List of biblical figures identified in extra-biblical sources

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These are biblical figures unambiguously identified in contemporary sources according to scholarly consensus. Biblical figures that are identified in artifacts of questionable authenticity, for example the Jehoash Inscription and the bullae of Baruch ben Neriah, or who are mentioned in ancient but non-contemporary documents, such as David and Balaam,[n 1] are excluded from this list.

Hebrew Bible (Protocanonical Old Testament)[edit]

Tiglath-Pileser III: stela from the walls of his palace (British Museum, London).

The Hebrew Bible, known in Judaism by the acronym Tanakh, is the collection of ancient writings that are considered sacred by both Jews and Christians. They tell the story of the Jewish people and their ancestors, starting from the creation narrative and concluding near the end of the 5th century BCE.

Although the first mention of the name 'Israel' in archaeology dates to the 13th century BCE,[1] contemporary information on the Israelite nation prior to the 9th century BCE is extremely sparse.[2] In the following centuries a small number of local Hebrew documents, mostly seals and bullae, mention biblical characters, but more extensive information is available in the royal inscriptions from neighbouring kingdoms, particularly Babylon, Assyria and Egypt.[2]

Name Title Date (BCE)[n 2] Attestation and Notes Biblical references[n 3]
Adrammelech Prince of Assyria fl. 681 Identified as the murderer of his father Sennacherib in the Bible and in an Assyrian letter to Esarhaddon (ABL 1091), where he is called "Arda-Mulissi".[3][4] Is. 37:38, 2 Kgs. 19:37
Ahab King of Israel c. 874 – c. 853 Identified in the contemporary Kurkh Monolith inscription of Shalmaneser III[5] which describes the Battle of Qarqar and mentions "2,000 chariots, 10,000 soldiers of Ahab the Israelite" defeated by Shalmaneser.[6] 1 Kgs. 17, 2 Chr. 18
Ahaz King of Judah c. 732 – c. 716 Mentioned in a contemporary Summary Inscription of Tiglath-Pileser III which records that he received tribute from "Jehoahaz of Judah".[7] Also identified in royal bullae belonging to Ahaz himself[8] and his son Hezekiah.[9] 2 Kgs. 16, Hos. 1:1, Mi. 1:1, Is. 1:1
Apries Pharaoh of Egypt 589–570 Also known as Hophra; named in numerous contemporary inscriptions including those of the capitals of the columns of his palace.[10][11] Herodotus speaks of him in Histories II, 161–171.[12] Jer. 44:30
Artaxerxes I King of Persia 465–424 Widely identified with "Artaxerxes" in the book of Nehemiah.[13][14] He is also found in the writings of contemporary historian Thucydides.[15] Scholars are divided over whether the king in Ezra's time was the same, or Artaxerxes II. Neh. 2:1, Neh. 5:14
Ashurbanipal King of Assyria 668 – c. 627 Generally identified with "the great and noble Osnappar", mentioned in the Book of Ezra.[16][17] His name survives in his own writings, which describe his military campaigns against Elam, Susa and other nations.[18][19] Ezr. 4:10
Belshazzar Coregent of Babylon c. 553–539 Mentioned by his father Nabonidus in the Nabonidus Cylinder.[20] According to another Babylonian tablet, Nabonidus "entrusted the kingship to him" when he embarked on a lengthy military campaign.[21] Dn. 5, Dn. 7:1, Dn. 8:1
Ben-hadad King of Aram Damascus early 8th century Mentioned in the Zakkur Stele.[22] A son of Hazael, he is variously called Ben-Hadad/Bar-Hadad II/III. 2 Kgs. 13:3, 2 Kgs. 13:24
Cyrus II King of Persia 559–530 Appears in many ancient inscriptions, most notably the Cyrus Cylinder.[23] He is also mentioned in Herodotus' Histories. Is. 45:1, Dn. 1:21
Darius I King of Persia 522–486 Mentioned in the books of Haggai, Zechariah and Ezra.[24][25] He is the author of the Behistun Inscription. He is also mentioned in Herodotus' Histories. Hg. 1:1, Ezr. 5:6
Esarhaddon King of Assyria 681–669 His name survives in his own writings, as well as in those of his son Ashurbanipal.[26][27] Is. 37:38, Ezr. 4:2
Evil Merodach King of Babylon c. 562–560 His name (Akkadian Amēl-Marduk) and title were found on a vase from his palace,[28] and on several cuneiform tablets.[29] 2 Kgs. 25:27, Jer. 52:31
Hazael King of Aram Damascus c. 842 – c. 800 Shalmaneser III of Assyria records that he defeated Hazael in battle and captured many chariots and horses from him.[30] Most scholars think that Hazael was the author of the Tel Dan Stele.[31] 1 Kgs. 19:15, 2 Kgs. 8:8, Am. 1:4
Hezekiah King of Judah c. 715 – c. 686 An account is preserved by Sennacherib of how he besieged "Hezekiah, the Jew", who "did not submit to my yoke", in his capital city of Jerusalem.[32] A bulla was also found bearing Hezekia's name and title, reading "Belonging to Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz king of Judah".[9][33] 2 Kgs. 16:20, Prv. 25:1, Hos. 1:1, Mi. 1:1, Is. 1:1
