Geography of the Bible: Physical Proof of Jesus?

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What can the geography of the Bible tell us about whether or not Jesus is real? Is the geography of the Bible accurate?

In The Case for Christ, Strobel argues that the geography of the Bible is generally accurate. He further argues that this gives credibility to the Bible and its authors as a whole.

Read more about the geography of the Bible, and what it says about the existence of Jesus.

Does the Archaeological Evidence Support the Geography in the Bible?

No archeological finding has disproved the New Testament, and Luke’s gospel has proven especially accurate, with references to geographical and cultural landmarks later confirmed by archaeological digs in the Middle East.

With the documentary evidence for the historical Jesus well established, Strobel moves on to investigate the scientific evidence for Jesus’s existence. To do so, he visits John McRay, a professor of the New Testament and archaeology at Wheaton College in Illinois. McRay is the author of a 432-page textbook entitled Archaeology and the New Testament, and he supervised several archaeological digs in Israel over an eight-year period. As a result, he studied Biblical geography.

What Archaeology Can’t Tell Us

Strobel’s object in interviewing McRay is to determine whether the accounts in the gospels are true and accurate. Archaeology can tell us about the history and geography of the ancient world, but it can’t tell us whether the New Testament is the Word of God or whether we ought to commit our lives to Jesus. These are spiritual truths whose value cannot be underwritten by scientific discovery like in Biblical geography.

But if the gospel writers’ references to particular places and landmarks prove consistent and accurate, it lends credibility to the other parts of their accounts, particularly with Bible geography.

On John and Mark

John’s gospel, the last to have been written, has been doubted due to geographical inaccuracy as well—until it too was vindicated by relatively recent archeological discoveries

For example, John describes Jesus healing an invalid at the Pool of Bethesda, which, in John’s telling, has five porticoes. Because no such pool had been found, many scholars doubted this part of John’s gospel (and, in turn, his gospel as a whole). But then, lo and behold, the pool was excavated from 40 feet below ground—and it matched John’s description precisely.

Mark, according to his gospel’s critics, was conspicuously ignorant of ancient Palestine’s geography. His mistakes are particularly troubling given that his gospel is widely accepted to be the first to have been written.

But are these issues with Bible geography really mistakes? Critics have fixated on Mark 7:31, wherein Jesus travels from Tyre through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee. Scholars of the geography of the time have pointed out that if Jesus were traveling from Tyre in the direction of Sidon, he would be moving away from the Sea of Galilee. But these scholars fail to take into account the mountainous terrain and winding roads of the region. Based on the actual topography of the land, the route Mark describes is perfectly logical. This help legitimize the geography of the Bible as proof.

Geography of the Bible: Physical Proof of Jesus?

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best summary of Lee Strobel's "The Case for Christ" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full The Case for Christ summary :

  • How an atheist lawyer-journalist researched Christ and began believing
  • The key arguments against the existence of Christ, and why they don't hold up
  • How to make up your own mind about whether Christ existed

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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