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

Further information: Hebrew Bible and Protocanonical books

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

Although the first mention of the name 'Israel' in archaeology dates to the 13th century BC,[1] contemporary information on the Israelite nation prior to the 9th century BC 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, though the actual number of chariots is disputed.[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 II (Hadadezer) King of Aram Damascus c. 865–842 Mentioned in the Kurkh Monoliths as one of the kings allegedly defeated by Shalmaneser III of Assyria. 1 Kings 20, 1 Kings 22, 2 Kings 8:7
Ben-Hadad III 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, 2 Kgs. 19:37
(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, 2 Kings 12:18, 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 Hezekiah'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 (ANET3 283)[40] record that Menahem paid him tribute, as stated in the Books of Kings.[41] 2 Kgs. 15:14–23
Mesha King of Moab fl. c. 840 Author of the Mesha Stele.[42] 2 Kgs. 3:4
Merodach-Baladan King of Babylon 722–710 Named in the Great Inscription of Sargon II in his palace at Khorsabat.[43] 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.[44] 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".[45][46] 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.[47][48] Jer. 39:3
Necho II Pharaoh of Egypt c. 610 – c. 595 Mentioned in the writings of Ashurbanipal[49] 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.[42] His dynasty became the Assyrian Empire's byname for the Israelite kingdom.[50][51] 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.[52] 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][53] 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.[54] 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.[55] 2 Kgs. 18:13, Is. 36:1
Shalmaneser V King of Assyria 727–722 Mentioned on several royal palace weights found at Nimrud.[56] Another inscription was found that is thought to be his, but the name of the author is only partly preserved.[57] 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.[58] Several contemporary sources mention him and fragments of three statues bearing his name were excavated at Nineveh.[59] Is. 37:9, 2 Kgs. 19:9
Tattenai Governor of Eber-Nari fl. 520 Known from contemporary Babylonian documents.[60][61] 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 Also called "Pul" in Second Kings. Numerous writings are ascribed to him and he is mentioned, among others, in an inscription by Barrakab, king of Sam'al.[62] He exiled inhabitants of the cities he captured in Israel. 2 Kgs. 15:19, 2 Kgs. 15:29, 2 Kgs. 16:7, 2 Kgs. 16:10, 1 Chr. 5:6
Xerxes I King of Persia 486–465 Called Ahasuerus in the books of Ezra and Esther.[17][63] Xerxes is known in archaeology through a number of tablets and monuments,[64] notably the "Gate of All Nations" in Persepolis. He is also mentioned in Herodotus' Histories. Est. 1:1, Dn. 9:1, Ezr. 4:6


Further information: Deuterocanonical books

Cleopatra Thea with her first husband, Alexander Balas

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), during which Judea was 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. Josephus also discusses the Maccabean Revolt in some detail in Jewish Antiquities Book XII, although the Greek version of the book of 1 Maccabees was one of Josephus's main sources, so Antiquities is considered by some scholars a circular reference rather than truly independent confirmation.[65]

