The Religious A priori

Historical Jesus


The major argument here presented by many skeptics is that Jesus never existed. When real scholars of the Bible talk about "the historical Jesus" they don't' just examine the issues pertaining to his existence, they all assume he existed. But, this view that he never existed has become very fashionable on the Internet, which is very odd since no academic, or scholar, or anyone off of the Internet takes it seriously. Yet, it is growing in popularity on the discussion boards thanks to a whole host of sites which tout this absurd nonsense. The basic argument is merely an argument from silence, and is based upon the lack of very many extra-Bblical sources about Jesus from his own time. The arguments says "If Jesus really existed, worked miracles and rose form the dead, the whole world would know about him. Historians of his own day would have written volumes about him." Of course they also add that there are no official records of his existence, no birth certificate and so on. This is merely absurd because they didn't' have birth certificates and we have very few records of any individuals in that time. There were many, in fact a host, of "healers" and "wonder workers" running around all over the Roman world of that day, so to single out this one guy in Palestine just because his followers made claims about him is absurd.

Now Skeptics will often charge "you cannot prove that Jesus really existed..." But wait! This is not the believer's burden to prove! No academic scholar or real historian takes the Jesus-Myth theory seriously, and no historian can 'prove' that anyone existed. All history is basically a matter of probablitliy based upon best guess from documentary sources. The existence of Jesus has been accepted by history for centuries. IT is the skeptic's burden to overturn that presumption and prove that Jesus didn't exist!

Be that as it may the skeptics have a way of repeating the same notes with great verity and so it seems as though they have quite a bit of evidence. Let's examine the documentation more closely.

I. The Secular Sources and How Historians View Them.

A. Several Extra-Biblical records

1)Skeptics will often alledge that "no extra biblical evidence for Jesus' existence exists." This is far from the truth. All of these following historians, of first and early second century, mention Jesus of Nazareth as a historical figure who existed in the first century CE, or they mention Christ.

* Thallus (c. 50-75AD)

*Phlegon (First century)

* Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, c.93)

* Tacitus (Annals, c.115-120)

* Suetonius (Lives of the Caesars, c. 125)

* Galen (various writings, c.150)

* Celsus (True Discourse, c.170).

* Mara Bar Serapion (pre-200?)

* Talmudic References( written after 300 CE, but some refs probably go back to eyewitnesses)

*Lucian (Second century)

*Numenius (Second cent.)

*Galerius (Second Cent.)

No one ever questioned Jesus' existence until the 19th century. Not one of his opponents from the first 19 centuries ever questioned that he really existed!

Before moving on let's compare these with first century sources that don't mention Jesus in order to see if there is a vast flood of info about the ancient world that doesn't speak of him. This list excludes Philo becasue his writtings are so voluminous.

2) First century Sources that don't mention Jesus.

[form JP Holding--Teckton Apologetics]

"A final consideration is that we have very little information from first-century sources to begin with. Not much has survived the test of time from A.D. 1 to today. Blaiklock has cataloged the non-Christian writings of the Roman Empire (other than those of Philo) which have survived from the first century and do not mention Jesus. These items are":

* An amateurish history of Rome by Vellius Paterculus, a retired army officer of Tiberius. It was published in 30 A.D., just when Jesus was getting started in His ministry.

* An inscription that mentions Pilate.

* Fables written by Phaedrus, a Macedonian freedman, in the 40s A.D.

* From the 50s and 60s A.D., Blaiklock tells us: "Bookends set a foot apart on this desk where I write would enclose the works from these significant years." Included are philosophical works and letters by Seneca; a poem by his nephew Lucan; a book on agriculture by Columella, a retired soldier; fragments of the novel Satyricon by Gaius Petronius; a few lines from a Roman satirist, Persius; Pliny the Elder's Historia Naturalis; fragments of a commentary on Cicero by Asconius Pedianus, and finally, a history of Alexander the Great by Quinus Curtius.

Of all these writers, only Seneca may have conceivably had reason to refer to Jesus. But considering his personal troubles with Nero, it is doubtful that he would have had the interest or the time to do any work on the subject.

* From the 70s and 80s A.D., we have some poems and epigrams by Martial, and works by Tacitus (a minor work on oratory) and Josephus (Against Apion, Wars of the Jews). None of these would have offered occasion to mention Jesus.

