Galilee Boat with Projected Image of Original Look
Book Updates/Extra Information

This page features a photo of the "Galilee Boat." During a 1986 drought, the Sea of Galilee receded enough to expose its cedar planks and oak ribs, buried deep in mud. Dated to 120 BC-40 AD, the boat's shape matches a depiction on a first-century mosaic found in Magdala that shows a similar-type vessel with mast and oars, designed to hold a crew of five and several passengers. Thanks to archaeology, we know what Peter's fishing boat might have looked like when Jesus sat in it and taught the crowds in a cove above the lake shore, and when the apostles woke him in a storm and he "rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, 'Peace! Be still!'" -- causing his men to wonder, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" (Mark 4:35-41). Watch Selah's version of this Scripture story, "Rescue Me," at

1. Page 5: Scientists recently used "virtual unwrapping" (high-resolution 3D scanning) to recover writing on a badly damaged Hebrew Scripture scroll, dated to around the 2nd-4th centuries CE. The charred, animal-skin scroll had been found in 1970 at Ein Gedi, on the Dead Sea's western shore, and stored in hopes that future technology might restore it. Its text -- the first two chapters of Leviticus (one of Torah's five books) -- "are identical to the Masoretic text, the authoritative version of the Hebrew Bible." Read about this amazing accomplishment at An NPR article is also available at

2. Pages 6-7: According to the Israel Antiquities Authority, a recent archeological discovery in Jerusalem -- three cooking pots and an oil lamp that date to the First Great Revolt -- connects to Josephus' account of the city's dreadful famine during the Roman siege in 70 AD. To read more about desperate families hiding their food supply and, in this case, secretly eating it in a dark cistern, visit the IAA website at

3. Pages 21 and 27: Nearly 3,000 years ago, the Samaritan city of Sebaste or Sebastia -- then called "Samaria" -- was capital of the northern Kingdom of Israel and the burial site of six kings. Herod the Great later rebuilt it in magnificent style and renamed it. Read more about these biblical ruins in "Rich Holy Land Site Succumbs to Neglect" (Arizona Daily Star, June 3, 2013) at

4. Pages 23 and 102: Angels are in the news, with an archaeological connection to Jewish beliefs in Jesus' day! According to The Washington Post (April 30, 2013), the "Gabriel Stone" -- a three-foot-high limestone tablet, its inscription written in ink, not carved -- is now on display in the Israel Museum. The passage describes a vision of an attack against Jerusalem, in which God and angels save the city. Featured in the text is the archangel Gabriel, whose name also appears in Hebrew Scripture, the Christian New Testament, and the Muslim Quran. Dated to Second Temple times and reportedly found in Jordan, the Gabriel Stone displays the same style of Hebrew lettering as some Dead Sea Scrolls. However, its eroded ink and two large cracks hinder scholars' efforts to read and interpret it, causing debate. An article in the Jerusalem Post, "Conversations with Gabriel" (May 4, 2013), and a photo of the stone can be found at Bible History Daily is offering a free e-book, "Gabriel's Revelation," at

5. Page 24: A city gate in Jesus' time was a place of diverse and bustling activity. Get more fascinating information (plus photos of recent archaeological finds that reconstruct how one looked) at the blog for April 11, 2013. Go to

6. Page 29: King Herod the Great built his luxurious palace fortress and future tomb, Herodium, in the Judean Desert between 23-15 B.C. Since words cannot describe its towering magnificence, watch this incredible video of Herodium, taken from the air, at

7. Page 34: Information Block -- The Nazareth Village website has been redesigned; it no longer offers the "Archaeology" link, showing the original construction of the houses.

8. Pages 34-39: Recent findings in Nazareth have revealed a well-preserved, first-century "courtyard house" (Dark, Ken. "Has Jesus' Nazareth House Been Found?" Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 2015). Churches from the Byzantine and Crusader periods had been built over the site, suggesting its importance. Original builders had cut into a "naturally occurring rock cave" in a limestone hillside, forming freestanding support walls, with additional walls built of quarried stone. The home had a series of rooms, chalk floor, and two cisterns; its ancient artifacts included: early Roman-period cooking pottery, fragments of limestone vessels, a spindle whorl, and a glass bead. Other excavations indicate Nazareth was likely a town rather than a village, and had three to seven springs nearby.