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.[66] Mentioned in Polybius' Histories.[67] 1 Macc. 10:1, 1 Macc. 11:1
Alexander the Great King of Macedon 336–323 Referred to by Athenian orator Aeschines,[68][69] and identified on his coins.[70] 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.[71][72] and coins with his name have survived.[73] 1 Macc. 1:10, 1 Macc. 8:6
Antiochus IV Epiphanes King of Asia 175–164 Known from Polybius' Histories[74][75] and from contemporary coins.[76] 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,[77] and on contemporary coins.[78] 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,[79] but he is identified on contemporary coins.[80] 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.[81] 1 Macc. 15
Ariarathes V King of Cappadocia 163–130 Mentioned by Polybius.[82][83] 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.[84] 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.[85] Bel and the Dragon 1:1
Attalus II Philadelphus King of Pergamon 160–138 Known from the writings of Polybius.[86][87] 1 Macc. 15:22
Cleopatra Thea Queen of Asia 126–121 First married to Alexander Balas,[88] later to Demetrius II and Antiochus VII, she became sole ruler after Demetrius' death.[89] Her name and portrait appear on period coinage.[89] 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.[90] 1 Macc. 1:1
Demetrius I Soter King of Asia 161–150 A cuneiform tablet dated to 161 BCE refers to him,[91] and Polybius, who personally interacted with Demetrius, mentions him in his Histories.[92][93] 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.[94] 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.[81] 1 Macc. 11:39, 1 Macc. 12:39
Eumenes II Soter King of Pergamom 197–159 Several of his letters have survived,[95] and he is mentioned by Polybius.[96] 1 Macc. 8:8
Heliodorus Seleucid legate fl. 178 Identified in contemporary inscriptions.[97][98] 2 Macc. 3:7, 2 Macc. 5:18
Mithridates I King of Parthia 165–132 Also called Arsaces.[86] He captured Demetrius II as recorded in the Babylonian Astronomical Diaries.[94] 1 Macc. 14:2–3, 1 Macc. 15:22
Perseus King of Macedon 179–168 Son of Philip V.[99] Mentioned by Polybius.[100] and identified on his coins.[101] 1 Macc. 8:5
Philip II King of Macedon 359–336 Father of Alexander the Great. Known from contemporary coins,[102] and mentioned by Aeschines.[68][69] 1 Macc. 1:1, 1 Macc. 6:2
Philip V King of Macedon 221–179 His name appears on his coins,[103] and in Polybius' Histories.[104] 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.[84] 3 Macc. 1:1, 3 Macc. 3:12
Ptolemy VI Philometor King of Egypt 180–145 Referred to in ancient inscriptions,[105] and mentioned by Polybius.[106] 1 Macc. 1:18, 2 Macc. 9:29
Simon II High Priest of Israel Late 3rd century – early 2nd century Praised in Sirach for his apparent role in repairing and fortifying the Temple in Jerusalem, also briefly mentioned in Josephus' Antiquities.[107] 3 Macc. 2:1, Sirach 50:1, Sirach 50:20

New Testament

The Blacas Cameo (20–50 AD) 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 AD).[108][109] 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.[110] Josephus also mentions Jesus and the execution of John the Baptist[111] 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.

Persons mentioned in the Gospels

Name[n 6] Title Attestation and Notes Biblical references [n 3]
Augustus Caesar Emperor of Rome Reigned between 27 BC and 14 AD, during which time Jesus was born. He left behind a wealth of buildings, coins and monuments,[112] including a funerary inscription in which he described his life and accomplishments. His life is also described in detail by several ancient Roman historians. Lk. 2:1
Caiaphas High Priest of Israel Mentioned by Josephus in the Antiquities of the Jews.[113] 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". 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 Mark, Matthew, Luke 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] and by Josephus in the Antiquities. 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 Just Bishop of Jerusalem and relative of Jesus The brother (or stepbrother or cousin, depending on the interpretation) of Jesus and the first Bishop of Jerusalem. He is mentioned by Josephus in the Antiquities,[124] which state that he was arrested and stoned to death by order of High Priest Ananus ben Ananus. Ananus's decision angered Roman procurator Lucceius Albinus and local king Herod Agrippa II, who had him removed from his post. Mk 6:3, Mt 13:55–56, Gal 1:19
Jesus of Nazareth The Messiah The founder of Christianity, he was a Jewish itinerant preacher who clashed with the Jewish authorities, was arrested and handed over to Roman prefect Pontius Pilate, who had him crucified. He is mentioned by Josephus in the Antiquities[125] and by Tacitus in his Annals.[126] There is also a reference to the followers of a 'Chrestus' in Suetonius' The Twelve Ceasars, who may be the historical Jesus of Nazareth. All four Gospels, most Pauline epistles, and most catholic epistles.
John the Baptist Jewish itinerant preacher A Jewish itinerant preacher, known for having baptized Jesus. He is mentioned by Josephus in the Antiquities,[127] which state that he was arrested and executed by order of the ethnarch of Galilea Herod Antipas. All four Gospels
Matthew the Apostle Disciple of Christ He is identified in The Talmud as a disciple of Jesus, Mattai, who is slated to be executed.[128] The three Synoptic Gospels and Book of Acts
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.[129] 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.[130] His name and title appear on coinage from the period.[131][132] Lk. 3:1
Pontius Pilate Prefect of Judea He ordered Jesus's 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),[133][134] see Pilate Stone. He is mentioned by his contemporary Philo of Alexandria in his Embassy to Gaius, by Josephus in The Jewish War and the Antiquities and by Tacitus in his Annals. Mt. 27:2, Jn. 19:15–16
Publius Sulpicius Quirinius Governor of Syria Conducted a census while governing Syria as reported by Luke and Josephus,[135] and confirmed by a tomb inscription of one Quintus Aemilius Secundus, who had served under him.[136] He is mentioned by Josephus in the Antiquities and by Tacitus in the Annals. Lk. 2:2
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.[137] Mt. 14:6, Mk. 6:22
Simon Peter Peter the Apostle A prominent apostle of Jesus and the first Bishop of Rome. He is mentioned by Ignatius of Antioch's Letter to the Romans and to the Smyrnaeans, and the First Epistle to the Corinthians by Clement, who also says that Peter died as a martyr.[138][139][140][141] Mt. 4:18-20, Mt. 16
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).[142] Lk. 3:1

