Monday, April 25, 2016


I thought that it might be fun, for a few weeks, to give folks a taste of my writing.  Maybe you've thought about reading one of my books, but have hesitated - well, here's a sample from THE REDEMPTION OF PONTIUS PILATE.  Let me know what you think, and if you like what you read here . . . buy the book already!!! LOL

Here's the Amazon link:

Now, on to the story!   This excerpt is from Chapter 11, in which Pilate has just arrived at his new posting in Judea, mourning the loss of his daughter and his fall from political power in Rome.  But, dutiful and competent, he is ready to begin whipping the place into shape.

         Prefect Valerius Gratus was overjoyed at his unexpected relief from duty as Governor when Pilate landed in Caesarea.  Gratus was a chubby, middle-aged Roman of mediocre talent and limited intelligence, whose rise to prefect had been largely achieved through family connections.  He had repeatedly pestered Tiberius and the Senate for an appointment as a provincial governor, hoping to restore the family fortune he had squandered on expensive artworks and prostitutes.  Tiberius had appointed him as Prefect over Judea as a grim joke – it was a poor province, having been squeezed of its gold by a succession of corrupt client kings, priests, and conquering empires for almost a thousand years. Valerius had still tried to line his pockets through aggressive tax farming and an excessive entanglement in local religious politics, but had only succeeded in making himself despised among the Jews.

          “They are an impossible people, Pontius Pilate!” he said after welcoming Pilate to the governor’s palace.  “Illogical, irrational, and altogether too devoted to their religion!  Won’t work on Saturday, won’t go near certain animals, and they seem to take off work for religious festivals on a near-constant basis!”

          “We do have religious festivals in Rome, too,” said Pilate, sipping a glass of wine to wash the dust of the town’s busy streets from his throat.

          “But our festivals are joyous!” said Valerius.  “A time to drink and sing and fornicate to our heart’s content, all to the honor of our gods!  They come together and mourn and wail for the forgiveness of their sins, and pray for their god to send the Messiah to restore their fortunes!”

          “What on earth is a Messiah?” asked Pilate.

          “A huge part of their religious mythology,” said Valerius.  “Supposedly he will be a human descendant of their great warrior-king David, but also will be an incarnation of their invisible God – who, incidentally, does not have a proper name.  At least, not one that they are allowed to say.  They use substitute names like ‘Elohim’ or ‘Adonai’ instead.  At any rate, this Messiah-King is supposed to be from David’s line and will drive away the evil Gentiles – that’s their term for us, and for all foreigners – and then restore the Kingdom to its former glory, and bring about the rule of their God on earth.”

          Pilate nodded.  “What kind of shape is your legion in?” he said. 

          “Bored, lazy, and corrupt,” said Valerius.  “I parcel them out into the countryside, a few dozen to a hundred in all the major villages and towns, and keep a cohort or two here in Caesarea in case of trouble.  Half of them are criminals from the worst stews of Rome who live to make trouble with the locals; the other half are decent soldiers.  Some of them have gone native and married Jewish girls; a few even worship Adonai or whatever his name is.”

          “Why do you tolerate laziness and corruption among your soldiers?” Pilate asked rather sharply.

          “I am not much of a military man, I’m afraid,” said Valerius.  “I can see the problems, but I have no idea how to fix them.  I hope you will have better fortune than I have had!”

          “It seems to me, Gratus, that the majority of your problems are self-inflicted!” said Pilate.  “Tell me, who is your senior Legate?”

          “Don’t have one at the moment.  Titus Vorenus was the last one I had, and he got his throat cut by a Zealot over a year ago.  Rome has not seen fit to send a replacement,” said Valerius.

          Pilate snorted.  He wondered if Valerius Gratus had even bothered to ask.  “So is your primus pilus centurion worth his salt?” he asked.

          “Cassius Longinus?” he said.  “A decent fellow, but he is one of those who have gone native since he has been here.  He lives in a village called Capernaum with a Jewish wife, and even owns a copy of their Scriptures and reads them to his children from time to time.  But he is a first-rate soldier, and seems to understand the local culture as well as anyone.”
          This means, thought Pilate, that he would probably be a better governor than you!  But he held his silence. 

          “Do you suppose that I could use the ship that brought you here to return to Rome?” asked Gratus.

          “Of course,” said Pilate.  “But the captain wants to put out to sea within the week.  Will you have your effects gathered and your report to the Senate ready by then?”

