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Is there any proof that Jesus existed?

Postby Dude » Thu Nov 30, 2017 10:51 pm

Where is the proof?
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Re: Is there any proof that Jesus existed?

Postby jimwalton » Thu Nov 30, 2017 11:13 pm

There is plenty of evidence that Jesus is a historical person.

1. Tacitus is widely regarded as the greatest historian of the Roman Empire. He is thought to have used his sources responsibly, and that his basic accuracy is impeccable. In his *Annals*, XV, 44, he mentions Christians as a religious group and names their founder as "Chrestus" who was executed by Pontius Pilate when Tiberius was emperor. He is obviously getting his information from sources, but he speaks of the historical existence of the founder of Christianity as having been executed by Pilate.

2. Josephus several times in his writings mentions a historical Jesus, the brother of James, whom people followed, who was crucified, who is called the Messiah (Christos). While the accuracy of Josephus is much debated, and though some passages in his writings are considered to have been redacted, at least some of the mentions of Jesus are widely regarded as authentic, doubted by only a few minimalist scholars.

3. The James Ossuary. A bone box has surfaced inscribed with "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." While the Israeli Archaeology Society pronounced it a fake, many scholars have evaluated their assessment and disagree with it, considering it to be authentic.

4. Thallus, a historian writing in about AD 50, is quoted by Julius Africanus (in AD 221) as mentioning darkness on the day of the Passover when Christ died. The reference is highly debated as to its authenticity, but every possibility becomes part of the total picture of what we have.

5. Ignatius (in about AD 100) mentions the historical Jesus.

6. Suetonius, another Roman historian (in about AD 100), also mentions a "Chrestus" who was the founder of the Christian movement.

7. Pliny the Younger (about AD 100) mentions that, regarding the persecution of Christians, they are prompted to "curse Christ." Three times he mentions a man named Christ.

8. Lucian of Samosata (in about AD 150) alludes to Jesus as a man who was crucified in Palestine because he introduced a new cult into the world.

9. The four Gospels all consider Jesus to have been historical.

10. The Apostle Paul (writing in the 50s AD), a one-time hostile source (and therefore not a believer with bias). We have letters by him undisputed by scholars. He regards Jesus as a historical person.

11. Tacitus, Josephus, Lucian, possibly Thallus, and the Babylonian Talmud all mention the crucifixion of Jesus at the hands of Pontius Pilate. John Crossan, a skeptic who denies the authenticity of just about everything in the Gospels, says, "That [Jesus] was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be, since both Josephus and Tacitus...agree with the Christian accounts on at least that basic fact."

12. There is little reasonable explanation for the growth of the church in Jerusalem among Jews in the early 30s AD if there were no historical Jesus.

The total evidence is very strong.
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Re: Is there any proof that Jesus existed?

Postby Maestro » Mon Dec 04, 2017 3:33 pm

> There is little reasonable explanation for the growth of the church in Jerusalem among Jews in the early 30s AD if there were no historical Jesus.

This should be the most compelling evidence of all. The most ardent, hard-headed skeptic could find a way to mentally dismiss written records as forgeries, but regarding other faiths, no one questions the actual existence of Muhammad, Buddha, or Joseph Smith, so why Jesus of Nazareth? It's not as though a bunch of Jewish fishermen and tent makers got together to form a cult they knew would lead to persecution and imprisonment. Believe what you want about Jesus' divinity, but his followers certainly knew him and believed in him.
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Re: Is there any proof that Jesus existed?

Postby Passion Guy » Mon Dec 04, 2017 3:38 pm

Jim's post highlight key points.

I want to offer something different. Something that may be worth reading is John P Meier's A Marginal Jew. Despite Meier turning this into a multiple-volume work, the first few chapters of the first volume give a good amount to think about and ponder.

People usually asking for definitive proof of Christ are usually overlooking the difficulties of studying ancient history as a whole. In volume one, chapter titled "The Real Jesus," Meier remarks:

The life and ideas of Socrates or Pythagoras amounted to much more than we can know today. Indeed, the further back we go, usually the more meager the sources become and the less we can say. Many rulers of Babylonia and Egypt are only names to us, although in their own day they loomed like giants and their impact was immense. An Expert in Greco-Roman history once remarked to me that what we know with certitude about Alexander the Great can be fitted onto a few pages of print. This simply reminds us that what really occurs in history is much broader than the history recoverable by a historian. (John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew p. 23)

Ancient history is itself a soft science and often times we are lacking hard detailed data about sources. It might be because certain works no longer exist, never existed, or we haven't uncovered them. Amongst other things.

Meier continues:
From the viewpoint of Jewish and pagan literature of the century following Jesus, the Nazarene was at most a "blip" on the radar screen. As we shall see in chapter 3, it is remarkable that the 1st century Jewish Historian Josephus mentions Jesus at all, but hardly remarkable that Josephus gives more space and praise to John the Baptist. In his side glance at Christ, the Roman historian Tacitus is briefer still. As hard as it is for the devout Christian to accept, the fact is that Jesus was simply insignificant to national and world history as seen through the eyes of Jewish and Pagan historians of the 1st and early 2d centuries A.D.

Meier goes on to highlight what I tend to find remarkable:
Jesus was an ordinary carpenter in an ordinary hill town of lower Galilee, enjoying at least the minimum of economic necessities and social respectability....

He was a poor rural Galilean. He had never attended any scribal school or studied under a noted teacher.

Meier goes on to note how Jesus's teachings were marginal in the sense that they "did not jibe with the views and practices of the major Jewish religious groups of that day."

When you really think about how little we know of many historical figures it begins to really display the historicity of Christ. Religious figures throughout the ages come and go but there was something about this Jesus of Nazareth that made him at least noteworthy to a number of people that have encapsulated his existence in time. To me that's rather remarkable.

When we earnestly judge Christ by the data using methods by which we judge other historical figures, then there is really no question that 2000+ years ago a man named Jesus existed, lived and taught as a historical figure and suffered an excruciatingly brutal death for his lifestyle. That to me is a brief and intellectually honest assessment of historical data.

The question arises out of personal biases. It's easier to dismiss Christ and write off all Christians as unintellectual mouthbreathers than it is to sit down and really analyze what it truly means if Christ indeed was real, walked the earth, and influenced the totality of the world in such a grandiose fashion which still continues today.

From songs, to art, to architecture, to books, to this very discussion. A Jesus who lived 2000+ years ago impacts your life and my life beyond any other historical figure who otherwise only appear as mere footnotes in the self-centered cinema of our everyday lives.

It's not that the cases haven't been made. They have. We just haven't read them or interacted with them.
Passion Guy
 


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