Persons mentioned in the New Testament outside the Gospels

Name[n 7] 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,[143] and presided over the trial of Paul. Acts 23:2, Acts 24:1
Antonius Felix Procurator of Judea Mentioned by historians Josephus,[144] Suetonius[145] and Tacitus[146] He imprisoned the apostle Paul around the year 58 CE, two years before Porcius Festus replaced him.[147] Acts 23:24, Acts 25:14
Apollos Both Paul and Clement affirmed that he was a Christian in Corinth.[138] 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,[148] his name is found in several contemporary inscriptions[149] and on numerous coins.[150] 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)[144] and is indeed called Queen Berenice in Tacitus's Histories.[151] Acts 25:23, Acts 26:30
Claudius Caesar Emperor of Rome Like other Roman emperors, his name is found on numerous coins[152] 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.[144][153] Acts 24:24
Lucius Junius Gallio Annaeanus Proconsul of Achaea Seneca the Younger, his brother, mentions him in his epistles to Lucilius Junior.[154] 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[155] 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.[156] In the Talmud he is also described as a prominent member of the Sanhedrin.[157] Acts 5:34, Acts 22:3
Herod Agrippa I King of Judea Although his name is given as Herod by Luke,[n 8] and as Agrippa by Josephus,[158] the accounts both writers give about his death are so similar that they are commonly accepted to refer to the same person.[22][159] 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,[144] and his name is found inscribed on contemporary Jewish coins.[119] Acts 25:23, Acts 26:1
John of Patmos Christian prophet and writer Mentioned by his contemporary Ignatius of Antioch[160] Rev. 1
Judas of Galilee Galilean rebel Leader of a Jewish revolt. Both the Book of Acts and Josephus[135] tell of a rebellion he instigated in the time of the census of Quirinius.[161] Acts 5:37
Nero Caesar Emperor of Rome Depicted in contemporary coins.[162] Rev. 13:18, 2 Thes. 2:3
Paul the Apostle Christian 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[163][164][140][165] Gal. 1, 1 Cor. 1
Porcius Festus Governor of Judea Succeeded Antonius Felix, as recorded by Josephus and the Book of Acts.[166][167] Acts 24:27, Acts 26:25

Tentatively identified

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)

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.
The so-called Shebna Lintel

Deuterocanonicals or biblical apocrypha

New Testament

See also


  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. ^ Names that are also mentioned in the Old Testament are not repeated here.
  7. ^ Names that are also mentioned in the Gospels are not repeated here.
  8. ^ i.e. the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. See Authorship of Luke–Acts.


