Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Did Jesus really exist? Is there any historical evidence of Jesus Christ?


Question: "Did Jesus really exist? Is there any historical evidence of Jesus Christ?"Answer: Typically when this question is asked, the person asking qualifies the question with "outside of the Bible." We do not grant this idea that the Bible cannot be considered a source of evidence for the existence of Jesus. The New Testament contains hundreds of references to Jesus Christ. There are those who date the writing of the Gospels in the second century A.D., 100+ years after Jesus' death. Even if this were the case (which we strongly dispute), in terms of ancient evidences, writings less than 200 years after events took place are considered very reliable evidences. Further, the vast majority of scholars (Christian and non-Christian) will grant that the Epistles of Paul (at least some of them) were in fact written by Paul in the middle of the first century A.D., less than 40 years after Jesus' death. In terms of ancient manuscript evidence, this is extraordinarily strong proof of the existence of a man named Jesus in Israel in the early first century A.D.It is also important to recognize that in 70 A.D., the Romans invaded and destroyed Jerusalem and most of Israel, slaughtering its inhabitants. Entire cities were literally burned to the ground! We should not be surprised, then, if much evidence of Jesus' existence was destroyed. Many of the eye-witnesses of Jesus would have been killed. These facts likely limited the amount of surviving eyewitness testimony of Jesus.Considering the fact that Jesus' ministry was largely confined to a relatively unimportant backwater area in a small corner of the Roman Empire, a surprising amount of information about Jesus can be drawn from secular historical sources. Some of the more important historical evidences of Jesus include the following:The first-century Roman Tacitus, who is considered one of the more accurate historians of the ancient world, mentioned superstitious "Christians " ("named after Christus" which is Latin for Christ), who suffered under Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius. Suetonius, chief secretary to Emperor Hadrian, wrote that there was a man named Chrestus (or Christ) who lived during the first century (Annals 15.44 ).Flavius Josephus is the most famous Jewish historian. In his Antiquities he refers to James, “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ.” There is a controversial verse (18:3) that says, "Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats. . . . He was [the] Christ . . . he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him." One version reads, "At this time there was a wise man named Jesus. His conduct was good and [he] was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who became his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders."Julius Africanus quotes the historian Thallus in a discussion of the darkness which followed the crucifixion of Christ (Extant Writings, 18).Pliny the Younger, in Letters 10:96, recorded early Christian worship practices including the fact that Christians worshiped Jesus as God and were very ethical, and includes a reference to the love feast and Lord’s Supper.The Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 43a) confirms Jesus' crucifixion on the eve of Passover, and the accusations against Christ of practicing sorcery and encouraging Jewish apostasy.Lucian of Samosata was a second-century Greek writer who admits that Jesus was worshiped by Christians, introduced new teachings, and was crucified for them. He said that Jesus' teachings included the brotherhood of believers, the importance of conversion, and the importance of denying other gods. Christians lived according to Jesus’ laws, believed themselves immortal, and were characterized by contempt for death, voluntary self-devotion, and renunciation of material goods.Mara Bar-Serapion confirms that Jesus was thought to be a wise and virtuous man, was considered by many to be the king of Israel, was put to death by the Jews, and lived on in the teachings of his followers.Then we have all the Gnostic writings (The Gospel of Truth, The Apocryphon of John, The Gospel of Thomas, The Treatise on Resurrection, etc.) that all mention Jesus.In fact, we can almost reconstruct the gospel just from early non-Christian sources: Jesus was called the Christ (Josephus), did “magic,” led Israel into new teachings, and was hanged on Passover for them (Babylonian Talmud) in Judea (Tacitus), but claimed to be God and would return (Eliezar), which his followers believed - worshipping Him as God (Pliny the Younger).In conclusion, there is overwhelming evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ, both in secular and Biblical history. Perhaps the greatest evidence that Jesus did exist is the fact that literally thousands of Christians in the first century A.D., including the 12 apostles, were willing to give their lives as martyrs for Jesus Christ. People will die for what they believe to be true, but no one will die for what they know to be a lie.Recommended Resource: Case for Faith / Case for Christ by Lee Strobel.

Non Believer's Meaning of Life

This is one of a non-believer's meaning of life:

"I am in this world and I have to navigate myself in it. I am responsible for my own actions and it is therefore up to me how I make it"

My friend's reply:

actually ur fren's statement is in itself a paradox.

