Just last April an excellent article by Dr. Simon Gathercole writing for the Guardian addressed the foolish notion that Jesus isn’t a historical person. In it, he writes,
“What did non-Christian authors say about Jesus? As far as we know, the first author outside the church to mention Jesus is the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who wrote a history of Judaism around AD93. He has two references to Jesus. One of these is controversial because it is thought to be corrupted by Christian scribes (probably turning Josephus’s negative account into a more positive one), but the other is not suspicious – a reference to James, the brother of “Jesus, the so-called Christ”.
About 20 years after Josephus we have the Roman politicians Pliny and Tacitus, who held some of the highest offices of state at the beginning of the second century AD. From Tacitus we learn that Jesus was executed while Pontius Pilate was the Roman prefect in charge of Judaea (AD26-36) and Tiberius was emperor (AD14-37) – reports that fit with the timeframe of the gospels. Pliny contributes the information that, where he was governor in northern Turkey, Christians worshipped Christ as a god. Neither of them liked Christians – Pliny writes of their “pig-headed obstinacy” and Tacitus calls their religion a destructive superstition.” (Guardian)
These types of articles need to be written, there is a trend among internet culture to universally declare Jesus Christ as a pagan myth, which according to actual historians is patently false.
So I am happy to see the Guardian allowing this to be published, whereas most media outlets are out for the sensational headlines that bring them hits and ad revenue. A perfect example of this was Richard Dawkins tweeting his support of an unsubstantiated, and circumstantial conspiracy claiming Jesus was a Roman social engineering experiment. Here you can read the authors contrived evidence and also how Dawkins was so eager to tweet such drivel for the simple fact it paints Christ as a myth in the international media.
“Mr Atwill claims that he began to notice a sequence of parallels between the two texts.
“What seems to have eluded many scholars is that the sequence of events and locations of Jesus ministry are more or less the same as the sequence of events and locations of the military campaign of [Emperor] Titus Flavius as described by Josephus,” Atwill claims.
“This is clear evidence of a deliberately constructed pattern”, he continues.
“The biography of Jesus is actually constructed, tip to stern, on prior stories, but especially on the biography of a Roman Caesar.”
Richard Dawkins, the English evolutionary biologist and author, well known for his anti-religion views, yesterday tweeted a link to the press release advertising the event in London.” (The Independent)
There is no other figure in history more scrutinized than Jesus Christ, and rightfully so. The impact he has had on history and the claims he made entices the intellect of followers and critics alike. This has been going on for over 2000 years and comes as no surprise given this intrigue. Even still nobody has ever produced evidence that contradicts the facts surrounding the life of Jesus and early Christianity. Yet this doesn’t stop the constant assaults and revisionism by the new atheists eager to entertain any nonsense as long as it frames Jesus as a myth.
Skeptics and Christian Scholars alike agree that Jesus was a real person, with real consequences on history. Here is a few quotes by scholars that are persuaded as to the historical record,
“As Professor Bultmann, Professor of New Testament studies, once remarked:
“Of course the doubt as to whether Jesus really existed is unfounded and not worth refutation. No sane person can doubt that Jesus stands as founder behind the historical movement whose first distinct stage is represented by the oldest Palestinian community.”
Paul Maier, former Professor of Ancient History, pens that: “The total evidence is so overpowering, so absolute that only the shallowest of intellects would dare to deny Jesus’ existence.”
Also, Craig Evans who is widely known for his writings on the subject of the historical Jesus says that: “No serious historian of any religious or nonreligious stripe doubts that Jesus of Nazareth really lived in the first century and was executed under the authority of Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea and Samaria.”
Skeptical New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman (who is certainly no friend of Christianity) states that: “These views are so extreme (that Jesus did not exist) and so unconvincing to 99.99 percent of the real experts that anyone holding them is as likely to get a teaching job in an established department of religion as a six-day creationist is likely to land on in a bona fide department of biology.”
Scholar Michael Grant says: “To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory. It has ‘again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars.” (James Bishop)
The Logical Fallacy of Selective Skeptism
While the new atheist will apply outrageous archeological and historical standards on Jesus Christ they fail to apply those same standards to other historical figures. For example there are over 20,000 manuscripts of all dates and all ages demonstrating an unchanging record kept in circulation for 2000 years, while other historical figures you can hardly find a handful of sources, much less surviving sources dated to the time of its writing. Check out the number of ancient manuscripts we have compared to the New Testament documents.