  1. ^ Davies, Philip R., In Search of Ancient Israel: A Study in Biblical Origins, Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2015, p. 48.
  2. ^ a b Kelle, Brad E., Ancient Israel at War 853–586 BC, Osprey Publishing, 2007, pp. 8–9 [1]
  3. ^ De Breucker, Geert, in The Oxford Handbook of Cuneiform Culture, edited by Karen Radner, Eleanor Robson, Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 643
  4. ^ Kalimi, Isaac; Richardson, Seth (ed), Sennacherib at the Gates of Jerusalem, Brill, 2014, p. 45
  5. ^ Rainey, Anson F. "Stones for Bread: Archaeology versus History". Near Eastern Archaeology, Vol. 64, No. 3 (September 2001), pp. 140–149
  6. ^ Lawson Younger, K. "Kurkh Monolith". In Hallo, 2000, Vol. II p. 263
  7. ^ Galil, G., The Chronology of the Kings of Israel and Judah, Brill, 1996, p. 67
  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.
  10. ^ "The palace of Apries", University College London, 2002
  11. ^ Petrie, W. M. Flinders & Walker, J. H. (1909). The palace of Apries (Memphis II). School of Archaeology in Egypt, University College.
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  30. ^ a b The Black Obelisk at the British Museum. Translation adapted by K. C. Hanson from Luckenbill, Daniel David (1927). Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia. Vol. 1. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
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  32. ^ Oppenheim, A. L. in Pritchard 1969, pp. 287–288
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  41. ^ Oppenheim, A. L. in Pritchard 1969, p. 283
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  88. ^ Kosmin, Paul J. (2014). The Land of the Elephant Kings: Space, Territory, and Ideology in Seleucid Empire. Harvard University Press. p. 135. ISBN 978-0-674-72882-0. The ancient source cited is Josephus's Jewish Antiquities.
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  96. ^ Geoffrey W. Bromiley (1982). International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Wm. B. Eerdmans. pp. 199–200. Citing Polybius, Book 21 Chapter 45
  97. ^ Schwartz, Daniel R. (2008). 2 Maccabees. Walter de Gruyter. p. 192. Citing Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones Selectae 247
  98. ^ Coogan et al., 2010, p. 1604
  99. ^ Coogan et al., 2010, p. 1576
  100. ^ Thompson, Thomas L. and Wajdenbaum, Philippe (2014). The Bible and Hellenism: Greek Influence on Jewish and Early Christian Literature. Routledge. p. 203.
  101. ^ British Museum, # 1968,1207.9 (in online collection)
  102. ^ Warry, John (1991). Alexander 334–323 BC: Conquest of the Persian Empire. Osprey. p. 8.
  103. ^ British Museum, # 1896,0703.195 (in online collection)
  104. ^ Polybius, Book 4 Chapter 22
  105. ^ Gera, Dov (1998). Judaea and Mediterranean Politics: 219 to 161 B.C.E. Brill. p. 12. Citing Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones Selectae 760
  106. ^ Polybius, Book 39 Chapter 18
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  117. ^ a b Antiquities, B. XVII, Chr. 8, § 1
  118. ^ Flavius Josephus, Wars of the Jews, translated by William Whiston, Book 2, Chr. 6, Par. 3
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  121. ^ Nicolaus of Damascus, Autobiography, translated by C.M.Hall, fragment 134
  122. ^ a b Antiquities, B. XVIII Chr. 5 § 4
  123. ^ Hoehner, Harold W., Herod Antipas: A Contemporary of Jesus Christ, Zondervan, 1980, pp. 133–134
  124. ^ Antiquities, Book 20, Chapter 9
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  126. ^ Annals, Book 15, Chapter 44
  127. ^ Antiquities, Book 18, Chapter 5
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  132. ^ a b Freedman, D.N. (ed), Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible [9], Wm. B. Eerdmans 2000, Philip the Tetrarch: p. 584, Nergal-Sharezer: p. 959
  133. ^ Taylor, Joan E., Pontius Pilate and the Imperial Cult in Roman Judaea in New Testament Studies, 52:564–565, Cambridge University Press 2006
  134. ^ Pilate Stone, translation by K. C. Hanson & Douglas E. Oakman
  135. ^ a b Antiquities, B. XVIII Chr. 1 § 1
  136. ^ Levick, Barbara, The Government of the Roman Empire: A Sourcebook [10], 2nd ed. Routledge 2000, p. 75
  137. ^ Salome in the Encyclopædia Britannica
  138. ^ a b Letter to the Corinthians (Clement)
  139. ^ From the exposition of the oracles of the Lord.
  140. ^ a b The Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans
  141. ^ The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans
  142. ^ Marcus Velleius Paterculus, Roman History, Book 2, Chr. 122
  143. ^ Antiquities, B. XX Chr. 5 § 2
  144. ^ a b c d Antiquities, B. XX Chr. 7
  145. ^ Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, The Twelve Caesars, translated by J. C. Rolfe, Book V, par. 28
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  147. ^ Cate, Robert L., One Untimely Born: The Life and Ministry of the Apostle Paul, Mercer University Press, 2006, p. 117, 120 [11]
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  150. ^ Galil, Gershon & Weinfeld, Moshe, Studies in Historical Geography and Biblical Historiography: Presented to Zechariah Kallai (Supplements to Vetus Testamentum), Brill Academic Publishers 2000, p. 85
