Rawlings School of Divinity


Master of Arts in Biblical Studies (MA)


Chet Roden


archaeology, historicity, Gospel of John, apologetic




The question of the historical reliability of the New Testament is one of the central issues in Christian apologetics. This is an area that keeps agnostics and atheists from believing in the Bible and hence God. Few are willing to undertake an in-depth study to ferret out the truth; a simple Google internet search to confirm their secular presuppositions. For example, the top search result using Google for “historical reliability of gospel of John” brings up the following reply “The Gospel of John is a relatively late theological document containing little accurate historical information that is not found in the three synoptic gospels [sic], which is why most historical studies have been based on the earliest sources Mark and Q.” The skepticism surrounding the historical reliability of John’s Gospel expands beyond agnostics and atheists, however. Many New Testament scholars also ascribe little if any historical weight to the Gospel of John. In writing about the trial of Jesus before Pilate, Gibson wrote, “There are even those who would discount the historical accuracy of the basic storyline of the trial narrative, particularly the version given in the Fourth Gospel, on the grounds that the trial must have taken place behind closed doors and therefore could not have been witnessed by supporters of Jesus but only by a handful of Roman officials. This has led some researchers to take the extreme stance of dismissing the entire trial narrative—except for some of the very basic elements of the story—as a literary creation devoid of historical content.” However, this paper seeks to demonstrate that many archaeological discoveries have confirmed the reliability of many of the landmarks and place names in the Gospel of John and thereby, lends support to the historicity of the Gospel of John.

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