          “I can and I will,” said Gratus.  “I am more ready to be out of this place than you can possibly imagine!  Let’s see, what else do I need to tell you – oh, yes! Festivals!  Jewish religion demands that all the faithful who can must gather in Jerusalem at their great temple to celebrate their high holy days.  It is always good to have a strong presence in the city at that time – it seems to be the moment that trouble is most likely to flare up.  Now, they do not like having Gentiles in their holy city during festivals, so I usually keep most of my troops inside the fortress of Antonia except for the necessary patrols.  That way, if trouble breaks out, I can respond quickly and forcefully.”

          Pilate nodded.  That was the first piece of useful advice the toad had given him.  After a few more minutes of discussion, he asked to be shown the governor’s personal quarters.  The chambers were luxurious enough, but Valerius Gratus seemed to have the personal hygiene of a pig, and not a very neat one at that.  The bedclothes were stained and stale-smelling, there were scrolls and official reports scattered haphazardly about the room, along with the governor’s personal reading material – which, from the quick glimpse that Pilate got before Valerius rolled the scrolls up and stuffed them into his trunk, seemed to be primarily erotic poetry and stories.

          To give the man his due, however, he did vacate the chamber quickly.  Two trunks held all his personal effects, and a large, locked strongbox in the corner contained his valuables.  Within a half-hour, Valerius told Pilate he was done.

          “What about the furniture and bedding?” Pilate asked.

          “Do what you will with it,” said Gratus.  “I have far nicer furnishings at my villa in Rome.”

          Pilate looked around the room in disgust.  The furniture was old and battered, and he would never ask his wife to sleep in that bed.  Perhaps some shopping would be good for her, he thought.  He told Democles to bring her from the ship and have their effects delivered.  While his servant was gone, he called in a couple of legionaries from the governor’s personal detail. 

          They were unshaven and hung over, their uniforms wrinkled and stained.  Time to start work, thought Pilate as he looked at his men.

          “Are you two what passes for soldiers around here?” he snapped angrily.

          “Who wants to know?” grumbled the older one.  Pilate slapped him, snapping his head halfway round.

          “Your new prefect, that’s who!” he snapped.  “You call yourselves Romans? Look at you! Slovenly, lazy, unshaven, uniforms a disgrace!  Your governor was a pig, so you thought you could get away with being pigs too, is that it? Well, things are changing, starting NOW!”

          “Yes, sir!” said the two legionaries.  He had their full attention now.

          “First of all, I want you to haul all this furniture and the curtains and bedding out of here and burn them.  Then I want both of you to go down to the barracks and shave, then bathe, and wash your uniforms.  Tell all the legionaries that I will be inspecting the ranks tomorrow, and I had better find them well-turned out, or there will be hell to pay!  Make sure they know that there is a new prefect in town!” he said.  They got to work very quickly as he sat in the windowsill and watched.  At least, he mused, he had not lost his talent for commanding troops.  It was something he had worked hard to develop, and he hoped it would help turn the province around.

          The soldiers were just hauling out the last of the previous occupant’s soiled personal effects when Procula Porcia came in with her maid, Stephenia, and Democles in tow, carrying one of the trunks.  She cast a wary eye around the chamber.

          “I see our predecessor favored a rather Spartan lifestyle,” she finally said.

          “More a bacchanalian one,” he replied.  “I had his furniture burned – it looked as if you might get the pox just touching it!  There are some large markets between here and the harbor, though.  Could I prevail upon you to purchase us some furnishings and bedding, my dear?”

          Porcia looked at him.  Her grief for their daughter was enormous and still overwhelming at times, but their loss had driven them closer together rather than further apart, and Pilate was very grateful for that.  Life could be short and hard in the Roman Empire, but the loss of a child who had survived all the dangers of infancy was still heartbreaking.  Many marriages would not have survived such a loss.  Porcia finally nodded.

          “I suppose it would do me some good to be busy,” she said finally.

          He tossed her a purse full of sesterces.  “Be frugal, my dear,” he said.  “This is not Spain.  We shall make no fortune here, I fear.”

          “Have I ever wasted your money?” she asked, and left the room before he could answer.