9. Page 36: To see the amazing facial reconstruction of the Bahrain boy's 4,000-year-old skull, go to the Sonoma State University News Center website at

10. Page 40: Scholar Lois Tverberg explains more about the "tzitzit" (tassels or fringes) attached to every Jewish man's "tallit" (cloak). Tassels were a sign of nobility; ancient kings and rulers used them to decorate the hems of their fine garments (a hem symbolized authority). She quotes Jacob Milgrom, who says one tassel was dyed tekhelet blue, the color of the high priest's robe, to remind all Jews that they were set apart as God's royal people to serve Him. Read more at

11. Page 40: From around the seventh century AD, Jews hid their secret process for making valuable tekhelet dye, so their Muslim conquerors could not profit by it. Modern experts have wondered about its exact shade, described as the blue of the sea and sky. For example, analysis of a patch of midnight-blue wool found at Masada showed it was made with Murex dye, considered the source of tekhelet. Because a vat of dye's final color depends on its exposure to sunlight and at what stage, did ancient tekhelet range from turquoise green to deep purple blue, like the real heavens? "The Great Tekhelet Debate -- Blue or Purple?" (Biblical Archaeology Review magazine, September/October 2013) favors the evidence that tekhelet resembled the sky-blue color of the gem, lapis lazuli.

12. Page 48: Proverbs 17:22 says, "A cheerful heart is a good medicine." Since love ruled inside Jesus' Jewish home, family banter and easy laughter must have been part of his early life. Robin Gallaher Branch believes Jesus was "fun to be around" and notes several instances of humor in Scripture. Her article, "Laughter in the Bible? Absolutely!" (Bible History Daily for August 21, 2013), can be found at

13. Page 55: The Magdala Stone, discovered in 2009, is a "stunning archaeological find," according to Ariel Sabar in "Unearthing the World of Jesus" (Smithsonian magazine, Jan/Feb 2016, pp. 42-55, 122-130). The stone block, found in the center of an excavated synagogue in Magdala, dates to Jesus' time. Engraved with symbols -- including a seven-branch menorah -- that appear to depict the Temple, the stone might have served as a podium for reading Torah aloud. Experts are reconsidering earlier beliefs that a village synagogue was "like a neighborhood community center for assembly and learning." (New York Times, "A Carved Stone Block Upends Assumptions About Ancient Judaism," Isabel Kershner, Dec. 8, 2015, Rather, many now think the Magdala Stone points to a synagogue as a "sacred space." (NPR, "The Magdala Stone May Be a Portal to Early Religion," Barbara J. King, Dec. 17, 2015,

14. Page 65: Just as the Four Gospels preserve Jesus' story in the New Testament, a recent study indicates that a similar preservation of the Hebrew Bible happened as it evolved over time. Until recently, its oldest standard texts were the Aleppo Codex (dated to about 930 CE) and the Leningrad Codex (dated to around 1008 CE). These codices (sheets of parchment, bound together as a book) were composed by the Masoretes, groups of dedicated Jewish scribes, during the 10th century CE. The Dead Sea Scrolls (oldest known version of Hebrew Scripture) dated back 1,000 years earlier. The "silent era" in between has been enriched by the discovery and study of the Ashkar-Gilson Manuscript and the London Manuscript, both dated to the 7th-8th centuries CE. If you like reading about good detective work, "Missing Link in Hebrew Bible Formation" by Professor Paul Sanders is available in the November/December 2015 issue of Biblical Archeology Review or online at the Biblical Archaeology Society Library website:

15. Pages 80-81: Dice and "elaborate" pieces used in board games were discovered in a nearly 5,000-year-old grave in Turkey. The stones were carved into different shapes and painted white, black, red, blue, and green. Read "Oldest Gaming Tokens Found in Turkey" (Discovery News for August 14, 2013) at

16. Pages 89-90: Archaeologists have unearthed a well-preserved mansion, dated to Jesus' time, on Jerusalem's Mount Zion. Its location near Herod the Great's palace indicates the owner, possibly a Temple priest, was wealthy and enjoyed high social status. The home had a luxurious and rare inside bathroom and contained many murex shells, which suggests the expensive tekhelet dye used in priestly garments was made on site. To read more, go to the following websites: (1) and (2)

17. Page 90: Archaeologists working for the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem uncovered a pyramid-shaped structure made of large stone blocks hewn into steps. Still unclear is the possible use of the "raised podium" on a street, built around 30 AD, which led to the Temple Mount from the Pool of Siloam. However, ancient rabbinical sources speak of "stones" used for public purposes; these include an auction block and a "Stone of Claims" for lost and found articles. The IAA article can be read at

18. Pages 90-91: Re-using old timber for new construction was often practiced in the ancient world. During renovations in the 1930s and 1960s, Muslim builders removed large beams from the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which stands on the Temple Mount. After analysis of their tree rings and carbon-14 dating, a scientist who specializes in the age of trees found that some of the wood (which includes cedar and cypress) dated to Roman times -- and might have been used in the Second Temple. One oak beam even dated back to the First Temple period! For more information, read The Times of Israel article (May 29, 2013) at