Hoshea King of Israel c. 732 – c. 723 He was put into power by Tilgath-Pileser III, king of Assyria, as recorded in his Annals, found in Calah.[34] 2 Kgs. 15:30, 2 Kgs. 18:1
Jehoash King of Israel c. 798 – c. 782 Mentioned in records of Adad-nirari III of Assyria as "Jehoash of Samaria".[35][36] 2 Kgs. 13:10, 2 Chr. 25:17
Jehoiachin King of Judah 598–597 He was taken captive to Babylon after Nebuchadrezzar first captured Jerusalem. Texts from Nebuchadrezzar's Southern Palace record the rations given to "Jehoiachin king of the Judeans" (Akkadian: Ya'ukin sar Yaudaya).[37] 2 Kgs. 25:14, Jer. 52:31
Jehu King of Israel c. 841 – c. 814 Mentioned on the Black Obelisk.[30] 1 Kgs. 19:16, Hos. 1:4
Johanan High Priest of Israel c. 410 – c. 371 Mentioned in a letter from the Elephantine Papyri.[38] Neh. 12:22–23
Jotham King of Judah c. 740 – c. 732 Identified as the father of King Ahaz on a contemporary clay bulla, reading "of Ahaz [son of] Jotham king of Judah".[8] 2 Kgs. 15:5, Hos. 1:1, Mi. 1:1, Is. 1:1
Manasseh King of Judah c. 687 – c. 643 Mentioned in the writings of Esarhaddon, who lists him as one of the kings who had brought him gifts and aided his conquest of Egypt.[27][39] 2 Kgs. 20:21, Jer. 15:4
Menahem King of Israel c. 752 – c. 742 The annals of Tiglath-Pileser record that Menahem paid tribute him, as stated in the Books of Kings.[40] 2 Kgs. 15:14–23
Mesha King of Moab fl. c. 840 Author of the Mesha Stele.[41] 2 Kgs. 3:4
Merodach-Baladan King of Babylon 722–710 Named in the Great Inscription of Sargon II in his palace at Khorsabat.[42] Also called "Berodach-Baladan" (Akkadian: Marduk-apla-iddina). Is. 39:1, 2 Kgs. 20:12
Nebuchadnezzar II King of Babylon c. 605–562 Mentioned in numerous contemporary sources, including the inscription of the Ishtar Gate, which he built.[43] Also called Nebuchadrezzar (Akkadian: Nabû-kudurri-uṣur). Ez. 26:7, Dn. 1:1, 2 Kgs. 24:1
Nebuzaradan Babylonian official fl. c. 587 Mentioned in a prism in Istanbul (No. 7834), found in Babylon where he is listed as the "chief cook".[44][45] Jer. 52:12, 2 Kgs. 25:8
Nebo-Sarsekim Chief Eunuch of Babylon fl. c. 587 Listed as Nabu-sharrussu-ukin in a Babylonian tablet.[46][47] Jer. 39:3
Necho II Pharaoh of Egypt c. 610 – c. 595 Mentioned in the writings of Ashurbanipal[48] 2 Kgs. 23:29, Jer. 46:2
Omri King of Israel c. 880 – c. 874 Mentioned, together with his unnamed son or successor, on the Mesha Stele.[41] 1 Kgs. 16:16, Mi. 6:16
Pekah King of Israel c. 740 – c. 732 Mentioned in the annals of Tiglath-Pileser III.[34] 2 Kgs. 15:25, Is. 7:1
Rezin King of Aram Damascus died c. 732 A tributary of Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria and the last king of Aram Damascus.[49] According to the Bible, he was eventually put to death by Tiglath-Pileser. 2 Kgs. 16:7–9, Is. 7:1
Sanballat Governor of Samaria fl. 445 A leading figure of the opposition which Nehemiah encountered during the rebuilding of the walls around the temple in Jerusalem. Sanballat is mentioned in the Elephantine Papyri.[38][50] Neh. 2:10, Neh. 13:28
Sargon II King of Assyria 722–705 He besieged and conquered the city of Samaria and took many thousands captive, as recorded in the Bible and in an inscription in his royal palace.[51] His name, however, does not appear in the biblical account of this siege, but only in reference to his siege of Ashdod. Is. 20:1
Sennacherib King of Assyria 705–681 The author of a number of inscriptions discovered near Nineveh.[52] 2 Kgs. 18:13, Is. 36:1
Shalmaneser V King of Assyria 727–722 Mentioned on several royal palace weights found at Nimrud.[53] Another inscription was found that is thought to be his, but the name of the author is only partly preserved.[54] 2 Kgs. 17:3, 2 Kgs. 18:9
Taharqa Pharaoh of Egypt, King of Kush 690–664 Called "Tirhaka, the king of Kush" in the books of Kings and Isaiah.[55] Several contemporary sources mention him and fragments of three statues bearing his name were excavated at Nineveh.[56] Is. 37:9, 2 Kgs. 19:9
Tattenai Governor of Eber-Nari fl. 520 Known from contemporary Babylonian documents.[57][58] He governed the Persian province west of the Euphrates river during the reign of Darius I. Ezr. 5:3, Ezr. 6:13
Tiglath-Pileser III King of Assyria 745–727 Numerous writings are ascribed to him and he is mentioned, among others, in an inscription by Barrakab, king of Sam'al.[59] He exiled inhabitants of the cities he captured in Israel. 2 Kgs. 15:29, 1 Chr. 5:6
Xerxes I King of Persia 486–465 Called Ahasuerus in the books of Ezra and Esther.[17][60] Xerxes is known in archaeology through a number of tablets and monuments,[61] notably the "Gate of All Nations" in Persepolis. He is also mentioned in Herodotus' Histories. Est. 1:1, Dn. 9:1, Ezr. 4:6