          After she left, Pilate walked down the corridor and outside. He spotted a couple of servants and ordered them to wash and scrub out the governor’s chambers, then strode over towards the barracks.  The two soldiers were still burning Valerius’ old furniture, and several of their comrades were watching, laughing and poking fun at them as they worked.  Pilate decided to see what they found so funny.

          “Legionaries!” he said.  The two men who were burning the furniture and bedding snapped to attention.  The others slouched to a semi-erect posture. He looked at the men he had disciplined earlier, and nodded.  These men were soldiers at heart, he thought.  They had just been stuck with a governor who had allowed them to forget their training.  He walked up to the biggest of the five spectators and looked him up and down.  The man was a head taller than Pilate, and muscular enough, but there was a sheath of fat over his belly and an air of indolence which told Pilate he had traded on his size alone for too long.  But the others were watching him with an air of respect and awe, so it was clear that he was the top dog in the barracks.  Good, Pilate thought.  Breaking him would bring the others into line quickly enough.

          “So, are you a soldier of Rome, big man, or are you just a circus freak who stole a legionary’s uniform?” he asked with a sneer.

          The burly soldier glared at him and spat on the ground.  “I am three times more a soldier than any rump-kissing Roman Senator!” he said with a laugh.

          “If I were a rump-kisser, as you so eloquently put it, I would not have been sent to this particular posting, now would I?” Pilate asked in a deceptively soft voice.

          The big man looked at him contemptuously.  “Maybe you just weren’t doing it right,” he said, and then after a long pause, added: “Sir!”

          “Very amusing,” said Pilate, turning his back on the man. Then he drove his elbow backwards and up as hard and fast as he could, catching the unsuspecting behemoth square under the chin and snapping his head back hard.  His arms flailed out to grab Pilate, who had already spun out of his reach.

          “Mentula!!!” snapped the legionary.  “I’ll send you back to Rome in pieces!” With that he lunged forward, and Pilate snapped his foot up in a straight-toed kick to the man’s solar plexus, knocking his wind out.  As he doubled over, Pilate grabbed his greasy locks of hair and yanked the man’s head forward and down, where it collided with Pilate’s knee, which he was bringing up as hard and fast as he could.  The soldier’s nose crunched audibly, and blood gushed from his face as he crumpled to the ground, holding onto his middle and groaning.  The other four soldiers looked at Pilate with shock and fear – this was not the outcome they had expected!  Pilate gave them a wolfish grin.

          “Anyone else want to try their luck?” he said.

          “Not on your life!” said one of them.  “If you can take down Brutus Appius that quickly, I doubt any of us would stand much chance.”

          “Brutus Appius, eh?” Pilate asked, nudging the doubled up giant at his feet.  The big man gave a groan and nodded.

          “Well, my name is Lucius Pontius Pilate, and I am the new prefect of Judea,” he said.  “I have commanded legions against Germans, Celts, and pirates in my time, and I’ve probably seen more combat than any of you.  You men have been allowed to forget that you are legionaries in the service of the Roman Empire. Trust me, you will not be allowed to forget it again!  Tomorrow morning there will be an inspection of all the troops here in Caesarea.  Your faces will be shaven, your uniforms will be clean, and you will carry yourselves like soldiers! Is that clear?”

          “Yes sir!” said five terrified voices at once.  Pilate smiled inwardly.  Legionaries were much like children, he thought.  They will push their boundaries as far as they are allowed to, but once they are reined in, they become as docile as sheep.

          “Dismissed!” he shouted, and they scurried into the barracks.

          Brutus Appius slowly climbed to his feet and surveyed his new commander.  “I suppose you will want to have me flogged?” he said in a rather tired voice.

          Pilate looked the big man in the eye and saw resignation there.  “No,” he said.  “You were acting as your previous commander allowed you to act, and in a manner I am sure you have gotten away with for some time. Are you going to be insolent and disrespectful to me in the future?”

          “No, sir!” said Appius.

          “Then I see no need for further punishment,” said Pilate.  “Do you know why I singled you out?” he asked.

          “Because I am biggest and strongest,” replied the legionary without hesitation.  “If you can take me down, the others will fear you and obey you.”

          Pilate nodded in appreciation.  “So there is a brain inside that large and thick calvarium of yours!” he said.  “Excellent.  Tell me, Brutus Appius, how is this army supplied with centurions?”

