Below is an interesting introduction to Bart Ehrman’s new Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. As a New Testament scholar who has specialized in the gospels and early Christianity and also as a skeptic, he was confused by the regular stream of questions about the existence of Jesus and was largely unaware of the internet skeptics who spill an enormous amount of pixels writing on this issue.

Here’s how he opens the book:

* * *

Every week I receive two or three e-mails asking me whether Jesus existed as a human being. When I started getting these e-mails, some years ago now, I thought the question was rather peculiar and I did not take it seriously. Of course Jesus existed. Everyone knows he existed. Don’t they?

But the questions kept coming, and soon I began to wonder: Why are so many people asking? My wonder only increased when I learned that I myself was being quoted in some circles—misquoted rather—as saying that Jesus never existed. I decided to look into the matter. I discovered, to my surprise, an entire body of literature devoted to the question of whether or not there ever was a real man, Jesus.

I was surprised because I am trained as a scholar of the New Testament and early Christianity, and for thirty years I have written extensively on the historical Jesus, the Gospels, the early Christian movement, and the history of the church’s first three hundred years. Like all New Testament scholars, I have read thousands of books and articles in English and other European languages on Jesus, the New Testament, and early Christianity. But I was almost completely unaware—as are most of my colleagues in the field—of this body of skeptical literature.

I should say at the outset that none of this literature is written by scholars trained in New Testament or early Christian studies teaching at the major, or even the minor, accredited theological seminaries, divinity schools, universities, or colleges of North America or Europe (or anywhere else in the world). Of the thousands of scholars of early Christianity who do teach at such schools, none of them, to my knowledge, has any doubts that Jesus existed. But a whole body of literature out there, some of it highly intelligent and well informed, makes this case.

These sundry books and articles (not to mention websites) are of varying quality. Some of them rival The Da Vinci Code in their passion for conspiracy and the shallowness of their historical knowledge, not just of the New Testament and early Christianity, but of ancient religions generally and, even more broadly, the ancient world. But a couple of bona fide scholars—not professors teaching religious studies in universities but scholars nonetheless, and at least one of them with a Ph.D. in the field of New Testament—have taken this position and written about it. Their books may not be known to most of the general public interested in questions related to Jesus, the Gospels, or the early Christian church, but they do occupy a noteworthy niche as a (very) small but (often) loud minority voice. Once you tune in to this voice, you quickly learn just how persistent and vociferous it can be.

Those who do not think Jesus existed are frequently militant in their views and remarkably adept at countering evidence that to the rest of the civilized world seems compelling and even unanswerable. But these writers have answers, and the smart ones among them need to be taken seriously, if for no other reason than to show why they cannot be right about their major contention. The reality is that whatever else you may think about Jesus, he certainly did exist.

Serious historians of the early Christian movement—all of them—have spent many years preparing to be experts in their field. Just to read the ancient sources requires expertise in a range of ancient languages: Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and often Aramaic, Syriac, and Coptic, not to mention the modern languages of scholarship (for example, German and French). And that is just for starters. Expertise requires years of patiently examining ancient texts and a thorough grounding in the history and culture of Greek and Roman antiquity, the religions of the ancient Mediterranean world, both pagan and Jewish, knowledge of the history of the Christian church and the development of its social life and theology, and, well, lots of other things. It is striking that virtually everyone who has spent all the years needed to attain these qualifications is convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was a real historical figure. This is not a piece of evidence, but if nothing else, it should give one pause. In the field of biology, evolution may be “just” a theory (as some politicians painfully point out), but it is the theory subscribed to, for good reason, by every real scientist in every established university in the Western world.

Still, as is clear from the avalanche of sometimes outraged postings on all the relevant Internet sites, there is simply no way to convince conspiracy theorists that the evidence for their position is too thin to be convincing and that the evidence for a traditional view is thoroughly persuasive. Anyone who chooses to believe something contrary to evidence that an overwhelming majority of people find overwhelmingly convincing—whether it involves the fact of the Holocaust, the landing on the moon, the assassination of presidents, or even a presidential place of birth—will not be convinced. Simply will not be convinced.

And so, with Did Jesus Exist?, I do not expect to convince anyone in that boat. What I do hope is to convince genuine seekers who really want to know how we know that Jesus did exist, as virtually every scholar of antiquity, of biblical studies, of classics, and of Christian origins in this country and, in fact, in the Western world agrees. Many of these scholars have no vested interest in the matter. As it turns out, I myself do not either. I am not a Christian, and I have no interest in promoting a Christian cause or a Christian agenda. I am an agnostic with atheist leanings, and my life and views of the world would be approximately the same whether or not Jesus existed. My beliefs would vary little. The answer to the question of Jesus’s historical existence will not make me more or less happy, content, hopeful, likable, rich, famous, or immortal.

