The Historicity of Jesus Christ

Discussion in 'Religion & Philosophy' started by THX-1138, Jun 3, 2006.

  1. THX-1138

    THX-1138 Guest

    Did Jesus exist? If so, how much of his life is historically reliable in the New Testament? Was he divine? I want some opinions and some evidence. Have at it.

    I apologize if this has been discussed already, for I am new.
     

  2. Merc

    Merc Certified Shitlord V.I.P. Lifetime

    I'm going to say a few things before this is reopened. We've done a religion thread before and it's in the hall of fame. I'm going to let a religion thread like this start again but with a tight grip. I don't want any blind rants on how people hate religion, don't think it's true, or think one is better than the other.

    Take it easy and this thread will stay open. This is a potential flame war so I'm going to be watching this thread and any sign of ridiculous outbreaks will result in a deleted post.
     
  3. CCJ

    CCJ Guest

    In the end, does it really matter? I mean, I’m not a Christian, but I think that the most important party of the story of Jesus was not Jesus himself, or indeed anything about him, but rather his message. The message of justice, equality, love, and peace is perhaps one of the best that I’ve heard in a long time. But apparently Jesus’ message was lost (though not in translation).

    In the gospel of Matthew, it is said that Jesus denounced public prayer. And yet today we can see grand cathedrals from miles away. Jesus told his followers to “turn the other cheek†and yet, despite having over a billion Christians, this Earth is plagued by war, torture, and genocide. Jesus advocated giving to the poor, and yet the Catholic Church has grown fat upon the backs of the downtrodden.

    I’m not saying that all Christians are bad. People like George Fox, Mother Theresa, and Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. have helped make the world a much better place. But it seems to me that people like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell have done their part to manipulate the words of Jesus and G-d to stir up hate in the hearts of men.
     
  4. Babe_Ruth

    Babe_Ruth Sultan of Swat Staff Member V.I.P.

    I personally think that he did exist, but I don't believe every miracles that the Bible said he done, just one for example I don't believe that he healed a blind mand by putting some mud on is eyes. I am Catholic and I do believe in the Bible and Jesus, but things that are stated in the Bible that Jesus done are just very hard to believe.
     
  5. THX-1138

    THX-1138 Guest

    What historical evidence or other empirical evidence do you have that suggests that he did exist?
     
  6. SenatorB

    SenatorB J.S.P.S

    I think that Jesus probably did exist, but that he was not divine and therefore a good part of his history in the New Testament is not accurate. I think it's possible that he was a prophet, but I doubt he was the son of god. Now of course, there's really no way of proving either way whether he was or was not, so that's just my personal belief on the subject.

    I agree with CCJ that regardless of whether or not he was the son of god, his message in many regards is one that should be listened to. The religious stuff could be done without, but the stuff about being a good person is a message that should be spread. Now I think there are better ways to spread a message of good morals than through a religion (not to mention there are other religions, and people who don't have religion, who also spread the same message), but it's better than nothing I guess.

    Edit: I suppose if you're looking for proof that he did exist, there's the bible... I think the bible provides some historical evidence, although in many regards it presents an obviously biased outlook on things, and many things it says are metaphorical. The bible says Jesus existed, which doesn't sound too illogical, but the fact that he performed miracles and was the son of god passes beyond the range of what I can believe is a historical account.
     
  7. Babe_Ruth

    Babe_Ruth Sultan of Swat Staff Member V.I.P.

    I cannot prove that he existed because he's been dead for over 2000 years now, but no one can prove it either, but there's a thing called the Bible that proves that he did exist, and the Bible wasn't written to make lots of money, it was to prove that Jesus Chris did exist. They wouldn't just make up stories about a man like this.
     
  8. THX-1138

    THX-1138 Guest

    And when were the Gospels written? When were the Pauline Epistles written?
     
  9. SenatorB

    SenatorB J.S.P.S

    Don't see why not... Ever hear of Scientology? They pretty much made up Xenu... could have been the same with Jesus, and over the past 2000 years it's changed from a ridiculous story to a real religion.
     
  10. Babe_Ruth

    Babe_Ruth Sultan of Swat Staff Member V.I.P.

