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Evidence and Paul’s Journeys
Evidence and Paul’s Journeys:
An Historical Investigation into the Travels of the Apostle Paul
By Jefferson White
First Edition 2001 / Second Edition 2019
During the middle of the first century, the Apostle Paul spent more than two decades traveling and planting Christian churches throughout the eastern Roman Empire. The details of these journeys are recorded in the Acts of the Apostles and in Paul’s own letters.
What is fascinating is that there are many dozens of these details that can be confirmed as being true by objective historical evidence. Paul’s journeys took him to many different cities and provinces in the Roman east, where he came into contact with many different kinds of people in varying social and political circumstances. What astonishes is that these details, many of which were true only during the very middle of the first century, can be confirmed as being true.
Evidence and Paul’s Journeys, which is written for the general reader, is an in-depth summary of that evidence.
A Sampling of the Evidence:
Archeologists have discovered a first century inscription at Delphi, in central Greece, referring to Gallio as the Roman Proconsul of Greece. The year of Gallio’s proconsulship corresponds to 52 AD, which is the approximate date of Paul’s trial before Gallio as recorded in Acts.
In the ancient world, Ephesus was known both as a center of magic and as a university town. But the city’s chief claim to fame was that it contained one of the seven wonders of the ancient world: the temple of the goddess Artemis, or Diana.
In an archeological excavation of Corinth in 1929, a first century pavement was uncovered which contains the following inscription: “Erastus, Procurator and Aedile, laid this pavement at his own expense.” Was this the Erastus who was the companion of Paul?
According to Acts, the crowd began calling Barnabas Zeus and Paul Hermes. Archeological evidence reveals that this Zeus-Hermes combination was the local cult of the city of Lystra. There is also another reason why they would have identified Barnabus with Zeus and Paul with Hermes.
This passage presents an historical problem. According to Josephus, Felix was brought to Rome for trial, but escaped punishment because of the influence of his brother Pallas. But according to the Roman historian Tacitus, Pallas was removed from power by the Emperor Nero in 55 AD. This would be the year before Paul’s trial before Felix. Does this call into question the Acts’ account of the date of the Procurator’s return to Rome?
If the eight individuals named by Paul as being with him in Corinth had been listed by Luke as accompanying Paul from Corinth to Jerusalem, we would strongly suspect that Luke had copied those names from Paul’s Roman letter. But only two of the eight names appear on both lists. And in the case of one individual, Sopater, this is his only appearance in the New Testament.
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