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Jesus. Fact or fiction?

Updated on June 7, 2015
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Loving God and loving mankind is an important part of who I am, in these hubs we explore what it's like to really follow Jesus.

The documents we are talking about

Is this book trustworthy? Did Jesus really exist or is he a figment of someone's imagination
Is this book trustworthy? Did Jesus really exist or is he a figment of someone's imagination

First things first

I have a Theological background with a Certificate in Religious studies from Cambridge University and my Bible College diploma is now given degree equivalency from Sheffield University. I've spent the last thirty years being told that people who believe the Bible to be literal and accurate basically belong to the "Flat Earth Society" so for the last thirty years I've been researching different parts of the Bible to see if it stands up to scrutiny.

Rather than try to tell you that "I'm looking into it" and then lead you down the Garden path I want to take the time to show you why I think that Jesus is a real person who walked and talked in Ancient Israel, that he did have disciples and that they went out and changed the world.

First of all the idea of doubting whether Jesus was a real person is nothing new. That first started back in the first century, nothing has changed in that respect, and I don't really expect it to change all that much in response to this hub, it's just that having read Catherine Giordano's hub Did Jesus Exist or Is It All a Myth? I felt the need to present the case for the real Jesus.

This isn't a discussion on whether Jesus was merely Human or God incarnate, but more a presentation of the Historical data that shows he really did walk the earth.

The documents. are they to be trusted? An early Christian manuscript
The documents. are they to be trusted? An early Christian manuscript

The History

Before I can start answering about the "Mythologizing" of Jesus and looking at the stories of his healing the sick we need to look at the Historical records and deal with why there seems to be so little evidence for such a man. After all, if he was so great then shouldn't we have a much better picture of him?

The Romans were amazing administrators , but not that amazing. Jesus wasn't a Prince or an important Roman official, they had their deeds recorded, average humans didn't! Jerusalem wasn't Rome, it wasn't the center of the world at the time, it was a backwater province that the Romans didn't care too much about except for the fact that it was a buffer state between their vital supply field of Egypt and their deadliest enemies the Parthians. Israel and Jerusalem were of little importance for them except to keep the peace and protect Egyptian grain.

How many Roman Historians write anything about Jesus? Five

Only five? Yes

Why not more? Well simply because Jesus was from a backwater and for the first few years that's where Christianity was, as it spread it finally made it to where the Romans began to take notice of it.

The four Historians were

  1. Thallus. (Circa AD50) Not a lot known about this Historian except that he wrote three books on history and in particular about the fall of Troy. Most of his works were lost but fragments were preserved in other writings or later authors.
    He's important because he writes about a solar eclipse that happened in AD 28 over Israel that could have been the time of the Crucifixion. "On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his 'History', calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun." Is this a plant by later Christian writers to deceive us into thinking that it was real?

  2. Flavius Josephus. Jewish Historian and one of the leaders in the Jewish rebellion of 70 AD. By AD 72 Josephus who was commander of the Jewish Zealots in Galilee realized that they were going to lose (could be the fact that four Roman Legions had crossed into Israel intent of crushing all resistance. Josephus surrendered and literally defected to the Romans. Later he was to write a complete history of the Jewish people for the Romans to explain why the Jews were the way they were. Here is an excerpt of what Wikipedia says about Josephus and the texts that refer to Jesus.

    The extant manuscripts of the writings of the 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian Flavius Josephus include references to Jesus and the origins of Christianity.[1][2] Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews, written around 93–94 AD, includes two references to the biblical Jesus Christ in Books 18 and 20 and a reference to John the Baptist in Book 18.[1][3]

    Scholarly opinion on the total or partial authenticity of the reference in Book 18, Chapter 3, 3 of the Antiquities, a passage that states that Jesus the Messiah was a wise teacher who was crucified by Pilate, usually called the Testimonium Flavianum, varies.[4][5][1] The general scholarly view is that while the Testimonium Flavianum is most likely not authentic in its entirety, it is broadly agreed upon that it originally consisted of an authentic nucleus, which was then subject to Christian expansion/alteration. [5][6][7][8][9][10] Although the exact nature and extent of the Christian redaction remains unclear,[11] there is broad consensus as to what the original text of the Testimonium by Josephus would have looked like.[9]

    Modern scholarship has largely acknowledged the authenticity of the reference in Book 20, Chapter 9, 1 of the Antiquities to "the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James" [12] and considers it as having the highest level of authenticity among the references of Josephus to Christianity.[13][1][2][14][15][16] However, New Testament scholar Robert M. Price speculates that Josephus may have considered James a fraternal brother rather than a sibling.[17]

    So, some of Josephus can be accepted as genuine and some of it can't!