But as a historian I think evidence matters. And the past matters. And for anyone to whom both evidence and the past matter, a dispassionate consideration of the case makes it quite plain: Jesus did exist. He may not have been the Jesus that your mother believes in or the Jesus of the stained-glass window or the Jesus of your least favorite televangelist or the Jesus proclaimed by the Vatican, the Southern Baptist Convention, the local megachurch, or the California Gnostic. But he did exist, and we can say a few things, with relative certainty, about him.

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Comments:


30 thoughts on “The Historical Evidence of the Existence of Jesus of Nazareth”

  1. taco says:

    JT, have you watched the Dr. James White vs Dr. Bart Erhman debate?

  2. Scott C says:

    “Evolution… is the theory subscribed to, for good reason, by every real scientist in every established university in the Western world.”

    Well this is patently false. Erhman is certainly right about the existence of Jesus, but he has other axes to grind and that skews his perspective.

    1. Bob says:

      I do not believe in evolution. But his statement may be a slight overstatement, but given the presuppositions of naturalism, and a couple others evolution is held to for good reason. Those presuppositions are the problem.
      And pretty much every real scientist does believe in evolution, there are very few who do not atleast except natural selection (even if their is a God)

      1. Daryl Little says:

        Bob,

        I think that’s a category error that evolutionists use in an attempt to undermine the truth of 6 day creation.

        Natural selection is not evolution and has never seriously been denied at any level. Men have always know that culling a herd of weak animals produces stronger animals, not a new kind of animal.

        So, it’s true to say that every scientist believes in natural selection. But that’s not the same thing as saying they all believe in evolution.

  3. McFormtist says:

    I think the point of this post is highlighted here:

    JT: “As a New Testament scholar who has specialized in the gospels and early Christianity and also as a skeptic, he was confused by the regular stream of questions about the existence of Jesus and was largely unaware of the internet skeptics who spill an enormous amount of pixels writing on this issue.”

    BE: “My wonder only increased when I learned that I myself was being quoted in some circles—misquoted rather—as saying that Jesus never existed. I decided to look into the matter…I was surprised because I am trained as a scholar of the New Testament and early Christianity, and for thirty years I have written extensively on the historical Jesus, the Gospels, the early Christian movement, and the history of the church’s first three hundred years.”

    There is an “interesting” irony here. There is no positive promotion of Bart Ehrman or his scholarship here.

  4. David says:

    This is sad. He’s confused by the motivation that pays his bills.

    1. Will says:

      Well said David! Skeptics should be skeptical of their skepticism.

      1. Good one, Will.

        I know that everyone must hold something to be positively true or lack all meaningful thought, but I never thought about it in those terms before: skepticism has motives that the skeptic is not skeptical of or his skepticism would be in question.

  5. Aaron says:

    Wow, I didn’t think this was a subject that needed a serious treatment. My only interaction with people who don’t believe that Jesus was a real human being has been through theology/faith blog comments. They typically come off like conspiracy theory crackpots and I never assumed that they deserved much serious attention. Could be an interesting read.

    1. taco says:

      It is common among the atheists I meet.

  6. Leslie Jebaraj says:

    Could Bart be really wanting to believe in Jesus as he is, but battling pride?!

    Even the other day, I watched the Q&A session in his debate with Dr. Evans, and Bart seemed a little emotional when he answered a question about the evidence for Jesus.

  7. RazorsKiss says:

    I’ve always been a fan of letting the “enemy” speak for themselves. This case is no different. Ehrman’s inconsistency, as well as the inconsistency of the people using one element of his inconsistent argumentation are plain to see. His puzzlement indicts, and his counter-argument proves more than he’d like.

    Good stuff.

  8. SoSpricht says:

    Thanks for the post, Justin. I look forward to reading the book.

    Contra a number of remarks in this comment section, I don’t indict Dr. Ehrman with hypocrisy, contradiction or any ulterior motive other than what is common to all of us. The only difference being: Ehrman is dead in his sin. We (believers) are not (on the basis of God’s work, not our own).
    Prideful judgments and off-the-cuff remarks are understandable coming from a lost person. Why are we surprised when one makes them? And what is our excuse when we make them all the same?

  9. Duane says:

    I believe that Ehrman’s claim that he is a historian and perhaps even a New Testament scholar are a bit over the top. He is a textual critic. His area of expertise is in examining the ancient manuscripts and determining the validity of what we possess today. I believe that is the extent of his expertise.

  10. Aaron Britton says:

    Well, if Dr. Ehrmann has certainty that Jesus did indeed exist; isn’t he getting most of that information from the same source he consistently derides as hopelessly corrupted?