          “Poorly, sir,” said the big man.  “Our primus pilus, Longinus, is a good man and a good soldier, but he could not stand Prefect Gratus, and so was given permission to live in a village not far from here, on the north shore of Lake Tiberius.  Other than him, we have about twenty other centurions, some of middling quality, many poor, and two who are decent besides Longinus – Titus Ambrosius here in Caesarea, and Marcus Quirinius in Jerusalem.”

          “How strong is the legion then?” he said. “That is not nearly enough centurions for six thousand men!”

          “We are severely understrength, sir,” said Appius.  “Last full count was taken two years ago, and at that time we were three centuries over four thousand.  We’ve lost dozens of men since then.  I’d be surprised if we even number four thousand now.”

          Pilate was appalled.  Four thousand men to control one of Rome’s most rebellious provinces!  This place needed some serious shaking up, he decided. Best to get the men into shape first, though, and then see how many reinforcements were needed.  He looked at Brutus Appius again.  The big man was watching him with curiosity, but without hostility – a sign of intelligence, Pilate decided.

          “Brutus Appius, I am going to need good soldiers who are looked up to by their fellow legionaries if I am going to whip this army and this province into shape,” he said.  “And I am going to need some centurions who are known and feared by the rank and file.  As of now, I am appointing you to Centurion’s rank on a provisional basis.  Your first job is to make sure that the men are ready for inspection tomorrow morning.  And one more thing – send a fast rider and fetch me this Cassius Longinus.  I need to take his measure quickly.”

          The tall legionary looked at Pilate in wonder.  “Yes, SIR!!” he said, saluting neatly.  “I’ll get right on it!”  He turned on his heel to go, and then looked back at Pilate.  “You know, Prefect, that I probably could have taken you in a fair fight!” he said.

          Pilate laughed.  “That is exactly why I did not fight fair!” he replied.

          The Roman army’s newest centurion grinned at him.  “You’re all right, sir!” he said.  “For a politician!”

          “You’re not bad yourself, Brutus Appius – for an inbred idiot!” The big man guffawed at that and sauntered off towards the barracks.  Pilate nodded to himself as he returned to the governor’s quarters.  Not a bad start, he thought.

Monday, April 18, 2016


I thought, for my next few blogposts, that I would give my faithful readers a sneak peek inside my books - starting with the three published novels, and then an excerpt from both of my unpublished but completed manuscripts.   This passage from my first book, THE TESTIMONIUM, relates the discovery of the scroll that the book takes its title from.  The team of archeologists have just succeeded in unlocking an ancient cabinet found inside a sealed chamber on the Isle of Capri  . . .

Only a faint film of dust lay over the two scrolls that were inside.  Each was sealed with faded red wax, bearing the now familiar signet of Tiberius Caesar.  The scrolls appeared completely intact, though faded with age to a light brown color.  His voice slightly trembling, MacDonald said “Josh, get me the padded forceps and two covered trays.”  Parker scrambled to get two trays and cover them with acid free paper.  He found his own hands trembling slightly as he held out the first tray.  MacDonald carefully lifted the first scroll with the padded forceps and placed it on the tray.  Josh carried it to the table, and they clustered around to look at it.  The seal had obviously been made with the same ring they had found on the writing table, but the remnants of an older, long-broken seal were visible beside it. The now familiar spidery handwriting of Tiberius had recorded a short description on the outside of the scroll.  “C. Iuli Caesaris Augusti testamento ultimum,” read Josh.  “The last will and testament of Caesar Augustus.”  There were whoops of excitement from the rest of the team.

“Now the other one,” said Father MacDonald.  He carefully took the forceps and lifted the second sealed scroll from its two thousand year old resting place and gently laid it on the tray that Josh held waiting.  It was likewise sealed and inscribed, and Josh carried it to the table before trying to decipher the elderly Emperor’s shaky Latin.  He pulled the magnifying glass over the scroll once he got it situated, looked at the scroll, and then turned deathly pale.  He staggered backwards two steps.

“Josh!” Isabella said with great concern.  “What on earth?”

He could not speak.  Somehow he was seated on the floor, although he had no memory of his legs giving out.  He opened his mouth two or three times, and then gave up trying to get any words out.  He simply pointed a trembling finger at the scroll lying on the tray.  Father MacDonald looked through the magnifying glass and read the inscription. “Testimonium Pontii Pilati Procuratoris Iudaeae,” he read.  “The Testimony of Pontius Pilate, Governor of Judea.”

