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  • Yawn....
    • Pastor Jack Howell (Premier Login RevJack2006)
      Posted Apr 20, 2010 7:10 PM

      Yep! Just as I said previously. Same ol, same ol, just like a broken record and ignoring the evidence presented a multitude of times on many forums for you. You really must be retarded or perhaps brain dead, or dishonest and deceptive.

      Roman Historians

      Occasionally people ask why there is no record of Jesus in Roman records. The answer is that there are no surviving Roman records but only highly parochial Roman historians who had little interest in the comings and goings of minor cults and were far more concerned about Emperors and Kings. Jesus made a very small splash while he was alive and there was no reason for Roman historians to notice him.

      Christianity is mentioned by the historian Tacitus in the early second century. But he talks about it only because Christians were unfortunate enough to be made scapegoats by the Emperor Nero for the great fire of Rome. Tacitus is interested in the Emperor, not his victims about whom he gives very limited information. Still, he does tell us that Jesus existed and was crucified under Pontius Pilate. Jesus Mythologists counter this by claiming that he could have got his information from Christians which means his evidence is not independent. So, we have a very convenient situation for the Jesus Mythologists. Until Christianity had spread no one except Christians would be interested in Jesus but all later records are ruled out of court as they are tainted by association with Christianity. This sort of special pleading is one of the reasons that modern historians have no time for these theories as they are set up to be impossible to disprove. In fact, Christian evidence for a human Jesus who was crucified is trustworthy because it ran counter to the myths of the time and suggested that he had suffered a humiliating death. If they made it up and then suppressed the truth with clinical efficiency, why did they come up with a story which even the Christian apologist, Tertullian, admitted was absurd? It seems far more likely that they had a large number of historical facts that they had to rationalise into a religion rather than creating all these difficulties for themselves.

      Sometimes Jesus Mythologists will produce long lists of writers none of whom have the slightest reason to mention an obscure Jewish miracle worker and somehow think this strengthens their point. In fact, it has all the relevance of picking fifty books off your local library shelf and finding that none of them mention Carl Sagan. Does that mean he did not exist either? Jesus was not even a failed military leader of the kind that Romans might have noticed - especially if he had been defeated by someone famous.

      The only historian who we might expect to mention Jesus is Josephus, a Jew who wrote a history of his people up to 66AD, which is called 'Jewish Antiquities'. In fact, Josephus does mention Jesus twice and so Jesus Mythologists have to devote a lot of attention to attacking the relevant passages. Their job is made easier because Josephus, a Pharisee, probably felt nothing but contempt for Jesus which meant later Christians tried to 'correct' his negative wording.

      The majority opinion on Josephus is that the parts of the passage from book 18 of 'Jewish Antiquities' which are in red below are the additions of a Christian scribe trying to make Jesus appear in a better light.

      Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

      Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 18, 3, 3

      To support this idea we can look at the works of the Christian father Origen who was writing in the mid-third century. This was while Christianity was still a minor cult with no power or influence. It was generally ignored by the authorities as long as it kept its head down. Therefore there is no way that Christians this early could have either knobbled Josephus so that no undoctored copies were available or got away with quoting something from Josephus that was not there. We have no reason to suppose that a bright chap like Origen would even have tried and so can be sure that the copy of Josephus he read and quoted from was unamended by earlier Christians. We can be doubly sure of this because Origen flatly contradicts the modern version of Josephus where the Jewish historian is made to say Jesus was the Messiah. Origen makes clear he said no such thing.

      What use would the early fathers have had for a passage in Josephus saying Jesus was not the Messiah? An educated Jew saying this would not be helpful in an apologetic sense as it would demonstrate that the prophecies in the Old Testament were not nearly as clear cut as early Christians would have liked to have believed. And because no one ever challenged Jesus' existence, they never had reason to point to a critical Jewish source to prove he did. Hence Josephus was not quoted by the few earlier Christian writers.

      So what exactly did Origen say? Here are two passages which say basically the same thing and which reinforce each other:

      And to so great a reputation among the people for righteousness did this James rise, that Flavius Josephus, who wrote the "Antiquities of the Jews" in twenty books, when wishing to exhibit the cause why the people suffered so great misfortunes that even the temple was razed to the ground, said, that these things happened to them in accordance with the wrath of God in consequence of the things which they had dared to do against James the brother of Jesus who is called Christ. And the wonderful thing is, that, though he did not accept Jesus as Christ, he yet gave testimony that the righteousness of James was so great; and he says that the people thought that they had suffered these things because of James.