Deuterocanonicals or biblical apocrypha[edit]

Cleopatra Thea with her first husband, Alexander Balas

The deuterocanon consists of books and parts of books that are included in the Old Testament canon of the Eastern Orthodox and/or Roman Catholic churches, but are not part of the Jewish Tanakh, and are regarded as apocryphal by Protestants. In contrast to the Tanakh, which is preserved in Hebrew (with some Aramaic parts), the deuterocanonical books are preserved mainly in Koine Greek, though Hebrew and Aramaic fragments have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.

While the deuterocanon describes events between the eighth and second centuries BCE, most historically identifiable people mentioned in the deuterocanon lived around the time of the Maccabean Revolt (167–160 BCE), by which time Judea had become part of the Seleucid Empire. Coins featuring the names of rulers had become widespread and many of them were inscribed with the year number in the Seleucid era, allowing them to be dated precisely. First-hand information comes also from the Greek historian Polybius (c. 200 – c. 118 BCE), whose Histories covers much of the same period as the Books of Maccabees, and from Greek and Babylonian inscriptions.

Name[n 4] Title Date (BCE)[n 2] Attestation and Notes Scriptural references[n 3]
Alexander Balas King of Asia[n 5] 150–146 Pretended to be a son of Antiochus Epiphanes, as he is also described in 1 Maccabees.[62] Mentioned in Polybius' Histories.[63] 1 Macc. 10:1, 1 Macc. 11:1
Alexander the Great King of Macedon 336–323 Referred to by Athenian orator Aeschines,[64][65] and identified on his coins.[66] 1 Macc. 1:1, 1 Macc. 6:2 1 Macc. 1:10
Antiochus III the Great King of Asia 222–187 Mentioned by contemporary historian Polybius.[67][68] and coins with his name have survived.[69] 1 Macc. 1:10, 1 Macc. 8:6
Antiochus IV Epiphanes King of Asia 175–164 Known from Polybius' Histories[70][71] and from contemporary coins.[72] 1 Macc. 10:1, 2 Macc. 4:7
Antiochus V Eupator King of Asia 163–161 Executed by his half-brother Demetrius I when he was 11 years old. Identified in an inscription from Dymi,[73] and on contemporary coins.[74] 2 Macc. 2:20, 2 Macc. 13:1
Antiochus VI Dionysus King of Asia 145–142 Reigned only nominally, as he was very young when his father died,[75] but he is identified on contemporary coins.[76] 1 Macc. 11:39, 1 Macc. 12:39
Antiochus VII Sidetes King of Asia 138–129 Dethroned the usurper Tryphon. Coinage from the period bears his name.[77] 1 Macc. 15
Ariarathes V King of Cappadocia 163–130 Mentioned by Polybius.[78][79] 1 Macc. 15:22
Arsinoe III Queen of Egypt 220–204 Married to her brother, Ptolemy IV. Several contemporary inscriptions dedicated to them have been found.[80] 3 Macc. 1:1, 3 Macc. 1:4
Astyages King of Medes 585–550 The contemporary Chronicle of Nabonidus refers to the mutiny on the battlefield as the cause for Astyages' overthrow [81] Bel and the Dragon 1:1
Attalus II Philadelphus King of Pergamon 160–138 Known from the writings of Polybius.[82][83] 1 Macc. 15:22
Cleopatra Thea Queen of Asia 126–121 First married to Alexander Balas,[84] later to Demetrius II and Antiochus VII, she became sole ruler after Demetrius' death.[85] Her name and portrait appear on period coinage.[85] 1 Macc. 10:57–58
Darius III King of Persia 336–330 Last king of the Achaemenid Empire, defeated by Alexander the Great. Mentioned in the Samaria Papyri.[86] 1 Macc. 1:1
Demetrius I Soter King of Asia 161–150 A cuneiform tablet dated to 161 BCE refers to him,[87] and Polybius, who personally interacted with Demetrius, mentions him in his Histories.[88][89] 1 Macc. 7:1, 1 Macc. 9:1
Demetrius II Nicator King of Asia 145–138, 129 – 126 Ruled over part of the kingdom, simultaneously with Antiochus VI and Tryphon. He was defeated by Antiochus VII, but regained the throne in 129 BCE. Mentioned in the Babylonian Astronomical Diaries.[90] 1 Macc. 11:19, 1 Macc. 13:34
Diodotus Tryphon King of Asia 142–138 Usurped the throne after the death of Antiochus VI. Although Antiochus VII melted down most of his coins, some have been found in Orthosias.[77] 1 Macc. 11:39, 1 Macc. 12:39
Eumenes II Soter King of Pergamom 197–159 Several of his letters have survived,[91] and he is mentioned by Polybius.[92] 1 Macc. 8:8
Heliodorus Seleucid legate fl. 178 Identified in contemporary inscriptions.[93][94] 2 Macc. 3:7, 2 Macc. 5:18
Mithridates I King of Parthia 165–132 Also called Arsaces.[82] He captured Demetrius II as recorded in the Babylonian Astronomical Diaries.[90] 1 Macc. 14:2–3, 1 Macc. 15:22
Perseus King of Macedon 179–168 Son of Philip V.[95] Mentioned by Polybius.[96] and identified on his coins.[97] 1 Macc. 8:5
Philip II King of Macedon 359–336 Father of Alexander the Great. Known from contemporary coins,[98] and mentioned by Aeschines.[64][65] 1 Macc. 1:1, 1 Macc. 6:2
Philip V King of Macedon 221–179 His name appears on his coins,[99] and in Polybius' Histories.[100] 1 Macc. 8:5
Ptolemy IV Philopator King of Egypt 221–204 Mentioned together with his wife and sister Arsinoe III in contemporary inscriptions from Syria and Phoenicia.[80] 3 Macc. 1:1, 3 Macc. 3:12
Ptolemy VI Philometor King of Egypt 180–145 Referred to in ancient inscriptions,[101] and mentioned by Polybius.[102] 1 Macc. 1:18, 2 Macc. 9:29

