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More Evidence for My Ex-Mormon Atheist Friends – Did Jesus Christ Really Live?

September 18, 2008

I recently read an article “Did Jesus Christ Really Live?” as suggested by my ex-Mormon, atheist blogger friend. I responded with some evidence against the author’s assertion that the Jesus of the Bible never even existed. First of all, I would like to know what the author’s credentials are in ancient Greco-Roman history. I need to look into that…

In the meantime, his claim that the gospels are the only sources of authority on the existence of Christ is false. Josephus, the most well known Jewish historian, referred to Jesus in these sources outside the Bible:

http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/text/josephus/ant18.html (see chapter 3.3)

http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/text/josephus/ant20.html (in chapter 9.1)

More extra-biblical sources here: http://www.thedevineevidence.com/jesus_historicity_christian.html

And here: http://www.carm.org/bible/extrabiblical_accounts.htm

And here: http://www.christian-thinktank.com/jesusref.html

More evidence from history here: http://www.tektonics.org/jesusexist/jesusexisthub.html

My ex-mormon friend told me the last link has the best arguments.  See especially the notes on the conversations between Justin Martyr and Trypho and the notes at the bottom regarding the scant historical information available from this time period. The fact that we have so much historical evidence for Jesus is remarkable considering the very limited documents from antiquity. A few paragraphs might be ample proof for some to say that a person existed, but when it comes to the historical evidence for Jesus no amount of proof is sufficient for some apparently.

I suppose someone could allege that the original NT writings weren’t written until the date of the earliest copies we have (130 AD), but it feels a little biased to me when we don’t do this with other works of antiquity. The earliest copy we have of Homer’s writings is 400 BC, yet scholars date the originals (which we don’t have) at 900 BC. That’s a 500 year gap whereas with the NT we have less than a 100 year gap between the earliest copy and the originals.

It also feels a little biased to me to hear allegations that the people who claimed to write the NT actually didn’t. We don’t have original copies of many writings from antiquity, but I don’t hear people making the claim that someone else wrote Plato or Aristotle’s writings. The article also implied that the writers of the NT didn’t claim to be eye-witnesses. Yes, they did (John 1:24, 1 John 1:1-2, II Peter 1:16).

The attacks on the Bible’s authenticity and reliability are not new, they’re thousands of years old. Considering the tremendous opposition and scrutiny imposed on the Bible by hard-core skeptics over the past 2000 years, the fact that anyone still believes it is indeed phenomenal (supernatural?) or, perhaps it’s because, upon further investigation of the evidence, it stands up against the alleged “evidence” against it.

Of course I am not going to argue that faith doesn’t come into the equation though. The Bible does have one unified theme throughout its pages from OT to NT – justification is only possible through faith in the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The disciple John, who claimed to be an eye-witness, said he wrote his book (the gospel of John) so that we would believe “that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:31). Jesus said “when the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8

As we near the close of the first decade in the new millennium, I often consider the Biblical prophecies related to the end times and I see so many things lining up for the end and I believe Jesus could return at any time, but I suppose it’s possible I am just one of many being swept along by some gigantic myth that is headed nowhere… Or, it could be that the Bible is true and I will be happily satisfied to have given my heart to the Man that some are now saying never even existed…

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