Jesus and the Culture of His Day: An Interview with Craig A. Evans
by Jonathan Petersen
Archaeological evidence enlightens our understanding of the life and death of Jesus and the culture in which he lived, providing a context for the different periods in time.
Bible Gateway interviewed Craig Evans (@DrCraigAEvans) about his book, Jesus and the Remains of His Day: Studies in Jesus and the Evidence of Material Culture (Hendrickson Publishers, 2015).
Please explain the meaning of your book’s title, Jesus and the Remains of His Day.
Craig A. Evans: All that we have of history are “remains,” either remains of writings or the physical remains of human culture. With respect to Jesus we have a significant body of writings and physical remains, which are brought to light through archaeological excavations and analysis. My book assembles the most important of these remains and then interprets the remains and the written records in a way that sheds light on one another.
How is modern archaeology reinforcing the Bible’s veracity?
Craig A. Evans: Modern archaeology supports the general veracity of the Bible’s narratives in two ways:
(1) What we learn of the biblical world thanks to archaeology is consistent with what the biblical narratives describe. That would not be the case if the biblical narratives were nothing more than fiction or wildly inaccurate stories.
(2) Often archaeology confirms specific claims in biblical narratives. Again, if the biblical narratives were fiction, this would not happen. Historians and archaeologists call this verisimilitude, in that the biblical narratives—or in the case of the New Testament Gospels, with which my book is primarily concerned—align with the historical data we find in other sources, both written and archaeological. If a source does not exhibit verisimilitude, historians and archaeologists will not use it.
Explain why even non-Christian archaeologists use the four Gospels as a basis for their digs.
Craig A. Evans: All archaeologists in Israel/Palestine make use of the New Testament Gospels. They do this because the Gospels exhibit verisimilitude. In short, the Gospels help archaeologists know where to dig and they help archaeologists understand what they unearth…
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