      Origen - Matthew X, XVII

      For in the 18th book of his Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus bears witness to John as having been a Baptist, and as promising purification to those who underwent the rite. Now this writer, although not believing in Jesus as the Christ, in seeking after the cause of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, whereas he ought to have said that the conspiracy against Jesus was the cause of these calamities befalling the people, since they put to death Christ, who was a prophet, says nevertheless-being, although against his will, not far from the truth - that these disasters happened to the Jews as a punishment for the death of James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus (called Christ) - the Jews having put him to death, although he was a man most distinguished for his justice.

      Origen, - Against Celsus I, XLVII

      This tells us that the later passage about 'James, brother of Jesus called Christ' certainly existed in Josephus in Origen's time because he uses the phrase 'called Christ' twice. It cannot be a Christian interpolation as they called James either 'James the Just' or 'James the Brother of the Lord'. The reference to 'James, brother of Jesus called Christ' is still found in Antiquities 20 and this by itself torpedoes the idea that Jesus never existed. The fact idea that Christians were going around doctoring copies of Josephus while they were still a persecuted minority is just laughable. Origen also says that Josephus did not believe Jesus was the Messiah so our present day passage on Jesus in Antiquities 18 cannot have existed although the passing reference to Jesus in Antiquities 20 is further evidence that he was actually mentioned in less flattering terms. It should be pointed out that Origen himself reads too much into Josephus who does say the people thought the killing of James was wrong but does not go quite so far as to blame the entire Jewish War on the event.

      The Non - Silence of Paul

      The whole idea that Jesus did not exist started with the fact that Paul does not say very much about his life or ministry. It is instructive to first find out what he did say so here is a list. You can read the relevent snippet biblical text by holding your mouse over the red scripture references.

      * Jesus was born in human fashion, as a Jew, and had a ministry to the Jews. (Galations 4:4)
      * Jesus was referred to as "Son of God". (1 Cor. 1:9)
      * Jesus was a direct descendent of King David. (Romans 1:3)
      * Jesus prayed to God using the term "abba". (Galations 4:6)
      * Jesus expressly forbid divorce. (1 Cor. 7:10)
      * Jesus taught that "preachers" should be paid for their preaching. (1 Cor. 9:14)
      * Jesus taught about the end-time. (1 Thess. 4:15)
      * Paul refers to Peter by the name Cephas (rock), which was the name Jesus gave to him. (1 Cor. 3:22)
      * Jesus had a brother named James. (Galations 1:19)
      * Jesus initiated the Lord's supper and referred to the bread and the cup. (1 Cor. 11:23-25)
      * Jesus was betrayed on the night of the Lord's Supper. (1 Cor. 11:23-25)
      * Jesus' death was related to the Passover Celebration. (1 Cor. 5:7)
      * The death of Jesus was at the hands of earthly rulers. (1 Cor. 2:8)
      * Jesus underwent abuse and humiliation. (Romans 15:3)
      * Jewish authorities were involved with Jesus' death. (1 Thess. 2:14-16)
      * Jesus died by crucifixion. (2 Cor. 13:4 et al)
      * Jesus was physically buried. (1 Cor. 15:4)

      It turns out that careful analysis of the letters shows that Paul was not actually all that silent at all. The first reaction to all this from the Jesus Mythologist is to dispute that Paul wrote very many of these letters. But actually seven of his letters are completely undisputed and all facts about Jesus's life shown above are from these. It is ironic that the pastoral epistles of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, that liberals insist are late (and date from after the synoptic Gospels), contain practically no details about the life of Jesus at all.

      As there are still rather a lot of details about the historical Jesus in the undisputed letters, the Jesus Mythologist will use special pleading to try and explain them away. But as we can see, Paul is not attempting to tell Jesus's life story, he is just using the odd snippet about Jesus where it is helpful to illustrate his point. He knows that his readers are aware of what happened because all of his letters are to people who are already Christians. He is not trying to convert them and he is not engaged in apologetics.

      If we look at the letters of the early Christian fathers, they rarely have details about the life of Jesus except in passing because they know their readers are familiar with the Gospels. What we today call the Gospels had not, of course, been written down at the time that Paul was preaching but oral communication was considered to be more reliable than the written word at the time. When these people had heard about Jesus they did not need a revision primer when Paul wrote to them but specific advice about problems and controversies. Of course, none of this will convince the Jesus Mythologist who just cannot understand why Paul does not just repeat verbatim to his correspondents what he has already told them in person.

      Pastor Jack Howell
      "Some bring God's curse on them by marking off part of the Bible, calling it erroneous, uninspired, less than the very Word of God." - Dr. John R. Rice

      "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God to salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16)

      MY BLOG

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