Isabella paled.  Rossini and Apriceno simply stared at each other in shock.

“Holy Christ!” said Father MacDonald.  It was not an expletive but a prayer.

Want to read more?  You can buy THE TESTIMONIUM here:

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Finished my new novel!

  I had no idea, when I started writing THE TESTIMONIUM in March of 2012, whether or not I would even finish it.  I certainly had no idea I would start another novel three months after wrapping it up in November of that year, or that it would be published less than two years later. But one thing led to another, which led to another . . . and now, in March of 2016, I put the finishing touches on my fifth novel in four years.  Assuming my publisher accepts it, it will probably see print about two years from now, but I want to go ahead and tell you a little bit about it now, while the storyline is still fresh on my mind.
      THE GNOSTIC LIBRARY is the third and perhaps final volume in my "Capri Team" series.  For those of you who have not read any of my books, the "Capri Team" is my nickname for a group of archeologists - Joshua and Isabella Parker, Father Duncan MacDonald, an archeological consultant for the Vatican, and Dr. Luke Martens, as well as Luke's young wife Alicia - whom I created for my first novel, THE TESTIMONIUM.  I fell in love with these characters, and after I finished my second book, a historical novel called THE REDEMPTION OF PONTIUS PILATE, I couldn't resist coming back and featuring them in another story, MATTHEW'S AUTOGRAPH, which was released last December.

      Josh is an American, the son of a Baptist pastor, with a passion for archeology, particularly from the New Testament era.  His wife Isabella, Italian by birth, is a specialist in classical archeology with an emphasis on the early Roman Empire.  Duncan MacDonald is a papyrus specialist, who excels at stabilizing, reading, and translating ancient documents.  A consultant for the Vatican's Department of Religious Antiquities, he has come to play a larger role in my stories as the team's adventures have unfolded.  Luke Martens is Josh's thesis advisor and mentor, a Biblical archeologist specializing in the New Testament era.  His wife Alicia, a good bit younger than him, is the odd one out in this group of antiquarians (for the first couple of stories, at least), working on her Master's Degree in Marine Biology. Finally, though, she decided that she would rather work with her husband than with dolphins, and switched majors to aquatic archeology.

   In the first story, which gave the team its name, Isabella and her mentor Giuseppe Rossini discovered a hidden chamber on the Isle of Capri which contained a number of documents from the First Century, including the report that Pontius Pilate filed to Rome on the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth.  The intense publicity surrounding the discovery and translation of that scroll, known as the Testimonium of Pilate,  made the members of the excavation team international celebrities, especially after they were targeted by a radical group of terrorists out to destroy the ancient document.

   In MATTHEW'S AUTOGRAPH, Father MacDonald is working on a routine salvage archeology survey in Southern Israel when he and his colleague, Dr. Samuel bin Yosef, discover what appears to be the undisturbed tomb of the Apostle Matthew, including both his remains and a scroll  of the last few chapters of Matthew's gospel.  The Israeli government invites the members of the Capri Team to come and take part in the dig, and when the scroll is opened and translated, it proves to be a completely different ending than the one found in every other text of Matthew - an ending which casts doubt on the Resurrection of Jesus!  As an impatient public, fueled by mysterious leaks of information from inside the lab, demands to know what the scroll says, Father MacDonald engages in a desperate search to find the truth about the cave, the scroll, and the circumstances under which it was buried.

   After I finished this third book, I decided to write another historical novel, LOVER OF GOD, which I finished last fall and which will be available about a year from now.  But the Capri Team was still there, in the back of my mind, and I wanted to send them on at least one more adventure before I was done with them.  Oddly enough, although Josh is as close to a literary alter ego as any character I have ever created, the one member of the team who calls out to me most is Father Duncan MacDonald.  I am a Baptist, and have profound theological differences with Catholicism - yet, at the same time, I also have an equally profound respect for the Church of Rome, and ultimately, I believe we are all on the same team, serving the same God.  Duncan is a worthy servant of the Church, faithful enough to defend its practice and doctrine, honest enough to admit that his Protestant friends do have some valid points in the age-old debate.  Now for the second time, it is Duncan who takes center stage in this story - a story that is, in some ways, darker than any novel I have ever written, but one which also lets the light of faith shine with great brightness in the darkest of places.