Read Josephus' account for yourself

3. Seutonius

Gaius Seutonius Tranquillus was a man of equestrian rank (Middle class) born around 69 AD who during the reign of Emperor Hadrian wrote the treatise "The Twelve Caesars" detailing the lives of the earliest Caesars of the Roman Republic.

Alongside Emperor Claudius (who was also a historian and whose works did not come down to us in complete form) he is the one who tells us the most about the time and the Emperors of the time.

Seutonius is more interested in how things directly affect Rome and the Empire, not necessarily what is going on in the provinces but he does tell us some interesting things.

Seutonius is the one that tells us that in AD 49 there was a riot in Rome in the Jewish quarter. Here is the reference in the Twelve Caesars."Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome." By the way, "Christ" is not a name but a title! It's the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew title "Messiah" or "Anointed one".

The book of Acts also refers to an expulsion of the Jews from Rome around that time."And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, a man of Pontus by race, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome: and he came unto them" (Acts Chapter 18 verse 2) whether it's a reference to Christ is up for debate among scholars but the fact that the two records mention the event makes for a big coincidence!

Seutonius also mentions that Nero persecuted the Christians starting around AD 66 Here is how he puts it. "During his reign many abuses were severely punished and put down, and no fewer new laws were made: a limit was set to expenditures; the public banquets were confined to a distribution of food; the sale of any kind of cooked viands in the taverns was forbidden, with the exception of pulse and vegetables, whereas before every sort of dainty was exposed for sale. Punishment was inflicted on the Christians,[44] a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition. He put an end to the diversions of the chariot drivers, who from immunity of long standing claimed the right of ranging at large and amusing themselves by cheating and robbing the people. The pantomimic actors and their partisans were banished from the city." (Both pasted from Wikipedia)

So by AD 66 Christianity was already a "New and mischievous superstition" (How long did they have to develop that idea? the Christians that is?)


Learn what Seutonius wrote

How Christianity crushed Rome

4. Pliny the Younger

Born around AD 61 and was a witness to the eruption of Vesuvius that buried Pompeii. Pliny the younger was a prolific letter writer and it's mostly in his letters that he leaves the records that we are interested in.

As a Roman officer Pliny the Younger held trials for Christians in the provinces. He was governor of Bithinya (a province in modern day Turkey) and this is what his letters reveal.

As the Roman governor of Bithynia-Pontus (now in modern Turkey) Pliny wrote a letter to Emperor Trajan around 112 AD and asked for counsel on dealing with Christians. In the letter (Epistulae X.96) Pliny detailed an account of how he conducted trials of suspected Christians who appeared before him as a result of anonymous accusations and asked for the Emperor's guidance on how they should be treated.[18] Pliny had never performed a legal investigation of Christians, and thus consulted Trajan in order to be on solid ground regarding his actions, and saved his letters and Trajan's replies.[19] Neither Pliny nor Trajan mention the crime that Christians had committed, except for being a Christian; Trajan's response to Pliny makes it clear that being known as a "Christian" was sufficient for judicial action.[20] The correspondence between Pliny and Emperor Trajan shows that the Roman Empire, as a government entity, did not at this time “seek out” Christians for prosecution or persecution.[21] Pliny's letter is the earliest surviving Roman document to refer to early Christians.[22

5. Tacitus

As a Roman Senator Tacitus wrote sometime in the latter part of the first century and his writings deal mostly with the lives of the early Emperors of Rome (From Julius Caesar until AD 69 when Rome had four emperors in one year!) He writes about the Christians in respect to Nero and his persecution of the Christians (the first systematic persecution that they would suffer, the first of ten documented times when it would break out against the Christians)

"Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind".


Why only the five?

Christianity started in Judea, a backwater of the Empire, Jesus was born when Judea was a 'client kingdom' of Rome and wasn't part of the Empire proper. Herod the Great had been given his Kingdom as a reward for faithfully rallying Roman troops against the Parthians who had tried to take over the region in 45 BCE. It would remain a client kingdom until 3 BCE and his death. Even after that Judea was given special status in the Empire and allowed to set most of it's own rules (as long as the taxes were paid) so the Romans weren't concerned about the strange prophets and holy men running around at the time (the Bible itself records a number of them besides Jesus! Read Acts chapter 5

36 For before these days rose up Theudas, giving himself out to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were dispersed, and came to nought.