    I realize there’s specificity to his criticism of the New Testament canon, but isn’t his “certainty” a bit contradictory in this case? Is he using mostly extra-biblical sources to prove Jesus existed? If he’s using the NT, then why wouldn’t he accept other tenants from the same text, i.e. that Jesus is God, and that He rose from the dead, etc. . .

  11. Leslie Jebaraj says:

    @Aaron:

    I saw him say (in answering a question from the audience during his debate with Dr. Craig Evans) that there are discrepancies in the gospels, but that would not say that Jesus did not exist.

  12. He claims to have no vested interest in proving or disproving Jesus, but I am quite sure he has passionate interest in disproving the Jesus of the New Testament documents. Just test him on a few claims associated with Jesus in the New Testament and watch how vigorously he will oppose them.

    Yes, those who approach history with integrity acknowledge the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ. It’s a fact of history that there existed in the first century a man identified as Jesus of Nazareth. We possess detailed accounts of his birth, life, contemporaries, and death. We know when he lived; where he was born and where he spent most of his life. We also know details about many historical figures of the same period.

    It’s the rest of the story about Jesus Christ that raises the ire of many (although told in the same historical account). These documents present a clear picture of Jesus as one who existed prior to his birth and though crucified, rose from the grave (see: John 8:58;11:25). The New Testament consistently presents Jesus Christ as one who does not fit expected human categories. He is presented as fully human but not merely human (Philippians 2:5-11).

    Affirming the reliability of the New Testament requires a big decision about Jesus Christ. The claims of Jesus are so extraordinarily unprecedented that they shatter our categories and demand our worship. We do not possess a fully comprehensible category for Jesus. Pre-existence? Virgin birth? Incarnation? Resurrection? Ascension? Promised return? – how do we respond to these claims?

    It’s not difficult to understand why C. S. Lewis wrote: “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

  13. Jay Osborne says:

    I have been emailing apologetics,claimed biblical scholars,biblical historians for about 12 years,i have not ran into a site that i can respond to Bart Erhman on but i read your article on his comments.The fact is yes there were Jesus’es(people named Jesus) in the first century plenty of them.But i would like Bart to prove to me that the miracle worker,crucified and resurrected from the dead Jesus ever existed as a flesh and blood person?So far no apologetic,N.T.scholar,biblical historian or minister i have emailed have failed to prove that Jesus ever existed.Just saying Jesus existed in the first century is a cop-out,because there were many Jesus’es in the first century,in Josephus alone he mentions 19 different people named Jesus,so you know there were many more named Jesus.
    Not one first century historian or philosopher and there were plenty writing then know one thing about a miracle worker,crucified and resurrected from the dead Jesus.Not even Philo who lived all the way through the supposed time of the 4 gospel Jesus and who wrote extensively about the Jewish religion and the happenings in Galilee knows one thing about the N.T.Jesus.All claims of the resurrected Jesus come from second century writers mostly from early church fathers which had plenty of time to develop the myth of Jesus.The 4 gospels are not historical documents they are religious works.The 4 gospel writers are anonymous writers certainly not writen by desciples or apostles.None of the 4 gospel writers whoever they were claim they themselves were witnesses to the crucifixtion and resurrection,they only claim someone un-named were eyewitnesses,in other words they wrote heresay.Bart is only writing what christians like to hear so he can sell more books,he has no reliable proof or evidence that the miracle worker,crucified and resurrected Jesus ever walked this earth.As a historian he is not worth a hoot.He’s just like the claimed lawyers and investigative journalists who claim proof of Jesus resurrection historical,all are liars,saying things that biased christians love to hear.Tell Bart to send me proof and evidence not of just any Jesus but proof and evidence the miracle worker,crucified and resurrected from the dead Jesus ever existed as a flesh and blood person?
    Sincerely,
    Jay Osborne

    1. The problem you are having may be the intellectual standards you are applying. Bart Ehrman doesn’t write things Christians like to hear. He’s not a Christian and is typically irritating to most Christians because his own standard is inconsistent. That’s why his introduction is interesting. The inconsistency in his intellectual standard betrays his unspoken bias.

      Without being more specific about what standards you are applying to understand the evidence and whether you use those standards consistently, you’ll not generate a quality discussion on the matter. Most historical scholars presented with the evidence agree on some level that the Jesus of the Bible existed as a historical figure. Since you aren’t convinced, then the only thing anyone can conclude is that you have some other intellectual standard that you are applying to the evidence. Otherwise you are saying that most historical scholars are inept and that you are an exceptional historical scholar for being able to discern it; and that isn’t likely although I’ll leave the possibility open since I’m not a historical scholar.

