In 2009, archaeologist Eilat Mazar discovered 33 bullae (small clay seal impressions) in the Ophel area of Jersualem. In 2015 she announced that one of the bullae bore the impression of the seal of King Hezekiah.  Now, she has announced that one of those bullae may belong to the Biblical prophet Isaiah.

Isaiah bulla

Discovery location

If valid, this would be the first archaeological evidence of the prophet.

The bulla in question was discovered less than 10 feet from King Hezekiah’s bulla.  Given the close relationship between the two men, it would not be surprising to bullae belonging to both of them in close proximity.  But is this truly the bulla of Isaiah the prophet?

The bulla measures less than ½” in diameter.  It is divided into three sections called “registers.”  The top and left portions of the bulla are damaged[1], so the top register is almost completely gone.  It appears to have contained no text, but merely an image of a grazing doe.

The middle register reads “(belonging) to Yesha’yah.”  This is the Hebrew spelling of “Isaiah,” lacking only a “u” at the end (Hebrew letter vav) due to the damage on the left side of the bulla.

It is virtually certain that this bulla originally contained the name Isaiah.  But which Isaiah was it?  There were many individuals who bore that name.  However, most people did not own seals.  Only those who were wealthy or involved in the business of the king would own a seal.  The lower register identifies which Isaiah the seal belonged to.

The lower register reads “Nvy.”  If these were the only letters present on the original seal, then this is the name of a person.  While Nvy is not found anywhere in the Bible, it is found on two bullae from Lachish, a seal impression on a jar handle, and other seals.  If this reading is correct, then the seal in question belonged to some unknown Isaiah, son of Nvy.  There is good reason to believe, however, that the seal contained one more letter at the end.  On the right side of the bulla we see the remnants of an oval outline formed by the seal.  If we extend the outline, we can reconstruct the size of the seal itself.  When doing so, it is obvious that there is enough room for one more letter at the end of Nvy.

Because seals were so small, they tended to use all available area, leaving no blank spaces.  There would be a blank space, however, if the word on the lower register ended in “y” (Hebrew yod).  If only three Hebrew letters were used on the lower register, we would expect for them to appear more centered in the register to eliminate the space and appear more symmetrical.  Since it is not centered, this suggests the presence of an additional letter.

What letter might that be?  The most natural reading would be the Hebrew word nvy’, which means prophet.  This word is formed by the simple addition of aleph to the end of Nvy.

If this is a title (“prophet”) rather than a surname (“Nvy”), however, one might expect for the Hebrew definite article (Hebrew letter heh) to appear before Nvy’ since most bullae that contain titles contain the definite article.  This is not definitive, however, since there is at least one known bulla that lacks the definite article.  Furthermore, the Bible does not always use the definite article with titles.  The use of the definite article seems to be optional.

It’s also possible that the Isaiah bulla did contain the definite article, but at the end of the second register following Isaiah’s name rather than at the beginning of the third register before “prophet.”  There is enough room for the heh after Isaiah’s name, and we know from other bullae (including the Hezekiah bulla) that words can be spread over more than one line, similar to the English practice of hyphenation.

So is this truly the seal of Isaiah the prophet?  We cannot be certain, but it’s highly suggested given the preponderance of evidence.  We know this bulla comes from right time (that of Hezekiah) and the right place (Jerusalem).  We know it belonged to a person named Isaiah.  Given the size of the seal, we know it’s likely that additional letters appeared on the damaged side.  And we know that if “nvy” contained one additional letter at the end, the most likely Hebrew word is the word for prophet.  There are good grounds, then, for concluding that this bulla bore the seal impression of the biblical prophet.  Of course, there is a possibility that the reconstruction is incorrect and this bulla belonged to Isaiah son of Nvy rather than Isaiah the prophet.  Perhaps a similar seal will be discovered in the future that will allow us to answer this question with certainty.  In the meantime, the mere probability that this bulla bears the seal image of Isaiah the prophet is a truly exciting prospect!

The Trumpet has a great :12 video exploring this find that I would recommend viewing:



[1]The top portion is missing while the left side was damaged 2700 years ago when someone touched the soft clay, flattening the seal impression. The fingerprint is still visible.


We often speak of the need to “forgive yourself.”  While I understand what is meant by this phrase, it is unintelligible on the Christian worldview.  People speak of the need to forgive themselves in the context of feeling guilt for something they did (or failed to do).  They recognize the need to eliminate this guilt and get on with their life – to stop beating themselves up for their failure.