37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the enrolment, and drew away some of the people after him: he also perished; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered abroad.

Why only five? To be honest I'd be more worried if it were more as that would speak to me of the early church "fiddling the books!" Also the fact that the written surces are so brief in what they say lends to them actually being authentic. There are scholars who disagree with this, there will always be those who disagree but it doesn't take away from the fact that the brevity of the references tell us that they haven't been tampered with in the way that some would accuse Christians of doing

All of the sources I have quoted can be traced back to the first or early second century and all of them are agreed upon by scholars in the area, they all point to one thing, that Christianity had a founder, a Human being who walked this earth. Beyond that at this stage I won't say (but anyone who reads my hubs will know where I stand on the issue).


Jesus and the Essenes

There is a lot of similarity between Jesus' teaching and that of the teacher of righteousness in the Essene community. There is also a lot of difference!. Listed below are a few sites that help you see the similarities and the differences between the two. Jesus' teachings didn't just use the Essenes but he also used the teachings of both Rabbinical schools of the time and some of his own unique teachings.


Non Biblical evidence

What do you think?

have you come across these writers before?

See results

In conclusion

Presented in this hub is just the non biblical evidence for Jesus. I have not included any of the manuscripts and fragments that have come to light over the years. There is so much information that it would take at least two or three hubs to cover all of it.

The earliest gospels that we have (complete) are from the third and fourth centuries, but we have fragments from as early as 90 AD (that fragment is of Mark's gospel and was only found two years ago, I will put links below). At the time of writing the experts examining the fragment have not revealed how much of the gospel it contains but have said that it is enough to either confirm or radically alter what we know of early christian beliefs!. the second earliest is of John's gospel and dates from around 125 AD. It is on display at the John Rylands library in the University of Manchester, England. What is strange about this one is that the papyrus is written on both sides indicating that it was from a codex (early manually bound book)

Scholars tell us that they are finding on average two or three fragments a year from the first four centuries of Christianity (one found three years ago was a fourth century fragment telling us of at least one early christian group who believed Jesus was married!)

Of the fragments we have at least one from the first century and approximately two hundred from the second century covering roughly 43% of the entire New testament. There are over 10,000 codex's (early books) and fragments from the first century to the tenth century (most are around the third or fourth century). When a Bible is translated all of these fragments and codex's are taken into account.

Have I covered everything that was in Catherine's hub? probably not even close, but if I keep going this is going to be a book and not a hub so I'll stop this hub here and wait to hear from folks as to what we look at next.

Did Jesus really exist? Personally I believe he did! but I'll let you read the evidence and make your own decisions.

Sorry if I haven't covered the things you wanted me to cover but if you leave a note in the comments below I will seek to try and answer your questions.

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    • lawrence01 profile image
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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Pat

      Thank you for the visit and vote up. The hub was a reply/refute of an earlier hub throwing doubt in whether Jesus was a real person. He's real to me too and not just as a historical character!

      Glad you enjoyed the hub and found it useful, you might also find the follow on hub about the Gospels helpful as I take a look at whether what they tell us can be trusted. I think you'd like it.

      The hub is "The Gospels, can they be trusted?"

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      So in depth that I will be bookmarking to return and reread. I felt that as I read it 'you are preaching to the chorus' as I DO know HE is real.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to provide all of this information with us.

      voted up++++ shared g+ tweeted

      Many Angels are on the way to you this afternoon ps

    • lawrence01 profile image
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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Nell

      Great minds think alike! So the saying goes.

      Glad you enjoyed the hub

      Lawrence

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      Ya beat me to Tacitus! LOL! I was going to give you the link, ah well, never mind, interesting stuff!

    • lawrence01 profile image
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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Deb

      You're right there. The point of the hub was about the historical evidence for him. The reason I mentioned the Essenes was because of similarities in teaching mentioned in Catherine's hub not to claim anything. Personally I think he taught what he learned from his father (God) not from the Essenes

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I have no proof for or against, but aren't many of Jesus' teachings really those that he learned on his own?

    • lawrence01 profile image
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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Emge

      Thanks for the visit and comment. The hub was a look at the secular historical documents and what they say.

      As for the gospel records and miracles we may explore that in future.

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • emge profile image

      Madan 2 years ago from Abu Dhabi

      A great post and very interesting. Yes, Jesus was certainly there, maybe some of his miracles may be a imagination or added.

