we have a solid basis of truth. Now, let us examine information everyone can access and see where it leads.


Josephus has long been regarded as one of the main Jewish historians of the first century. Many around the world who have varying backgrounds and mindsets accept his writings. Charles Pfeiffer wrote an account of Josephus’ background in the foreword of The Works of Josephus volume I. He stated that Josephus was born in approximately 37 A.D. He was well educated in Jewish and Greek culture. Josephus spent quite a few years in Rome trying to teach them about Jewish traditions:

It was during his time in Rome that he wrote the historical accounts that now make him famous. This unique balance of Roman and Jewish culture help validate his writings. He had no bias. In fact, Rome may have had the greater influence in his life. Rome had a great empire and a great history. It was there that he learned the importance and significance of the factual side of history.1

In 1752, William Whiston of Cambridge, England, made and published the standard English translation of the works of Josephus. In the appendix, he also included a list of fifteen historians that had quoted Josephus on various historical facts. The first historian was in the first century and others continued up until Mr. Whiston’s generation. Josephus’ credentials have passed the test of time.

We mention this fact because of one paragraph that Josephus wrote about Jesus. The following is his account:

Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works — a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles (non-Jews). He was the Christ; and when Pilate at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.2

These are the comments of the primary Jewish historian of the first century. Several of the twelve apostles were still alive during Josephus’ life, as well as many other followers of Jesus who were eye witnesses of His life. Initially, Josephus refers to Jesus’ humanity. He was an historical figure. He stated Jesus was the Christ! Remember, we previously discussed that topic. The terms Christ and Messiah were synonymous in the Jewish culture. The Messiah was foretold to be deity by the Old Testament prophets. Josephus knew what the prophets said about the Messiah. In fact, he refers to them in his statement on Jesus. He was plainly stating that Jesus was the Christ, which as we discussed, means that He was God in the flesh! He also referred to the cross and that Jesus rose again the third day. The resurrection was God’s final stamp of approval. It showed to mankind that Jesus was who He said He was! He referred to many other things (10,000) the prophets foretold and Jesus fulfilled. Josephus, one of the prominent historians of the first century, bears out the claims of Jesus. Two things about Jesus are questioned the most: His deity and His resurrection. Josephus confirms both! We must remember the influence Rome had on the thinking of Josephus. Christians were heavily persecuted during the time he was in Rome. It is inconceivable that he would have written his statement about Jesus unless he knew it to be a fact, for no person would put his neck on the chopping block for a myth!

Josephus wrote on many other areas of the Bible at which unbelievers scoff. Noah’s Ark was a major topic of his writings.  In Josephus’ comments concerning Noah’s Ark, he states the account of the Bible and where the ark landed, and then he makes a remarkable statement. He wrote that:

…the Armenians call this place The Place of Descent, for the ark being saved in that place, its remains are shown there by the inhabitants to this day.3

Josephus wrote that during his time the remains of the ark were still visible. Here again, we see the prominent first century historian verify an account of the Bible that many refuse to believe. This is a powerful affirmation of the Scriptures!

Another Biblical account that some people scorn is the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Following is a portion of Josephus’ report on this Biblical account:

…it was of old a most happy land both for the fruits it bore and the riches of its cities, although it be now all burnt up. It is related how, for the impiety of its inhabitants, it was burnt by lightning; in consequence of which there are still the remainders of that divine fire; and the traces of the five cities are still to be seen, as well as the ashes growing in their fruits.4

Josephus described in detail the devastation from Sodom and Gomorrah that was still evident during the first century A.D.! Most scholars acknowledge that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed 2,000 years before Josephus’ time. The fact that the evidence was still there shows how complete and how devastating the destruction really was. The fact that the prominent first century historian reported that the evidence was still there, is a ringing endorsement of the Biblical account! In his writings, Josephus also refers to the calamity of Lot’s wife. He writes that:

But Lot’s wife continually turning back to view the city as she went from it, and being too nicely inquisitive what would become of it, although God had forbidden her to so do, was changed into a pillar of salt; for I have seen it, and it remains at this day.5

Josephus states that he had seen the pillar of salt with his own two eyes. Salt does not appear in that form or manner naturally. It could only have occurred by divine intervention, and we have a noted historian who was an eyewitness to the fact that the pillar of salt was still there.

In conclusion, we have the statements of Josephus on Jesus, Noah’s Ark, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Lot’s wife. His accounts clearly validate all four! We must remember that Josephus did all his writing while he was in Rome. He was considered a traitor by the Jews because he went to Rome and adopted the Roman way of life. In the first century, history tells us how hard Rome was on Christianity. Christians were thrown to the lions and their dead bodies were often used as torches to light the city. It is important to remember that Josephus lived in first century Rome when he wrote The Works of Josephus. We can see that Josephus’ commitment to the facts would be the only reason for validating Christianity, and thereby, jeopardizing his own future. Here we see strong evidence to sustain Jesus’ claims and three other important Biblical events!


