A Historic Discovery!
The story in John 9 of the blind man whom Jesus healed is fascinating for several reasons.
This is the account where, contrary to what his disciples thought, Jesus declared that it was not because “this man sinned, or his parents,” that he was born blind, but in order that “the works of God might be displayed” (John 9:3).
This is also the story where Jesus probably offended everyone by spitting in the dirt and making a mud pack to heal the man! And, of course, this is the incident that tells of the man’s parents who were so filled with fear of the religious leaders that they refused to celebrate this glorious healing of their son.
But my interest here is of a different order. In the October, 2005, edition of Christianity Today magazine, there is a brief article with the title, “Raiders of the Lost Pool” (authored by Gordon Govier). In it he tells of a recent archaeological discovery in Jerusalem.
As you will recall from the story in John 9, Jesus told the blind man to “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (John 9:7). A number of less conservative New Testament scholars have argued that the entire incident, including the pool itself, was simply a metaphor. Not a few went so far as to scoff at those who contend that the pool really existed, as reported in John’s gospel.
According to Govier, the pool was “a huge basin at the lowest point in the city of Jerusalem. Recent excavations have uncovered two corners and one side of the pool that stretched for half the length of a football field.” James Charlesworth, noted professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, is quoted as saying that contrary to what many had believed, “we have found there is such a pool, precisely as John describes it.” Thus “to dismiss John as not historically important is absurd.”
John’s gospel has long been the target of liberal scholars who were determined to undermine the historicity of certain events in the New Testament. Here, they’ve lost yet another battle. If you would like to investigate similar issues in more detail, I highly recommend Craig L. Blomberg’s book, “The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel” (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 346 pp.