The problem with this notion is that it’s not possible to forgive oneself.  Forgiveness is something only a third party can grant to you.  You can no more forgive yourself than you can give something to yourself.  On the Christian worldview, the ultimate source of our forgiveness is God Himself.  We will never stop feeling guilt if we are looking to ourselves.  The solution for guilt is not self-forgiveness, but divine forgiveness.  If we continue feeling guilt after we have repented of our sin, that is evidence that we have not truly believed that God has forgiven us – because once God forgives and we believe He has forgiven, the conscience ought to be quieted (Heb 9).

In the past I offered a general Christian creed written from a Oneness perspective.  Here is another creed I wrote specifically articulating Oneness theology:

I believe in one God, eternal and almighty,
creator of heaven and earth;
Both one in essence and one in person;
Who for us became one of us, and yet remained God;
One person in two natures, both divine and human;
The eternal God who became temporal man.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God incarnate;
Son of God and son of Adam;
Who took on our nature to take away our sin;
Divine by identity and human by function,
he rescued us as one of us, dying in our stead;
Raised from death to die no more,
In whom we confidently wait for the same, amen.

Have you ever tried striking up a conversation with someone about the existence of God only to find that they have no interest in the question?  Trying to continue the conversation is like trying to talk to a two year old about quantum mechanics.  Strategically, you must find a way to get the unbeliever to see that the question of God’s existence is relevant to his/her life.  I think the most effective approach is to appeal to common existential questions that every human wonders about.  This could include:

  • What do you think happens when you die?
  • Where did everything come from?
  • What is the source of our moral awareness?


Part of our theodicy for the problem of evil includes the point that it was logically impossible for God to create a world in which humans enjoyed free will (a good thing), and yet were unable to use that freedom to choose evil as well as the good. I accept that as true, and yet Christianity proclaims there is coming a day in which there will be a world consisting of humans with libertarian free-will, who will never choose evil: heaven. The future hope of Christians seems to undermine one of the central premises in our theodicy. Can this be reconciled?

One might point out that the future world void of evil is only possible because God will glorify our humanity. But this is not a solution; it is an admission of the problem. Glorification is being put forward, not to show that such a world cannot exist, but rather to explain how it will become a reality. If in the future God is able—through glorification—to make human beings such that they have free will, and yet will not choose evil, then it falsifies the claim that God cannot create a world in which humans enjoy libertarian free will, and yet never choose evil. Indeed, He will do so in the future. In light of such, we might ask why God did not do this from the onset. Why didn’t He create humans in a glorified state to begin with, if glorified humans can exercise free will and yet not choose evil?


Skeptics of Christianity often try to undermine the truth of Christianity by pointing to supposed errors or contradictions in the Bible.  As a result, some Christians have abandoned the faith, while others remain shaken in their faith.  This is unfortunate because the skeptics’ approach is fundamentally flawed.

We must distinguish between what makes Christianity true (an ontological question) and how we know Christianity to be true (an epistemological question).  Many people think it’s the Bible that makes Christianity true.  That’s why they question the truth of Christianity when they are confronted with supposed errors or contradictions in the Bible.  A moment’s reflection reveals this to be wrongheaded.  After all, couldn’t God have chosen to communicate the Gospel truths orally rather than in a written format?  Of course!  Indeed, that’s how it was transmitted in the early church.  If Christianity could still be true without any written Bible at all, then surely it could still be true even if the Bible contains errors.


If God knows every choice we’ll make from eternity past, doesn’t that mean our choices are not free – that God has caused us to do what we do? No. Knowledge is not a cause. Knowing what someone will choose to do in advance of their actually doing it does not cause them to do it. While it’s true that if God knows X will happen, X will most certainly happen, but it’s not God’s knowledge of X that makes X happen. It’s our choice to do X. God merely knows what we will freely choose in advance. While God’s knowledge is chronologically prior to our acts, our acts are logically prior to God’s knowledge. If we would have chosen A rather than B on October 12, 2006, God would have known A rather than B. The reason He knew B would happen from eternity past is because He knew we would freely choose B from eternity past. God’s foreknowledge does not determine our choices, but is informed by our choices. In other words, God’s foreknowledge is not the cause of our actions; our actions are the cause of God’s foreknowledge.