2:3 Jesus Christ
Many believe Jesus Christ
was a real person, why?
Despite the convincing cases presented by apologists there hasn't been any historical evidence to even suggest he existed. History only suggests that some stories about him, in the gospels, were influenced by legends of a real person or persons.
For the moment, I ask that you just consider the possibility that Jesus wasn't actually a historical figure. Lets take a look at the three topics below then examine the most popular reasons people believe.
Jesus Started With Paul
It is clear from a comparison of history and Paul's writings that Jesus didn't start as legends based on a real person, he started as a story based on scriptures and Paul's imagination. History shows us no mentioning or awareness of Jesus, prior to Paul, and that all later stories of Jesus are derived from areas where Paul made his stories known. Paul tells us in his writings that his knowledge of Jesus is based on his interpretation of scripture and not from another person. He also tells us that no one, aside from those who also gained their knowledge from scripture, knew of the events related to Jesus until he personally shared the story with the public.
What a minute.
Isn't the "Jesus Myth Theory" widely discarded?
Whether or not you think the notion that "Jesus is a fictional character" is widely discarded is beside the point. The claim that "a lot of people say this" holds no meaning unless you know why they say what they say. As with everything, please take time to look at the evidence yourself and draw your own conclusions.
The point that holds real significance here is whether or not there's any evidence to suggest that Jesus did exist. More specifically, do those reasons hold up to additional research? This is something we'll discover at the bottom of this page.
Disagreements In the Gospels
Even though the gospels were not written independently of each other they still contain various discrepancy. Many contradictions are related to simple details such as the color Jesus' robe. Other contradictions are more dramatic such as Luke and Matthew placing the story of Jesus' birth during two separate historical events that are 10 years apart. It is these sort of major discrepancies that we would not see in historical documentations of a real person and exactly what we would expect to see if the stories are just re-tellings of legends and folklore.
Ask yourself, why would Christian Apologists exist if there actually was historical evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ? If there were evidence wouldn't people just look to historians, the professional experts of history, for that evidence like we do for everything else? Why the special exception?
Granted, most just assume apologists are trust worthy. What reason would they have to intentionally lie? I wouldn't say all apologists are intentionally lying, some may be simply mistaken. Bigger name apologists on the other hand do have their reasons. Some do it because there is a lot of money to be made telling any religious group what they want to hear. Others want Jesus to be real so badly that they try convincing others to convince themselves. Regardless of the reasons, they do make blatantly dishonest claims.
Take for example Lee Strobel.
Strobel points out that a historian born in 37 CE, named Flavius Josephus, writes about Jesus Christ in his book, "Antiquities of the Jews." He then claims that this is historically documented evidence for the existence of Jesus. Sound convincing? What Strobel always avoids mentioning is that Antiquities is not book about history, it is a collection of religious stories.
If you take the time read Antiquities you will notice that, right in the preface, Josephus specifically tells us that the book is based on religious Hebrew scriptures. You will also notice that Josephus also "documents" God's creation of the earth, Adam & Eve, and the story of Noah's ark in the same book. If Lee Strobel honestly thought Antiquities was historical evidence for Jesus then why doesn't he use it as historical evidence for the creation of the earth?
Share a reason
The Jewish historian Josephus, who lived close to the time when Jesus is said to have lived, mentions Jesus twice in his Antiquities of the Jews. Even without the later added Christian interpolations, Antiquities still mentions the existence of Jesus.
View Problems (5)Problem 1 The Antiquities of the Jews is not based on historical events. Right in the preface Josephus specifically tells us that the history he is writing about is based on Hebrew scriptures and religious books.
"Now I have undertaken the present work, as thinking it will appear to all the Greeks worthy of their study; for it will contain all our antiquities, and the constitution of our government, as interpreted out of the Hebrew Scriptures." "I shall now betake myself to the history before me, after I have first mentioned what Moses says of the creation of the world, which I find described in the sacred books after the manner following." - Antiquities of the Jews -- Preface Problem 2 Josephus also describes God's creation of the earth, Adam & Eve, Noah & the flood, the Tower of Babel, the 10 Plagues, the parting of the sea, and other Jewish folklore in his Antiquities of the Jews. Again, Josephus cites the religious books as his only sources. Problem 3 Josephus was not even born until 37 CE. Problem 4 Antiquities of the Jews was not written until 94 CE. Problem 5 Josephus was an orthodox Jew and never believed in a savior named Jesus Christ.
Lucian of Samosata
Although Jesus is not mentioned by name, Lucian refers to him, his crucifixion, and his followers in "The Passing of Peregrinus."
View Problems (3)Problem 1 The Passing of Peregrinus is not a documentation of historical events. It is a satire and work of fiction, by the play writer Lucian, in which the lead character takes advantage of the generosity of the Christian religious group. Problem 2 The reference to Jesus is only describing what Christians of the time believe in. It is not, by any means, suggesting that those beliefs were true. Problem 3 Lucian was not born until 125 CE.
Publius Cornelius Tacitus
In “Annals XV.44” Tacitus writes about a man named “Christus” who founded Christianity and suffered at the hands of Pontius Pilatus.
View Problems (4)Problem 1 The reference to Jesus is only describing what Christians of the time believe in. It is not, by any means, suggesting that those beliefs were true. Problem 2 Imediately after describing the beliefs of Christians (e.g. Christus suffering at the hands of Pontius Pilatus) Tacitus then calls those beliefs a “most mischievous superstition.” Problem 3 Tacitus was not born until 56 CE. Problem 4 Annals XV.44 was not written until 115 CE.