    • lawrence01 profile image
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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Trish

      You are so right there:)

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 2 years ago from The English Midlands

      Lawrence, our interpretations of events and records are very different. But the world would be a boring place if everyone agreed on everything :)

    • lawrence01 profile image
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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Trish

      Following up on your second comment. You are spot on, the Bible tells us of a few and how they dealt with them by ignoring their followers after they were executed (Acts 10 and Rabbi Gamaliel's advice to the Sanhedrin). We only know of them by the mention in the New Testament despite one of them having more followers than Jesus did in his lifetime!

      In 135 AD a rebellion took place that was so big the Romans obliterated the nation of Israel and took Jerusalem apart brick by brick. Emperor Hadrian was so incensed at the Jews he passed a law forbidding any Jew to enter the new city built on the spot, punishment was by DEATH. So yes there were many who claimed the title but only one who backed it up with radical teaching about forgivness and he's the one we're talking about.

    • lawrence01 profile image
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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Trish

      Thank you for the visit and information you posted. I'll go have a look at your hub and read it.

      For me it is important as the Bible says it's a true story! If we find it isn't then the whole thing is founded on a lie!

      I was being a 'bit cheeky' with the flat earth comment although recently I was called it to my face in a debate with a work collegue (we're still good mates and have good talks about evolution).

      The goal in the hub was to defend the historical records we have which I felt was achieved but not (in this hub) to defend what we know of Jesus. That is something that I think can come later once the integrity of the record is established.

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 2 years ago from The English Midlands

      Just to clarify, we could say this;

      In the Holy Land of the first century there were numerous potential messiahs, numerous travelling preachers, numerous supposed miracle-workers, etc, and, by reading the gospels, we can get an idea of what life might have been like for such a man - though we cannot be certain whether or not this particular man Jesus was historically real or not?

      Why don't we say this? Because many people believe that the central character in this story was not only real, but was the divine son of God / God incarnate.

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 2 years ago from The English Midlands

      Hi :)

      I know that there are some highly intelligent, highly educated, believers in this world so, while I may not understand why they feel so sure about something that others doubt, I realise that belief is not just for uneducated flat-earthers.

      I also realise that a lot of experts on this subject believe that there is plenty of evidence for Jesus' existence.

      I am not so convinced and, about three years ago, I put my thoughts and opinions in a hub here:

      'Jesus Christ or Julius Caesar ~ Who is More Likely to Have Been a Real Person?'

      https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Jesus-Chr...

      If you wish to take a look, you will see that I have encountered those authors, but do not consider their 'evidence' to be reliable enough to be taken as absolute proof for the existence of Jesus known as Jesus Christ.

      I think that it is entirely possible that Jesus walked the earth, because his story - that of an apocalyptic preacher who may have been considered a Messiah and aroused Roman wrath - fits perfectly with the politics of the day.

      Can we be absolutely sure that his entire story was absolutely true? I don't think so. But we do know, I think, that such a story could be true and that similar stories were true, so why does it matter whether this particular man was really named 'Joshua' and whether his friends were Peter, Andrew, John, etc, and whether he caused a riot over Passover?

      I think that it is always important to get as close to the truth as possible, but for many, what makes this story important is the belief that this Joshua was a divine miracle-working son of God / God incarnate, miraculously born of a virgin and miraculously resurrected after death.

      So the two aspects of the story have to go together, even though one is about history and the other is about faith.

      Personally, I am intrigued by the Jesus story and find the idea of teasing out truths from 'good news' propaganda much more interesting than believing the stories told at Sunday School. :)

    • lawrence01 profile image
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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      JBM

      Yes I do. I think you'll find it interesting as I'll be focusing on the methods used to date all ancient documents (not just the Biblical ones but every one including things like Homer's illiad, Socrates and others). Why some libraries prefer one method over another and why many don't use carbon dating!

      You might not agree with the conclusions I come to (we are entitled to opinions) but its good to look at evidence.

      Give me a couple of weeks though

      Lawrence

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      jBM 2 years ago

      You really need to write a hub about trusting that anonymous fraud?

    • lawrence01 profile image
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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      JBM

      I have another hub planned on the young earth series I was doing and then I'll be writing the hub on whether we can trust the New Testament documents and whether the dating of the NT can be trusted.

      Meanwhile I'll take a look at the link you sent through.

      Lawrence

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      jBM 2 years ago

      Post the evidence that proves when the NT books were written. You claim to have the evidence. Post it.

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      jBM 2 years ago

    • lawrence01 profile image
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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      JBM

      Just been going through some of the information you sent on this hub (the "mountainman" link) which seems to refer back to the discussion we wete having about Josh McDowell and his use of Justin Martyr quoting the second century document "The Actts of Pilate" and they all seem to agree that both Justin and Tertullian were ok to quote it as there was a book in existence at the time!