    Dating the gospels is very important. If it can be established that the gospels were written early, say before the year 70 A.D., then we would have good reason for believing that they were written by the disciples of Jesus Himself. If they were written by the disciples, then their reliability, authenticity, and accuracy better substantiated. Also, if they were written early, this would mean that there would not have been enough time for myth to creep into the gospel accounts since it was the eyewitnesses to Christ's life that wrote them. Furthermore, those who were alive at the time of the events could have countered the gospel accounts and since we have no contradictory writings to the gospels, their early authorship as well as apostolic authorship becomes even more critical.

    Destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. , Luke and Acts

    None of the gospels mention the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 A.D. This is significant because Jesus had prophesied concerning the temple when He said "As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down," (Luke 21:5, see also Matt. 24:1; Mark 13:1). This prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D. when the Romans sacked Jerusalem and burned the temple. The gold in the temple melted down between the stone walls and the Romans took the walls apart, stone by stone, to get the gold. Such an obvious fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy most likely would have been recorded as such by the gospel writers who were fond of mentioning fulfillment of prophecy if they had been written after 70 A.D. Also, if the gospels were fabrications of mythical events then anything to bolster the Messianic claims -- such as the destruction of the temple as Jesus said -- would surely have been included. But, it was not included suggesting that the gospels (at least Matthew, Mark, and Luke) were written before 70 A.D.
    Similarly, this argument is important when we consider the dating of the book of Acts which was written after the gospel of Luke by Luke himself. Acts is a history of the Christian church right after Jesus' ascension. Acts also fails to mention the incredibly significant events of 70 A.D. which would have been extremely relevant and prophetically important and garnered inclusion into Acts had it occurred before Acts was written. Remember, Acts is a book of history concerning the Christians and the Jews. The fact that the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple is not recorded is very strong evidence that Acts was written before A.D. 70. If we add to this the fact that acts does not include the accounts of "Nero's persecution of the Christians in A.D. 64 or the deaths of James (A.D. 62), Paul (A.D. 64), and Peter (A.D. 65),"1 and we have further evidence that it was written early
    If we look at Acts 1:1-2 it says, "The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when He was taken up, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen." Most scholars affirm that Acts was written by Luke and that Theophilus (Grk. "lover of God") "may have been Luke’s patron who financed the writing of Luke and Acts."2 This means that the gospel of Luke was written before Acts.

    "At the earliest, Acts cannot have been written prior to the latest firm chronological marker recorded in the bookâ€â€Festus’s appointment as procurator (24:27), which, on the basis of independent sources, appears to have occurred between A.D. 55 and 59."3
    "It is increasingly admitted that the Logia [Q] was very early, before 50 A.D., and Mark likewise if Luke wrote the Acts while Paul was still alive. Luke's Gospel comes (Acts 1:1) before the Acts. The date of Acts is still in dispute, but the early date (about A.D. 63) is gaining support constantly."4
    For clarity, Q is supposedly one of the source documents used by both Matthew and Luke in writing their gospels. If Q actually existed then that would push the first writings of Christ's words and deeds back even further lessening the available time for myth to creep in and adding to the validity and accuracy of the gospel accounts. If what is said of Acts is true, this would mean that Luke was written at least before A.D. 63 and possibly before 55 - 59 since Acts is the second in the series of writings by Luke. This means that the gospel of Luke was written within 30 years of Jesus' death.

    Matthew

    The early church unanimously held that the gospel of Matthew was the first written gospel and was penned by the apostle of the same name (Matt. 10:2). Lately, the priority of Matthew as the first written gospel has come under suspicion with Mark being considered by many to be the first written gospel. The debate is far from over.
    The historian Papias mentions that the gospel of Matthew was originally in Aramaic or Hebrew and attributes the gospel to Matthew the apostle.5
    "Irenaeus (ca. a.d. 180) continued Papias’s views about Matthew and Mark and added his belief that Luke, the follower of Paul, put down in a book the gospel preached by that apostle, and that John, the Beloved Disciple, published his Gospel while residing in Asia. By the time of Irenaeus, Acts was also linked with Luke, the companion of Paul."6
    This would mean that if Matthew did write in Aramaic originally, that he may have used Mark as a map, adding and clarifying certain events as he remembered them. But, this is not known for sure.
    The earliest quotation of Matthew is found in Ignatius who died around 115 A.D. Therefore, Matthew was in circulation well before Ignatius came on the scene. The various dates most widely held as possible writing dates of the Gospel are between A.D. 40 - 140. But Ignatius died around 115 A.D. and he quoted Matthew. Therefore Matthew had to be written before he died. Nevertheless, it is generally believed that Matthew was written before A.D. 70 and as early as A.D. 50.