New Testament[edit]

The Blacas Cameo (20–50 CE) depicting Roman emperor Augustus

By far the most important and most detailed sources for first-century Jewish history are the works of Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37 – c. 100 CE).[103][104] These books mention many of the same prominent political figures as the New Testament books and are crucial for understanding the historical background of the emergence of Christianity.[105] Josephus also mentions Jesus and the execution of John the Baptist[106] although he was not a contemporary of either. Apart from Josephus, information about some New Testament figures comes from Roman historians such as Tacitus and Suetonius and from ancient coins and inscriptions.

The central figure of the New Testament is Jesus of Nazareth. Despite ongoing debate concerning the authorship of many of its books, there is a consensus[14][107] among modern scholars that at least some were written by a contemporary of Jesus,[108][109] namely the epistles of Paul, parts of which are considered undisputed. However, outside the New Testament, no contemporary references to Jesus are known, unless a very early dating is assumed of some uncanonical gospel such as the Gospel of Thomas. Nevertheless, some authentic first century and many second century writings exist in which Jesus is mentioned,[n 6] leading scholars to conclude that the historicity of Jesus is well established by historical documents.[110][111][112]

Gospels[edit]

Name[n 7] Title Attestation and Notes Biblical references [n 3]
Augustus Caesar Emperor of Rome Reigned between 27 BCE and 14 CE, during which time Jesus was born. He left behind a wealth of buildings, coins and monuments,[113] including a funerary inscription in which he described his life and accomplishments. Lk. 2:1
Caiaphas High Priest of Israel In 1990, workers found an ornate limestone ossuary while paving a road in the Peace Forest south of the Abu Tor neighborhood of Jerusalem.[114][115] This ossuary appeared authentic and contained human remains. An Aramaic inscription on the side was thought to read "Joseph son of Caiaphas" and on the basis of this the bones of an elderly man were considered to belong to the High Priest Caiaphas.[114][116] In 2011, archaeologists from Bar-Ilan University announced the recovery of a stolen ossuary, It is inscribed with the text: "Miriam, daughter of Yeshua, son of Caiaphas, Priest of Ma’aziah from Beth ‘Imri". Based on it, Caiaphas can be assigned to the priestly course of Ma’aziah, instituted by King David. Jn. 18:13
Jn. 11:49
Lk. 3:2
Herod Antipas Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea A son of Herod the Great. Mentioned in Antiquities[117] and Wars of the Jews.[118] Both Matthew and Josephus record that he killed John the Baptist. Lk. 3:1, Mt. 14:1
Herod Archelaus Ethnarch of Judea, Samaria and Edom A son of Herod the Great. He is known from the writings of Flavius Josephus[117] and from contemporary coins.[119] Mt. 2:22
Herod the Great King of Judea Mentioned by his friend, the historian Nicolaus of Damascus.[120][121] His name is also found on contemporary Jewish coins.[119] Mt. 2:1, Lk. 1:5
Herodias Herodian princess The wife of Herod Antipas.[122] According to the synoptic gospels, she was formerly married to Antipas's brother Philip, apparently Philip the Tetrarch. However, Josephus writes that her first husband was Herod II. Many scholars view this as a contradiction, but some have suggested that Herod II was also called Philip.[123] Mt. 14:3, Mk. 6:17
James the brother of Jesus Bishop of Jerusalem A leading figure of the early Christian community in Jerusalem and traditionally considered the author of the Epistle of James. Papias says that he was the Son of Cleopas/Alphaeus and Josephus records that he was condemned by the Sanhedrin led by the high priest Ananus ben Ananus and then stoned to death c. 62 CE.[124][125][126] Mk. 6:3,
Matthew the Apostle Tax collector Papias of Hierapolis mentions that "Matthew put together the oracles of the Lord in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could."[126] Lk. 6:15, Mt. 9:9
Philip the Apostle Bishop of Hierapolis On Wednesday, 27 July 2011, the Turkish news agency Anadolu reported that archaeologists had unearthed a tomb that the project leader claims to be the tomb of Saint Philip during excavations in Hierapolis close to the Turkish city Denizli. The Italian archaeologist, Professor Francesco D'Andria stated that scientists had discovered the tomb within a newly revealed church. He stated that the design of the tomb, and writings on its walls, definitively prove it belonged to the martyred apostle of Jesus.[127] Jn 12:21 Jn 1:43
Philip the Tetrarch Tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis Josephus writes that he shared the kingdom of his father with his brothers Herod Antipas and Herod Archelaus.[128] His name and title appear on coinage from the period.[129][130] Lk. 1:3
Pontius Pilate Prefect of Judea He ordered Jesus' execution. A stone inscription was found that mentions his name and title: "[Po]ntius Pilatus, [Praef]ectus Iuda[ea]e" (Pontius Pilate, prefect of Judaea),[131][132] see Pilate Stone. He is mentioned by his contemporary Philo of Alexandria in his Embassy to Gaius (De Legatione ad Gaium, Περι αρετων και πρεσβειας προς Γαιον) Mt. 27:2, Jn. 19:15–16