* From the 90s, we have a poetic work by Statius; twelve books by Quintillian on oratory; Tacitus' biography of his father-in-law Agricola, and his work on Germany. [Blaik.MM, 13-16]

"To this Meier adds [ibid., 23] that in general, knowledge of the vast majority of ancient peoples is "simply not accessible to us today by historical research and never will be." It is just as was said in his earlier comment on Alexander the Great: What we know of most ancient people as individuals could fit on just a few pieces of paper. Thus it is misguided for the skeptic to complain that we know so little about the historical Jesus, and have so little recorded about Him in ancient pagan sources. Compared to most ancient people, we know quite a lot about Jesus, and have quite a lot recorded about Him!"

So there just aren't that many overall sources to go by in the first palce. But why wouldn't more of Jesus' contempoaries write about him?

3) Why Jesus wouldn't be mentioned more than he is.

Jp Holding:Tekton apologetics.

We turn to John P. Meier [Meie.MarJ, 7-9] and Murray Harris [Harr.3Cruc, 24-27] for several reasons on this point:

a. Roman Historians were only concerned with issues that directly effected them where they lived, or pertained to the fortunes of the empire. He didn't address the Roman Senate, worte no treatesies, histories, poems or palys, never travaled outside of Palestine, and did not change the socio-economic situation in Paltestine. He was a strictly local affair, of regional importance only, in his own lifetime.

Harris adds that "Roman writers could hardly be expected to have foreseen the subsequent influence of Christianity on the Roman Empire and therefore to have carefully documented" Christian origins. How were they to know that this minor Nazarene prophet would cause such a fuss?"

Jesus and History

On Line Electronic books

Edward C. Wharton

From Pagan Sources

"Palestine of the first century has been referred to as an unimportant frontier province in the Roman Empire. Those provincial governors assigned to that region of the world were often thought to have received hardship posts. Too, those who wrote the history of Rome were in the upper strata of Roman society and usually had a personal dislike of Orientals, disapproved of their religions and looked upon their superstitions as very un-Roman. [Micahel Green , Runaway World, Inter-Varsity Press, p. 12.] This partially accounts for the little trickles of information that comes from their pens about the Christian religion. They wrote about it only as it forced its way into the mainstream of their view. Yet what they did write is proof positive that Jesus Christ was both a real person and that he had made such an impact upon society that the Roman world found it increasingly difficult to disregard him."

b. Jesus was not a big enough threat to the Romans He was enough of a threat to warrent his exicution, but there had been many other Messianich "pretenders" who warrented harher treatment. The Romans never had to call out troops to quell a revolt led by Jesus or his followers.

c. His death as a criminal made him even more marginal, and as one of many criminals exicuted by Rome during their stay in Palestine he was unremarkable.

d. He was itinerant

J.P. Holding:

"Jesus marginalized himself by being occupied as an itinerant preacher. Of course, there was no Palestine News Network, and even if there had been one, there were no televisions to broadcast it. Jesus never used the established "news organs" of the day to spread His message. He travelled about the countryside, avoiding for the most part (and with the exception of Jerusalem) the major urban centers of the day. How would we regard someone who preached only in sites like, say, Hahira, Georgia?"

e. He was a nerdowell.

Holding agin: "Jesus lived an offensive lifestyle and alienated many people. He associated with the despised and rejected: Tax collectors, prostitutes, and the band of fishermen He had as disciples."

f. He was unimportant, poor, migrant, in an empire the captial of which was very far away, ran by rich tyrannts and he could do nothing to imporve their power. Why should they have an interest in him?

g. Not concerned with Roman gods.

Jesus' bore a message of eschatological and spiritual significance about an obscure foreign God most Romans knew little about. They had no particular reason to see him as anything other than a strictly regional private matter concerning a religion that seemed barbaric and about which they had no interest.

h. No evening News.

News travaled slowly, the distances were great. They had no mass communications. It took months for Rome to learn of events in Palestine, and most of the events there were of little interest to them. Moreover, his work only lasted three years. By the time he was begining to reach the height of his fame in Jerusalem word of his very existence might just be reaching Rome, where it would have been gretaed coldly with no real interest anyway. Than suddenly he was gone, exicuted as a torulbe maker and good ridence! Reports of his resurrection would not flood Rome as great astounding news, other supernatural claims were made all the time from all parts of the world, including Rome itself, so who would believe or care about this one?

i. One of many wonder workers.

There were actually quite a few "wonder workers" and Messianic claimants in Jesus' time. In fact he may have seen one himself, a man called "The Egyptian" who led a revolt in Jesus' childhood, in The Galillee, but his followered were slaughtered and the Egyptian disappeared. Why should the Romans Take notice of just one more. (Now many will argue well see Jesus was just one more of these guys, but for an answer on that see "How do I know that Jesus is the Son of God?")