    It begins with a discovery by a Bedouin on the edge of Egypt's Black Desert - a library of ancient scrolls, buried in the shifting sands of the desert for centuries.  The Bedouin, Ibrahim al-Safar, has worked as a digger on many archeological sites in Egypt, and recognizes the significance of his find.  He reports it to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and the Museum's director, Abdullah al-Sharif, sends one of the resident scholars, English archeologist Dr. Katherine Feezel, to investigate.  Doctor Feezel is one of the main characters in this story - tough as nails, brilliant, and beautiful, she has lived in Egypt for most of the last twenty years, working on sites all over the country.  She realized the library was full of scrolls and codices written by Gnostic Christians, a splinter sect of the early church, and Duncan is called in to assist in the excavation, even as his friend Josh is investigating a separate archeological mystery in north Texas.

    The library site lies in dangerous territory - an Egyptian variant of ISIS, known as the Army of Allah, has its headquarters nearby, and a team of foreign archeologists prove to be too appealing a target to pass up.  Duncan and Katherine are taken prisoner by this gang of jihadists, and it will take all the skill and courage of the Egyptian military, as well as the resources and intelligence of the rest of the Capri Team, to locate and rescue them.  Meanwhile, in captivity, Duncan will face the dilemma of trying to protect Katherine from some of the most evil barbarians on the planet - all the while wrestling with his own increasingly strong feelings for her.  Their paths all converge to a fiery climax in the desert that you won't soon forget!

   THE GNOSTIC LIBRARY is a rattling good tale of archeological discovery, theological controversy, radical terrorism, inhuman courage, and sacrificial love which I think all of you will greatly enjoy.  But, if you haven't done so yet, you need to learn the Capri Team's story from the very beginning - which means you need to read THIS BOOK first:

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Faith Versus Certainty - What Can We Really Prove About Scripture?

  Can archeology prove the Bible to be true?

  I answered that question - or at least, tried to answer it - in my weekly column for the local paper this past week.  It is a fascinating question that really does merit a longer answer than the shortened format of my little corner of the paper gives it.  So I thought I would dwell on it in more detail here, where I can hold forth at length.

   First of all, it should be noted that knowledge does not save us.  History does not save us.  Archeology does not save us. In the end, as Paul wrote two thousand years ago, "it is by grace ye are saved through faith, not of yourselves."  Ultimately, the facts revealed by history, by science, and by archeology can point you towards faith - but in the final equation, we have to make a decision to believe in the conclusion that they lead us up to: that God is real, that He broke into history in a supernatural fashion two thousand years ago, and that a man named Jesus of Nazareth was, in fact, God incarnated in human form.    Faith in Christ is the basis of our salvation.

   That being said, history and archeology still play a major role in guiding the careful enquirer towards faith.  In the last hundred years, archeology has, again and again, borne out the testimony of Scripture in regards to places, dates, people, and events.  We have uncovered clear historical evidence of just how accurate Luke's Gospel and its sequel, the Book of Acts, actually are.  We have found that locations once thought to be purely fictitious - like the Pool of Bethesda described in John 5 - were not only real, but that they are exactly where and how the Gospels describe them.  We have found that, far from being tampered with, edited, and altered over time, the text of the New Testament has been passed down with uncanny accuracy.  The question is no longer: Do we have what the apostles wrote?  It is now far more basic:  Was what the apostles wrote true?

   We know that much of it was.  From minor details, like the proper title of the ruler of the Island of Malta in 62 AD, to bigger claims - that Jesus of Nazareth was put to death on the cross by order of Roman prefect Pontius Pilate - we have seen modern discoveries confirm the essential accuracy of the historical framework of the Gospels.  The fact of the matter is, if the events and people of the ancient world were held to the same standard of proof that skeptics demand of the Gospels, much of our history of that era would be a blank.

   Jesus once said: "Because you have been faithful in the small things, I shall place you in charge of greater things."  The Gospels are true in their details - painstakingly so at times - so that is all the more reason to believe that they have also been faithful in their larger claims.  No, we can't prove that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead.   That has to be taken on faith, still.  But we can prove that the same sources that testify to that Resurrection are accurate on a hundred and one small details of the surrounding narrative.  In the end, history, archeology and science wind up pointing in the same direction - towards a leap of the heart and mind, from those things we can know for sure to those things that we can never know positively, this side of eternity - but we choose to believe them anyway. That leap is what we call faith.

   And it is essential for salvation.