Quirinius Governor of Syria Conducted a census while governing Syria as reported by Luke and Josephus,[133] and confirmed by a tomb inscription of one Quintus Aemilius Secundus, who had served under him.[134] Lk. 2:2
Thomas the Apostle Papias of Hierapolis says that he was a disciple of Jesus[126] Jn. 11:16, Jn. 14:5
Tiberius Caesar Emperor of Rome Named in many inscriptions and on Roman coins. Among other accounts, some of his deeds are described by contemporary historian Velleius (died c. 31 CE).[135] Lk. 3:1
Salome Herodian princess A daughter of Herodias.[122] Although she is not named in the Gospels, but referred to as 'the daughter of Herodias', she is commonly identified with Salome, Herodias' daughter, mentioned in Josephus' Antiquities.[136] Mt. 14:6, Mk. 6:22
Simon Peter Bishop of Rome Mention by Ignatius of Antioch's Letter to the Romans and to the Smyrnaeans, Fragments from Papias's exposition of the oracles of the Lord, and the First Epistle to the Corinthians by Clement, who also says that Peter died as a martyr.[137][126][138][139] Mt. 4:18-20, Mt. 16

Acts of the Apostles and Epistles[edit]

Name[n 8] Title Attestation and Notes Biblical references[n 3]
Ananias son of Nedebaios High Priest of Israel He held the office between c. 47 and 59 CE, as recorded by Josephus,[140] and presided over the trial of Paul. Acts 23:2, Acts 24:1
Antonius Felix Procurator of Judea Mentioned by historians Josephus,[141] Suetonius[142] and Tacitus[143] He imprisoned the apostle Paul around the year 58 CE, two years before Porcius Festus replaced him.[144] Acts 23:24, Acts 25:14
Apollos Both Paul and Clement affirmed that he was a Christian in Corinth.[137] 1 Cor 3:6
Aretas IV Philopatris King of the Nabateans According to Paul, Aretas' governor in Damascus tried to arrest him. Besides being mentioned by Josephus,[145] his name is found in several contemporary inscriptions[146] and on numerous coins.[147] 2 Cor. 11:32
Berenice Herodian princess A daughter of Herod Agrippa I. She appears to have had almost equal power to her brother Herod Agrippa II (with whom she was rumored to have an incestuous relationship, according to Josephus)[141] and is indeed called Queen Berenice in Tacitus' Histories.[148] Acts 25:23, Acts 26:30
Claudius Caesar Emperor of Rome Like other Roman emperors, his name is found on numerous coins[149] and monuments, such as the Porta Maggiore in Rome. Acts 11:28, Acts 18:2
Drusilla Herodian princess Married to Antonius Felix, according to the Book of Acts and Josephus' Antiquities.[141][150] Acts 24:24
Gallio Proconsul of Achaea Full name Lucius Iunius Gallio Annaeanus. Seneca, his brother, mentions him in his epistles.[151] In Delphi, an inscription, dated to 52 CE, was discovered that records a letter by emperor Claudius, in which Gallio is also named as proconsul[152] Acts 18:12–17
Gamaliel the Elder Rabbi of the Sanhedrin He is named as the father of Simon by Flavius Josephus in his autobiography.[153] In the Talmud he is also described as a prominent member of the Sanhedrin.[154] Acts 5:34, Acts 22:3
Herod Agrippa I King of Judea Although his name is given as Herod by Luke,[n 9] and as Agrippa by Josephus,[155] the accounts both writers give about his death are so similar that they are commonly accepted to refer to the same person.[22][156] Hence many modern scholars call him Herod Agrippa (I). Acts 12:1, Acts 12:21
Herod Agrippa II King of Judea He ruled alongside his sister Berenice. Josephus writes about him in his Antiquities,[141] and his name is found inscribed on contemporary Jewish coins.[119] Acts 25:23, Acts 26:1
John of Patmos Mentioned by the Fragments of Papias of Hierapolis and by his contemporary Ignatius of Antioch[157][126] Rev. 1
Judas of Galilee Leader of a Jewish revolt. Both the Book of Acts and Josephus[133] tell of a rebellion he instigated in the time of the census of Quirinius.[158] Acts 5:37
Jude, brother of Jesus Catholicoi of all Armenians Papias Identifies him with Jude the Apostle, Saying that he was the Son of Mary of Cleophas and the brother of James[126] Jude. 1
Nero Caesar Emperor of Rome Mentioned in Contemporary Coins,[159] Although he is not named in the Book of Revelation, the book mentions the number 666, theologians typically support the numerical interpretation that 666 is the equivalent of the name and title Nero[160] using the Hebrew numerology of gematria, and was used to secretly speak against the emperor. Also "Nero Caesar" in the Hebrew alphabet is נרון קסרNRON QSR, which when used as numbers represent 50 200 6 50 100 60 200, which add to 666. Rev. 13:18 2 Thes. 2:3
Paul the Apostle Mention by Ignatius of Antioch's Epistle to the Romans and Epistle to the Ephesians, Polycarp's Epistle to the Philippians, and in Clement of Rome's Epistle to the Corinthians, who also says that Paul Suffered martyrdom and that he had preached in the East and in the Far West[161][162][138][163] Gal. 1, 1 Corinthians 1
Porcius Festus Governor of Judea Succeeded Antonius Felix, as recorded by Josephus and the Book of Acts.[164][165] Acts 24:27, Acts 26:25

