Jesus – to be or not to be, that is the question!
In Brian Fleming’s documentary “The God Who Wasn’t There,” he makes the case that Jesus never existed. In the Discovery Channel’s documentary, “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” the claim is made that the tomb of Jesus and his family members was discovered. Which is true? Did Jesus exist? If he did exist, did he say or do the things claimed in the New Testament?
A few years ago when I first raised this question, a close friend of mine gave me this response:
The credible eyewitness reports regarding Jesus’ life, ministry, and message are numerous and irrefutably authentic. Even atheistic historians agree on that historical fact. To deny that fact is tantamount to insisting that the world is flat or that Hitler didn’t really kill millions of Jews.Of course that fact alone doesn’t mean Jesus really is who he said he is. But the fact that this is his message is irrefutable, unless of course one willfully chooses to ignore the evidence. But to do so would only serve to reveal that one is an obstinate fool. You can argue that the message is wrong, but not that this isn’t His message.
So that brings us back to C.S. Lewis’ comments. Either Jesus is who he said he is (i.e. God, the way, truth, and life, and the only way to the Father) or else he is a deluded crazy; or worse yet, a charlatan, deceiver, and fraud. You can’t classify him as something some where in between.
First of all, the first full-length account of Jesus’ life is probably the Gospel of Mark, which most scholars believe was written sometime after the year 70. This is almost 40 years after the alleged death of Christ. There are also many legitimate questions concerning who actually authored the gospels. It should also be noted that two of the four gospel authors, Mark and Luke, never even claimed to be eyewitnesses of the events they wrote about.
Secondly, there are no Roman records that show Pontius Pilate executing a man named Jesus. In fact, there are no contemporary or official records pertaining to Jesus, someone who supposedly had a great impact on both Jews and Romans. All documents that exist were written well after the time of his life and death.
References to the “atheistic historians” mentioned are also of suspect. All of these historians, including Josephus, were born after the death of Christ. In fact, the Jewish copies of the works of Josephus do not contain the two references to Jesus. Which text is accurate? Even at that, Josephus’ Antiquities was written around 93.
The reality is, we have no hard evidence to the life of Christ. We cannot cite the accuracy of references to historical events or places in the gospels as evidence of its authenticity. Homer’s Odyssey references many historical events and places, but we do not say that this is credible evidence that the events in the Odyssey actually took place.
In addition, there are discrepancies to the timeline of some of the historical facts mentioned in the Gospels and questions about the existence of some of the places referenced in the Gospels during the time period the books are set. Also, conspiracies about the life of Christ abound, including his alleged marriage to Mary Magdalene, popularized in Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code. How can we prove or disprove any of these events or conspiracies?
So, did Jesus say and do everything the New Testament claims? That answer is intellectually obvious. However, can we further question whether or not he was even a real historical figure?
- The de-Convert