    2. Leslie Jebaraj says:

      @Jay Osborne:

      I would like to point you to Fabricating Jesus by Dr. Craig Evans.

      He answers a lot of questions you raise.

  14. Jay Osborne says:

    Jim,does it ever occur to apologetics such as yourself that it could be you who has the intellectual problems?I know what Bart Ehrman claims,i know he is not a christian,my disagreement with him only concerned his claim that Jesus was a historical person.The truth is there is not one iota of reliable evidence that a flesh and blood Jesus such as the 4 gospels claim ever walked on this earth.We have birth and death dates for many people in the first century and some from B.C.but christianity has no idea when it’s supposed Savior was born or died.Many apologetic sites claim there is first century evidence that the town of Nazareth existed in the first century that is a lie also.Archaeologists have dug in the area for over 100 years and there is ZERO evidence that the town of Nazareth existed in the first century.It is a town that had it’s beginings in the second and third ceturies.Without the town of Nazareth in the first century as your N.T.claims
    there could be no Jesus of Nazareth in the first century as the N.T.claims.
    I am aware that Catholic archaeologists claim to have found artifacts,lamps e.t.c.from the first century in the Nazareth area,but honest archaeologists came along and found they were pre-dating and post-dating the very same artifacts,there was no town of Nazareth in the first century.That’s why the O.T.Josephus,the Talmud or any history mentions the town of Nazareth existing in the first century.
    You can claim nearly all historical scholars say Jesus existed all you want to,the fact is they present no evidence that the miracle worker,crucified and resurrected from the dead Jesus ever existed they merely claim there was a Jesus and of course there were many Jesus’es in the first century.I challenge you or any biblical scholar to send me first century contemporary evidence that the 4 gospel Jesus was a historical flesh and blood person?Also no historian or philosopher knows or writes one thing about all those dead saints resurrecting from the grave and wandering around in the streets of Jerusalem,neither do any contemporary historians know one thing about the earth quake and sun darkening at the supposed crucifixtion.Or Herod’s Slaughter of the Innocents,Josephus wrote a lot about Herod’s atrocities but he knows nothing of Herod’s claimed slaughter of up to 2 year old children.
    Christianity,especially apologetics will twist old writings,squirm and lie trying to make the Bible inerrant,infallible and god inspired and any thinking person knows you are obviously decieved 0r liars.The 4 gospels were not even writen in the first century as christianity claims,that can be proved by many factors.Your Jesus is yet another SUN GOD devoleped by the Roman Empire and later the Roman Catholic church.The Roman Empire needed a state religion to better control the different nationalities it governed over who believed in many different sun gods,Constantine realized christianity was the answer.Every custom in christianity came from pagan sun god worshippers,christianity is not unique once religious blinders are removed and research is done,christianity is paganism.Just like the days of our weeks and months and many other things that are named after paganism.You guys really need to start thinking constructively,instead of twisting and lying about ancient writings.
    Sincerely,without malice,
    Jay Osborne

    1. Jay: Jim,does it ever occur to apologetics such as yourself that it could be you who has the intellectual problems?

      Thanks for the promotion to apologist. I’m actually a production controller in manufacturing. I know many of the evidential arguments, but evidence tends not to convince anyone. Presuppositional apologetics seems to be more fruitful. Even then, when someone has already made up their mind, even presenting presuppositions come off as mere assertions.

      And yes, I have vetted myself for intellectual problems and continue to do so.

      Jay: I know what Bart Ehrman claims,i know he is not a christian,my disagreement with him only concerned his claim that Jesus was a historical person.

      And yet you claimed that he writes what Christians like to read: “Bart is only writing what christians like to hear so he can sell more books…” That’s not terribly consistent of you.

      Some of the rest of what you write is a repeat of what you’ve already written. Some of it is new. Some of it is mere assertions presented as arguments. Some of it conflates the existence of the Jesus of the Bible with the claims the bible makes about him. Bart Ehrman makes this distinction.

      However, since most non-Christian historical scholars accept the existence of the Jesus of the Bible from extra-biblical sources, I’ll have to repeat the challenge above since you didn’t answer it: Either your intellectual standard is different than that common to historical academia or you are a greater historical scholar than most of the rest. Given your quality of writing and apparent lack of methodology, I think it’s the former. There may be a third option now that I think about it: You may not have a consistent standard at all, opting for whatever argument sounds best based on your presuppositions. That’s my guess. You don’t have to confirm that to me – just ask yourself if it isn’t true. I learned something about applying standards and writing technical papers studying physics in college. I just have my doubts.

      So from here I’ll address the rest of your claims and label them as I see them.