      It seems that they all agree that the book probably came into existence possibly in the early second century. This basically throws out your point that Josh was Debunked as there seemed to be such a document at the time.

      As for the possibility of the early christians faking the gospels in the later centuries I will be writing a hub on the methods used to date early manuscripts (not just christian stuff but all the early writings) as I think the folks here might like to know if they can be trusted?

      Lawrence

    • lawrence01 profile image
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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      JBM

      I look forward to reading the articles. You are aware though that papyrus started to disappear around the mid fourth century as parchment and vellum became more frequently used? (better to work with)

      Christian documents from as early as the second century were made into codices which you couldn't do too well with papyrus.

      Lawrence

    • profile image

      jBM 2 years ago

      I have about 50 articles planned this year about all the evidence against jesus. One will be on all the counterfeit papyrus and the scam dates. I will do another on all the church fathers of forgery. I may have to do a diagram to show how their web of lies went down. The criminal abrahamic organizations are in for a big shake up in the next few years.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      JBM

      Yes I did delete one of your comments to Larry as I felt it wasn't on the subject.

      As for bringing up the gospel of Nicodemus all was doing was pointing out where the "Acts of Pilate" is found. I wasn't arguing anything else!

      As for the "ONLY FIVE" that was because I was writing about the "NON CHRISTIAN" historians! You're right about the apologists using anything up to twenty but many of them are CHRISTIAN writers from the late first through to early third century, if I'd included them this hub would be 30,000 words and not the 3,000 I stopped at. I may do a hub covering some of the early christian writings (non New Testament) to show the volume and accuracy but we'll see.

      As for the rest there is clear evidence from Archaeology, History and Linguistics (which we'll cover in another hub later) that show the New Testament and the gospels in particular to have bern written when they say they were. You say they weren't, well the onus is on you to prove what you say. And I mean to write the article out with references that people can check.

      I haven't gone through all your comments yet but will continue to look through and get back to you.

      Lawrence

    • profile image

      jBM 2 years ago

      I will post a few of your quotes, with my responses:

      "Why only five? To be honest I'd be more worried if it were more as that would speak to me of the early church "fiddling the books!""

      *Response: Many professional and famous jesus apologists, site between 7-19 extra-biblical sources. The average use around 10. Early church "fiddling" is known, proven, or at least highly suspected in almost 100% of them.

      "surces are so brief in what they say lends to them actually being authentic."

      "it doesn't take awafact that the brevity of the references tell us that they haven't been tampered with in the way that some would accuse Christians of doing"

      *Response: Absolutely false. Church leaders actually wrote most of them, so how can you even suggest this?

      "All of the sources I have quoted can be traced back to the first or early second century and all of them are agreed upon by scholars in the area,"

      *Response: We do not have one single ORIGINAL source writing that you claimed, from the 1st century. Almost all of them were written by church leaders in the 9th-11th centuries. Your "evidence" is an absolute joke.

    • profile image

      jBM 2 years ago

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      jBM 2 years ago

      Lawrence, yes that one one author who refutes Josh's "evidence" that he attempts, is himself a jesus believer. He believes the New Testament.

      I cannot believe that you are bringing up the gospel of Nicodemus. How desperate are you?

    • profile image

      jBM 2 years ago

      Lawrence, did you delete some of my rebuttals?

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Jodah.

      You raised enough in your comment to fill a dozen hubs! The Templars are fascinating. I once wrote a paper for someone on them (when I was doing that stuff) he must have got a good mark as I actually got paid for it.

      They possibly did collect a lot of stuff but when they were forced to shut down nothing was found!

      Regarding crucifixion you're right that only one set of remains has ever been found in Israel. They were found in 1969 in an "ossuary" which is a stone box that bones were put in after the flesh had rotted away.

      Archaeologists have pored over them as they show us how people were secured to the cross.

      Wood was scarce in israel so the crosses tended to get re-used. People could take days to die on one. It was designed for maximum pain and maximum humiliation (succesful on both counts) but as soon as they were dead they were taken down so the would could be re-used (Archaeology showed us that!) The ossuary had a name on it "Johanin" and you can look the details up online.

      The crucifixion of Jeaus was different as it took place at passover and the Jews didn't want him hanging there or it would break the Jewish law so his legs would have been broken but when they went to do he was already dead.