  151. ^ Cornelius Tacitus, The Histories, translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb, Book II, par. 2
  152. ^ Burgers, P., Coinage and State Expenditure: The Reign of Claudius AD 41–54 [12] in Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte Vol. 50, No. 1 (1st Qtr., 2001), pp. 96–114
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  155. ^ Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, Gallio Inscription Archived 2011-05-18 at the Wayback Machine, translation by K. C. Hanson (adapted from Conzelmann and Fitzmyer).
  156. ^ Flavius Josephus, The Life of Flavius Josephus, translated by William Whiston, paragraph 38.
  157. ^ Gamaliel I in the Jewish Encyclopedia
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  159. ^ Bruce, F.F. The Book of Acts (revised), part of The New international commentary on the New Testament, Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1988
  160. ^ Spurious Epistles of St. Ignatius of Antioch
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  170. ^ Becking, Bob E.J.H.; Grabbe, Lester, eds. (2010). Between Evidence and Ideology: Essays on the History of Ancient Israel Read at the Joint Meeting of the Society for Old Testament Study and the Oud Testamentisch Werkgezelschap Lincoln. Brill. p. 18. ISBN 9789004187375.
  171. ^ Heltzer, Michael, THE SEAL OF ˓AŚAYĀHŪ. In Hallo, 2000, Vol. II p. 204
  172. ^ Avigad, Nahman (1997). Corpus of West Semitic Stamp Seals (2 ed.). Institute of Archaeology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. p. 237. ISBN 978-9652081384.; WSS 90, published by the Israel Academy of Sciences & Humanities
  173. ^ a b c Schneider, Tsvi, Six Biblical Signatures: Seals and seal impressions of six biblical personages recovered', Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 1991
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  182. ^ Unique biblical discovery at City of David excavation site [22], Israel Ministry of Foreign affairs; 18-Aug-2008. Retrieved 2009-11-16
  183. ^ Ogden, D. Kelly Bulla *2 "To Gemaryahu ben Shaphan", published by Brigham Young University. Dept. of Religious Education
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  185. ^ Josette Elayi, New Light on the Identification of the Seal of Priest Hanan, son of Hilqiyahu (2 Kings 22), Bibliotheca Orientalis, 5/6, September–November 1992, 680–685.
  186. ^ Mazar, Eilat. Is This the "Prophet Isaiah’s Signature?" Biblical Archaeology Review 44:2, March/April May/June 2018.
  187. ^ 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."
  188. ^ "Isaiah’s Signature Uncovered in Jerusalem: Evidence of the prophet Isaiah?" By Megan Sauter. Bible History Daily. Biblical Archeology Society. 22 Feb 2018. Quote by Mazar: "Because the bulla has been slightly damaged at end of the word nvy, it is not known if it originally ended with the Hebrew letter aleph, which would have resulted in the Hebrew word for "prophet" and would have definitively identified the seal as the signature of the prophet Isaiah. The absence of this final letter, however, requires that we leave open the possibility that it could just be the name Navi. The name of Isaiah, however, is clear."
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  190. ^ Clay seal connects to Bible in The Washington Times, Wednesday, October 1, 2008
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  196. ^ 2,600-year old seal discovered in City of David. Jerusalem Post. April 1, 2019
  197. ^ The Chronicle Concerning Year Three of Neriglissar, translation adapted from A. K. Grayson & Jean-Jacques Glassner
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  203. ^ The History of King David in Light of New Epigraphic and Archeological Data, (link), website of University of Haifa, citing publications by Gershon Galil from 2013-2014
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  205. ^ Haydn, Howell M. Azariah of Judah and Tiglath-Pileser III in Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 28, No. 2 (1909), pp. 182–199
  206. ^ Day, John In search of pre-exilic Israel: proceedings of the Oxford Old Testament Seminar p. 376
  207. ^ Healey, John F., The Religion of the Nabataeans: A Conspectus, Brill, 2001, p. 29 [27]
  208. ^ Vanderkam, James C., in The Continuum History of Apocalypticism [28] (edited by McGinn, Bernard J.; Collins, John J.; Stein, Stephen J.), Continuum, 2003, p. 133
  209. ^ Frankfurter, David, Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt [29], Brill, 1998, p. 206
  210. ^ D. Barag and D. Flusser, The Ossuary of Yehohanah Granddaughter of the High Priest Theophilus, Israel Exploration Journal, 36 (1986), 39–44.
  211. ^ Richard Bauckham, Gospel Women: Studies of the Named Women in the Gospels (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002), 143
  212. ^ a b Gill, David W. J. (ed.) & Gempf, Conrad (ed.), The Book of Acts in Its Graeco-Roman Setting [30] Wm. B. Eerdmans 1994, p. 282
  213. ^ Bromiley, Geoffrey W. (ed.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Vol. III: K–P [31] Wm. B. Eerdmans 1986, pp. 729–730 (entry Paulus, Sergius)
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  215. ^ Morris, Leon, Luke: an introduction and commentary [33] Wm. B. Eerdmans 1988, p. 28