That Jesus was a miracle worker is central to the Christology of the New Testament Gospels and Acts. Biblical scholars and archaeologists working in Israel have explored archaeological sites and historical records to provide context for the Biblical text.

How are we to understand the miracles Jesus performs, as related in the New Testament? BAS editors have compiled articles that explore the key sites and ancient belief systems to help you understand these miraculous events.

Scroll down to read a summary of these articles.


In “Understanding Jesus’ Miracles,” Jarl Fossum surveys the miracle stories in their Biblical context. He shows that they fall into two categories—healing miracles and nature miracles—that they sometimes allude to Old Testament events and they generally serve some theological purpose.

The Pool of Bethesda is mentioned in the Gospel of John as the site where Jesus cured a crippled man. Yet the seemingly odd description of five porticoes baffled scholars, and the exact location and nature of this pool has long confused experts. In “Puzzling Pool of Bethesda,” Urban C. von Wahlde clarifies the question of whether this was a reservoir or a mikveh, a Jewish ritual bath.

In “The Siloam Pool: Where Jesus Cured the Blind Man,” BAR editor Hershel Shanks describes the accidental discovery of the Siloam Pool, the site of one of the New Testament’s best-known miracles, and traces its history from the time of Hezekiah through Jesus’ lifetime.

In the Gospels, Jesus relieves a man tormented by demons by driving the demons into a herd of swine, which then stampeded down the hill and drowned in the Sea of Galilee. Discovered in 1970, and now excavated and restored, a monastery, basilica and chapel mark the location traditionally identified with this event. In “A Pilgrimage to the Site of the Swine Miracle,” Vassilios Tzaferis shows how this miracle site became an important destination for Christian pilgrims.

Bethsaida was one of the most important sites in Jesus’ Galilean ministry, but for 2,000 years no one knew just where it was. An international multidisciplinary dig team believes they have found the city—but not where you might expect. In “Bethsaida Rediscovered,” Rami Arav, Richard A. Freund and John F. Shroder Jr. explore the site’s rich history from the time of King David to the New Testament period.

These five articles, compiled from Biblical Archaeology Review and Bible Review, provide a historical, religious and archaeological framework through which we can better understand the settings of Jesus’ miracles and how they would have been understood by his followers.


Understanding Jesus’ Miracles
Bible Review, April 1994 By Jarl Fossum

17 That Jesus was a miracle worker is central to the Christology of the New Testament Gospels and Acts. In Mark, the earliest Gospel, 17 stories of miracles appear in the first eight chapters. Most of the stories are repeated by Matthew and Luke. In Peter’s Pentecost speech, he recalls Jesus’ ministry by saying […]

The Puzzling Pool of Bethesda
Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 2011 By Urban C. von Wahlde

The Gospel of John recounts two healing miracles Jesus performed in Jerusalem. In one, Jesus cured a man who had been blind from birth. Jesus mixed his saliva with mud, applied the mixture to the blind man’s eyes and told him to bathe in the Pool of Siloam. When the man did so, he […]

The Siloam Pool
Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 2005 By Hershel Shanks

Few places better illustrate the layered history that archaeology uncovers than the little ridge known as the City of David, the oldest inhabited part of Jerusalem. For example, to tell the story of the Pool of Siloam, where Jesus cured the blind man, we must go back 700 years before that—to the time of […]

A Pilgrimage to the Site of the Swine Miracle
Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 1989 By Vassilios Tzaferis

Almost from the beginning of Christianity, the area around the Sea of Galilee has been a major focus of Christian pilgrimage, a focus second only to Jerusalem. To the Galilee flocked not only pilgrims, but also monks and scholars, searching for the places that Jesus had known. Sites such as Capernaum, the center of […]

Bethsaida Rediscovered
Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 2000 By Rami Arav , Richard A. Freund , John F. Shroder Jr.

Bethsaida is the town that disappeared. Soon after playing a prominent role in the Gospels—Bethsaida is mentioned more often in the New Testament than any city except Jerusalem and Capernaum—this fishing village on the Sea of Galilee simply became lost to history. Early Christian pilgrims went in search of it, but they had no […]