Is there any archaeological evidence for the core Christian belief of Jesus’s resurrection? Yes, there is archaeological evidence that supports the Christian faith in Jesus’s resurrection. Archaeologists continue to uncover artifacts of ancient Jewish tombs and monuments. This material evidence reveals past practices and beliefs. Material evidence relies on the corroboration of primary legal-historical sources like lawyers who present both trace and eyewitness evidence in criminal cases today. The evidence from archaeology aligns with the historical sources for the resurrection of Jesus. Historians authenticate the witnesses of Jesus’s resurrection who consist of Jesus’s earliest followers, They told all that they witnessed, saw, heard, touched, and ate with Jesus who was bodily alive after death (Luke 24; 1 Corinthians 15:1–8).
The following 3 archaeological finds support the truth that Jesus’s followers believed that they witnessed Jesus bodily risen and alive from the dead and they told the world:
1. Jehohanan’s Ankle and Nail – A bone-box of a crucified man named Jehohanan was found in a tomb of Jerusalem that demonstrated that one could receive an honorable burial after crucifixion. Bone-boxes or “ossuaries” contained the bones of the deceased a year after one’s death. The Jews buried in this way in preparation for the coming resurrection of the dead. Some critical scholars have doubted that Jesus had an honorable burial according to the custom of the Jews because the Romans crucified Jesus as claiming to be king in rebellion against Rome. However, the remains of Jehohanam’s ankle and nail disprove that assumption.
2. The Nazareth Inscription – The Nazareth Inscription is a marble tablet in the once insignificant town of Nazareth that gives a Roman imperial decree in Greek from the Emperor Claudius from about AD 41–54. The inscription warns of capital punishment for those who move a body from a grave or tomb. Why would Emperor Claudius have this posted in Nazareth in the first century? The best and most obvious explanation is the spread of the message of Jesus’s empty tomb and resurrection. The emperor of Rome blamed Jesus’s empty tomb on theft and this event was so significant that he posted a decree.
3. The Bone-Box of James the Son of Joseph – The discovery of a bone-box with the inscription of “James, the son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” The inscription on the bone-box noting 3 names is to specific to be any other than James the brother of Jesus of Nazareth. Not only was Jesus’s tomb empty but no bone-box exists for Him like His brother James.
Where is the bone-box of Jesus? Where is his body in his tomb or a grave? With these basic artifacts, each person can observe that Jesus of Nazareth lived, died, and was buried. No one knew where Jesus’s body had gone soon after His death. Something about Jesus’s empty tomb disturbed the whole world, so that the Caesar recognized the insignificant town of Nazareth in the province of Judea. These artifacts are supporting evidence of the message that spread early in the first century when people claimed to have witnessed Jesus alive from the dead. This evidence challenges everyone to explain the missing body of Jesus and the witnesses of His resurrection that started a movement that changed the world. The earliest claims bear the most explanative power that account for the message of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead. This is even more reasonable considering the universe must have a supernatural, superpowerful, and super-creative cause that brought life into being from nonliving material.
Christians have concluded that Jesus resurrected from the dead. One cannot be a Christian unless that person believes that Jesus bodily resurrected. The apostle Paul stated, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14 ESV). Furthermore, Paul observed, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). Therefore, Christians thank God that Jesus rose from the dead.
Thank God that Jesus did resurrect. The apostle Paul taught, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him” (Romans 6:8–9).