B. How Historians Look at Historicity

Histirans do not dismiss the historicity of a figure just because supernatural claims are invovled. They dismiss the cliams of the supernatual as a matter of ideological bias (ideological in the non-pajorative sense). But, they do not dismiss out of hand the existence of any particular individual just because he is bound up with superntural claims. Most ancient world figures in early history were bound up with such claims. Gilgamesh is the star of an ancient flood narrative which history takes to be mythical, but historians see Gilgamesh himself as an historical figure, probably king of ancient Sumer. Now in all fairness, most histoirans do not place much stock in Pliny the younger's account as proof of Jesus' historicity, most of them do not accept Thallas account at all, or Sarapion, but they accept without question that Jesus existed based upon the Gospels, and the accounts of Josephus and Tacitus.

Luke Timothy Johnson, The Real Jesus, San Francisco: Harper, 1996,p.121

"...Non narrative New Testament writtings datable with some degree of probability before the year 70 testify to traditions circulating within the Chrsitian movement concerning Jesus that corrospond to important points within the Gospel narratives. Such traditions do not, by themselves, demonstrate historicity. But they demonstrate that memoires about Jesus were in fairly wide circulation. This makes it less likely that the corrosponding points within the Gospels were the invention of a single author. If that were the case than such invention would have to be early enough and authoritative enough to have been distributed and unchallenged across the diverse communities with which Paul delt. Such an hypothosis of course would work agaisnt the premise that Paul's form of christiantiy had little to do with those shaping the memory of Jesus." "As I have tried to show, the character of the Gospel narratives does not allow a fully satisfying reconstruction of Jesus ministry. Nevertheless certain fundamental points when taken together with confirming lines of convergence from outside testimony and non-narrative New Testament evidence, can be regarded as historical with a high degree of probability.Even the most cirtical historian can confiently assert that a Jew named Jesus worked as a teacher and wonder-worker in Palestine during the reign of Tiberius, was exicuted by crucifiction under the prefect Pontius Pilate, and continued to have followers after his death. These assertions are not mathematically or metaphysically certain, for certainty is not within the reach of history. But they enjoy a very high level of proability."

The level of probablity is slightly less secure wtih the resurrection, but that is one of those points of convergence which meet steming form these three different points of origin (Gospels, epistles, and secular sources). It must be remebered that the epistles were written before the Gospels, except perhaps for Mark. So they do count as independent sources.

C. How Historians Look at the Historicity of Jesus

John Dominic Crossan


The full review is at:

If I understand what Earl Doherty is arguing, Neil, it is that Jesus of Nazareth never existed as an historical person, or, at least that historians, like myself, presume that he did and act on that fatally flawed presumption.

I am not sure, as I said earlier, that one can persuade people that Jesus did exist as long as they are ready to explain the entire phenomenon of historical Jesus and earliest Christianity either as an evil trick or a holy parable. I had a friend in Ireland who did not believe that Americans had landed on the moon but that they had created the entire thing to bolster their cold-war image against the communists. I got nowhere with him. So I am not at all certain that I can prove that the historical Jesus existed against such an hypothesis and probably, to be honest, I am not even interested in trying.

It was, however, that hypothesis taken not as a settled conclusion, but as a simple question that was behind the first pages of BofC when I mentioned Josephus and Tacitus. I do not think that either of them checked out Jewish or Roman archival materials about Jesus. I think they were expressing the general public knowledge that "everyone" had about this weird group called Christians and their weird founder called Christ. The existence, not just of Christian materials, but of those other non-Christian sources, is enough to convince me that we are dealing with an historical individual. Furthermore, in all the many ways that opponents criticized earliest Christianity, nobody ever suggested that it was all made up. That in general, is quite enough for me.

