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Theology => General Theology => Topic started by: Soldier4Christ on January 29, 2006, 04:38:17 PM

Title: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: Soldier4Christ on January 29, 2006, 04:38:17 PM
Many of us have heard of the recent news of the Priest being sued by an atheist. The atheist wants the Priest to be forced by the courts to prove that Jesus Christ was an actual historical figure. This atheist Luigi Cascioli is the childhood friend of the Priest, Rev. Enrico Righi. What all this boils down to is Luigi Cascioli is attempting to get more publicity for his book he has written alleging Jesus never existed while at the same time trying to embarass and desecrate belief in Jesus Christ.

Those of us that have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour have already received all the proof that we need to know that Jesus Christ is real. Note I did not say was real but "IS REAL". He is alive today and will be returning for us just as He has promised.

For those others that do not believe, I have put together some interesting articles that prove that Jesus Christ did in fact walk here on earth just as the Bible says that He did. There are many written works done by non-Christians that report that Jesus was a real historical figure. The only question left to answer is to believe or not believe that He was who He said He was, very God.


Resurrection proofs - Is there historical evidence?

Christianity has many extraordinary claims but they all rest on one event, the resurrection of our Lord. If this event did not come to pass, Christianity is of no use. 1 Corinthians 15:14 says, "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

The Christians of the early Church agreed with the Apostle Paul's statement. The Church would have come to nothing had the resurrection been discredited. Yet when the Church was experiencing growth, the Romans did not debunk the resurrection. There were certainly a plethora of hostile witnesses to the events of the Gospels, but not a single Roman came forward to expose supposed fallacies. Many Roman critics attacked the philosophy of Christianity, but they were unable to attack its historical accuracy, as they were witness to the events of the New Testament. The Church could not have grown in Jerusalem if Jesus' own generation (who had Him put to death) could have immediately exposed the resurrection as lies.

The resurrection is not a lie. Christ died. Roman soldiers were experts at execution. They plunged a spear into Christ's side, and resultant blood and water flowed through the wound. This was recorded in the gospels, however they did not understand the medical connotations as we do today. The fluid was flowing from the pericardium and Christ could not have survived.

Many historians readily accept the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides, and Caesar. Plato wrote between 427-347 B.C., with our earliest copies of his works dating from the 900s (1200 year span), of which 7 copies have survived. Aristotle wrote between 384-322 B.C., and his earliest works are dated from the 1100s (1400 year span), with 49 surviving copies. Thucydides wrote around 460-400 B.C.; our copies of his works are from the 900s (1300 year span), with 8 copies in existence. Caesar's life was chronicled from 100-44 B.C. Our earliest copies of the chronicles of Julius Caesar date from the 900s (1000 years) and we have 10 surviving copies.

The New Testament, on the other hand, was written between 40-100 AD and our earliest copies of the New Testament manuscripts are from the 130s (less than 100 years) and we have 5000 Greek copies, 10,000 Latin copies and 9300 copies in other languages.

The New Testament stands alone in historical accuracy. It is the greatest of the resurrection proofs. The gospels themselves are the most reliable historical books in existence. However there are secular sources to confirm the gospels' claims. Josephus, a prominent Jewish historian, corroborated the prophecies, miracles, and crucifixion of Jesus. Tacitus, a Roman historian, goes as far as to say, "Christus…suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea. . .but even in Rome." (Tacitus, Annals 15.44 as quoted in Case for Christ)

Scholars assert that when Tacitus says Jesus, "checked for the moment" it indicates Jesus' death, and, "again broke out" refers to the resurrection.

The Bible also says the Earth went dark for three days. This is supported in the writings of Thallus, a mid-eastern historian, who noted the darkness, which was parallel with the time of the crucifixion. Phlegon also wrote about a great earthquake and the greatest eclipse in the 202nd Olympiad, which is the year A.D. 33.


 Jesus' Resurrection - Essential to the Christian Faith
Jesus' Resurrection from the dead is as essential to the Christian faith as His death upon the cross. Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Paul emphasizes the importance of the Resurrection with his statement "And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not" (I Corinthians 15:14-15).

Jesus' Resurrection - An Historical Event?
So, is Jesus' Resurrection from the dead an historical event? It is proclaimed throughout the four Gospels as well as ancient correspondence. If these works are the historical documents they claim to be, then they bare witness to an historical event. According to Aristotle's Dictum, these pieces meet the criteria for legitimate historical documents. However, as they describe miraculous events, they are not recognized by secular society as valid testimony. How then will these accounts be validated? Two questions must be asked. First, do the authors of these literary pieces discredit their work, or do their lives give credit to their testimony? Second, do accepted historical authorities corroborate these accounts?

Cont'd on page two

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: Soldier4Christ on January 29, 2006, 04:39:34 PM
Page Two

Jesus' Resurrection - The Disciples' Testimony
The men who believed in Jesus' Resurrection from the dead, known today as Christ's Disciples, certainly had their testimony, as well as their convictions, tested by those who disbelieved. With the exception of John, every one of these men were put to death. These deaths were excruciating and merciless. More so were their lives, as these men were persecuted by the secular world and suffered great hardship for the spreading of their beloved Gospel, which they proclaimed. Paul gives account in his second letter to the Corinthians "Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." (II Corinthians 11:24-27). Paul was later beheaded after suffering in a Roman dungeon for many years. His death was far less brutal then those of his brethren as he was a Roman citizen and often they were not. These men believed the Lord allowed them to suffer greatly, as there is no better evidence of their sincerity and the truth of their message than their endurance and perseverance without any hope of an earthly reward. Every single one of them could have escaped such torture and humiliation by simply denouncing the Resurrection of Christ. This was the goal of their tormentors. However, not one ceded to their persecutors, and this is dramatic evidence in rebuttal of any conspiracy theory.

Jesus' Resurrection - Persecution
In 115 AD, Roman historian, Cornelius Tacitus, described the suffering of early Christians at the hands of their tormentors. Emperor Nero, in order to expand his Palace, had fires set to portions of Rome. These fires blazed out of control and became known as "the Great Fire of Rome." He then blamed these fires on the Christians and sparked a wave of persecution throughout the Roman Empire. Though the fiddle was not invented until some years later, this was the birth of the old saying, "Nero fiddled while Rome burned." Tacitus writes: "Consequently, to get rid of the report [that Nero ordered the fire] Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus (Christ), from whom the name had its origin, suffered extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberious at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center 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 for the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of charioteer or stood aloft on a cart. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man's cruelty, that they were being destroyed."

Jesus' Resurrection - Historical Authorities
Jesus' Resurrection and/or the persecution of His followers were documented outside of the Bible by the following historical authorities: Gaius Suetonius Tranquillas, Flavius Josephus, Thallus, Pliny the Younger, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and the Jewish Sanhedrin. Beyond these ancient historians, there are documents from other sources such as the 2nd century Greek satirist Lucian. John Foxe wrote the classic Foxe's Book of Martyrs, describing in detail Christian suffering from the deaths of 1st Century Christians up to the persecutions during the reign of Queen "Bloody" Mary in England. The Inquisition put to death 68 million Christians between 1200 AD and 1800 AD for their convictions regarding the fallacies of the Popes and their heresies against Christ. Again, those who were put to death could have their lives, if they would renounce their convictions and worship the Pope.