19. Page 100: Archaeologists are excavating a 4,000-year-old burial ground located near Bethlehem. The cemetery, covering more than seven acres, is comprised of over 100 shaft tombs dug into a hillside, where builders enlarged natural hollows to create rock-cut chambers. Besides skeletons, the tombs have yielded fine ceramics, two bronze daggers, and two Egyptian scarabs -- pointing to the possibility of a wealthy trade settlement once being in the area. Read more at

Extra Information

Article Sources

Biblical Archaeology Review -- Bi-monthly publication of the Biblical Archaeology Society, Washington, D.C. Paid yearly subscription (digital or print version). The Biblical Archaeology Society also provides Bible History Daily online (sign up for free e-mail delivery of current news), as well as videos for purchase. DVDs include "Where Jesus Walked" and "Jesus & His First Followers: What Current Archaeology and Biblical Research Are Telling Us."

Biblical Archaelogy Review (1975 to present), Bible Review (1985 to 2005), and Archaeology Odyssey (1998 to 2006) -- Superb magazine articles are available by paid subscription or can be accessed via the Biblical Archaeology Society Online Library (paid yearly Library Membership) at

Near Eastern Archaeology: A Publication of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) in Boston, MA. Paid annual subscription. Register for free at to join Friends of ASOR and receive a monthly e-newsletter on archaeological and historical research in the eastern Mediterranean.

Jerusalem Perspective Online -- "Exploring the Jewish Background to the Life and Words of Jesus" at A Basic Member has free access to sample articles, and may ask questions and post comments. A paid Premium Content Membership can read and study hundreds of articles by well-respected Biblical scholars.

Helpful Websites At a Glance

Ancient Hebrew Research Center -- Ancient Hebrew alphabet, language, culture and philosophy at

Bible and Archaeology - Online Museum at

Bible History Daily -- Online updates and scholars' reviews of discoveries in the Biblical world, available at

Bible History Online -- Information on archaeology, ancient people, customs, documents, images and art, maps and geography at

BiblePlaces -- "Pictorial Library of Bible Lands" at

BiblePlaces Blog -- Todd Bolen posts "news and analysis related to biblical geography, history, and archaeology" at

BibleWalks -- Images and information on Holy Land sites at

Biblical Archaeology -- Explore the Biblical world at

Biblical Archaeology Society -- Publisher of magazines, books, free e-books, DVDs, and online news, found at

Christian Classics Ethereal Library -- One of this site's online books is The Works of Flavius Josephus, Translated by William Whiston.

COJS: Center for Online Judaic Studies --

Holy Land Photos --

Jerusalem Perspective Online -- "Exploring the Jewish Background to the Life and Words of Jesus" at --

Jewish Encyclopdia --

Judaism 101 -- Encyclopedia of Judaism at

Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library -- Free public access to high-resolution images of the scrolls at

Life in the Holy Land -- Articles and photos at

My Jewish Learning -- Info on everything Judaic at

Our Rabbi Jesus: His Jewish Life and Teaching -- Website of teacher and scholar Lois Tverberg, found at

Tekhelet 101 -- Ptil Tekhelet -- Story at

The Jerusalem Archaeological Park -- From the timeline, choose "Roman Period" and "Virtual Reconstruction Model" to see 3-D moving images of the Second Temple.

Wayne Stiles: Connecting the Bible and its Lands to Life --

More Books About Jesus and His World

Beck, John A. The Baker Illustrated Guide to Everyday Life in Bible Times. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2013.

Beitzel, Barry J. The New Moody Atlas of the Bible. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, 2009.

Brake Sr., Donald L. with Bolen, Todd. Jesus A Visual History: the Dramatic Story of the Messiah in the Holy Land. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014.

Green, Joel B. and McDonald, Lee Martin (Editors). The World of the New Testament: Cultural, Social, and Historical Contexts. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013.

Kostenberger, Andreas and Stewart, Alexander. The First Days of Jesus: The Story of the Incarnation. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015.

Magness, Jodi. The Archaeology of the Holy Land From the Destruction of Solomon's Temple to the Muslim Conquest. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Rasmussen, Carl G. Atlas of the Bible, Revised Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010.

Ritmeyer, Leen and Kathleen. Jerusalem at the Time of Jesus. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2009.

Tverberg, Lois. Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewish Words of Jesus Can Change Your Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.

Wilson, Marvin R. Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company and Dayton, OH: Center for Judaic-Christian Studies, 1989. (* On page 184, Professor Wilson describes the Hebrew person of faith as "so committed to God that, like Abraham, he ventured into the unknown with the full expectation that God would meet him there" every day.)