There was one other point where I think Earl Doherty simply misstated what I did. In BofC, after the initial sections on materials and methods (1-235), I spent about equal time in Galilee (237-406) , or at least to the north, and in Jerusalem with pre-Pauline materials (407-573). I agree that if we had a totally different and irreconcilable vision/program between Paul and Q (just to take an example), it would require some very good explaining. Part of what I was doing, for example, in talking about the Common Meal Tradition was showing how even such utterly distinct eucharistic scenarios as Didache 9-10 and I Cor 11-12 have rather fascinating common elements behind and between them. It is a very different thing, in summary, for Paul to say that he is not interested in the historical Jesus (Jesus in the flesh) than to say that "no Galilee and no historical Jesus lie behind Paul."M


Crosson's Asnwer:I am not certain, Neil, that I have much to add to my previous post. I do not claim "ideological immunity" against the possibility that the historical Jesus never existed. That such a person existed is an historical conclusion for me, and neither a dogmatic postulate nor a theological presupposition. My very general arguments are: (1) that existence is given in Christian, pagan, and Jewish sources; (2) it is never negated by even the most hostile critics of early Christianity (Jesus is a bastard and a fool but never a myth or a fiction!); (3) there are no historical parallels that I know of from that time and period that help me understand such a total creation. There is, however, a fourth point that I touched on in BofC 403-406. It is crucially important for me that Jesus sent out companions and told them to do exactly what he was doing (not in his name, but as part of the Kingdom of God). The most basic continuity that I see between Jesus and those companions was, as I put it, not in mnemonics, but in mimetics. In other words, they were imitating his lifestyle and not just remembering his words. I find that emphasized in the Q Gospelís indictment of those who talk, but do not do, and in the Didacheís emphasis on the ways (tropoi) of the Lord (not just words/logoi). When, therefore, I look at a phrase such as "blessed are the destitute," and am quite willing to argue that it comes from the historical Jesus, I am always at least as sure that it represents the accurate summary of an attitude as the accurate recall of a saying. For analogy: If Gandhi had developed a large movement after his death of people who are living in non-violent resistance to oppression, and one of them cited an aphorism of Gandhi, namely "if you do not stand on a small bug, why would you stand on a Big Bug," I would be more secure on the continuity in lifestyle than in memory and could work on that as basis.

From J.P. Holding

"Greco-Roman historian Michael Grant, who certainly has no theological axe to grind, indicates that there is more evidence for the existence of Jesus thanthere is for a large number of famous pagan personages - yet no one woulddare to argue their non-existence. Meier notes that what we know about Alexander the Great could fit on only a few sheets of paper; yet no onedoubts that Alexander existed. [Meier, John P. - A Marginal Jew: Rethinkingthe Historical Jesus. New York: Doubleday, 1991, p. 23]Charlesworth has written that "Jesus did exist; and we know more about him than about almost any Palestinian Jew before 70 C.E." [Charlesworth, JamesH. - Jesus Within Judaism. New York: Doubleday, 1988., 168-9]The well-respected Jewish New Testament scholar, E.P. Sanders, echoes Grant,saying that "We know a lot about Jesus, vastly more than about John the Baptist, Theudas, Judas the Galilean, or any of the other figures whosenames we have from approximately the same date and place."[ Sanders, E.P. -The Historical Figure of Jesus. New York: Penguin Press, 1993., xiv.]

On the Crucifixion, Harvey writes: "It would be no exaggeration to say that this event is better attested, and supported by a more impressive array of evidence, than any other event of comparable importance of which we have knowledge from the ancient world." [Harvey, A. E. Jesus and the Constraintsof History. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1982., 11] The main proponent of the view that Jesus never existed has been the German Professor G.A. Wells (NOT an NT scholar). Referring to Wells' thesis, Dunnwrites:

"The alternative thesis is that within thirty years there had evolved such acoherent and consistent complex of traditions about a non-existent figuresuch as we have in the sources of the Gospels is just too implausible. Itinvolves too many complex and speculative hypotheses, in contrast to themuch simpler explanation that there was a Jesus who said and did more orless what the first three Gospels attribute to him. The fact ofChristianity's beginnings and the character of its earliest tradition issuch that we could only deny the existence of Jesus by hypothesizing theexistence of some other figure who was a sufficient cause of Chrstianity'sbeginnings - another figure who on careful reflection would probably comeout very like Jesus!"[ Dunn, James G. D. The Evidence for Jesus. Louisville:Westminster, 1985., 29]

Morton Smith, a hardened skeptic of Orthodox Christianity and an Emeritusv Professor of History, wrote of Wells' work:"I don't think the arguments in (Wells') book deserve detailed refutation."

"...he argues mainly from silence."

"...many (of his arguments) are incorrect, far too many to discuss in this space."

"(Wells) presents us with a piece of private mythology that I findincredible beyond anything in theGospels."[Hoffmann, R. J. and Larue, Gerald, eds. Jesus in History and Myth. Buffalo: Prometheus, 1986, 47-48.]

