“Whether we like it or not, Jesus existed”

You do not have to search the internet too hard to find websites and articles making claims that Jesus never existed. Theories from it was all made up by the early church, to Jesus was a culmination of older religious beliefs permeate the discussion. It can make uncomfortable reading for Christians as it strikes at the central claim of the Christian faith. How can we claim Jesus rose from the dead if he did not even exist? In this case though, history is on our side.

Virtually all the writers who claim Jesus did not exist, do not have credentials in the relevant fields, namely ancient history, religion and biblical studies. Professor G.A. Wells, who was cited in movie Zeitgeist and Richard Dawkins book The God Delusion, is a professor of German language [1]. By those who are studying the period and have the credentials, Jesus’s existence simply is not disputed. Professor Graeme Clarke, a classicist from the Australian National University, has gone on record as saying, “Frankly, I know of no ancient historian or biblical historian who would have a twinge of doubt about the existence of a Jesus Christ – the documentary evidence is simply overwhelming.”[2] Perhaps the most famous of the atheist historians is Bart Ehrman, who is currently the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His book ‘Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, is a look at the historical evidence for Jesus. He may not believe Jesus was the Son of God and has raised questions regarding the gospels, in particular their accuracy and authorship, but as he said in an interview;

I wanted to write a book that showed that whatever else one might want to say about Jesus, he certainly existed. [3]

There are many resources which address Bart Ehrmans concerns, websites like The Ehrman Project address him specifically. Scholars and historians like N.T. Wright, Michael Licona (who has debated Bart Ehrman on several occasions) and Gary Habermas address his concerns in the wider context of historical evidence. This is not to say what Bart Ehrman is saying is totally wrong; we do not have the original manuscripts, there have been changes over time and there are question marks over who authored the gospels and some of Pauls letters in the New Testament. These are questions that even Professor Craig Blomberg, Distinguished Professor of the New Testament at Denver Seminary in Colorado, acknowledges are being discussed [4]. What Bart Ehrmans work has shown though is that there is a core of documents, including some of Pauls letters, that are accepted by scholars and historians in any discussion regarding Jesus’s existence, and that you do not have to be dogmatic towards history simply because you do not agree with religion. In his own words;

One may well choose to resonate with the concerns of our modern and post-modern cultural despisers of established religion (or not). But surely the best way to promote any such agenda is not to deny what virtually every sane historian on the planet — Christian, Jewish, Muslim, pagan, agnostic, atheist, what have you — has come to conclude based on a range of compelling historical evidence.

Whether we like it or not, Jesus certainly existed.[5]

To hear more about the evidence for Jesus’s existence, please check out my interview with Dr. Michael Licona at https://christianonthefrontline.wordpress.com/2015/05/12/my-interview-with-dr-michael-licona/

Resources

[1] http://www.evidence2hope.com/apps/videos/videos/show/16289029-zeitgeist-time-to-discard-the-christian-story-

[2] http://bbhchurchconnection.wordpress.com/2010/11/18/our-night-with-john-dickson/

[3] http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2012/06/05/bart-ehrmans-on-did-jesus-exist-part-one/

[4] http://publicchristianity.org/library/can-we-trust-the-bible

[5] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bart-d-ehrman/did-jesus-exist_b_1349544.html

 

First published 29th April 2013

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