      Great comment

      Lawrence

      By the way as far as I'm aware the legs were broken on Johanin

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Lawrence, I recently istened to an audio book about the Knights Templar. It was a fiction novel but had basis on fact. Anyway it stated that the Templar in France and Cyprus were in possession of rare texts and codex written between the 1st and 4th centuries that contained information relating to Jesus' crucifixion and the controversy surrounding the disposal of his body afterwards. eg. he only took about three hours to die on the cross while most took days. Cross boards were normally nailed to the cross below buttocks and feet so that they could take the condemned's weight at intervals to prolong their life and suffering. It was also normal for the legs to be eventually broken so that they could no longer support the body and to finally bring on death. The bodies were then left dangling for the birds and elements to dispose of most of the flesh, before being buried in a common grave. The bones of only one crucified person have ever been found. Jesus was taken down from the cross and his body transported (at night) to be buried or entombed. This was also never normally done. It states these steps seem to have been taken so that prophesies from the Old Testament in regard to resurrection could be made possible. How much of this is fantasy or ha basis on fact I have no idea.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      Boy does it. I'm enjoying it though.

      JBM

      I was looking through some of the stuff you sent through and it's interesting.

      I went to your link about "debunking" the christian apologist and was really surprised to see your article didn't debunk Josh McDowell at all! It agreed with him about Jesus really existing but disagreed with the evidence he used!

      Josh used quotes from Justin Martyr quoting from "The Acts of Pilate" that the writer claims doesn't exist.

      I did an internet search and found that there is such a document!

      The gospel of Nicodemus is a fourth century document written in Hebrew. In the doc is a Greek document believed to be much older. This same doc is in another fourth century document called "The passion of Peter and Paul"

      The problem is Justin lived in the early second century so how did he know about the document?

      Three possibilities

      1) The Justin quote is a forgery!

      2) Justin's talking about another unknown document.

      3) The document might be genuine!

      I don't know enough to make a call on that but its clear Josh isn't "debunked" but criticised for the way he handled the evidence.

      I'll continue looking into the stuff you sent through but it will take time and I've never run from a debate so I'm not going to now (I'm having too much fun)

      Lawrence

      JBM

      I'd also like us to stay on topic and give a little time for replies to be written.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      JBM: there have been any number of non-religious based studies into the life of Jesus from journals to books to documentaries on the Discovery Channel. All indicate that Jesus probably existed.

      I don't know why you would find that cocept so offensive? In most accounts of Jesus' life he comes off as a highly admirable person, whether or not he had an affiliation with God. That may or may not be true. Unless you lived it or it's all captured on film, it's always up for debate.

      Personally, I'm agnostic. I find the study of all religions worthwhile, and I try to respect people's beliefs, even if they're not my own.

      JBM, my problem with you is the hateful nature of your comments for seemingly no intellectual advancement.

      But that's just like my opinion, dude:-)

    • profile image

      jBM 2 years ago

      To see Lawrence getting pwned over and over: https://owlcation.com/humanities/Did-Jesus-Exist-o... ***See the comments

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      jBM 2 years ago

      It boils down to this; almost all the extra-biblical evidence was written by christian leaders, 1000-1100 years later. In some instances, other church leaders placed interpolations into those monk copies. Almost all of the original extra-biblical writings, no longer exist. Some of the claimed extra-biblical writings, only exist in the writings and claims of church fathers and leaders. The dishonesty in the attempt to use this fraud, is evidence of your absence of merit.

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      jBM 2 years ago

      Catherine, funny how Lawrence never looks at opposing evidence. He wrote this entire hub without addressing all my rebuttals in the last one. He just ignores and preaches his refuted talking points like a little christ-bot.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      And the debate rages on.

    • lawrence01 profile image
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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Larry

      Glad you liked the hub. You're right that most historians don't debate whether Jesus really existed, whether he whom the gospels claim is up for debate.

      JBM

      As far as I am aware no one is intentionally hiding anything. I'mcertainly not aware of it! As for historians not being involved in Theological debates well they are to a certain extent.

      The theologian may be the one debating but it's the historian who looks at how the outcome affects the wider society.

      Classic example would be the Council of Nicea in 325 AD.

      The theologian is interested in the controversy between Arius and Athanasius but its the historian who tells us how it and the decisions taken affwcted the Empire. Its the historian who tells us that Athanasius won the debate on the deity of Christ (and I'm not going into the rights and wrongs there) but they also tell us the outcome for him was internal exile five times in his lifetime (so much for winning a debate.

      I haven't had chance to look at the other things you put on but I will and will get back to you.

