Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology

1185 – Sarcophagus of Paul and Seal of Saul



Recent news stories have reported on discoveries related to Paul and Saul. One is the Paul of the New Testament, the other is someone named Saul who lived about 800 years earlier.

The Vatican recently announced details of the latest archaeological investigation into the traditional burial place of the Apostle Paul, under the altar at the St. Paul Outside the Walls church in Rome. At almost exactly the same time, it was announced the oldest image believed to depict the Apostle Paul had been identified in the catacombs of St. Thecla. Both of these announcements marked the end of the Pauline year, declared by the Roman Catholic church to mark the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of St. Paul.

In other recent archaeological news, there was a story of a bone seal found in Jerusalem, with the name of Saul engraved on it, dated to roughly the 9th century B.C. The identity of this particular Saul is not known but this is another example of the many seals and seal impressions that are surfacing in the many archaeological excavations in Jerusalem. These are the kinds of finds that would be extremely rare elsewhere in Israel, but in Jerusalem they are not rare.

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