Critics attack the Bible (and Jesus) in another area, by saying it is out of touch with reality. They declare the Bible does not address main issues that science deems significant. One argument asks why the Bible does not talk about dinosaurs. It states the Bible is obviously irrelevant in the scientific arena because it ignores that issue. No one questions whether or not dinosaurs existed, for the fossil records show proof over and over again. Their position is that since the Bible is silent on this important issue, it is out of touch with scientific facts that are known to be true. As a result, they have other questions disputing whether the Bible is relevant in any area.

The problem with the above argument is that the Bible does refer to dinosaurs. In Job 40:15- 24 we find God reminding Job about behemoth. That animal was contemporary with Job; otherwise, he would not have known what God was talking about. God would not bother to talk about an animal of which Job had no knowledge. In the original language, behemoth refers to “large animal.” Some translators state this may be an elephant or hippopotamus. As we examine the Biblical account, we see that cannot be true. Have you ever seen the tail of either of these animals? Both have fairly short spindly tails. In verse 17, Scripture tells us that this animal had a tail like a cedar! There is only one animal that ever had a tail to fit that description — the dinosaur. Verse 19 goes on to tell us this animal is, “the first of the ways of God” — the largest of His creation! No one questions that dinosaurs were the largest animals ever to walk the earth. This passage of Scripture clearly declares that dinosaurs existed and were contemporary with man.

Dead Sea Scrolls

Another leading argument against the authority of Scripture is the claim that man has corrupted the translation over the past 2000 years. The contention is that whether intentional or unintentional, the Scriptures have been polluted through man’s translations. The implications are great. If man has contaminated the Scriptures, then it really is not God’s Word. If there is not definite assurance of Scriptural truth, then it is just a good book to read, but not the words of God to us.

Many consider the Dead Sea Scrolls to be the greatest archaeological find of the twentieth century: In his book, The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, James C. VanderKam wrote about this great archaeological find.

He stated that the scrolls were discovered in a cave near the Dead Sea in 1947. The scrolls were found to be a copy of the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament of the Bible. Paleography was used to establish when the scrolls were written. Paleography is the study of ancient scripts and the ways letters were shaped by scribes when writing or copying texts. Styles of letter formation change over time, which enables paleographers to determine the era in which scripts were written. This study showed the scrolls were probably written in the first century B.C. The scrolls were checked for accuracy by expert scholars. They found the Dead Sea Scrolls and the current book of Isaiah are almost identical. Only slight points rarely altering the text’s meaning were found. The Isaiah scroll reveals that the Scriptures have not changed through translations since the time of Christ. Carbon-14 dating was another test used to determine the age of the scrolls. This analysis placed the writing of the scrolls to be around the time of Christ’s birth.6

The Dead Sea Scrolls are considered the greatest find of the twentieth century because they reveal that the Scriptures remain accurate, to the dismay of skeptics. They silence that criticism and show God has sovereignly protected His Word so that His truth can be made known to all generations! What all believers have stood on for generations is now an established archaeological and historical fact!

Creation vs. Evolution

The debate between creationists and evolutionists has been long and arduous. The battle is often passionate as the discussion rages on. Scientists are learning more every year as research intensifies and they obtain more data. The evolutionary argument is simple in some ways, yet complex in others. I believe there are three foremost components to the evolutionist’s argument, with everything else flowing from them. First, evolutionists believe the earth is several million years old. The earth’s age is a key component to their argument. Second, evolutionists believe the big bang theory. They say everything came from a big explosion of matter several million years ago. Third, evolutionists believe that life was produced from nonliving matter.

Scientists continue finding information that supports the creation theory. It is exciting to me that many scientists now are supporters of the Genesis account. The creation account is very simple. In the first chapter of Genesis we read that God created everything in six days. The best commentary that I have read on this debate is written by Dennis R. Petersen. In his book, Unlocking the Mysteries of Creation, Petersen makes some powerful arguments for the Biblical account, along with key rebuttals of the evolutionary stance. The key issues listed below are addressed in his book:

Mr. Peterson discusses the big bang theory, and asks the interesting question, “Do explosions create order or chaos?” The answer to that question should be obvious.

He also comments on the earth’s age. If the earth is several million years old, it would create a serious problem for evolutionists. If Adam and Eve were on the earth millions of years ago, the natural exponential growth of the earth’s population would be astronomical. The earth would not be able to support that big of a population. Total population would be many times greater than the six billion plus the earth now contains.

Another fallacy of the evolutionary model is that random chance produces all the complexity of living things. The human skeleton has about 200 bones. What are the odds of 200 bones randomly being put together in the right order? It would be the number ten with 375 zeros behind it, to 1. Sheer numbers show the impossibility of this occurring by accident.