Encyclopedia. Britannica says, in its discussion of the multipleextra-biblical witnesses (Tacitus, Josephus, the Talmud, etc.):"These independent accounts prove that in ancient times even the opponentsof Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus, which was disputed for the first time and on inadequate grounds by several authors at the end of the 18th, during the 19th, and at the beginning of the 20th centuries."(Article on "Jesus", 1990)

As F.F. Bruce, Rylands professor of biblical criticism and exegesis at theUniversity of Manchester, has stated:

"Some writers may toy with the fancy of a 'Christ-myth,' but they do not doso on the ground of historical evidence. The historicity of Christ is asaxiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar. Itis not historians who propagate the 'Christ-myth' theories."[Bruce, F.F. The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? ..5th revised edition, Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1972.]Otto Betz concludes: "NO SERIOUS scholar has ventured to postulate thenon-historicity of Jesus (emphasis mine)."[Otto Betz, What do We Know about Jesus?, SCM Press, 1968, page 9]

J.P. Meier, in his authoritative work on Jesus, points out that what is MOSTsurprising is that we have ANY reference to Jesus at all:

"When we look for statements about Jesus from non canonical writings of the1st or 2nd century A.D., we are at first disappointed by the lack ofreferences. We have to remember that Jews and pagans of this period, if theywere at all aware of a new religious phenomenon on the horizon, would bemore aware of the nascent group called Christianity than of its putativefounder Jesus. Some of these writers, at least, had direct or indirectcontact with Christians; none of them had had contact with the ChristChristians worshiped. This simply reminds us that Jesus was a marginal Jewleading a marginal movement in a marginal province of a vast Roman Empire.The wonder is that any learned Jew or pagan would have known or referred tohim at all in the 1st or early 2nd century." ."[John P. Meier, A MarginalJew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus. (New York: Doubleday, 1994)]

The Historicity of Jesus In his recent work on extra-biblical references to Jesus, Robert E. Van Voorst comments on the thesis that Christ was not a historical figure:

"The nonhistoricity thesis has always been controversial, and it has consistently failed to convince scholars of many disciplines and religious creeds. Moreover, it has also consistently failed to convince many who for reasons of religious skepticism might have been expected to entertain it, from Voltaire to Bertrand Russell. Biblical scholars and classical historians now regard it as effectively refuted." [Robert E. Van Voorst, Jesus Outside the New Testament, (Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000), p. 16.]

The authors of two of the most influential histories of New Testament interpretation sum up the scholarly opinion of the Christ-myth thesis in their day. Werner G. Kummel writes in a footnote that "the denial of the existence of Jesus.[is] arbitrary and ill-founded."[The New Testament: The History of the Investigation of its Problems (Nashville: Abingdon, 1972) p. 447, n. 367.]

And according to Gunter Bornkamm, "to doubt the historical existence of Jesus at all.was reserved for an unrestrained, tendentious criticism of modern times into which it is not worth while to enter here."[Jesus of Nazareth (New York: Harper & Row, 1959) p. 28.]

Likewise, Van Voorst, referring to the mythicists, states that "Contemporary New Testament scholars have typically viewed their arguments as so weak or bizarre that they relegate them to footnotes, or often ignore them completely." [Robert E. Van Voorst, Jesus Outside the New Testament, (Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000), p. 6.]

The arche liberal Rudolf Bultmann, who doubted the authenticity of much of the Gospel traditions, concluded: "Of course the doubt as to whether Jesus really existed is unfounded and not worth refutation. No sane person can doubt that Jesus stands as founder behind the historical movement whose first distinct stage is represented by the Palestinian community."[Jesus and the Word (2nd ed.; New York: Scribners, 1958).p.13]

Charlesworth has written that "Jesus did exist; and we know more about him than about almost any Palestinian Jew before 70 C.E." [Charlesworth, James H. - Jesus Within Judaism. New York: Doubleday, 1988., 168-9]

Van Voorst Wrote of Wells:

"Although Wells has been probably the most able advocate of the nonhistoricity theory, he has not been persuasive and is now almost a lone voice for it. The theory of Jesus' nonexistence is now effectively dead as a scholarly question." [Robert E. Van Voorst, Jesus Outside the New Testament, (Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000), p. 14.]

To his credit, G.A. Wells has now abandoned the Christ-Myth hypothesis and has accepted the historicity of Jesus on the basis of the "Q" document. [See G.A. Wells, The Jesus Myth (La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1999).]