      Jay: The truth is there is not one iota of reliable evidence that a flesh and blood Jesus such as the 4 gospels claim ever walked on this earth.

      Once again, most authentic historical scholars disagree. Your beef is with them.

      Jay: We have birth and death dates for many people in the first century and some from B.C.but christianity has no idea when it’s supposed Savior was born or died.

      Sure, we have an idea. How is it relevant? I’ve known older people who didn’t even know when their own birthday was. That’s not evidence that they didn’t exist when they sat in front of me and told me they didn’t know their own birthday.

      Jay: Many apologetic sites claim there is first century evidence that the town of Nazareth existed in the first century that is a lie also.Archaeologists have dug in the area for over 100 years and there is ZERO evidence that the town of Nazareth existed in the first century.It is a town that had it’s beginings in the second and third ceturies.Without the town of Nazareth in the first century as your N.T.claims there could be no Jesus of Nazareth in the first century as the N.T.claims. I am aware that Catholic archaeologists claim to have found artifacts,lamps e.t.c.from the first century in the Nazareth area,but honest archaeologists came along and found they were pre-dating and post-dating the very same artifacts,there was no town of Nazareth in the first century.That’s why the O.T.Josephus,the Talmud or any history mentions the town of Nazareth existing in the first century.

      This is an argument from silence. Given the evidence that the area was populated before and after the time of Christ, it’s not remarkable to have gaps in the timeline if the place continued to be populated in any way.

      Jay: You can claim nearly all historical scholars say Jesus existed all you want to,the fact is they present no evidence that the miracle worker,crucified and resurrected from the dead Jesus ever existed they merely claim there was a Jesus and of course there were many Jesus’es in the first century.

      So, you claim to be greater than historical scholars. Also, as I have already mentioned, you conflate evidence for existence with evidence of claims for what He did. You’re not instilling confidence in your self-aggrandizement.

      Jay: I challenge you or any biblical scholar to send me first century contemporary evidence that the 4 gospel Jesus was a historical flesh and blood person?

      I don’t know. Do you?

      Jay: Also no historian or philosopher knows or writes one thing about all those dead saints resurrecting from the grave and wandering around in the streets of Jerusalem,neither do any contemporary historians know one thing about the earth quake and sun darkening at the supposed crucifixtion.Or Herod’s Slaughter of the Innocents,Josephus wrote a lot about Herod’s atrocities but he knows nothing of Herod’s claimed slaughter of up to 2 year old children.

      That’s a rather contorted sentence (or more) making multiple claims in rapid succession. How are these claims relevant to establishing the existence of the Jesus talked about in the Bible?

      Jay: Christianity,especially apologetics will twist old writings,squirm and lie trying to make the Bible inerrant,infallible and god inspired and any thinking person knows you are obviously decieved 0r liars.

      Ooo. It’s an unreferenced assertion. I can do that too: “Non-Christians, especially atheists, will twist old writings, squirm, and lie trying to make the Bible errant, fallible, and inspired by liars, and any thinking person knows you are obviously deceived or liars yourselves.” Statements like that work both ways.

      Jay: The 4 gospels were not even writen in the first century as christianity claims,that can be proved by many factors.

      It can? So what’s the proof? There’s actually ample evidence for first century writing – more than I can go into in a comment stream. You see how long this little comment is getting already.

      Jay: Your Jesus is yet another SUN GOD devoleped by the Roman Empire and later the Roman Catholic church.The Roman Empire needed a state religion to better control the different nationalities it governed over who believed in many different sun gods,Constantine realized christianity was the answer.

      Talk about a lack of evidence. That’s a pretty incredible claim to make with no evidence. The closest you can get to any evidence is Constantine, and you would be reading into any evidence you could muster to say that it indicated any motive Constantine had.

      Jay: Every custom in christianity came from pagan sun god worshippers,christianity is not unique once religious blinders are removed and research is done,christianity is paganism.Just like the days of our weeks and months and many other things that are named after paganism.

      By the way, many Protestants would agree with you on this concerning the Romanists. There are a few things that have carried over from Roman Catholicism to many Protestant groups like the season of Lent and the name of the resurrection celebration: “Easter”. Most of us know they are extrabiblical with pagan origins, but have redeemed them for our own purposes. An alcoholic looks for an excuse to get drunk. A Christian looks for an opportunity to celebrate Christ. Who cares if the opportunity isn’t up to snuff? The point is we get to celebrate Christ, who we know existed beyond mere evidence.

      Jay: You guys really need to start thinking constructively,instead of twisting and lying about ancient writings.

      The fact is we do think constructively. Your failure to realize it is your problem.