Tentatively identified[edit]

These are Biblical figures for which tentative but likely identifications have been found in contemporary sources based on matching names and credentials. The possibility of coincidental matching of names cannot be ruled out however.

Hebrew Bible (Protocanonical Old Testament)[edit]

Timeline showing the kings of Israel and Judah according to the chronology from Edwin R. Thiele. Kings that are known from contemporary extra-biblical sources are highlighted in yellow. Tentatively identified kings are highlighted in orange.
  • Ahaziah/Amaziah, King of Judah. The Tel Dan Stele contains, according to many scholars, an account by a Syrian king (probably Hazael), claiming to have slain "[Ahaz]iahu, son of [... kin]g of the house of David", who reigned c. 850 – 849 BCE.[166][167] However, an alternative view, which dates the inscription half a century later, is that the name should be reconstructed as '[Amaz]iahu', who reigned c. 796–767 BCE.[168]
  • Asaiah, servant of king Josiah (2 Kings 22:12). A seal with the text Asayahu servant of the king probably belonged to him.[169]
  • Azaliah son of Meshullam, scribe in the Temple in Jerusalem: Mentioned in 2 Kings 22:3 and 2 Chronicles 34:8. A bulla reading "belonging to Azaliabu son of Meshullam." is likely to be his, according to archaeologist Nahman Avigad.[170]
  • Azariah son of Hilkiah and grandfather of Ezra: Mentioned in 1 Chronicles 6:13,14; 9:11 and Ezra 7:1. A bulla reading Azariah son of Hilkiah is likely to be his, according to Tsvi Schneider.[171]
  • Baalis king of Ammon is mentioned in Jeremiah 40:14. In 1984 an Ammonite seal, dated to c. 600 BCE, was excavated in Tell El-`Umeiri, Jordan that reads "belonging to Milkomor, the servant of Baalisha". Identification of 'Baalisha' with the biblical Baalis is likely,[172] but it is not currently known if there was only one Ammonite king of that name.[173]
  • Darius II of Persia, is mentioned by the contemporary historian Xenophon of Athens,[174] in the Elephantine Papyri,[38] and other sources. 'Darius the Persian', mentioned in Nehemiah 12:22, is probably Darius II, although some scholars identify him with Darius I or Darius III.[175][176]
  • Gedaliah son of Ahikam, governor of Judah. A seal impression with the name 'Gedaliah who is over the house' is commonly identified with Gedaliah, son of Ahikam.[177]
  • Gedaliah son of Pashhur, an opponent of Jeremiah. A bulla bearing his name was found in the City of David[178]
  • Gemariah, son of Shaphan the scribe. A bulla was found with the text "To Gemaryahu ben Shaphan". This may have been the same person as "Gemariah son of Shaphan the scribe" mentioned in Jeremiah 36:10,12.[179]
  • Geshem (Gusham) the Arab, mentioned in Nehemia 6:1,6 is likely the same person as Gusham, king of Kedar, found in two inscriptions in Dedan and Tell el-Mashkutah (near the Suez Canal)[180]
  • Hilkiah, high priest in the Temple in Jerusalem: Mentioned throughout 2 Kings 22:8–23:24 and 2 Chronicles 34:9–35:8 as well as in 1 Chronicles 6:13; 9:11 and Ezra 7:1. Hilkiah in extra-biblical sources is attested by the clay bulla naming a Hilkiah as the father of an Azariah,[171] and by the seal reading Hanan son of Hilkiah the priest.[181]
  • Isaiah, In February 2018 archaeologist Eilat Mazar announced that she and her team had discovered a small seal impression which reads "[belonging] to Isaiah nvy" (could be reconstructed and read as "[belonging] to Isaiah the prophet") during the Ophel excavations, just south of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.[182] The tiny bulla was found "only 10 feet away" from where an intact bulla bearing the inscription "[belonging] to King Hezekiah of Judah" was discovered in 2015 by the same team.[183] Although the name "Isaiah" in Paleo-Hebrew alphabet is unmistakable, the damage on the bottom left part of the seal causes difficulties in confirming the word "prophet" or a common Hebrew name "Navi", casting some doubts whether this seal really belongs to the prophet Isaiah.[184]