Jesus' Resurrection - Individual Decisions
The men who witnessed Jesus' Resurrection testified to it with their lives. Their testimony, besides the compelling evidences presented in the Bible itself (such as incredible prophecy), has inspired millions more to follow suit -- To suffer persecution and death at the hands of an unbelieving world for the knowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God Almighty. That He came to earth to die for our sins as was foretold in the Bible hundreds of years before His miraculous birth. That He died upon the cross and rose again. That He presented Himself to hundreds of disciples before returning to heaven. That He will return again at the end of the age. These men did not proclaim their beloved Gospel with their words. They cried out to the world with their very lives. This, as well as detailed prophecy and such compelling evidence as the empty tomb itself, add proof to their claims. Thus, mankind the world over has the opportunity to accept or reject the Resurrection based upon their own convictions. It is not for a lack of witnesses to the event, nor a lack of evidence.

Jesus Christ: Many Things to Many People
Jesus Christ has been called many things by many people, including a great man, a great teacher, and a great prophet. There is no legitimate scholar today that denies that Jesus is a historic figure that walked on this earth about 2,000 years ago, that he did remarkable wonders and acts of charity, and that he died a horrible death on a Roman cross just outside Jerusalem. The only dispute is whether Jesus was God incarnate who rose from the dead three days after His crucifixion. These are all matters of historical record that can be earnestly discovered and tested. Jesus told us who He was – He didn’t mince words. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” (John 14:6).

Jesus Christ: He is the Way
Jesus Christ declared “I am the Way,” but clearly, not everyone believes Him. What are we all afraid of? The evidence for Jesus and His great works are well documented both in and out of the Bible. The evidence for His crucifixion on the cross, the empty tomb three days later, and His appearances to over 500 eye-witnesses after his resurrection is very compelling. Jesus fulfilled over 300 messianic prophecies written in the Old Testament scriptures. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the reliability of the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, both of which have been proven to exist prior to the time Jesus walked on the earth, you can be assured that these prophecies were not “conspired” after-the-fact. They were truly fulfilled by the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Actually, if you look at the polls, most people aren’t afraid of Jesus at all. They’re afraid of Christians. Look at the way many Christians act, and who can deny this fear. Arcane rituals, flamboyant preachers, money, power, hypocrisy – Do these present a real picture of who Jesus is, and who He wants us to be? No. However, Jesus did not ask us to follow men and religion, He asked us to follow Him.

Jesus Christ: He is the Truth
Jesus Christ declared “I am the Truth,” but clearly, many of us have created our own concepts of truth. Moral relativism and religious pluralism pervade our culture. Truth is redefined daily. However, Jesus, through His Word -- the Bible -- gave us absolute truth. With today’s archaeological, historical and manuscript evidence, there’s far less reason to deny the origin of the Bible and its divine authenticity than to deny the legitimacy of works by Homer, Plato and Aristotle. What about your own pursuit of the truth? Is it even a priority in your life? How do you discover Christ’s truth, you might ask? He tells us in Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

Jesus Christ: He is the Life
In Philippians 3:8, Paul said it all when he claimed that everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).

Jesus Christ: He is Who He Said He Was
Jesus Christ said that He was the only way. Jesus is unique. He was either telling the truth, He was crazy, or He was a liar. But since everyone agrees that Jesus was a “good man,” how then could He be both good and crazy, or good and a liar? There is only one logically consistent alternative - He must have been telling the truth. Jesus is who He said He was - He is the only way to God!

cont'd on page three

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: Soldier4Christ on January 29, 2006, 04:40:06 PM
Page Three

Messianic Prophecy: What Is It?
Messianic prophecy is the collection of over 100 predictions (a conservative estimate) in the Old Testament about the future Messiah of the Jewish people. These predictions were written by multiple authors, in numerous books, over approximately 1,000 years. Messianic Prophecy is so dramatic today, because with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the reliability of the Septuagint version of the Old Testament (both of which have been proven to exist prior to the time Jesus walked on the earth) you can be assured that these prophecies were not “conspired” after-the-fact.

Messianic Prophecy: Fulfillment by Jesus Christ
Messianic prophecy was fulfilled by the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Although many Jews did not accept Jesus as their Messiah, many did, and they became the Jewish sect later known as the Christians. Christianity, based in dramatic part on the fulfillment of historical prophecy, spread rapidly throughout the Roman Empire of the 1st Century. Examine the prophecies yourself, and calculate the probability of one man fulfilling just a handful of the most specific ones, and you’ll be amazed.

“Jesus said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’” Luke 24:44 (NIV)

The Old Testament verses are the prophecy; the New Testament verses proclaim the fulfillment. Check them all out for yourself!

    * Born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:21-23)
    * A descendant of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; 22:18; Matthew 1:1; Galatians 3:16)
    * Of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10; Luke 3:23, 33; Hebrews 7:14)
    * Of the house of David (2 Samuel 7:12-16; Matthew 1:1)
    * Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4-7)
    * Taken to Egypt (Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:14-15)
    * Herod´s killing of the infants (Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:16-18)
    * Anointed by the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2; Matthew 3:16-17)
    * Heralded by the messenger of the Lord (John the Baptist) (Isaiah 40:3-5; Malachi 3:1; Matthew 3:1-3)
    * Would perform miracles (Isaiah 35:5-6; Matthew 9:35)
    * Would preach good news (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:14-21)
    * Would minister in Galilee (Isaiah 9:1; Matthew 4:12-16) Would cleanse the Temple (Malachi 3:1; Matthew 21:12-13)
    * Would first present Himself as King 173,880 days from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25; Matthew 21:4-11)
    * Would enter Jerusalem as a king on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:4-9)
    * Would be rejected by Jews (Psalm 118:22; I Peter 2:7)
    * Die a humiliating death (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53) involving:
         1. rejection (Isaiah 53:3; John 1:10-11; 7:5,48)
         2. betrayal by a friend (Psalm 41:9; Luke 22:3-4; John 13:18)
         3. sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 26:14-15)
         4. silence before His accusers (Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 27:12-14)
         5. being mocked (Psalm 22: 7-8; Matthew 27:31)
         6. beaten (Isaiah 52:14; Matthew 27:26)
         7. spit upon (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 27:30)
         8. piercing His hands and feet (Psalm 22:16; Matthew 27:31)
         9. being crucified with thieves (Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 27:38)
        10. praying for His persecutors (Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:34)
        11. piercing His side (Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34)
        12. given gall and vinegar to drink (Psalm 69:21, Matthew 27:34, Luke 23:36)
        13. no broken bones (Psalm 34:20; John 19:32-36)
        14. buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60)
        15. casting lots for His garments (Psalm 22:18; John 19:23-24)
    * Would rise from the dead!! (Psalm 16:10; Mark 16:6; Acts 2:31)
    * Ascend into Heaven (Psalm 68:18; Acts 1:9)
    * Would sit down at the right hand of God (Psalm 110:1; Hebrews 1:3)

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: ggamble on January 29, 2006, 10:01:53 PM
Greetings, Pastor Roger