      Jay: Sincerely,without malice,
      Jay Osborne

      Likewise,
      Jim Pemberton

  15. Jay Osborne says:

    Jim said:And yet you claimed that he writes what Christians like to read: “Bart is only writing what christians like to hear so he can sell more books…” That’s not terribly consistent of you
    From me>>Oh yes Jim it is consistent of me,what is not consistent or constructive is your thinking.Christianity loves to hear any claimed historian say Jesus was a historical figure even if like Bart do not believe the rest of the Jesus tale,by agreeing with christianity that there was a historical Jesus,christian apologetics can use that as one more historian claim that Jesus existed as a flesh and blood person,and of course some will buy his books so they can quote what he says.
    Jim said:Some of the rest of what you write is a repeat of what you’ve already written. Some of it is new. Some of it is mere assertions presented as arguments. Some of it conflates the existence of the Jesus of the Bible with the claims the bible makes about him. Bart Ehrman makes this distinction
    From me>>I am not merely asserting anything it is you who are asserting without a bit of evidence that Jesus was a historical person.I am saying as a matter of fact there is no contemporary evidence or proof that Jesus ever lived as a flesh and blood person.
    Jim said:However, since most non-Christian historical scholars accept the existence of the Jesus of the Bible from extra-biblical sources, I’ll have to repeat the challenge above since you didn’t answer it: Either your intellectual standard is different than that common to historical academia or you are a greater historical scholar than most of the rest. Given your quality of writing and apparent lack of methodology, I think it’s the former
    From me>>There are plenty of non-christian scholars who like me say there was no historical Jesus,the non-christian scholars you claim says Jesus existed do not want to start a life long dialogue with christian apologetics defending and refuting their proofs and so it’s easier to just say there was a Jesus even if that Jesus was not the miracle worker,crucified and resurrected Jesus.As far as extra biblical sources that Jesus existed they are worthless.The Josephus paragraphs about Jesus are easily proved completely frauds,no doubt inserted in to his writings by Eusebius in the third century,i’ll be happy to explain why they are fraud.Tacitus is no proof of a historical Jesus,the Talmud Jesus hung on a tree on Passover Eve is not the N.T.Jesus this Jesus was hung on a tree about 60-80 B.C.the mention of christians in other second century writings does prove a historical Jesus,they would be Paul christians.With non-constructive thinking like christian apologetics & biblical supposed scholars do who wants to claim they are not bisaed and taught how to twist ancient writings?
    Jim said:Once again, most authentic historical scholars disagree. Your beef is with them.
    From me>>My beef is with anyone who claims Jesus was a historical person when there is no proof or evidence.
    Jim said:This is an argument from silence. Given the evidence that the area was populated before and after the time of Christ, it’s not remarkable to have gaps in the timeline if the place continued to be populated in any way.
    From me>>Nazareth not being a town in the first century is not an argument from silence,it’s an argument that the 4 gospel writers lied or wrote the gospel tales in the second century when there was a town of Nazareth.If one finds lies in your Bible why believe any of it?
    Jim said:Sure, we have an idea. How is it relevant? I’ve known older people who didn’t even know when their own birthday was. That’s not evidence that they didn’t exist when they sat in front of me and told me they didn’t know their own birthday.
    From me>>You have 2 different accounts (in Matthew & Luke)of when Jesus was supposedly born,the accounts are 10 years apart showing neither of these writers had any idea when he was supposedly born.You have no idea when he supposedly died,Papias & Ireanaus 2 early church fathers say Jesus lived to be an old man,look that up and explain it?Without twisting and lying.
    I said and Jim said:Jay: I challenge you or any biblical scholar to send me first century contemporary evidence that the 4 gospel Jesus was a historical flesh and blood person?

    I don’t know. Do you?
    From me>>You should know that there is none.
    Jim said:Ooo. It’s an unreferenced assertion. I can do that too: “Non-Christians, especially atheists, will twist old writings, squirm, and lie trying to make the Bible errant, fallible, and inspired by liars, and any thinking person knows you are obviously deceived or liars yourselves.” Statements like that work both ways.
    From me>>Really,i think you better do better research and investigation without biblical mind control and really find out who is twisting and lying.
    Jim and i said:Jay: The 4 gospels were not even writen in the first century as christianity claims,that can be proved by many factors.

    It can? So what’s the proof? There’s actually ample evidence for first century writing – more than I can go into in a comment stream. You see how long this little comment is getting already.
    From me>>I’ll explain this one in another email i am short on time right now and it takes quite a bit of typing.In fact i better leave the rest of your email to answer later,i have company.
    Sincerely,
    JAY

  16. Jay Osborne says:

    Now to this question you asked:Jim and i said:Jay: The 4 gospels were not even writen in the first century as christianity claims,that can be proved by many factors.

