August 15, 2005


Biblical Pool Uncovered in Jerusalem: The reservoir served as a gathering place for Jews making pilgrimages and is said in the Gospel of John to be the site where Jesus cured a blind man (Thomas H. Maugh II, August 9, 2005, LA Times)

Workers repairing a sewage pipe in the Old City of Jerusalem have discovered the biblical Pool of Siloam, a freshwater reservoir that was a major gathering place for ancient Jews making religious pilgrimages to the city and the reputed site where Jesus cured a man blind from birth, according to the Gospel of John.

The pool was fed by the now famous Hezekiah's Tunnel and is "a much grander affair" than archeologists previously believed, with three tiers of stone stairs allowing easy access to the water, said Hershel Shanks, editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review, which reported the find Monday.

"Scholars have said that there wasn't a Pool of Siloam and that John was using a religious conceit" to illustrate a point, said New Testament scholar James H. Charlesworth of the Princeton Theological Seminary. "Now we have found the Pool of Siloam … exactly where John said it was."

A gospel that was thought to be "pure theology is now shown to be grounded in history," he said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 15, 2005 7:05 AM

It also shows that, Arafat to the contrary notwithstanding, Jerusalem was the capital of the Jews and that the Temple stood where the Dome of the Rock is now.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at August 15, 2005 3:01 PM

I heard something recently about a group a scholars who thought that they had found fragments of Noah's Ark on the side of Ararat? Does anyone know the truth to this?

Posted by: Don Wood at August 15, 2005 3:39 PM

OJ- Are you familiar with the conflicting versions of the criminals crucified next to Christ? Perhaps you have read their mention in "Waiting for Godot"?

Posted by: Pete at August 15, 2005 3:42 PM

To some degree--ever read the great novel Barabbas by Per Lagerqvist?

Posted by: oj at August 15, 2005 3:47 PM

I don't much care in these sorts of discussions what a person thinks about the deity or lack thereof of Jesus of Nazareth. But it amazes me to see scholars still making the preposterous claims that sites mentioned in the New Testament are inventions of the authors. The Gospel writers break their backs to locate their accounts in the time and place of 1st-century Judea; it beggars belief to imagine the evangelists cavalierly inserting imaginary pools into a very real Jerusalem, when clearly they mean for their Gospels to be taken as very real. At this point, there are so many sites that have now been confirmed by archeology, that for those which as yet lack evidence, the reasonable thing seems to be to give the Gospels the benefit of the doubt; or, if that offends positivist scruples, at least maintain a humble agnosticism without resorting to such imagined things as "religious conceits."

Posted by: at August 15, 2005 10:56 PM

It's not like proving a baptismal pool exists proves the Resurrection. There really is no serious dispute that Jesus was born, preached, died on a cross and was buried. Josephus records this account in his history. It's what happened after the dying part that Christian Theology depends upon.

Fox ran some silly show many years ago about remains of the Ark on Mt. Ararat. If it was there, we'd know it.

Has there ever been any archaeological evidence to support the captivity of Jews in Egypt and their liberation under Moses?

Posted by: Robert Duquette at August 16, 2005 11:42 AM


See, you dispute it yourself.

Posted by: oj at August 16, 2005 12:26 PM

I dispute some of the historical accounts in the Bible, primarily Genesis and Exodus, and all of the supernatural stuff. The last time I read anything regarding biblical archaeology, there was no historical or archaeological evidence to support any population of Jews residing in Egypt.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at August 16, 2005 2:11 PM


Yes, that claim seems to be of particular importance to anti-Semites/anti-Zionists, as if their not having been slaves in Egypt would delegitimize their claims to Israel or something.

The BBC did a show on Moses that seems deeply ambivalent about the proof on the matter:

Posted by: oj at August 16, 2005 3:46 PM

Robert: In the era of the Exodus, the Jews were a bunch of wandering bedouin. Dt 26:5 "A wandering Aramean was my father; and he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number; and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous."

Like bedu before and since, they left no buildings nor cities. They were nomads. And what is worse, became slaves. That they left no trace in Egypt is not surprising.

OTOH, the story is a guaranty of its own veracity. No people ancient or modern would admit to such an inglorious origin. I know of no other national mythology that includes such a tale and I doubt that one exists.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at August 17, 2005 1:54 AM

"The BBC did a show on Moses that seems deeply ambivalent about the proof on the matter"

They are all communists and anti-Semites, ambivalence would be a big step for them.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at August 17, 2005 2:01 AM

So, Robert, you've confirmed my opinion, there is no archaeological evidence. BTW, I'm not anti-semitic, any more than your not believing in the Resurrection makes you anti-Christian.

If the historical exodous were as dramatic as the biblical account, you would think that there would be some mention of it in the Egyptian record. My own guess is that there is some truth and a lot of myth to the account, much as with the Arthurian legends.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at August 18, 2005 3:49 PM


Your analogy fails. People who deny Christ existed are routinely anti-Christian as those why deny the Jews were ever in Egypt are routinely anti-Zionist, at least, and anti-Semites, often.

American slave rebellions are barely reflected in the historic record and we have a historic record.

Posted by: oj at August 18, 2005 4:01 PM

Robert Schwartz, if they were making bricks in Egypt they weren't wandering bedu.

John Morris, in 'Age of Arthur,' has the appropriate analysis of this phenomenon, which has been missed by both sides here.

If you are planning to foist a phony miracle on a contemporary audience, the 'furniture' of your story must be exact. Obviously.

If I were to say that Bush plotted to destroy the World Trade Towers with 14 tons of dynamite, and that the story about the planes was a hoax, I couldn't expect anyone living in America in 2001 to believe me if I put the towers in Detroit. We knew better.

But just because the people who DO claim that Bush brought down the towers with 14 tons of dynamite placed the towers in Manhattan, that doesn't make the rest of the story true.

Morris used saints' legends to extract unimpeachable information, otherwise hard to find, about life in 5th c. England. That Jews were a cleanly people is, however, a fact we already knew.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at August 18, 2005 5:57 PM


You don't believe 9-11 happened?

Posted by: oj at August 18, 2005 6:01 PM

Sure it happened, just my point. And the corpses added just that touch of verisimiltude that makes the dynamite story believable to the sort of people who are capable of believing either than Bush blew up the towers or that Jesus cured sufferers.

Maugh's piece is like saying the existence of the Rio Grande confirms the legends of Pecos Bill.

There is a huge literature on Bush's plot, which I had not encountered till a couple weeks ago. I could provide links if anybody is curious.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at August 18, 2005 8:42 PM

So you just deny things like that the Jews were in Egypt? I don't see what your point is?

Posted by: oj at August 18, 2005 8:47 PM