Well, done brother, one day every knee shall bow, and claim Him, King, "The Christ".
Many just don't see it, but one day they will. Prayers for the Father to draw them that "don't see it" yet, I lift up nearly every day.
But, I just wanted to comend you for them true facts documented, other than in the Gospels / Bible.
From  what I know of history which I love to research myself. I'd say you covered all that I knew about and many others I did not. Great job, enjoyed it.
I read about that case in Rome myself, and for that to be happening in Rome, well.
Just proves, its closer than many may think, He's on His way. Blessed be His name.
God's been sending the message pretty good here of late, I just pray people who don't know Jesus as their Saviour, will seek Him while they still got the time.
Because like you said and I also know, without all the evidence of the historians. That He is surely for real, always has been, always will be. Our blessed hope, Praise His name, "Lord Jesus".
Good job, on this post brother and thank you, because I know there are many out there, that these seeds, sown on this thread, will reap the harvest. God Bless You Brother

May the Lord, bless thee and keep thee
Only Always For Jesus
in the love of a brother - press on in the way

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: Soldier4Christ on January 29, 2006, 10:26:38 PM
Thank you, brother but all glory belongs to Him. I can do nothing without Him.

It is my hope and prayer that these words will awaken the light in those that do not yet know Him and will bring them to Him.

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: ggamble on January 29, 2006, 10:44:20 PM
Pastor Roger,

Amen, on its all from Him,
Amen, it's all about Him,
Amen on its all for His glory

God Bless
Only Always for Jesus

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: 2nd Timothy on January 30, 2006, 09:08:38 AM
Let me also add a huge AMEN to this Pastor Roger.   Outstanding posts!!!

Grace and Peace!

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: nChrist on January 30, 2006, 03:38:37 PM
Pastor Roger,


Love In Christ,

1 Peter 1:3 NASB  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: Shammu on January 30, 2006, 10:19:05 PM
Pastor Roger I don't know how I missed this but, AMEN, AMEN, and AMEN again!

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: sincereheart on January 31, 2006, 06:57:40 AM
Thank you, Pastor Roger! Would it be ok if I added to it?
If not, let me know and I'll delete!

Truth is not negotiable. Historical statements of fact are not open to question. When we read, for example, that George Washington and his men spent the winter of 1777 enduring wretched conditions at Valley Forge, we are obligated to believe it. Although none of us observed their long, deadly winter, what we know about it is supported by the written testimony of those who were there and by the scholarship of later inquirers who studied the Revolutionary War. The written accounts may differ on a few minor details, but we know that we can trust the record of the historians.

In a historical sense, the resurrection stands on ground that is just as solid as the story of George Washington's winter at Valley Forge. Reliable witnesses wrote about meeting and talking with Jesus after His death. Skeptical enemies noticed His disappearance from the tomb. Extrabiblical, historical reports were given of His resurrection. Eyewitnesses of Jesus' post-death appearances died defending their belief in it.

In order for an honest historian to be convinced that something actually happened, he needs to see two specific criteria met: (1) The event in question must be supported by the testimony of believable, trustworthy witnesses. And (2) the circumstantial evidence must be authentic. When both of these demands are clearly supported by the evidence at hand, the inquirer is compelled by logic to believe that the event actually took place. We will see that each of these criteria is met by the things we know about the resurrection.

Even so, some still don't believe. To make that refusal, a person must not only reject the eyewitness accounts and the circumstantial evidence, but he must make an even greater leap. The person who thinks that the resurrection is a fraud or a hoax must reject the entire New Testament. There can be no picking and choosing. If the resurrection is a hoax, then so is the New Testament and everything Jesus said or did. Claiming that Christ was a great teacher or a prophet--as even most unbelievers attest--while rejecting His resurrection is an impossible position. Consider what Jesus said during His ministry--before the crucifixion:

The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day (Lk. 9:22).
For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Mt. 12:40).

Think about it. Wouldn't we consider a man who made such wild claims to be untrustworthy if he couldn't follow through on his predictions? Instead of calling such a person a great teacher, wouldn't we call him a charlatan and a threat to mankind? There can be no middle ground. If Jesus did not do what He said He would do, He must be rejected completely. And along with Him go the Old Testament (because of its predictions of the Messiah's coming), the trustworthiness of Paul (who converted to Christ at the cost of beatings, imprisonments, and banishment from his former colleagues), and 2,000 years of church history (which rests solely on the resurrection).

The evidence to be presented in the next few pages is based on the biblical and historical data as we know it. We will see why both secular and religious scholars find Jesus to be a captivating, historical person. So, let's get logical. Let's take a hard look at the evidence that gives us reason to believe that Jesus rose from the dead.


Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: sincereheart on January 31, 2006, 07:00:37 AM
The Verification of Jesus' Death

We have to start with the bad news. Jesus' confrontation with the religious leaders of Israel cost Him His life. When the Roman soldiers removed Him from that awful cross of Golgotha, He was dead. As horrible as this fact is, the validity of the resurrection accounts hinges on it.

If, as some critics say, Jesus did no more than faint from the pain, there would be no need for a resurrection. For a person to be raised from the dead, he must first have died. To deny Christ's death, therefore, is to remove all possibility of resurrection. But the Bible teaches that He died.

In the four Gospel accounts of Jesus' crucifixion, His death is spoken of in two distinct terms. In Matthew 27:50 and in John 19:30, the writers said He "yielded" or "gave up" His spirit. The other accounts both record that He "breathed His last" (Mk. 15:37; Lk. 23:46).

Remarkably, Matthew, Mark, and Luke each recorded a simultaneous event that occurred some distance from Calvary. They wrote that as Jesus died, "the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom" (Mk. 15:38). This miraculous event signaled the end of the Old Testament era of animal sacrifice and limited access to God. But that's not all it meant. It also verified Jesus' death, because it demonstrated that His complete sacrifice had satisfied God's demands. For centuries, God had required the death of an unblemished lamb as an atonement for sin. Now Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, had become the new sacrifice. The veil was no longer needed, for access to God had been opened to all who would believe in Christ.

The following events at the site of the crucifixion help verify that Jesus was dead:

The Roman soldiers did not break Jesus' legs, because they "saw that He was already dead" (Jn. 19:33).
The soldiers plunged a spear into Jesus' side, and from it came both water and blood (Jn. 19:34). Medical experts say that if He were not already dead, this in itself would have killed Him. Others have concluded that the pouring out of water and blood from His side was proof that Jesus was no longer alive.
When Joseph of Arimathea asked for the body of Christ so he and Nicodemus could bury Him, Pontius Pilate ordered a centurion to verify that Jesus was dead (Mk. 15:43-45). The Roman governor would not release the body to Joseph until the centurion was certain that all signs of life were gone. You can be sure that an officer in the Roman army would not make a mistake about an important matter like this in his report to such a high official as Pilate. 
Joseph and Nicodemus prepared the body for burial according to Jewish custom. This included wrapping it "in a clean linen cloth" (Mt. 27:59), anointing the body with "a mixture of myrrh and aloes" (Jn. 19:39), and placing it "in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock" (Mk. 15:46). It seems obvious that any sign of life would have been detected by these bereaved friends. Surely they would not have buried a breathing Jesus.
The Pharisees and chief priests met with Pilate to discuss what had occurred. They made such remarks as "while He was still alive" (Mt. 27:63). Soldiers were ordered to secure the grave with a seal. In addition, guards were placed on duty to prevent the disciples from coming to "steal Him away" (v.64). The Jewish leaders and the Roman authorities knew beyond doubt that Jesus was dead.


Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: sincereheart on January 31, 2006, 07:02:40 AM
The Empty Tomb

The Sabbath had ended, and Jesus' friends could now come to visit the tomb. As morning broke on the new day, the women who had watched Joseph and Nicodemus bury Jesus came back to anoint His body. It was Sunday now--a somber day that, as far as the women knew, would be followed by many more days just like it. They were undoubtedly resigned to a future of sad pilgrimages such as this one. They knew of nothing else they could do for their fallen loved one but to grieve at His tomb and to put spices on His body. But what a surprise lay ahead!

As they walked toward the garden, they worried aloud about who could roll away the heavy stone so they could go inside the tomb and apply their spices. But when they arrived, they saw that the stone had already been moved! They were greeted by an angel, who told them that Jesus had risen.

With this background in mind, let's look at the evidence that the tomb was empty. First, we can depend on the historical record. Surely the authorities of Jesus' day wanted nothing more than to have Jesus stay where Joseph had put Him. The mere fact that they sealed the tomb and placed guards to protect it--a highly unusual act--indicated that they were determined to keep the body behind that stone barrier. Suppose they had been able to do that. You can be sure the Sanhedrin and other officials would have been the first to use the knowledge of an occupied tomb as evidence when the disciples began to announce to everyone that they had seen Jesus alive. Yet no historical evidence exists to suggest that those officials knew where the body was. As we will see, the evidence shows that it was no longer in the tomb.

 Second, there is something even more conclusive than the officials' inaction--the actions of several eyewitnesses. The first to see and report the empty tomb were the women with the spices. Mark's account sets the scene for us:

Entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here" (16:5-6).
John and Peter were the next to see that Jesus was gone. When they heard the unbelievably good news from Mary and the other women, they raced to the gravesite. John got to the tomb first but didn't go in. Instead, he peered through the opening and saw the linen wrappings that Jesus had left behind. Characteristically, Peter was not content with a long-distance view. He charged right into the tomb and spied the linen wrappings and the face cloth lying undisturbed and neatly arranged. Then John entered and saw the wrappings. John, it should be noted, is the one who wrote this account as recorded in chapter 20 of his Gospel. If you need an eyewitness to convince you that the tomb was empty, you have one in the apostle John. He was there, and he wrote down what he saw. That is solid historical evidence in anyone's book.

A third strong piece of evidence that the tomb was empty is the reaction of the authorities when the guards reported the events in the garden. They wanted to destroy the credibility and influence of Jesus. Therefore, they would surely have been foolish to spread the rumor that the disciples had stolen the body--if Jesus were still in the tomb. No, Jesus' disappearance was the sole cause for their concern. Surely their collusion with the guards is solid proof that there was no body in the tomb.

We are faced with two facts. (1) Jesus died and was buried. (2) In a short time, His tomb became empty. The question remains: Where was Jesus?


Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: sincereheart on January 31, 2006, 07:04:36 AM
The Appearance of Jesus

Jesus' friends weren't looking for what they were about to see. Although they had heard and closely followed Jesus' teaching for 3 years, they just never fully understood that He was going to rise from the dead. Therefore, they would have had no reason to make up stories in which they claimed to have seen Him. To them, that wasn't even an option. Sure, they missed Jesus. And just as any of us who has lost a loved one or friend longs to see him, so also they had the desire to see Jesus. But they did not expect that they ever would (see Jn. 20:9).

Yet see Him they did! First at the tomb. Then on the dusty Emmaus road. Then in the upper room. Over and over, in different settings, Jesus appeared to His friends. For 40 days He made His presence known throughout the land. Let's look at who saw Jesus and where He appeared. It's one more piece of evidence for the resurrection.

To Mary Magdalene At The Tomb (Jn. 20:11-18). Mary had been standing outside the empty tomb crying because, as she said, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him" (v.13). His death, combined with her fear that His body had been stolen, had engulfed her in heart-wrenching despair. But when Jesus startled her into recognizing Him by calling out, "Mary!" she rushed to Him in joy and relief. Then she ran to tell the disciples that she had seen the Lord.

To Several Women As They Ran From The Tomb (Mt. 28:9-10). These women had already heard that Jesus was alive, even though they had not yet seen Him. They had just left the tomb, where an angel had told them that Jesus had "risen from the dead." When they saw the Lord, they "held Him by the feet and worshiped Him" (v.9). Jesus told them to spread the news that He was alive and to tell the disciples to meet Him in Galilee.

To Two Disciples On The Emmaus Road (Lk. 24:13-32). Imagine the drama of this scene. Two disciples were walking the 7 dusty miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus when a fellow traveler caught up with them and struck up a conversation, asking what they were talking about. Apparently, they had been discussing the death and entombment of Jesus, because they were surprised that the stranger wasn't familiar with their topic. They said, in effect, "Do you mean to say that you don't know about Jesus' death?" The two then explained why they were so sad--that though some women had seen the empty tomb and claimed that Jesus was alive, they had not yet seen Him. These disciples would not believe without seeing the evidence for themselves.

An exciting surprise awaited the pair when they arrived at Emmaus. The three of them stopped to eat, and as they ate, the disciples' "eyes were opened" and they recognized that this mysterious stranger was Jesus. But before they could speak again, He "vanished from their sight" (v.31).

To Peter At An Unknown Location (Lk. 24:33-35). In this passage, we are not given a direct look at the meeting between Peter and Jesus. All we know is that when the disciples who had been to Emmaus returned, they learned that Peter had seen the Lord too. Imagine the excitement that must have been generated in that place!

To 10 Disciples In The Upper Room (Lk. 24:36-43). Suddenly this praise meeting of the disciples was interrupted. As they sat comparing notes about the thrilling reality of seeing Jesus, He suddenly appeared. As might be expected, the men were startled because they thought they were seeing a spirit (v.37). Jesus quickly laid that idea to rest by offering to have them touch His hands and feet, and by eating supper with them.

To 11 Disciples In The Upper Room (Jn. 20:26-31). It must have been a long week for Thomas. The other 10 disciples had met with Jesus in the upper room, but he had not. Surely they had spent time trying to convince Thomas that they really had seen Jesus. But he reacted the same way they had when they heard from the women who first saw Jesus. They were not convinced without hard evidence, and Thomas wanted the same advantage. Now he was about to get it. Jesus suddenly appeared to the men and said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands" (v.27). Then Thomas believed, exclaiming, "My Lord and my God!" (v.28).

To Seven Men At The Sea Of Galilee (Jn. 21:1-25). Things had begun to return to normal for the disciples. They had gone back to work. Some went on an all-night fishing trip on the Sea of Galilee. But the fish weren't cooperating, and the men had an empty boat. As daylight broke over the water, they saw a man standing on the shore, shouting advice to them. The seven seamen did what He suggested and nearly capsized their boat with all the fish they dragged ashore.