    Jim said:It can? So what’s the proof? There’s actually ample evidence for first century writing – more than I can go into in a comment stream. You see how long this little comment is getting already.
    From me>>Jim,there is no ample evidence the 4 gospels were writen in the first century.Why not?Because there are no original manuscripts,the earliest N.T.manuscripts the church has of the 4 gospels is from the mid 300’s`A.D.so you have no reliable basis whatsoever to date them from the first century.Here are 3 clues that show them being at least from the second century.#1.The first early church father to mention the 4 gospels by name dates to Irenaius(sorry forgot how to spell his name)between 170 & 180 A.D.Justin Martyr another early church father writing about 150 A.D.knows nothing of 4 gospels,he does mention the Memoris of the Apostles but they are not the 4 gospels.So there is the first clue that the 4 gospels are second century writings not first century writings.
    #2.Luke addresses his writings in Luke 1:3 & Acts 1:1 to a person named Theophilus the only Theophilus asscoiated with the church who Luke was writing to lived in the second half of the second century,again showing a second century writing of the books of Luke and Acts.Yes there were others named Theophilus in the first & second century but none Luke would be writing to that were associated with the church.The Theophilus from the second half of the second century was a church Bishop.
    #3.If the town of Nazareth did not exist in the first century,which it didn’t and by the gospel writers mentioning Jesus of Nazareth this also shows the gospels are second century writings since Nazareth has been proved by archeaology to have been started being a town in the second century.Like i said you have no original manuscripts if there ever were any dating before the mid 300 A.D.s with no originals all christianity can do is guess at when they were writen.The claim christianity uses that they are first century writings makes them seem more reliable,however you have no proof or evidence when they were writen,and so clues must be used to try and date them,and the clues lead to them being second century writings.
    You and i said:Jay: Your Jesus is yet another SUN GOD devoleped by the Roman Empire and later the Roman Catholic church.The Roman Empire needed a state religion to better control the different nationalities it governed over who believed in many different sun gods,Constantine realized christianity was the answer.

    Talk about a lack of evidence. That’s a pretty incredible claim to make with no evidence. The closest you can get to any evidence is Constantine, and you would be reading into any evidence you could muster to say that it indicated any motive Constantine had.
    From me>>There are plenty of clues in your N.T.that Jesus was a sun god.The N.T.says “Jesus is the Light of the World”.What really is the light of the world?Of course the sun is the light of the world.It says Jesus walked on water,the suns rays does seem to walk on water.Therefore Jesus (the Sun)walked on water.It says christians should walk in the light,again the sun is the light.Satan is connected to the powers of darkness,of course that’s the night time opposite to the sunlight.There are clues all over your N.T.that Jesus is a sun god,even paintings and pictures show him with a halo of sunlight around his head.The pope knows where the Jesus tale came from,if you could get in it’s(Vatican) secret archives i have no doubt there is proof Jesus was a sun god.Constantine claimed to become a christian about 312 A.D.but he continued on worshipping Sol Invictus( Unconqerable Sun)until on his death bed about 336 A.D.at that time he allowed himself to be babtized into the christian faith,of course his reasoning for that was to help the Roman Empire with their state religion of christianity.These are not assertions if you research for 20 years like i have the truth is there but pretty well hidden.Actually it only took me about 8 years of hard research to dig it out.
    Jim said:By the way, many Protestants would agree with you on this concerning the Romanists. There are a few things that have carried over from Roman Catholicism to many Protestant groups like the season of Lent and the name of the resurrection celebration: “Easter”. Most of us know they are extrabiblical with pagan origins, but have redeemed them for our own purposes. An alcoholic looks for an excuse to get drunk. A Christian looks for an opportunity to celebrate Christ. Who cares if the opportunity isn’t up to snuff? The point is we get to celebrate Christ, who we know existed beyond mere evidence.
    From me>>It’s not a few things christianity adopted,copied,counterfeited from pagan sun god worship,it’s everything.As you say Easter is a pagan custom,and Christmas,the cross,even dying and resurrecting Savior sun gods came first from paganism,SUN-DAY worship,babtism,Communion(Lord’s Supper)all of christianity’s customs came first from pagans.Even the popes attire came from paganism,Protestants came out in protest of the Catholic church,but still kept most of their pagan beliefs.I was typing in a hurry on the other email and forgot to type the word “NOT”in the line right below Passover Eve,where i said other christian second century writings does (should be does not)prove a historical Jesus.
    Jim said:A Christian looks for an opportunity to celebrate Christ. Who cares if the opportunity isn’t up to snuff? The point is we get to celebrate Christ, who we know existed beyond mere evidence.
    From me>>Nowhere does your N.T.tell you to celebrate Christ’s resurrection(Easter)it says remember his death.Read Jer.10:2-5 for your bible condemning what later was called CHRIST-MASS and read Ezek.8:14-17 for a condemnation of an Easter sunrise service,notice they faced the East where the sun comes up.
    Sincerely,
    JAY

