Caiaphas placed in the setting of history to speak to Jesus
In December, 1990, a new park was being constructed in Jerusalem. As the workers, using modern construction equipment, dug down they soon stopped and realized they had found something special. A long forgotten ceiling collapsed revealing a room deep in the earth.
Archeologist Zvi Greenhut arrived on the scene to see what the construction workers stumbled upon.
Greenhut realizes they’re looking down on a burial tomb from the time of Jesus. The archaeologists have just stepped back in time more than 2,000 years. As the flashlights sweep the tomb several ossuaries are found. An ossuary is a box that would hold a person’s bones.
They discover an exceptionally fancy ossuary. The ossuary is dated to the first century. It’s covered with an ornate design which would seem to point toward an important person.
Inside this ornate ossuary are found the bones of two babies, an adolescent child, a teenage boy, an adult woman, and a man about 60 years of age.
On the outside of the ossuary is found an inscription in the Aramaic language saying, “Joseph son of Caiaphas.”
The New Testament describes Caiaphas as one of the primary individuals involved in the crucifixion of Jesus. You may be thinking, “Wait a second. The inscription says Joseph son of Caiaphas. Not just Caiaphas.” The way the inscription is written is actually why it drew so much attention.
The first-century historian Josephus identifies the high priest at the time of Jesus as not only Caiaphas but “Joseph Caiaphas.” Josephus tells us, additionally, that Caiaphas was the Jewish high priest from 18 to 36 AD (Jewish Antiquities 18:35). A source outside the Bible helps us to establish the right name at the right time. Josephus later refers to him as “Joseph who was called Caiaphas of the high priesthood” (Jewish Antiquities 18:95).
Significance of the Artifact
The 60 year old man found in the ossuary is determined by Greenhut and others to be the high priest involved in the crucifixion of Jesus.
For those of us who believe the crucifixion to be the most important event of human history, this artifact holds substantial significance. The Caiaphas Ossuary holds the bones of a 60 year old man who 2,000 years ago led the charge to put Jesus on the cross. The ossuary strengthens the historical reliability of the cross by supporting the existence of one of its central characters.