  • Jehoram, King of Israel (c. 852 – 841 BCE) is probably mentioned in the Tel Dan inscription. According to the usual interpretation, the author of the text, probably Hazael, king of Syria,[185] claims to have slain both Ahaziah of Judah and "[Jeho]ram".[166][167] However, some scholars, reconstructing the pieces of the stela differently, do not see "[..]ram" as the name of an Israelite king.[186]
  • Jehucal son of Shelemiah, an opponent of Jeremiah. Archaeologists excavated a bulla with his name,[187] but some scholars question the dating of the seal to the time of Jeremiah. According to Robert Deutsch the bulla is from the late 8th to early 7th century BCE, before the time of Jeremiah.[citation needed]
  • Jerahmeel, prince of Judah. A bulla bearing his name was found.[188]
  • Jeroboam (II), king of Israel. A seal belonging to 'Shema, servant of Jeroboam', probably refers to king Jeroboam II,[189] although some scholars think it was Jeroboam I.[173]
  • Jezebel, wife of king Ahab of Israel. A seal was found that may bear her name, but the dating and identification with the biblical Jezebel is a subject of debate among scholars.[190]
  • Josiah, king of Judah. Three seals were found that may have belonged to his son Eliashib.[191]
  • Nathan-melech, one of Josiah's officials in 2 Kings 23:11. A clay bulla dated to the middle of the seventh or beginning of the sixth century B.C was found in March 2019 during the Givati Parking Lot dig excavation in the City of the David area of Jerusalem bearing the inscription, "(belonging) to Nathan-melech, servant of the king."[192][193]
  • Nergal-sharezer, king of Babylon is probably identical to an official of Nebuchadnezzar II mentioned in Jeremiah 39:3, 13.[130] A record of his war with Syria was found on a tablet from the 'Neo-Babylonian Chronicle texts'.[194]
  • Seraiah son of Neriah. He was the brother of Baruch. Nahman Avigad identified him as the owner of a seal with the name " to Seriahu/Neriyahu".[171]
The so-called Shebna Lintel
  • Shebna (or Shebaniah), royal steward of Hezekiah: only the last two letters of a name (hw) survive on the so-called Shebna lintel, but the title of his position ("over the house" of the king) and the date indicated by the script style, have inclined many scholars to identify the person it refers to with Shebna.[195]
  • Sheshonq I, Pharaoh of Egypt, is normally identified with king Shishaq in the Hebrew Bible. The account of Shishaq's invasion in the 5th year of Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:25–28) is thought to correspond to an inscription found at Karnak of Shoshenq's campaign into Palestine.[196] However, a minority of scholars reject this identification.[197]
  • Tou/Toi, king of Hamath. Several scholars have argued that Tou/Toi, mentioned in 2 Samuel 8:9 and 1 Chronicles 18:9, is identical with a certain 'Taita', king of 'Palistin', known from inscriptions found in northern Syria.[198][199] However, others have challenged this identification based on linguistic analysis and the uncertain dating of king Taita.[200]
  • Uzziah, king of Judah. The writings of Tiglath-Pileser III may refer to him, but this identification is disputed.[201] There is also an inscription that refers to his bones, but it dates from the 1st century CE.
  • Zedekiah, son of Hananiah (Jeremiah 36:12). A seal was found of "Zedekiah son of Hanani", identification is likely, but uncertain.[202]

Deuterocanonicals or biblical apocrypha[edit]

New Testament[edit]