When John informed Peter, "It is the Lord!" (Jn. 21:7), Peter dove in and swam to shore. When they all arrived on the beach, they saw that Jesus had prepared a hot breakfast of fish and bread for them. Jesus then offered to cook a few of the fish they had just caught.

To 11 Disciples On A Mountain (Mt. 28:16-20). This is the first planned meeting between the disciples and Jesus recorded after the resurrection. Matthew wrote that the disciples proceeded "into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them" (28:16). There He met with the Eleven, and probably some others. Perhaps this included the "500 brethren" mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:6.

What is significant is that even though the Eleven worshiped Jesus when they saw Him, "some doubted" (Mt. 28:17). Although it is possible that a few of these men were still doubting Jesus' resurrection, it is more probable that the skeptics were disciples who didn't have the advantage of touching Jesus and eating with Him. They would naturally have been more hesitant to believe that this was the same man who had been crucified a few weeks before. Yet the fact that doubters are mentioned shows that the disciple who wrote the account was not afraid to talk about the skepticism of some of the observers.

To His Disciples Near Bethany (Acts 1:9-12). The final appearance of Jesus to His disciples ended with His disappearance. As He stood talking with them about the command He had just given them to be His witnesses, "He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight" (v.9). This turned out to be a commencement of sorts for the disciples. Just a few weeks earlier, they had been a disheartened group whose leader was dead. Now they were enthusiastic evangelists. They "returned to Jerusalem with great joy" (Lk. 24:52), and "they went out and preached everywhere" (Mk. 16:20).

The evidence was clear. Jesus was alive. Now their job was to go and tell people about it.


Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: sincereheart on January 31, 2006, 07:06:25 AM
The Reaction of the Jewish Officials

A Roman soldier was no coward. He was a specially trained, tough-minded, well-equipped warrior. Yet notice the reaction of the soldiers who were protecting Jesus' tomb when they felt the earth move and saw an angel roll back the stone (Mt. 28:2). They "shook for fear of him, and became like dead men" (v.4).

They probably realized that they had more to be afraid of than an angel. Their training told them that keeping watch was an important commission. They knew that various punishments were handed out to soldiers who couldn't stay awake on guard duty. Sometimes they were beaten; other times they were set afire. Most of the time they were executed. These brave, well-armed men had no way to stop the angel, so they had double reason to be afraid.

But look what they did next. They turned themselves in! Facing sure punishment, they still felt that they must report this amazing event to their superiors. Once they had spilled their story to the chief priests and elders, their fears turned to relief. The officials, realizing that sending Jesus to His death had not accomplished their purpose, decided to concoct a story. They bribed the soldiers to spread the news that "His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept" (v.13).

The soldiers must have done what they were told, for Matthew commented that the story begun by those chief priests was "commonly reported among the Jews until this day" (v.15). Devised in the face of the fact of the resurrection, this fabrication stayed alive for many years among those who refused to believe that Jesus had risen.

It wouldn't have taken much effort to refute their story. First, if the disciples had indeed been able to steal the body of Jesus, how would the guards have known that it was they who had stolen it? Didn't the story go, "while we slept"? Second, it seems preposterous that a group of men could have sneaked up on highly trained, albeit slumbering, soldiers without waking them. And then to think that they could have moved the stone, unwrapped 100 pounds of graveclothes, folded them neatly, lifted the body, and carried it away while the soldiers slept is even more ridiculous.

Yes, the officials knew that Jesus had risen. Their reaction proves it. Their bribe verifies it. And their hastily concocted story authenticates it.


Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: sincereheart on January 31, 2006, 07:09:33 AM
The Outlook of Jesus' Disciples

Sometimes you have to wonder about the disciples. They certainly didn't seem to be the kind of men you would recruit if you wanted to promote a revolutionary concept.

For instance, when Jesus tried to explain to them what would happen in the days ahead, they often misunderstood. When He asked some of them to stay with Him during His all-night prayer vigil, they kept falling asleep. When He talked of servanthood, they argued about their own greatness. When He tried to tell them that He would be raised up after 3 days, they didn't get it.

On the night Jesus was arrested, the disciples ran for their lives. Peter couldn't even stand up to a servant girl when she identified him as a friend of Jesus. The disciples just didn't seem like the men of action you would need if you wanted to win a following and influence the world.

But something happened to change all that. What would change a cowardly group of mourners into a courageous band of evangelists who were willing to stand up and testify that the crucified Jesus was alive? What changed them into willing martyrs for their faith?

Some would say that the disciples had nothing stronger to spur them on than a story they had made up. But can you imagine what it would take to believe this? Just picture Peter standing up before the disciples, who had remained safely hidden behind locked doors after Jesus' death for fear of their lives, and saying, "Well, the entire weight of the Roman government was just used to put Jesus to death by crucifixion. Even though He is still dead, we are going to start a rumor that He isn't. We are going to say that He rose from the tomb and that we all saw Him."

Did they make up the story? If so, why would they later risk their lives for nothing? If they hadn't even understood for sure that Jesus planned to rise from the dead, why would they break out of their anonymity with such a far-fetched scheme? And why would they record their fabrication in the Gospel accounts, complete with details?

A fictional story can't possibly account for the changes in the disciples. Take, for instance, the transformation of Thomas. Of all the disciples, he seemed the least likely to be convinced. His pessimism was first revealed earlier, when Jesus mentioned His plans to go to Bethany where Lazarus had just died. Thomas had suggested to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him" (Jn. 11:16). Although this statement suggests a degree of courage, it also implies that Thomas was resigned to martyrdom. If that was his typical response, it is no wonder he responded to the disciples' claim that they had seen Jesus after His death by saying, "Unless I see . . . I will not believe" (Jn. 20:25). Does this sound like someone who is willing to rekindle the anger of the Roman officials by claiming that Jesus was alive if He really wasn't?

Now look at Thomas a week later. In the upper room, surrounded by his 10 friends who had already seen Jesus, he saw the Savior face to face. Finally, Thomas was convinced. His statement, "My Lord and my God!" (Jn. 20:28) is the ultimate proclamation of belief in Jesus' resurrection. Here was victory that could be won only through hard evidence. It's the only thing that could have changed this skeptic into a believer.

No, the disciples were not the type of men who could have lived a lie as far-reaching as one that claimed a dead man wasn't dead anymore. They might have misunderstood Jesus on occasion, but they were basically honest men. They had no reason to devise such a scheme, and they didn't have the courage it would take to defend such a bald-faced lie. Peter would never have been hanged upside down for a trumped-up story. Mark would not have been dragged through the streets to his death if he had been defending fiction. James would not have been beheaded for a falsehood. Thomas wouldn't have been pierced with a lance for a lie. Yet tradition says that these men died the horrible deaths just described. What a testimony to the truth of their claims! They were willing to die for the One who overcame death for them--and for us!


Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: sincereheart on January 31, 2006, 07:11:27 AM
The Start of the Christian Church

The Christian church was not born nor does it exist today on the basis of Jesus' life and teachings. The church that began less than 2 months after Jesus' death is the result of something more significant than His great sayings, parables, and philosophies. It began because a group of people in Jerusalem testified that they saw Jesus alive after He had been killed. Without the faith of those resurrection witnesses and the new faith of those who believed their testimony about it, there would be no Christian church today.

