Historical accuracy of the Bible: Did Theophilus And Caiaphas exist?

So many times people want to question the accuracy and historicity of the Bible. People question whether Theophilus was a real person or simply a generic term for lover of God. Others want to question whether the High Priest at the time of Jesus’ death existed. Well, both of these issues have already been answered by God for us, using archeology.

A coffin fragment with inscription of “son of the high priest” was found north of Jerusalem. It is dated to a few decades before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70AD (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1027419.html). While this in and of itself is not a big deal, as no one really questions the Second Temple’s existence, in reading this article, I found something much more interesting to me. Apparently, the existence of another coffin fragment with the inscription of “”the granddaughter of the High Priest Theophilus” was made public 15 years ago. This is the same name as the person to whom the books of Luke and Acts were addressed (see Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1).

Although recent historians have questioned the motives and accuracy of Jewish historian Josephus,  Josephus had also written of the existence of Theophilus the High Priest in his “Aniquities of the Jews”, book XVIII, chapter 5, section 3. (http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/works/ant-18.htm). Apparently Theophilus ben Ananus was high priest from 37AD to 41AD (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theophilus_ben_Ananus). So, with evidence from archalogy as well as written history, there really is no longer a question: Theophilus DID exist.

In reading up on Theophilus, I came across another interesting fact. The tomb of Caiaphus, the High Priest at the time of Jesus’ death (Matthew 26:3; Matthew 26:57; Luke 3:2; John 11:49; John 18:12-28; ), has also been discovered (http://jerusalemperspective.com/DesktopModules/TotallyFabricated%20-%20JPArticles/print.aspx?articleid=1462). Josephus also mentioned Joseph Caiaphas in his “Antiquities of the Jews”, book book XVIII, chapter 2, section 2 (http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/works/ant-18.htm).

So God has provided us more evidence for the historical accuracy of the Bible on two separate issues: the existence of Theophilus and the existence of Caiaphas.


3 Responses

  1. Thanks for the write up on who Theophilus was wbmoore. I have never questioned his existence but I did wondered who he was.

  2. You’re welcome. Further reading let me know he was the son of Annas, another high priest, and brother to Eleazar, Jonathan, Matthias and Ananus, and brother in law to Joseph Caiaphas. Also, it may be that the Joanna mentioned in Luke Luke 24:10 (and possibly the one in Luke 8:3) was his grand daughter, as the inscription on the ossuary of Theophilus’ granddaughter read “Yehohanah (Joanna) granddaughter of Theophilus the high priest” and the likelihood of Luke mentioning both names in his letter gives a high degree of certainty they were related (http://www.whitehorseinn.org/images/ntreliable.pdf http://christiancadre.blogspot.com/2004/11/who-was-theophilus-thoughts-on-preface.html).

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