“There are presently 5,686 Greek manuscripts in existence today for the New Testament.1 If we were to compare the number of New Testament manuscripts to other ancient writings, we find that the New Testament manuscripts far outweigh the others in quantity.2
|Earliest Copy||Approximate Time Span between original & copy||Number of Copies||Accuracy of Copies|
|Lucretius||died 55 or 53 B.C.||1100 yrs||2||—-|
|Pliny||A.D. 61-113||A.D. 850||750 yrs||7||—-|
|Plato||427-347 B.C.||A.D. 900||1200 yrs||7||—-|
|Demosthenes||4th Cent. B.C.||A.D. 1100||800 yrs||8||—-|
|Herodotus||480-425 B.C.||A.D. 900||1300 yrs||8||—-|
|Suetonius||A.D. 75-160||A.D. 950||800 yrs||8||—-|
|Thucydides||460-400 B.C.||A.D. 900||1300 yrs||8||—-|
|Euripides||480-406 B.C.||A.D. 1100||1300 yrs||9||—-|
|Aristophanes||450-385 B.C.||A.D. 900||1200||10||—-|
|Caesar||100-44 B.C.||A.D. 900||1000||10||—-|
|Livy||59 BC-AD 17||—-||???||20||—-|
|Tacitus||circa A.D. 100||A.D. 1100||1000 yrs||20||—-|
|Aristotle||384-322 B.C.||A.D. 1100||1400||49||—-|
|Sophocles||496-406 B.C.||A.D. 1000||1400 yrs||193||—-|
|Homer (Iliad)||900 B.C.||400 B.C.||500 yrs||643||95%|
|1st Cent. A.D. (A.D. 50-100)||2nd Cent. A.D.
(c. A.D. 130 f.)
|less than 100 years||5600||99.5%|
“As you can see, there are thousands more New Testament Greek manuscripts than any other ancient writing. The internal consistency of the New Testament documents is about 99.5% textually pure. That is an amazing accuracy. In addition, there are over 19,000 copies in the Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic languages. The total supporting New Testament manuscript base is over 24,000.
Almost all biblical scholars agree that the New Testament documents were all written before the close of the First Century. If Jesus was crucified in A.D. 30., then that means the entire New Testament was completed within 70 years.” (CARM.org)
Here is an article documenting a 2000-year-old text of Leviticus (Independent)
“The text discovered in the charred Ein Gedi scroll is “100 percent identical” to the version of the Book of Leviticus that has been in use for centuries, said Dead Sea Scroll scholar Emmanuel Tov from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who participated in the study.
“This is quite amazing for us,” he said. “In 2,000 years, this text has not changed.”
The burden of proof that Jesus Christ is not a historical figure lies on those making the claim. To claim Jesus is a myth in light of the historical record, is to bring into question every other historical figure of ancient history. Are atheists willing to do this? Yes, yes they are. The reason being atheist don’t just want to obscure Christ, they want to obscure history itself. This is what atheistic regimes do, like Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot they seek to eradicate the old way of thinking to make way for an anti-God utopian world. The desire to purge the world of “myths” and the old world is a compulsive behavior with atheists. They truly believe as long as religions and faith exist that human kind will be retarded in its development. No, human kind will undergo an arrested development the minute we allow aggressive atheists who are hell bent on erasing our history and culture.
Two recent examples of liberal/atheist crusades against the historical record would be the takedown of Confederate monuments all over the south, and also the atheist crusades to destroy public religious displays. It truly is compulsive for them to seek out and destroy things that take on a faith based perspective. In the U.S. that makes them enemies of the 1st Amendment of the Constitution and thus incompatible with our culture, history, and rule of law. This is exactly what the liberal left has turned into this last decade. They deny history and they deny others their most basic rights in favor of their myopic view of the incredibly complex world we live in. Christians who allow this trend to continue without opposition are naive to think it will stop with religious displays, no it will continue up to the point of gulags and death camps as it has in other atheistic regimes. So the question is who is more foolish, the atheists that deny history, or the Christians that allow for such nonesense unobstructed knowing full well where this all leads? Please subscribe to Wake the Church and like us on Facebook.
Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as [they were] from the beginning of the creation. 2 Peter 3:3-4