Jesus came to this world and changed the course of human history. He left it without a trace—or so it may seem.
The historicity and divinity of Jesus is both captivating and controversial. Skeptics have often alleged that no evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ has been discovered outside of the Bible. Of course, Christians don’t need evidence to believe, but the doubters and skeptics couldn’t be more wrong.
There have actually been a number of important archeological and scientific findings that irrefutably suggest that Jesus, the Son of God, did walk the Earth and that he was divine. Let’s take a look at some of the most convincing and awe-inspiring Jesus discoveries—many of which have happened in only the last 10 years and haven’t received the recognition they deserve.
A burial box linked to an adversary who organized Jesus’ crucifixion has been found.
A 2,000-year-old burial box inscribed with the name of a relative of Caiaphas, the high priest of the New Testament who played a key role in the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, was confirmed to be authentic by Israeli experts.
Scholars widely believe that the burial box (or ossuary) is genuine and that it could serve as an important confirmation of the New Testament story because it proves Caiaphas existed. The inscription says: “Miriam daughter of Yeshua son of Caiaphas, priest of Maaziah from Beth Imri.”
Another artifact that supports the existence of Jesus is the James ossuary, which is much more controversial among scholars. Dated to the first century, it’s inscription reads: “James son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” If real, the inscription would be the earliest written reference to Jesus ever discovered. However, some experts believe that “brother of Jesus” may have been added later by a master forger.
The burial bed in which Jesus was laid on after his crucifixion was discovered in a once-in-a-lifetime tomb excavation.
The Christian story says that Jesus’ body was laid on a burial bed and enclosed in a tomb before being resurrected and ascending to Heaven several days later. A shrine protecting a tomb located in what is now the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is widely believed to be the location of where Jesus was crucified and laid to rest.
No one had laid eyes on the inside of the tomb for half a millennium until archeologists unsealed it. What archeologists found inside when they opened the tomb amazed them. The limestone shelf—which is where Christ’s lifeless body is believed to have been placed—was there.
The researchers also discovered a second grey marble slab no one knew existed, engraved with a cross they believe was carved in the 12th century by the Crusaders.
Jewish tradition at the time required that burials must occur outside of city walls. The location of the tomb is consistent with this practice, as the tomb would have been located outside of Jerusalem city during Biblical times.
The Shroud of Turin image was created by a flash of light.
A cherished relic among Christians, the Shroud of Turin has been a subject of intense study—and controversy.
Skeptics have alleged that the shroud’s imprint was created by medieval forgers, citing carbon dating studies that occurred in the 80s (which have been refuted in the scientific community).
But scientists from Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA) have arrived at a very different conclusion after years of research.
Evidence suggests that the image depicted was created by a flash of intense light comparable to ultraviolet lasers—34 trillion watts of ultraviolet light, to be exact.
ENEA scientists couldn’t reproduce the image at the current level of technology that’s available today. Needless to say, such advanced technology would not have been possible in medieval times.
For the believer, this finding supports the idea that the shroud bears the image of Christ, and that it was created by the same power that resurrected Jesus.
Nazareth was a real place in the time of Jesus.
Nazareth plays a key role in the Christian story. It’s where Jesus grew up and where an angel appeared before Mary to tell her she would give birth to the child of God.
Today, Nazareth is a bustling city of 75,000 people. It was never proven to have existed during Biblical times when Jesus walked the Earth—which is a favorite attack line used by skeptics in doubting the existence of Jesus.
But just a few years ago, Israeli archaeologists discovered the remains of a house from the time of Jesus in the heart of Nazareth. It was found under the courtyard of the former Sisters of Nazareth covenant in the process of erecting a new Christian center. It is a simple home of two rooms and a courtyard, which contained several fragments of chalk vessels, which is a clue that Jews lived here in this period, researchers said. Due to the number of burial caves and other archeological discoveries found nearby that date to the early Roman era, researchers believe that ancient Nazareth was likely a village of about 50 residences.
Archaeologist Ken Dark of the University of Reading believes that this site could have even greater significance—he believes it could actually be the childhood home of Jesus. Throughout history, several structural attempts have been made to protect the home from being destroyed, which suggest its importance.
The Gabriel Stone predicts a suffering messiah.
In 2008, Israeli archeologists confirmed the authenticity of a first-century stone tablet with a Hebrew inscription that mentions the angel Gabriel and tells the story of a messianic figure who would suffer, be killed by the Romans, and rise in three days. It is believed to have been created just decades before Jesus’ birth.
The Gabriel Stone, also known as the “Gabriel’s Revelation,” is 3-foot-tall tablet with 87 lines of text inscribed in ink. It was first found near the Dead Sea in 2000 before being studied formally. The creation of the Gabriel Stone is associated with the same community that scribed the Dead Sea scrolls.
This is an important discovery because it affirms the divinity of Jesus and challenges claims that the narrative of a suffering messiah who was crucified wasn’t just made up by early Christians to explain the scandal of the cross. It also refutes the claim that Jews during Biblical times had no concept of a suffering messiah.
The Bible may have been based on first-hand accounts and written sources.
What if the Bible isn’t just a religious book—but also a history book? The idea that the Bible is simply a collection of inspired stories that were passed down through oral tradition is falling out of favor among some leading New Testament scholars.
They believe that the Bible may have been written based on eyewitness testimony and written sources. Experts are discovering that the Bible is more historically accurate than once believed, and that it could give an accurate picture of who Jesus was. Why is this shift in Bible scholarship happening? The Bible contains historical details that would have been possible to get right unless you were there.
For example, the statistical distribution of names mentioned in the gospels matches up almost perfectly with the statistical distribution of names in first-century Palestine, as New Testament Scholar Richard Bauckham explains in “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses.”
This might seem like an unimportant detail, but, the scholar believes that it would have been nearly impossible to get the names right unless the gospel writers had contact with the people who are mentioned in the Biblical books. This is just one detail out of many that seemingly confirms the accuracy of the Bible.
Jesus’ synagogue in Galilee discovered.
Archeologists found an ancient synagogue in the lower Galilee region, which is where the New Testament says that Jesus delivered sermons to his early followers.
The synagogue was discovered during a 10-year excavation at a site in Tel Rechesh, which is still ongoing. This discovery is important because it is the first synagogue discovered in Galilee area. It is the eighth synagogue in total that has been found, dated to what is called the Second Temple Era, which ended in AD 79 after the Romans attacked Jerusalem.
The New Testament describes Jesus preaching at synagogues in Capernaum and Galilean villages. Christianity, which spread after Jesus’ death, placed great emphasis on the sermons he delivered at these synagogues, according to scholars.
Putting together the Jesus puzzle.
Does the evidence add up? To the Christian, the answer to this question is an unequivocal yes. The fact that we’re still making Jesus discoveries 2,000 years after He lived and shared his revolutionary teachings that would become the bedrock of Christianity is pretty incredible—and who’s to say what major discovery is still out there, just waiting to be found.