      Lawrence

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      jBM 2 years ago

      Fabricating the Jesus Story – Exposing the Fictional Actors/Writers: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Peter – Research By: Kenneth Humphreys of JesusNeverExisted.com

      http://tmblr.co/ZkpfQtnLvAYf

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      jBM 2 years ago

      Refuting John Meier’s “Minor Figure jesus” claims and excuses, attempting to explain away the fact that nobody in Early Antiquity, mentioned jesus.

      http://tmblr.co/ZkpfQtnIWMxg

      The bible claims that fictional jesus was one of the Most Famous people of the 1st century, with tens of thousands of followers – The New Testament is the ONLY Source for jesus.

      http://tmblr.co/ZkpfQtnIZY-h

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      jBM 2 years ago

      The jesus Birther Movement (jBM) Research Database Directory:

      http://tmblr.co/ZkpfQtaKiFCa

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      jBM 2 years ago

      Larry, why would historians get involved in the thousands of theology claims by religious scriptures? Oh yeah...they don't.

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      jBM 2 years ago

      What would happen in court if a defendant gave the judge several written witness accounts and it turned out that the defendant wrote them all and 10-11x later than claimed?

    • profile image

      jBM 2 years ago

      I know why you are purposely refusing to disclose the details about the writings of your 5. Debunking the Fraudulent christian Apologist List of Extra-biblical but non-contemporary, claimed “sources” used as jesus “evidence.” (Jewish, “Pagan,” Non-christian, “Secular”)

      http://tmblr.co/ZkpfQtmt2ygH

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      It really isn't that much of a debate whether or not Jesus existed. Most all historians agree he did. Whether he was the son of God is heavily debated.

      Great article.

    • lawrence01 profile image
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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Jodah

      Glad you liked the hub John. Thank you for saying the two hubs were both well written. I think its important to give both sides of the picture and that's what we did.

      As for going into the other stuff, well lets see what happens with the debate

      Lawrence

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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      The "eyewitness accounts" are the ones we are disputing. They are the gospel accounts that many deny!

      Matthew was one of the disciples.

      Mark is believed to have been extensive notes taken from Peter.

      Luke wasn't a witness but claimed to have interviewed many of those who were.

      John was one of the three closest disciples.

      I know the sources you are using don't accept them as accounts but it might be good to see if they are trustworthy!

      I left them out of the original hub as you'd discounted them in yours.

      Lawrence

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrence01: What eyewitness accounts? I found none. Please cite the eyewitness accounts so I can look into it.

    • lawrence01 profile image
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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Justthemessenger

      Good summary of the hub. We look back two thousand years later and try to answer the queations but all those involved are long gone from our world and the official records aren't there either because they were lost or were never there. We do have eyewitness accounts to the events (I believe) but to reply to Catherine's hub "in kind" I needed to leave them to one side and just explore the scant official records we do have.

      Glad you enjoyed the hub.

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Great hub in response to Catherine's equally well written hub, Lawrence. I too believe Jesus existed and was the Christus/Chrestus spoken about by Seutonius and Tacitus etc who lead the Christians and upset the Romans. Whether he was actually the son of God and performed all the miracles attributed to him I'm sure will be dealt with in other hubs/articles. Voted up.

    • lawrence01 profile image
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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      Jesus was charged with sedition but according to the gospel accounts (we have no other records on this) he was foubd innocent.

      The problem was Pilate was corrupt and the Jewish leaders knew it. They gave Pilate an ultimatum "Execute him or Caesar will find out what you've been doing!" (John 18 verses 28 to 19 verse 12 take note of the last verse) from then on Pilate had no choice!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Obviously, Jesus, if he existed, was affecting Rome. Rome executed him. As I understand it, his crime was sedition. Sounds important. No some simple mule thief.

      I was only trying to address the point you made that we don't see much of anything (or anything at all) written about Jesus because he wasn't important enough for anyone to write about. If we have records of other unimportant people that demolishes that argument. I don't know if there are such records or not. I was wondering if anyone could answer that question definitively.

    • lawrence01 profile image
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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      I wouldn't know about the 'list of obscure nobodies'. My point was that Rome wasn't concerned with the various groups until they directly affected Rome.

      I agree that he isn't depicted in the Bible as a nobody, but the point of the hub was showing from non biblical account the records. I wanted to bring the Biblical account in but that would have defeated the object.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      I need to find the answer to a question. Do we have a record of other minor unimportant individuals? If we do not, then the argument that Jesus was too minor to be written about makes sense. If we do have records of other "nobodies", then the argument loses credence. BUT--big but--Jesus is not depicted in the Bible as a nobody. He had thousands, even tens of thousands of followers. He pissed off both the Romans and the Jews. It seems he is pretty "big time" based on Biblical accounts.