Of the historicity of Jesus, Glenn Miller writes the following:

"Jesus lived His public life in the land of Palestine under the Roman rule of Tiberius (ad 14-37). There are four Roman historical sources for his reign: Tacitus (55-117), Suetonius (70-160), Velleius Paterculus (a contemporary), and Dio Cassius (3rd century). There are two Jewish historical resources that describe events of this period: Josephus (37-100?), writing in Greek, and the Rabbinical Writings (written in Hebrew after 200, but much of which would have been in oral form prior to that time). "Of these writings, we would NOT expect Velleius to have a reference to Jesus (i.e. the events were just happening OUTSIDE of Velleius' home area), and Dio Cassius is OUTSIDE of our time window of pre-3rd century. Of the remaining Roman writers--Tacitus and Suetonius--we have apparent references to Jesus (discussed below). If these are genuine and trustworthy 'mentions' of Jesus, then we have an amazing fact--ALL the relevant non-Jewish historical sources mention Jesus! (Notice that this is the OPPOSITE situation than is commonly assumed--"If Jesus was so important, why didn't more historians write about Him?" In this case, THEY ALL DID!).

"Of the Jewish resources--Josephus and the Rabbinical writings (e.g. Talmud, Midrash)--BOTH make clear references to the existence of Jesus (even though the details reported may be odd). So ALL the Jewish sources refer to Him.

"In addition, there are three OTHER candidates for historical 'mentions' of Jesus that fall in the 2nd century: one Roman (Pliny the Younger) , one possibly Syrian (Mara Bar Serapion), and one Samaritian (Thallus)."

In his book, The Historical Figure of Jesus, E.P. Sanders explains that Jesus would not have been well-known by historians in his day: "Most of the first-century literature that survives was written by members of the very small elite class of the Roman Empire. To them, Jesus (if they heard of him at all) was merely a troublesome rabble-rouser and magician in a small, backward part of the world" (1993, p. 49, parenthetical comment in orig.).

J.P. Meier, in his authoritative work on Jesus, points out that what is MOST surprising is that we have ANY reference to Jesus at all:

"When we look for statements about Jesus from non canonical writings of the 1st or 2nd century A.D., we are at first disappointed by the lack of references. We have to remember that Jews and pagans of this period, if they were at all aware of a new religious phenomenon on the horizon, would be more aware of the nascent group called Christianity than of its putative founder Jesus. Some of these writers, at least, had direct or indirect contact with Christians; none of them had had contact with the Christ Christians worshiped. This simply reminds us that Jesus was a marginal Jew leading a marginal movement in a marginal province of a vast Roman Empire. The wonder is that any learned Jew or pagan would have known or referred to him at all in the 1st or early 2nd century." ."[John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus (New York: Doubleday, 1994)]

Yamauchi summarized quite well the findings of the secular sources regarding Christ:

"Even if we did not have the New Testament or Christian writings, we would be able to conclude from such non-Christian writings as Josephus, the Talmud, Tacitus and Pliny the Younger that: (1) Jesus was a Jewish teacher; (2) many people believed that he performed healings and exorcisms; (3) he was rejected by the Jewish leaders; (4) he was crucified under Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius; (5) despite this shameful death, his followers, who believed that he was still alive, spread beyond Palestine so that there were multitudes of them in Rome by 64 A.D.; (6) all kinds of people from the cities and countryside-men and women, slave and free-worshiped him as God by the beginning of the second century." (1995, p. 222)

As J.P. Holding writes: "None of these scholars, we emphasize, is a friendof fundamentalism or evangelical Christianity. Contrary to the protestationsof the "Jesus-myth" consortium, they make their statements based onevidence, not ideology. Conspiracy and bias exist only in their ownimagination."

To his credit, G.A. Wells has now abandoned the Christ-Myth hypothesis andhas accepted the historicity of Jesus on the basis of the "Q" document. [SeeG.A. Wells, The Jesus Myth (La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1999).]

"The Historicity of Jesus Christ"

Wayne Jackson

The Christian Courier

December, 7 1998

"More careful scholars, however, have been forced to acknowledge the historicity of the Lord. German historian, Adolf Harnack (1851-1930), declared that Jesus was so imposing that He was "far beyond the power of men to invent" and that those who treat Him as a myth are bereft of "the capacity to distinguish between fiction and the documentary evidence..." (as quoted by Harrison, p. 3). Joseph Klausner, the famous Jewish scholar of Hebrew University (who did not accept Christ as the Son of God) conceded that Jesus lived and exerted a powerful influence, both in the first century and subsequent thereto (1989, pp. 17-62)."

Next: Argument II; chruch fathers.

The Religious A priori