Black Spirituality Religion : Archaeology and the New Testament

Another archaeological find is of Sergius Paulus, who we meet in the New Testament, in Acts 13:6-12.

Acts 13:6 - Sergius Paulus

Archaeologists have found his inscription, around 1996, just outside of Paphos. The inscription reads, “Paulus proconsul…” (again, proconsul was an office in ancient Rome).

Sergius Paulus Inscription

They have also found another inscription of him, in Rome.

Synagogue at Capernaum – Remains of the First Century Jewish synagogue where Jesus spoke and performed a miracle has been excavated. The synagogue also marks the beginning of His public ministry. The site was first identified by Sir Charles Warren in the 19th Century. Further research has confirmed it’s identity.
The “White Synagogue” (4th Cent.) built on the exact ruins of the synagogue of Jesus’ day (darker stones)
The Tomb of Saint Philip and the Tomb of Saint Paul. The tomb of Philip is very likely to be a genuine identification. From earliest days of the church there was a Christian presence in three neighboring towns in Asia Minor: you can stand on the hill of Laodicea and see Hieropolis (modern Pamukkale) to the north, and Colossae to the east.

In the second century, it was the home of the church father Papias, who had been a disciple of the apostle John. And according to very early tradition, Philip had also worked in Hieropolis. There were two prominent Philips in the apostolic church, Philip of Bethesda, the apostle who is usually paired with Thomas; and Philip the Deacon, who also evangelized Samaria and the Ethiopian eunuch. It is this second Philip who hosted Paul in Acts 21:8-9 — “Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.”

Eusebius seems to think both are the same person:

  1. “For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the last day, at the coming of the Lord, when he shall come with glory from heaven and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who sleeps in Hierapolis, and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus… 4. [Proclus] speaks thus concerning the death of Philip and his daughters: “After him there were four prophetesses, the daughters of Philip, at Hierapolis in Asia. Their tomb is there and the tomb of their father.” (History of the Church 3.31.3-4)

Figure 5 The first-century tomb of Philip.
Eusebius is possibly confusing two men, or perhaps he knew something we do not. At any rate, there is ancient tradition that states that in Hieropolis there were two buildings — a Martyrium, that is, a church built to commemorate the site of Philip’s martyrdom; and another church close by, built over the actual tomb of Philip. This was long thought to be legendary, but an Italian scholar Francesco D’Andria believed the tradition and dug where it suggested the tomb would be. In fact, he found a first-century tomb that is exactly as tradition described it. The tomb church and the Martyrium were build in the 4th or 5th centuries. The tomb is empty, which was more or less expected, because history said that the bones had been removed to Constantinople. This is I think certainly the tomb of one of the biblical Philips, but which of the two is hard to say; I think it is Philip the Deacon. Either way, here is extraordinary physical evidence from the first century of one of the most prominent early Christians.

Now we go to Rome. For almost 2000 years, the continuous tradition has been that Paul was beheaded in Rome by the Emperor Nero, that his head is buried in St John Lateran there, and that his body was buried in a tomb under the Basilica of St Paul Without the Walls (an odd-sounding name, but it means that it lay outside the walls of the ancient city; today it is part of Italy, not the Vatican State. Constantine built the first church on top of the site of his traditional tomb, and then others were built on top of the same site. In 2005 experts opened the tomb for the first time and found human bones. Carbon 14 tests confirm that they are from the second or first century AD. The pope has announced that it is the body of Paul, although that is not possible to prove conclusively....

rusalem, the Israel Antiquities Authority excavated a dried clay seal known as a “bulla.” Used to identify transactions in the ancient world, this bulla was inscribed with an ancient Hebrew script reading “From the town of Bethlehem to the King.” It likely accompanied a tax payment from as early as the eighth century B.C. Outside of the Bible, this is the earliest-known identification of the existence of Bethlehem.
A sign above the site describing the definition of a bulla and who it belonged to

The archaeological site in the City of David where the bulla was discovered



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