1 cannot be one's own god if one is incapable of controlling evrything.

his premise "i m in THIS WORLD" and "I have to NAVIGATE myself" presupposes that there is ONE greater than him.

since, ur fren had NO say in what world he lives in as well as the environment he is in. the word navigate for example presupposes that that there already exists a "sea" where he can only make some limited decisions on his directions.

he is incapable of CREATING anything. thus, his insistence that he is his own god is a fallacy.

ur fren is right however that he is RESPONSIBLE for his own actions. if he believes in a lie, then he will surely die in his own lie.

his concluding statement is then illogical and invalid. "it is therefore up to me how I make it", here ur fren seems to think that he can MAKE something, which in essence as mentioned, he admits in his premise that he is incapable of CREATING. thus, he cannot make. nethier can ur fren determine his own END, since he still SUFFERS the consequence of his decisions.

eg. if he directs his ship to the south, he may end up in a surging whirlpool n get shipwrecked. the point is he won't know that there is a whirlpool until he reaches it. the sea that he navigates in, is already CREATED, he cannot MAKE a new sea nor can he determine his own END. he merely makes a decision n suffers the consequence no matter what it may be.

as tonito's xmas play said "what u dont believe doesnt mean it doesnt exist".

there is nothing "to buy" or "not to buy" abt God. however, if 1 chooses to DENY God, then 1 suffers the consequence of one's own folly.

thus, i surmise ur fren actually acknowledges that GOD (or at least some greater power) exists, but denies HIS rule over him. in order, to reconcile his own paradoxes, he then chooses to think that there is no GOD.

interestingly enuff, ur fren also acknowledges, that he will therefore be responsible for his decision and suffer the consequences of it.

what is need to do is PRAY. then only help him see the folly of his ways.

Temple Mount In Jerusalem


This will give you a visual of all the gates mentioned in Nehemiah 3.

Evidence for Jesus - Did He exist?


Evidence for Jesus – His Early Life and Ministry

The evidence for Jesus starts with the place of his birth in Bethlehem. The The Church of the Nativity is generally considered a credible historical site, with the traditional cave of Christ’s birth being marked by the ornate Star of Bethlehem. Terraced hills containing shepherds’ flocks still encircle the small city. On the Sea of Galilee, Christ’s childhood town of Nazareth is still active today. In addition, ancient harbors matching the biblical record have been located in recent drought cycles. In fact, a first century Galilean fishing boat was recently unearthed from the mud and preserved. Although we have no idea who the boat belonged to, it matches the biblical record for the vessels used by Christ’s disciples. Capernaum, a town often visited by Jesus, is widely excavated and protected. Specific sites of interest include the synagogue at Capernaum where Jesus cured a man with an unclean spirit and delivered the sermon on the bread of life, and the house of Peter where Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law and others. Other archaeological sites involved in Christ’s ministry include Kursi (the swine miracle), Tabgha (loaves and fishes), the Mount of Beatitudes (Sermon on the Mount), Caesarea Philippi (Peter's confession), and Jacob's well where Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman. In Jerusalem, we still see the foundations for the Jewish Temple Mount built by Herod the Great. Other remarkable sites in Jerusalem include the "Southern Steps" where Jesus and his followers entered the Temple, the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed a crippled man, and the recently uncovered Pool of Siloam where Jesus healed a blind man.
Evidence for Jesus – His Last Days and CrucifixionThe evidence for Jesus in the events leading to his crucifixion starts across the
Kidron Valley from Jerusalem at the Mount of Olives. There, we can walk through ancient olive trees to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed before his capture. Then, we can look back across the Kidron Valley to the Golden Gate where Christ entered Jerusalem for his trial, scourging and death. Elsewhere, we find more evidence for Jesus and the leaders presiding over his trial and crucifixion, including an inscription that mentions the Roman procurator of the time, Pontius Pilate, and the actual bones of the Jewish High Priest of the time, Caiaphas, preserved in an ornate ossuary (bone box). The evidence continues throughout Jerusalem where we can stand in the judgment place of Pontius Pilate called Gabbatha, and then walk the Via Dolorosa where Christ carried his own cross to Calvary. The huge Church of the Holy Sepulchre is considered by most scholars to be a reliable historical site covering the locations of the crucifixion and burial of Christ. Incredibly, a 2,000-year-old heel bone pierced by an iron nail was recently discovered in a Jerusalem graveyard that sheds more light on the practice of crucifixion by the first century Romans.
Evidence for Jesus – What About His Resurrection?The evidence for Jesus in ancient sites and artifacts culminates with an empty tomb just outside the walls of Jerusalem. Although we don’t know the exact location for the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea, the traditional site known as the Garden Tomb provides a wonderful image. Later, on the Road to Emmaus, we picture the risen Christ walking with two deflated and dejected men who lost their leader – the hoped-for Messiah – just a few days earlier. What event could cause a handful of scared and hiding peasants to light up the ancient world with the bold proclamation of Jesus Christ? Nothing short of Christ’s resurrection could have transformed these people – the evidence for Jesus after his death and resurrection is staggering!