In historical studies there are two methods of determining “what happened?” One is to read historical accounts.
This method… has some flaws. First, reading and writing hasn’t existed forever… not everything gets documented… and authors can make mistakes… or outright embellish or lie. Not every account is reliable. No account will be complete (Although it is possible to do things like look for corroborative accounts from other authors, etc.)
The other method is through archaeology, find physical proof of something happening, or someone existing. Someone’s name inscribed on pottery, or a plaque, or minted on a coin. Their burial site might be noted. Buildings or engineering works they ordered be built.
For example: we had known for centuries that “Leif Ericsson sailed west from Greenland and founded a Settlement at Vinland.” It was written in the Icelandic sagas. But… where was Vinland? And given that there were real estate swindles associated with the foundation of Greenland and Iceland… was the story even true?
The remains of the Norse settlement at L’Anse-aux-Meadows puts these questions to rest: we can tell that the Norse made it to North America, and settled. And have other details the sagas didn’t record from those findings.
Similarly, when Schliemann found Troy… thousands of years of “Is the Iliad based on a real thing?” were put to rest… there is indisputable proof that a city had existed in the area identified by Homer, that battles were fought in its environs, and it was destroyed and not rebuilt.
We discuss… ad nauseam… the five or so mentions of Jesus existing outside of Christian scripture in Roman historical records. But–good news Thomas!–written records aren’t the only possible proof of something happening.
Christianity–all faiths–has a long history of venerating relics, and historical locations. The Christian Holy Land has, for almost two millennia now, supported a healthy tourist trade of people wanting to see where Jesus lived, and walked. There’s quite a bit of this artifact evidence out there!
Um… a distressing amount of artifact evidence actually. There are no less than 8 bodies and 9 heads of the evangelist Luke located in different places. And while I may not have formally studied anatomy… it seems like there might be some… less than authentic relics out there.
Now… mind the circling atheist wolverines who are eager to launch into debate here… but questions:
- If you are a believer, what is the most convincing artifact proof, for you, that Jesus existed? Why?
- If you don’t find such proof for Jesus convincing, what is the oldest artifact/personality in Christianity you find convincingly authentic/demonstrated?
Article URL : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relic#Christianity