    Mark

    Mark was not an eyewitness to the events of Jesus' life. He was a disciple of Peter and undoubtedly it was Peter who informed Mark of the life of Christ and guided him in writing the Gospel known by his name. "Papias claimed that Mark, the Evangelist, who had never heard Christ, was the interpreter of Peter, and that he carefully gave an account of everything he remembered from the preaching of Peter."7 Generally, Mark is said to be the earliest gospel with an authorship of between A.D. 55 to A.D. 70.

    Luke

    Luke was not an eyewitness of the life of Christ. He was a companion of Paul who also was not an eyewitness of Christ's life. But, both had ample opportunity to meet the disciples who knew Christ and learn the facts not only from them, but from others in the area. Some might consider this damaging to the validity of the gospel, but quite the contrary. Luke was a gentile convert to Christianity who was interested in the facts. He obviously had interviewed the eyewitnesses and written the Gospel account as well as Acts.

    "The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when He was taken up, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. 3 To these He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God," (Acts 1:1-3).
    Notice how Luke speaks of "them," of those who had personal encounters with Christ. Luke is simply recounting the events from the disciples. Since Luke agrees with Matthew, Mark, and John and since there is no contradictory information coming from any of the disciples stating that Luke was inaccurate, and since Luke has proven to be a very accurate historian, we can conclude that Luke's account is very accurate.
    As far as dating the gospel goes, Luke was written before the book of Acts and Acts does not mention "Nero's persecution of the Christians in A.D. 64 or the deaths of James (A.D. 62), Paul (A.D. 64), and Peter (A.D. 65)."8 Therefore, we can conclude that Luke was written before A.D. 62. "Luke's Gospel comes (Acts 1:1) before the Acts. The date of Acts is still in dispute, but the early date (about A.D. 63) is gaining support constantly."9

    John

    The writer of the gospel of John was obviously an eyewitness of the events of Christ's life since he speaks from a perspective of having been there during many of the events of Jesus' ministry and displays a good knowledge of Israeli geography and customs.
    The John Rylands papyrus fragment 52 of John's gospel dated in the year 135 contains portions of John 18, verses 31-33,37-38. This fragment was found in Egypt and a considerable amount of time is needed for the circulation of the gospel before it reached Egypt. It is the last of the gospels and appears to have been written in the 80's to 90's.
    Of important note is the lack of mention of the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 A.D. But this is understandable since John was not focusing on historical events. Instead, he focused on the theological aspect of the person of Christ and listed His miracles and words that affirmed Christ's deity.

    Though there is still some debate on the dates of when the gospels were written, they were most assuredly completed before the close of the first century and written by eyewitnesses or under the direction of eyewitnesses.

    ____________
    1. McDowell, Josh, A Ready Defense, Thomas Nelson Publishers; Nashville, Tenn., 1993, p. 80.
    2. Walvoord, John F., and Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press Publications, Inc.) 1983, 1985.
    3. Mays, James Luther, Ph.D., Editor, Harper’s Bible Commentary, (New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, Inc.) 1988.
    4. Robertson, A.T., A Harmony of the Gospels, Harper & Row; New York` 1950. pp. 255-256.
    5. Douglas, J. D., Comfort, Philip W. & Mitchell, Donald, Editors, Who’s Who in Christian History, Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; 1992.
    6. Achtemeier, Paul J., Th.D., Harper’s Bible Dictionary, (San Francisco: Harper and Row, Publishers, Inc.; 1985
    7. Douglas, J. D., Comfort, Philip W. & Mitchell, Donald, Editors, Who’s Who in Christian History, (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; 1992.
    8. McDowell, Josh, A Ready Defense, Thomas Nelson Publishers; Nashville, Tenn., 1993, p. 80.
    9. Robertson, A.T., A Harmony of the Gospels, Harper & Row; New York` 1950. pp. 255-256.


    source http://www.carm.org/questions/gospels_written.htm
     

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