Let's see what the people were told when they were first given the opportunity to embrace this new faith. This will help us to see what caused the church to take hold in the first century.

Standing before people from all over Palestine, including many from Jerusalem, Peter described Jesus as the One "God raised up" (Acts 2:24). He also said, "This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses" (v.32). As a result of this clear, straightforward message, 3,000 people believed Peter and were baptized that very day.

In a later sermon, this man who had earlier denied that he knew Jesus now called Him the "Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead" (Acts 3:15). After hearing of Peter's testimony, the rulers and priests in Jerusalem put him on trial. Even when he faced the wrath of the religious leaders, Peter stood by his story that "the God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree" (Acts 5:30).

These are the kinds of statements that led to the start of the church. No one could hedge on the reason for Peter's fervor. He was not preaching a creed nor advocating a philosophy. He was telling people that the crucified Christ was alive. That was the essence of his message. And that was the only message the Christian church needed to catch fire. For 2,000 years, it's been the driving force behind the church.


Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: sincereheart on January 31, 2006, 07:13:02 AM
The Expectation of Christ's Return

One of the most important activities of the early church was to share in what we now call the communion service. It was a time to remember Jesus' death and to reflect on His sacrifice. It was a time of celebration. But what would the early Christian have had to celebrate if Jesus were still dead? These people were living in Jesus' generation. They would have known if the resurrection story were not true. Yet they listened and obeyed when Paul said, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes" (1 Cor. 11:26).

This verse makes it obvious that the first-century believers were eagerly awaiting Jesus' return. They could not have believed in His second coming without first knowing that He was alive. Otherwise, how would He be able to come back?

This idea that Jesus would return to be with His people again was taught throughout the New Testament. Jesus Himself taught it when He said, "I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (Jn. 14:3). Paul emphasized the same theme when he said, "Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:20). And John said, "Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him" (Rev. 1:7).

Without the resurrection, these claims would all be useless, frivolous, unfounded lies. No one would dare predict such an event as Jesus' return if He were in fact lying in a tomb, or if His body had been taken away and hidden. No, John and Paul knew exactly what had transpired on that resurrection day. What would have been the purpose of telling about His return if they were harboring the knowledge of a dead Jesus?


Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: sincereheart on January 31, 2006, 07:14:56 AM
What the Opposition Says

A premise that cannot stand up against opposing views is not worthy of our trust. Therefore, it is only fair that we mention some of the theories that have been proposed to explain away the resurrection. Looking carefully at the logic of these ideas, we will be able to see how they fare when stacked up against the evidence already presented.

THEORY: The body was stolen from the tomb. In this theory, the disciples are the culprits. They sneaked up to the stone, rolled it away, and walked off with Jesus' body. That's why it wasn't there when the women, John, and Peter arrived at the tomb on the first day of the week.

OBJECTIONS: Why would the disciples want Jesus' body? Who was it that appeared to all those people later? How did the disciples sneak past the guards? Why would an angel lie about the reason for the tomb being empty?

THEORY: The authorities took the body. Knowing that the disciples had an unusual interest in Jesus, the authorities--both governmental and religious--made sure they would not see Him again. They opened the tomb and took the body.

OBJECTIONS: Why didn't the authorities produce it to disprove the claims of Peter and others just a few weeks later? What turned the disheartened disciples into fiery proponents of a new cause if they had not seen Jesus again?

THEORY: Jesus' friends went to the wrong tomb. It had been a terrifying week for the disciples and the others who had grown so close to Jesus. Therefore they became disoriented and went to the wrong grave. That's why they found an empty tomb.

OBJECTIONS: Whose graveclothes did John and Peter find? What was an angel doing at someone else's gravesite? Is it possible that they all forgot their directions at the same time?

THEORY: Jesus only fainted. This theory says that Jesus didn't die on the cross. Instead, He fell into a deep swoon. Then, when He was placed in the tomb, He was revived by the cool, damp air. That explains His later appearances.

OBJECTIONS: What caused the soldiers to misinterpret the evidence and certify that Jesus was dead? Why didn't Joseph notice that Jesus wasn't dead when he wrapped Him in linen? How did Jesus, who had been nearly dead just days before, push away the stone and walk about town in perfectly good health?

THEORY: Jesus' friends saw hallucinations. The resurrection makes a nice story, says this theory, but the disciples never saw any of the things they thought they saw. In fact, some say, they hallucinated, seeing images in their minds that corresponded with what they wanted to see.

OBJECTIONS: Is there evidence that suggests that 11 people can hallucinate the same image? How about 500 simultaneous, identical hallucinations? Can people drag out hallucinations over 7 weeks, in many locations, and under various circumstances?


Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: sincereheart on January 31, 2006, 07:18:00 AM
All the Savior's Men

Former presidential counsel Charles Colson tells how his Watergate experience can be used to support the testimony of the first-century men who said they saw the resurrected Jesus.

How do we know that Jesus was resurrected? We have the eyewitness accounts of the 11 apostles who were with Him and, of course, the apostle Paul who saw Him. They were with Him before His crucifixion and for the 40 days between His resurrection and His ascension. They lived for as long as 40 years thereafter, never once denying that they had seen Jesus raised from dead.

What does that have to do with Watergate? I'll tell you. In June 1972, I was home on a weekend with my wife and children. We had a few days off because President Nixon was in Key Biscayne, Florida. My phone that was connected to the White House rang. It was John Erlichmann. He told me that some burglars had broken into the Democratic National Headquarters in Washington. I started laughing hysterically because I thought to myself, "Of all the ridiculous places for anybody to break into in Washington, D.C."

I went away from that phone call shaking my head and feeling a little despair. I thought, "Now we have a campaign issue, but it will go away after the election." Well, as you know, it didn't!

The log showed that in the months immediately following the 1972 election, I was with President Nixon more than any other aide. Watergate never came up. We first started to discuss it in February 1973, when the Ervin hearings started. On March 21, 1973, John Dean walked into the Oval Office and said, "Mr. President, there is a cancer growing on your presidency." That's the first time the President really knew there was a conspiracy in the White House. That's the first time it became a criminal act inside the White House.

John Dean's memoirs record that 3 days after that meeting in the Oval Office he began to get nervous about his own role. That's when he hired a lawyer. On April 8, Dean went to the prosecutors to bargain for immunity so that he would not be prosecuted. In turn, he would testify against the President. Later, he said, "I did it to save my own skin." When he went to the prosecutors to bargain for immunity, it was all over.

Then the other aides started to go in. I took a lie detector test, and my lawyers leaked it to the New York Times. Everybody started to scramble for cover. The Watergate coverup was actually over because Mr. Nixon's presidency was doomed. Now, if you stop and figure it out, you will see that the Watergate coverup actually lasted 3 weeks or less--from March 21 to April 8, 1973.

Now put yourself in our position. Here we were, the 12 most powerful men in the United States. All the power of government was at our fingertips, but we could not keep a lie together for 3 weeks. The most powerful men in the world could not hold on to a lie. So weak is man that we couldn't do it.