  • 'The Egyptian', who was according to Acts 21:38 the instigator of a rebellion, also appears to be mentioned by Josephus, although this identification is uncertain.[204][205]
  • Joanna, wife of Chuza An ossuary has been discovered bearing the inscription, "Johanna, granddaughter of Theophilus, the High Priest."[206], It is unclear if this was the same Joanna since Johanna was the fifth most popular woman's name in Jewish Palestine.[207]
  • Sergius Paulus was proconsul of Cyprus (Acts 13:4–7), when Paul visited the island around 46–48 CE.[208] Although several individuals with this name have been identified, no certain identification can be made. One Quintus Sergius Paulus, who was proconsul of Cyprus probably during the reign of Claudius (41–54 CE) is however compatible with the time and context of Luke's account.[208][209]
  • Lysanias, was tetrarch of Abila around 28 CE, according to Luke (3:1). Because Josephus only mentions a Lysanias of Abila who was executed in 36 BCE, some scholars have considered this an error by Luke. However, one inscription from Abila, which is tentatively dated 14–29 CE, appears to record the existence of a later tetrarch called Lysanias.[210][211]
  • Theudas. The sole reference to Theudas presents a problem of chronology. In Acts of the Apostles, Gamaliel, a member of the sanhedrin, defends the apostles by referring to Theudas (Acts 5:36–8). The difficulty is that the rising of Theudas is here given as before that of Judas of Galilee, which is itself dated to the time of the taxation (c. 6–7 AD). Josephus, on the other hand, says that Theudas was 45 or 46, which is after Gamaliel is speaking, and long after Judas the Galilean.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Identified in the Tel Dan Stele and the Deir Alla Inscription respectively.
  2. ^ a b For kings and rulers these dates refer to their reigns. Dates for Israelite and Judahite kings are according to the chronology of Edwin R. Thiele.
  3. ^ a b c d The dagger symbol (†) indicates that all occurrences in the Bible (including the Deuterocanonical books) have been cited.
  4. ^ Names that are also mentioned in the Hebrew Bible are not repeated here.
  5. ^ The official title for kings of the Seleucid dynasty
  6. ^ These sources include (but are not limited to) 1st century: Paul, Peter, Josephus, Clement and the Synoptic Gospels; 2nd century: Tacitus, Lucian, Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, Hegesippus, Justin Martyr and a number of apocryphal works. For dates of the New Testament books, see Dating the Bible#Table IV: New Testament.
  7. ^ Names that are also mentioned in the Old Testament are not repeated here.
  8. ^ Names that are also mentioned in the Gospels are not repeated here.
  9. ^ i.e. the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. See Authorship of Luke–Acts.

References[edit]

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  3. ^ De Breucker, Geert, in The Oxford Handbook of Cuneiform Culture [3], edited by Karen Radner, Eleanor Robson, Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 643
  4. ^ Kalimi, Isaac; Richardson, Seth (ed), Sennacherib at the Gates of Jerusalem [4], Brill, 2014, p. 45
  5. ^ Rainey, Anson F. "Stones for Bread: Archaeology versus History". Near Eastern Archaeology, Vol. 64, No. 3 (Sep., 2001), pp. 140–149
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  7. ^ Galil, G., The Chronology of the Kings of Israel and Judah, Brill, 1996, p. 67 [5]
  8. ^ a b Deutsch, Robert. "First Impression: What We Learn from King Ahaz's Seal". Biblical Archaeology Review, July 1998, pp. 54–56, 62
  9. ^ a b Heilpern, Will (December 4, 2015). "Biblical King's seal discovered in dump site". CNN. Retrieved 2016-05-03.
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  65. ^ a b Aeschines, 3.219 Against Ctesiphon
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  93. ^ Schwartz, Daniel R. (2008). 2 Maccabees. Walter de Gruyter. p. 192. Citing Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones Selectae 247
  94. ^ Coogan et al., 2010, p. 1604
  95. ^ Coogan et al., 2010, p. 1576
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  132. ^ Pilate Stone, translation by K. C. Hanson & Douglas E. Oakman
  133. ^ a b Antiquities, B. XVIII Chr. 1 § 1
  134. ^ Levick, Barbara, The Government of the Roman Empire: A Sourcebook [21], 2nd ed. Routledge 2000, p. 75
  135. ^ Marcus Velleius Paterculus, Roman History, Book 2, Chr. 122
  136. ^ Salome in the Encyclopædia Britannica
  137. ^ a b Letter to the Corinthians (Clement)
  138. ^ a b The Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans
  139. ^ The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans
  140. ^ Antiquities, B. XX Chr. 5 § 2
  141. ^ a b c d Antiquities, B. XX Chr. 7
  142. ^ Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, The Twelve Caesars, translated by J. C. Rolfe, Book V, par. 28
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  153. ^ Flavius Josephus, The Life of Flavius Josephus, translated by William Whiston, paragraph 38.
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  156. ^ Bruce, F.F. The Book of Acts (revised), part of The New international commentary on the New Testament, Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1988
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  161. ^ St Paul
  162. ^ St. Polycarp
  163. ^ The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians
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  183. ^ In find of biblical proportions, seal of Prophet Isaiah said found in Jerusalem. By Amanda Borschel-Dan. The Times of Israel. 22 February 2018. Quote: "Chanced upon near a seal identified with King Hezekiah, a tiny clay piece may be the first-ever proof of the prophet, though a missing letter leaves room for doubt."
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  207. ^ Richard Bauckham, Gospel Women: Studies of the Named Women in the Gospels (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002), 143
  208. ^ a b Gill, David W. J. (ed.) & Gempf, Conrad (ed.), The Book of Acts in Its Graeco-Roman Setting [41] Wm. B. Eerdmans 1994, p. 282
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Bibliography[edit]