Friday, December 19, 2014

Historicity of Jesus

I wrote the below quickly this evening as a letter to the editor after finding the ridiculous article below on ''.  Sad that many may read it and genuinely question the truth about our Lord on such erroneous grounds. 


I find it astonishing that your newspaper would post such an article as -

- on the front page of ‘’ right at Christmas time. 

There is no question amongst historians that Jesus existed, in fact to suggest otherwise amongst academia is laughable.  If you seriously question the fact that Jesus existed you must by extension question the existence of every historical figure of antiquity.  We can be sure Jesus existed because of the extra-biblical evidence coming to us through secular historians, the sheer volume of records contained in Biblical manuscripts, and the historical impact of Christians (followers of Jesus Christ) that has shaped the western world and beyond for two millennia.

The article in question states that, “the first problem we encounter when trying to discover more about the Historical Jesus is the lack of early sources.”  This is factually incorrect.  We have direct references to the existence of Jesus in no fewer than nine secular historians and writers of antiquity including: Thallus, Phlegus Josephus, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Hadrian, Suetonius, Lucien of Samosata and Mora Bar-Serapion.  On top of these writings there here are also references to Jesus in the Jewish Rabbinic writings known as the Talmud.

Additionally, the sheer volume of New Testament writings in existence testifies to the historicity of Jesus.  Take a comparison between the writing of the early historians Herodotus or Tacitus against the New Testament.  There are 8 copies of the manuscripts of Herodotus the earliest of which can be dated to 900 AD, nearly 1300 years after the history he claims to record.  In the case of Tacitus we can find up to 20 manuscript copies of his Roman histories, with the earliest copies dated to 1100 AD, 1000 years after the history he claims to record.  Now, compare with the New Testament: there are 5686 Greek manuscripts in existence today for the New Testament with conservative estimates placing the earliest copies at the beginning of the 2nd century only 70 years after the events they claim to record.  The comparison is staggering, yet do we question that the Peloponnesian wars occurred (Herodotus) or the existence and events of the life of the emperor Nero (Tacitus)?  The gospel writers clearly imply they are writing history and sometimes state such explicitly  (see Luke 1: 1-4).  The level of skepticism required to deny such well attested documents is mind-boggling.

Finally, during this Christmas season as well over two billion Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus I wish to know how those who would question historical existence of Jesus account for his historical impact?  Could a figment of the imagination truly be the source of a faith which has changed the course of human history more than any other force?  That seems extremely implausible to this writer.

I was surprised that the article was posted on a professional website such as ‘The’, you have lowered my estimation of your newspaper.  The article posted was misleading, factually incorrect and academically laughable.  Please stick to real news and leave the Jesus haters to act as trolls on your comment boards instead posting them as front-page news.

Yours Truly, 

Andrew Smith

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