  17. Jay,
    Thanks for your conversation, but I’ll have to beg off at this point. I don’t have time to argue evidence when the point is that we each have an understanding of the evidence that is informed by our presuppositions. It’s intellectually dishonest to claim otherwise. There have been more than one atheist who has famously sought to disprove Christianity regarding the existence and activities of Christ and based on their commitment to truth have come to accept Christianity. There have been others, like Bart Ehrman, who have ostensibly started in the Christian camp who have ended up denying Christ because he secretly had an intellectual commitment to other things.

    And frankly, I don’t see any issues you’ve raised that haven’t been soundly answered elsewhere by others, despite your claims. Some of what you claim is simply false as far as that goes and other things reflect what I’ve already mentioned regarding your presuppositions. But you’ve already demonstrated a lack of ability to acknowledge this as well as address my observations regarding your presuppositions. So basically all we have is a grown up version of “Oh yeah. Well my dad said…” “Huh-uh!” “Uh-huh!” When I detect an argument going in that direction, I tend to leave because it’s simply childish and I have better things to do.

    One other thing I will say is that I do hope you review the evidence with a commitment to the truth rather than simply picking the conclusions that fit your presuppositions and using the arguments that come with them. You’ve studied some and I’m sure you’ve heard the gospel of grace: that we have all rebelled against God and that He provided the means for our reconciliation with Him in the incarnation of God in the man Jesus Christ, who you deny. You can be reconciled to Him as well and I pray the Holy Spirit fill you with that life and knowledge as He has done with me.

    -Jim

  18. Jay Osborne says:

    Jim,you post a rather long atricle about Bart Ehrman on your site for the public to see then claimn you don’t have time to defend the article.If you don’t have time to defend the article you shouldn’t post it,because no one(me) can not refute the idea that Jesus was a historical person with just a few comments.But i do suggest you keep your day job because your answers to me have no evidence or proof,you have only faith and an ideaology or theory.Your answers to me could have been very short all i asked for was contemporary proof that the miracle worker,crucified and resurrected from the dead Jesus existed.But since there is none all you could do is him- haw excuses and send links to idiots who falsely claim there is proof.
    Let me explain myself i spent 32 years of my life in christianity then almost 20 years ago decided to prove whether it was so or not,the Bible and christianity failed miserablly when fact checked with an open mind.I have read hundreds of apologetics and claimed biblical historians and scholars supposed proof of Jesus and the resurrection and found all of them basing their assumptions and theories on the tales of the 4 gospels,that’s allowing the N.T.to prove itself,which is not the way to fact check.So i like Dan Barker an ex minister disproved their tales they added to biblical tales.
    The issues i brought up have not been answered by any apologetic,BIble scholar,or biblical historian,not one historian or biblical scholar has ever been able to prove the miracle worker,crucified and resurrected historical Jesus all they can do is twist ancient writings to fit their theory.Every generation for 2000 years including Jesus and Paul claims have had someone claiming Jesus would return in their lifetime,all have lied incuding what Jesus himself supposedly said.I give you one thing patience,but Jesus will not return in a million more years except when the sun comes up each morning.
    Christianity is the biggest conspiracy ever put over on the human race.Christianity has murdered millions(The Crusades,Inquisition and millions of others) throughout it’s history to enforce christianity upon the people just like Islam is now trying to do.
    You said:Some of what you claim is simply false as far as that goes and other things reflect what I’ve already mentioned regarding your presuppositions. But you’ve already demonstrated a lack of ability to acknowledge this as well as address my observations regarding your presuppositions. So basically all we have is a grown up version of “Oh yeah. Well my dad said…” “Huh-uh!” “Uh-huh!” When I detect an argument going in that direction, I tend to leave because it’s simply childish and I have better things to do.
    From me>>Then prove it false,don’t just him-haw around.Why should i acknowledge what neither you nor anyone else can prove?Jesus is claimed in your 4 gospels to have had multitudes of people following him around,it says he was known far and wide,Acts 2:5-11 says every nation under heaven was there at Pentecost so it is complete ignorance to think no historian,philosopher would not have writen about these earth shaking happenings had it actually have happened.All you have is biblical mind control,biblical brainwashing and blind faith,ZERO proof and evidence.Continue on decieving people with no proof or evidence,me i prefer knowing the truth.Goodbye,
    Jay

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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