Devotionals, Discipleship, Doctrine
“On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald . . . cried, “He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy.” — The Jewish Talmud, the earliest period of compilation occurred between A.D. 70-200.
“The Christians . . . worship a man to this day–the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. . . . [It] was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.” — Lucian of Samosata, a second century Greek satirist.
There is so much evidence for the existence of Jesus, I am embarrassed to even post this. However, I think it’s important for you to know that those who truly doubt this are not just in the vast minority, but irrational in their approach to the facts. Can’t do much about that. Below are some notes from a great class Brian Felushko taught a couple years ago. I have the quotes from the original sources kicking around somewhere but these are the notes. I just changed some of the formatting.
What the critics have said:
- There is little evidence outside of the NT that Jesus ever existed, let alone that he claimed to be or proved to be the Son of God.
- Those who do mention Jesus are highly questionable and of insufficient number to prove to anyone that someone like the Jesus of the NT existed.
- Some have even stated that Jesus was a mythological figure, perhaps loosely based on some itinerant Jewish rabbi, but entirely misrepresented and presented as deity by the NT writers.
- Others believe he was not unlike the legend or myth of someone like Hercules that many ancients regarded as a ‘real person’
The facts are quite the opposite:
- “There are 10 known non-Christian writers who mention Jesus within 150 years of his life.” (Geisler, page 222)
- By contrast there are nine non-Christian sources who mention Tiberius Caesar, the Roman emperor at the time of Jesus.
- Jesus wins 10 to 9. If you include the NT documents, Jesus beats out Tiberius 37 to 10!
- Some of these sources are actually anti-Christian – Celsus, Tacitus and the Jewish Talmud.
- When you piece together all ten non-Christian references to Jesus, here’s what we can know about him, apart from the NT documents:
- He lived during the time of Tiberius Caesar
- He lived a virtuous life
- He was a wonder-worker
- He had a brother named James
- He was acclaimed to be the Messiah
- He was crucified under Pontius Pilate
- He was crucified on the eve of the Passover
- Darkness and an earthquakes occurred when he died
- His disciples believed that he rose from the dead
- His disciples were willing to die for their belief
- Christianity spread rapidly as far as Rome
- His disciples denied the Roman gods and worshiped Jesus as God
While scarce, these are surprisingly congruent with the NT accounts, thus affirming them, and they blow away the theory postulated by critics that Jesus never existed.