Chapter 25 of a biography titled "The Life of Claudius" has one line that states, "As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome."
View Problems (4)Problem 1 There is nothing to suggest that “Chrestus” is a refference to the Christ referred as Jesus. Problem 2 This passage is set during 50 CE, twenty years after Jesus' supposed death. Problem 3 Suetonius was not born until 41 CE. Problem 4 "The Life of Claudius" was not written until 115 CE.
Pliny the Younger
Pliny the Younger talks about Christians in his writings while corresponding with the emperor Trajan.
View Problems (3)Problem 1 The writings are only claiming that there were Christians in Asia Minor around 100CE. This is not something that is doubed. Problem 2 Pliny only describes what Christians of the time believed in. It is not, by any means, suggesting that those beliefs were true. Problem 3 Pliny the Younger was not born until 61 CE.
Most historians agree that a figure dubbed “Historical Jesus” existed. That must mean Jesus Christ existed.
View Problems (1)Problem 1 The figure that historians called “Historical Jesus” is not a reference to the figure Jesus Christ. Although Jesus was not originally based on a real person some later aspects were. Certain stories in the Gospels suggest that some aspects of Jesus' life were loosely inspired by legends of an actual person or persons. Historians have dubbed this person(s) "Historical Jesus" because an actual name is not known. Outside of scripture there is nothing to suggest that this person(s) existed but certain scriptural writings about Jesus, such as the resurrection story, sound more like they were based on a real life regular human being than a demi-god figure.
He was influential, people died for him
Historically speaking Jesus was very influential. Christians have even died in his name, something they would not have done if Jesus wasn't real.
View Problems (2)Problem 1 Just because a figure is influential does not suggest they existed, all mythological gods were very influential. And, historically speaking, it is the stories of Jesus that have been influential, not necessarily the figure himself. Problem 2 The existence of Christian martyers doesn't prove that Jesus was real, it only proves that people were convinced that Jesus was real. Martyrdom is not limited to just Christianity, it has been abundant in various religious groups around the world. People have also been martyrs for the promises of 72 virgins in paradise and stories of a space craft trailing comet Hale-Bopp.
We can't know if anyone existed that long ago
We cannot expect to find evidence for anyone who lived that long ago because they did not have cameras or the internet. There is no evidence for Alexander the Great either.
View Problems (3)Problem 1 The 1st century was a well documented time and we have a great deal of historical evidence for figures, eg. Julius Ceasar, who actually existed. Problem 2 Even if it were true, that we could not prove the existence of anyone from that era in time, then this would mean that Jesus' existence is not proveable and thus there are no reasons to blieive to he existed. Problem 3 Even though Alexander the Great lived over 300 years before Jesus' supposed life time there is still a great deal of evidence for his life that we don't find for Jesus. First off there is actually contemporay evidence such as the silver decadrachm coins (on display at the British Museum) bearing his name that were issued during his reign. There are also many cities named after him, some of which were formed by him durring his life time, eg. Alexandria in Egypt.
Although the most complete and well known biography of Alexander was written, by Arrian of Nicomedia, 400 years after his death it was written with references to contemporay biographies from people such as Callisthenes and Ptolemy. Both of whom served under Alexander.
Shroud of Turin
A linen cloth, called the Shroud of Turin, bears the image of a man who appears to have suffered physical trauma in a manner consistent with crucifixion.
View Problems (2)Problem 1 Such a finding would only be evidence that a person was crucified during the 1st century, a time when many people where killed by crucifixion. Problem 2 The Shroud of Turin is a forgery. After independent analysis by the University of Arizona, Oxford, and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology all results date the shroud to be from between 1260 and 1390 CE.
Letters to Abgarus
The "Letters of Abgarus and Jesus" are said to be written by Jesus Christ to King Abgar.
View Problems (2)Problem 1 All known copies of these letters were written long after the time Jesus supposedly lived. Problem 2 The letter forged as Jesus mirrors passages from the Diatessaron (c. 150-160 CE) and not the earlier versions of the gospels.
Josh McDowell said that the Talmud claims Jesus Christ existed.
View Problems (2)Problem 1 There are no specific references to the figure Jesus Christ in the Talmud. Problem 2 The Talmud was not written until 200-500 CE.
There is no contemporary evidence for Jesus Christ because during that time people only shared stories verbally.
View Problems (2)Problem 1 Oral tradition applied to story telling and folk lore. Historians on the other hand documented events as the occurred or atleast cited contemporary documention in their works. Jesus is said to have lived during a time which is well documented in history. Problem 2 Even if Jesus was said to live during a time when people did not write or document anything, this would still not be a reason to believe he existed. Rather it would be just an excuse to avoid supplying a reason.
- 1:1 The Need To Discuss Christianity 1:2 Christianity Isn't Harmless 1:3 Has it Caused Good? 1:4 Christianity's Immoral Teachings
- 2:1 Why Christianity Can't Be True 2:2 God 2:3 Jesus Christ 2:4 Souls & the Supernatural 2:5 Why So Many Still Believe
- 3:1 Closer look at the Bible 3:2 False Claims 3:3 Contradictions 3:4 Bible Stories
- 4:1 History of the Faith 4:2 Creating the Bible 4:3 Changes & Lost Gospels 4:4 Inventing Christ
- 5:1 Living For This Life 5:2 What Godlessness Means 5:3 Atheism & Humanism 5:4 Stories of De-Conversion 5:5 Answers & Concerns
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