    • lawrence01 profile image
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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      A great summing up. Whether he lived or not the message lives on. Now if only we can live the message out, what an amazing thing that will be!

      Lawrence

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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Chris

      Thank you for the comment and adding to the understanding of what the hub is about. I suppose you might say this is presenting part of the case for accepting the historical record.

      When you take the writers from the early church out of the equation the evidence seems pretty slim but it's still there and while some may not agree with it most do accept their record of events as being accurate.

      I'm glad the hub made you think and I agree with what you say that accepting "By faith" is only part of the picture. We are also encouraeged to find the truth out.

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • justthemessenger profile image

      James C Moore 2 years ago from The Great Midwest

      I see your point with regard to why so little historical documentation of Jesus is revealed in Roman records. Jesus was not the type of person they would have written about. He was a product of a seemingly ordinary working stiff family who lived in Israel, an outpost of the Roman empire. He was not royalty of the Caesar kind, he was not a military commander who conquered via force, he was not wealthy or with the in crowd of any among these type of people. Yet,Roman emporers Claudius and Nero who ruled "after" his crucifixion, knew about him and could not reasonably deny that Jesus the historical figure ever existed.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Lawrence 01: You did a nice job of responding to my hub, "Did Jesus Exist." I don't have time now for a complete rebuttal, but I do know that many do not give the sources you named much credit. What I find most interesting is that the debate has moved from was Jesus the literal son of God, able to work miracles, and die to cleanse us of our sins or not to was Jesus a real human being or not? I feel the first half of that question settled , but the debate continues on the second half.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      As always, Lawrence, a very interesting read to a fascinating question. If Jesus did exist, or if he didn't, the message still lives on.

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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Lawrence, just a quick suggestion for your poll. We can only click on one answer, so maybe you could add one choice for recognizing all of the historians listed. Otherwise we can only choose one from the list. Thanks.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Lawrence, Good job sorting out the relevant material. I have done precisely what you have done here, so I recognized every quote you cited. You mentioned your own credentials, which I do appreciate. You have given much of your life to the study of these matters. I also have a degree in biblical studies and dedicated much of my life to the study of the same things.

      My conclusion, after studying these quotes for myself, was that someone existed in the early first century who gave rise to a movement which led to what we know as Christianity. But I made this conclusion realizing that it hung by a handful of very fine, brittle threads. And this is my problem.

      The acceptance and reliability of the New Testament and all of Christianity hangs by these few, brittle threads. No New Testament writing has credibility without these obscure references to Jesus.

      Christians say that we are to accept God's word, the Bible, by faith. But that is only part of the picture. Christians must also accept by faith that which gives credibility to the Bible. What we see here in your hub and other Christian defenses of the Bible is that biblical teaching is supported by almost nothing.

      Was this God's intention, that I have so little intellectual discernment, so little care for the few years I have upon this earth, that I will accept a handful of 2,000 year old fragments of comments whose reliability is actually something that can be debated, as the very foundation for my existence? If there is a god, he has higher expectations of his creatures than this. I'll end my comment with a very relevant quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson of the American Transcendentalists.

      "Our age is retrospective. It builds the sepulchers of the fathers. It writes biographies, histories, and criticism. The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes. Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs? Embosomed for a season in nature, whose floods of life stream around and through us, and invite us by the powers they supply, to action proportioned to nature, why should we grope among the dry bones of the past, or put the living generation into masquerade out of its faded wardrobe? The sun shines to-day also. There is more wool and flax in the fields. There are new lands, new men, new thoughts. Let us demand our own works and laws and worship."

    • lawrence01 profile image
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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Word 55

      I did write it in response to Catherine's hub. I wanted to present the evidence for folks to read for themselves.

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • word55 profile image

      Word 2 years ago from Chicago

      Surely, you wrote based on Catherine's hub. I've been following it all. I commented on hers too but yours motivated me to take it a little further.

    • lawrence01 profile image
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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Word55

      I'll go and have a look. My hub was a response to another hub. I know I only dealt with part of the subject but lets see where things end up.

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • word55 profile image

      Word 2 years ago from Chicago

      Hey lawrence01, my comment to this interesting hub was so long that I decided to write a hub in response, instead. It seemed to bring out the best of how I attest to His existence. Thanks for your presentation. Be blessed! https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Response-...