Are you going to tell me that those powerless apostles who were outcasts in their own land could be stoned, persecuted, and beaten, some for 40 years, never once denying that Jesus was raised from the dead? Impossible, humanly impossible--unless they had seen the risen Christ face to face. Otherwise, the apostle Peter would have been just another John Dean. He'd have gone in to turn state's evidence. He had already done it three times.

Is it likely, then, that a deliberate coverup, a plot to perpetuate a lie about the resurrection, could have survived the persecution of the apostles and the purge of the first-century believers who were cast by the thousands to the lions for refusing to renounce Christ? Is it not probable that at least one apostle would have "confessed" rather than being beheaded or stoned? Is it not likely that some "smoking gun" document might have been produced exposing the "Passover plot"? Surely one of the conspirators would have made a deal.

If Jesus was raised from the dead, as I am absolutely, intellectually positive that He was--and the evidence of history is overwhelming--it's not only a matter of faith but a matter of deepest intellectual conviction.

Taken from a speech by Charles Colson and from his book Loving God, Zondervan, ©1983.

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: sincereheart on January 31, 2006, 07:19:53 AM
Why Is This So Important?

Think of the key world events of your lifetime. The fall of the Berlin Wall. The Persian Gulf War. The conflict in Bosnia. The El Niño weather events.

Or go back to an earlier era. Watergate. The oil crisis of the 70s. The Vietnam War. Man landing on the moon. Perhaps you've been around long enough to recall the assassination of President Kennedy. Hiroshima. The Holocaust. Pearl Harbor. Whatever comes to mind, you can be sure of this: No event in this century has affected every human on earth--no matter where he or she lives.

Now think back through history. The Civil War. The Fall of the Bastille. The American Revolution. The discovery of the New World. The invention of the printing press. The signing of the Magna Carta. The Battle of Hastings. The Fall of the Roman Empire. Each of these events had extraordinary historical significance. But none of them has the kind of monumental, worldwide, eternal effects that one event almost 2,000 years ago claims to have. This event? The resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Bible says that God came to earth as a man to pay the penalty of death for the sins of the world (Jn. 1:1-29; Rom. 6:23). But the Bible also says that if Jesus did not overpower death's grip to escape that cold, rocky tomb, He would not be able to provide us with victory over death (1 Cor. 15:12-19).

The implications of the resurrection of Jesus Christ must be considered honestly. Everything depends on it. Here is what Paul said:

[God] commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:30-31).
According to the Bible, the eternal destiny of every human is at stake. Because of what Jesus did, each of us has two choices. We can live forever under God's blessing in heaven, or we can be separated from Him eternally in the torment of hell. It all depends on our response to Jesus' resurrection.

Our destiny is in God's hands. He alone must be satisfied. Not scientists. Not philosophers. Not educators. That's why what you believe about the resurrection is a matter of eternal life or eternal death.

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: sincereheart on January 31, 2006, 07:21:40 AM
It's Your Decision

Perhaps the most tense moment in a courtroom trial is the reading of the verdict. The judge calls on the jury foreman as he stands nervously before the jury, the judge, the gallery, the lawyers, and the defendant. No sound is heard except the wrinkle of paper as he unfolds the jury's decision. With hesitation in his voice, he reveals to the breathless crowd the fate of the accused.

After reading the evidence in this book, you too stand ready for a decision. But the Judge who awaits your choice is not a fellow human who has worked his way to the bench. The One who wants to know your decision has the authority to sentence you to an eternity of confinement in a prison called hell. Why? You are the defendant. You have been charged with sin (Rom. 3:23), and you face a sentence that is irreversible (Rom. 6:23). But here's the switch. You are also the jury. You get to make the decision based on the evidence.

So now it is time to make your decision. Do you believe that Jesus died as a sacrifice for your sins? Do you believe that He rose from that garden tomb to prove His deity and to establish Himself as the only mediator between God and you?

It's your choice. You've read the evidence. You've seen the historicity of the Bible's claims. Are you ready to put your faith in Jesus? Are you willing to accept His gift to you? He is waiting for your answer.

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: sincereheart on January 31, 2006, 07:23:35 AM
Lord, Liar or Lunatic?
Some say He was just a good teacher,
but good teachers don't claim to be God.
Some say He was merely a good example,
but good examples don't mingle with prostitutes and sinners.
Some say He was a madman,
but madmen don't speak the way He spoke.
Some say He was a crazed fanatic,
but crazed fanatics don't draw children to themselves
or attract men of intellect like Paul or Luke
to be their followers.
Some say He was a religious phony,
but phonies don't rise from the dead.
Some say He was only a phantom,
but phantoms can't give their flesh and blood to be crucified.
Some say He was only a myth,
but myths don't set the calendar for history.

Jesus has been called the ideal man, an example of love, the highest model of religion, the foremost pattern of virtue, the greatest of all men, and the finest teacher who ever lived. All of those descriptions capture elements of His character, but they all fall short of the full truth. The apostle Thomas expressed it perfectly when he saw Jesus after the resurrection, and exclaimed, "My Lord and My God!" (John 20:28).

(Excerpt from The Miracle of Christmas by John F. MacArthur, Jr.)

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: Soldier4Christ on January 31, 2006, 09:45:38 AM
Thank you, Pastor Roger! Would it be ok if I added to it?

Sister your posts are always welcome. There are so many factions that want to delete anything about Jesus Christ from history that we need to get out all the truth we can. You mentioned George Washington and his men at Valley Forge. There are many that delete the fact of how much the beliefs of Jesus Christ in these men had to do with their success in such difficult odds. Ordinary men would not have been able to do what they did there without God bringing them through.

This is the case in many things that was done by our founding fathers in the establishment of the United States.

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: Soldier4Christ on January 31, 2006, 09:48:52 AM
Some very outstanding posts, sister. I'm glad that you posted them.

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: nChrist on January 31, 2006, 07:24:20 PM

Sister, thanks for sharing with us.

Love In Christ,

Matthew 18:20 NASB  "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst."

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: Brother Jerry on February 08, 2006, 02:25:27 PM
Amen brother and sister

Outstanding posts.

It is really sad to me that there is more evidence for just the mere existance of a man named Jesus (not even looking at the Spiritual aspect) than there is for Ghengis Khan but more accept that Ghengis lived and conquered most the Asian continent.

Brother Jerry

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: nChrist on February 08, 2006, 04:56:19 PM
Hello Brother Jerry,

It's nice to see you on the forum again. WELCOME BACK!

We have new forum software since you were on last, and it's great. I hope that you enjoy it and visit more often.

Love In Christ,

Revelation 1:7-8 NASB  BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: Soldier4Christ on April 17, 2006, 04:27:39 PM
Evidence for Jesus – What Does Archaeology Reveal?
When it comes to archaeology, is there any evidence for Jesus? Do we have actual sites or artifacts that testify to the historical truth of Jesus Christ? Remarkably, over the last few decades, significant evidence revealing the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus has been uncovered!

Evidence for Jesus – His Early Life and Ministry
The evidence for Jesus starts with the place of his birth in Bethlehem. The The Church of the Nativity is generally considered a credible historical site, with the traditional cave of Christ’s birth being marked by the ornate Star of Bethlehem. Terraced hills containing shepherds’ flocks still encircle the small city.