Dennis Petersen has a lot more information on the scientific proof for a young earth as opposed to the “millions of years” theory that evolutionists put forward. He also shows the fallacy of the big bang theory. Explosions never cause order; rather, they only produce chaos. Energy cannot produce life and the statistical improbability of the evolutionary theory of how life began and evolved is astounding.7

I trust these selected arguments from Dennis Peterson’s book will whet your appetite to learn even more. Remember, God is a God of order; His truth is based on the facts. It would not be the truth if it were not so! Evolutionists often state that it takes too much faith to believe God created everything. It requires a lot more faith to believe the evolutionary theory over the Biblical account. Dennis Petersen clearly demonstrates the huge problems that evolutionists cannot answer. The more scientists probe with open minds, the more the Scriptures are proven to be accurately written evidence of historical events.

Die for a Lie?

We get our information from the past through history books and eye witness accounts. For information to stand up to scrutiny, the credibility of the eyewitnesses is primary. In many ways, the Bible is history and the men writing the New Testament need to pass the credibility test. Apostles of the Lord wrote all but two or three books in the New Testament (Hebrews, Luke and Acts). We then need to determine a good formula for their reliability.

Josh McDowell writes in his book, More Than a Carpenter, that almost all of the apostles were martyred:

    1. Peter crucified

    2. Andrew crucified

    3. Matthew the sword

    4. John natural

    5. James, son of Alphaeus crucified

    6. Philip crucified

    7. Simon crucified

    8. Thaddaeus by arrows

    9. James, brother of Jesus stoned

  10. Thomas spear thrust

  11. Bartholomew crucified

  12. James, son of Zebedee the sword8

The key to this issue is what happened after the crucifixion of Jesus. There are two different accounts. The Roman guards spread the story that the disciples stole Jesus’ body from the tomb (Matthew 28:11-15). The apostles’ account was that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead. The truth on this subject is critical. If the resurrection were a hoax, what would the result have been? Undoubtedly, the disciples would all have returned to their fishing nets, tax business, or whatever they could find. Their message would have died at that time. Remember, Jesus prophesied that he would rise from the dead after three days (John 2:18-22). If He did not rise on the third day, then He would be a false prophet and a charlatan. The disciples, above all people, knew the truth about the resurrection. There are several accounts in the Gospels regarding Jesus appearing to the disciples after His resurrection (Mark 16:14, Luke 24:36-43, John 20:19-23, John 20:27-29, John 21:1-18). If Jesus had not risen from the dead, the disciples would have been the primary ones to verify it. Yet, as previously noted, they gave their lives for this same Jesus!

The ultimate question is: Would these men give their lives for a lie? Some might respond that many have done so and that many will still do so. This is true, but no one would die for something they knew was a lie. It would have been impossible for the disciples to be deceived about this since Jesus appeared to them several times. The disciples would have been the foremost witnesses to the fact that Jesus had risen from the dead, for they saw him face to face. If Jesus had not risen, the disciples would have gone back to their secular jobs. If Jesus had not risen, the movement would have lost its hope and therefore, would have faded away as others have throughout history.

Many people living then believed the report of the Roman guards, and many still do to this day. At that time, it was a death penalty offense when a Roman guard’s watch was broken through prisoner escape or otherwise. Earlier in the book we talked about the guards being bribed by the Pharisees and receiving assurance that they would take care of things with their Roman supervisors. How do you think the guards would have handled the situation if that provision had not been granted? Would they have reported to their superiors that someone stole Jesus’ body and risk the consequence of death? That is unlikely. They would not have intentionally chosen to die for something that was a lie!

The same reasoning applies to the apostles. The greatest proof of the authenticity of the Gospel may well be the apostles offering their lives for the message of Jesus.


I appreciate the continuing growth of information being compiled that substantiates the truth and accuracy of the Scriptures. We have just discussed different research projects conducted by experts with various professional backgrounds. We have shared evidence from a noted historian, scientists, and eyewitness accounts. The historian Josephus has provided factual evidence for the divine claims of Jesus. He also confirms the accounts of Noah’s Ark and Sodom and Gomorrah. Many scientists now agree it is easier to believe the creation account than it is to believe the theory of evolution.  The Dead Sea Scrolls provide documented proof that the Bible is accurate and nothing has been changed over the past 2000 years. Last of all, we can read eyewitness accounts verifying the Biblical account of Jesus.

As we began this chapter, the goal was to verify the reliability and exactness of the Scriptures. A lot of information and evidence has been presented for your careful consideration. The question now is: What do you think?


     1.  William Whiston, The Works of Josephus, Volume I (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984) vii.

     2.  Ibid, Volume IV. 11.

     3.  Ibid, Volume II. 76.

     4.  Ibid, Volume I. 331.

     5.  Ibid, Volume II. 93.

     6.  James C. VanderKam, The Dead Sea Scrolls Today (Grand Rapids: William B Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994) 3, 16-20, 123-126.

    7.  Dennis R Petersen, Unlocking the Mysteries of Creation (El Dorado: Creation Resource Publications, 2002) 76-96.

     8.  Josh McDowell, More Than a Carpenter (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 1977) 61.