On the Sea of Galilee, Christ’s childhood town of Nazareth is still active today. In addition, ancient harbors matching the biblical record have been located in recent drought cycles. In fact, a first century Galilean fishing boat was recently unearthed from the mud and preserved. Although we have no idea who the boat belonged to, it matches the biblical record for the vessels used by Christ’s disciples.

Capernaum, a town often visited by Jesus, is widely excavated and protected. Specific sites of interest include the synagogue at Capernaum where Jesus cured a man with an unclean spirit and delivered the sermon on the bread of life, and the house of Peter where Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law and others.

Other archaeological sites involved in Christ’s ministry include Kursi (the swine miracle), Tabgha (loaves and fishes), the Mount of Beatitudes (Sermon on the Mount), Caesarea Philippi (Peter's confession), and Jacob's well where Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman.

In Jerusalem, we still see the foundations for the Jewish Temple Mount built by Herod the Great. Other remarkable sites in Jerusalem include the "Southern Steps" where Jesus and his followers entered the Temple, the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed a crippled man, and the recently uncovered Pool of Siloam where Jesus healed a blind man.

Evidence for Jesus – His Last Days and Crucifixion
The evidence for Jesus in the events leading to his crucifixion starts across the Kidron Valley from Jerusalem at the Mount of Olives. There, we can walk through ancient olive trees to the Garden of Gethsemene where Jesus prayed before his capture. Then, we can look back across the Kidron Valley to the Golden Gate where Christ entered Jerusalem for his trial, scourging and death.

Elsewhere, we find more evidence for Jesus and the leaders presiding over his trial and crucifixion, including an inscription that mentions the Roman procurator of the time, Pontius Pilate, and the actual bones of the Jewish High Priest of the time, Caiaphas, preserved in an ornate ossuary (bone box). The evidence continues throughout Jerusalem where we can stand in the judgment place of Pontius Pilate called Gabbatha, and then walk the Via Dolorosa where Christ carried his own cross to Calvary. The huge Church of the Holy Sepulcher is considered by most scholars to be a reliable historical site covering the locations of the crucifixion and burial of Christ. Incredibly, a 2,000-year-old heel bone pierced by an iron nail was recently discovered in a Jerusalem graveyard that sheds more light on the practice of crucifixion by the first century Romans.

Evidence for Jesus – What About His Resurrection?
The evidence for Jesus in ancient sites and artifacts culminates with an empty tomb just outside the walls of Jerusalem. Although we don’t know the exact location for the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea, the traditional site known as the Garden Tomb provides a wonderful image. Later, on the Road to Emmaus, we picture the risen Christ walking with two deflated and dejected men who lost their leader – the hoped-for Messiah – just a few days earlier. What event could cause a handful of scared and hiding peasants to light up the ancient world with the bold proclamation of Jesus Christ? Nothing short of Christ’s resurrection could have transformed these people – the evidence for Jesus after his death and resurrection is staggering!

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: Soldier4Christ on April 17, 2006, 04:28:26 PM
Resurrection of Jesus: Why It’s Important!
The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of the Christian faith. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he declares:

“And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ: whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.” (1 Corinthians 15:14-15).

“And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:17). As it turns out, no legitimate scholar or religion today denies that Jesus was a historical figure who walked the earth approximately 2,000 years ago, was a great teacher and miracle worker, and who died on a cross for the crime of blasphemy. Therefore, the only legitimate dispute is whether Jesus was the Son of God who was resurrected from the dead after His crucifixion.

Resurrection of Jesus: Eyewitness Testimonies
The resurrection of Jesus is challenged today on evidentiary grounds. Therefore, to be fair, the evidence should be judged like any other historical event. Based on standard rules of evidence, consistent eye-witness testimony from multiple credible witnesses would be considered the strongest form of evidence available to a litigant. Therefore, if we find such testimony present in credible accounts of the historical record of Christ’s resurrection, we have satisfied a major evidentiary challenge under traditional rules. In fact, we do have multiple eye-witness testimonies regarding the resurrection of Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-6, Paul established the following:

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.”

Manuscript studies indicate that this was a very early creed of the Christian faith, written within a few years after the death of Jesus Christ. Therefore, it’s dramatic that Paul ends the passage with “most of whom are still living.” Paul was inviting people to check out the facts. He wouldn’t have included a statement like that if he was trying to hide something like a conspiracy, hoax, myth or legend.

Resurrection of Jesus: More Eye-witness Accounts
The resurrection of Jesus was also declared in numerous other accounts, including the appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene (John 20:10-18), to other women (Matthew 28:8-10), to Cleopas and his companion (Luke 24:13-32), to eleven disciples and others (Luke 24:33-49), to ten apostles and others (excluding Thomas) (John 20:19-23), to the apostles (including Thomas) (John 20:26-30), to seven apostles (John 21:1-14), to the disciples (Matthew 28:16-20), and to the apostles on the Mount of Olives (Luke 24:50-52 and Acts 1:4-9). The ultimate test of credibility for these eye-witnesses was that many of them faced martyrdom for their eye-witness testimony. This is dramatic! These witnesses knew the truth. What could they possibly gain by dying for a known lie? The evidence speaks for itself, these weren’t just religious faithful dying for a religious belief, these were followers of Jesus Christ dying for a historical event – His resurrection that established Him as the Son of God.

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: Soldier4Christ on April 17, 2006, 04:30:50 PM
Is Jesus God? The Historical Dispute
Is Jesus God? The answer to this question is the only real dispute surrounding the historical Jesus. No legitimate scholar today denies that Jesus is a historic figure that walked on this earth about 2,000 years ago, that he did remarkable wonders and acts of charity, and that He died a horrible death on a Roman cross just outside Jerusalem. The emotionally-charged dispute focuses specifically on whether Jesus was God incarnate who rose from the dead three days after His Crucifixion.

Is Jesus God? The Only Alternatives
Is Jesus God? Many people have dealt with this "spiritual" dispute by intellectually accepting Jesus as a great man, great teacher, or great prophet. However, Jesus and His inspired followers didn't mince words when they declared Him to be God (John 10:30-38, Matthew 16:13-17, Mark 14:61-64, John 14:6, Hebrews 1:8, Colossians 1:16, John 12:40-41 [quoting Isaiah 6:1-10]). Therefore, any type of intellectual compromise calling Jesus a "good man" is logically inconsistent. Why? Because there are really only three legitimate alternatives for the identity of Jesus Christ. He is either a liar, a lunatic or our Lord and God. Since Jesus claimed to be God, His claims are either true or false. If false, He must have been a liar, deliberately misleading the multitudes. Or, He was a lunatic, sincerely believing Himself to be God, when in reality He was just a man. However, if Jesus was a "good man," as most people now agree, how then could He be both good and crazy, or good and a liar? There is only one logically consistent alternative - He must have been telling the truth. In addition to the logical inconsistency, the remarkable historical, archaeological and manuscript evidence shows that Jesus was neither a liar nor a lunatic. Again, the only position left is that His claim is true. Jesus is Lord and God.

The only real argument that remains, is that Jesus was just a legend or myth. There is little likelihood that Jesus' claims are legend. There just wasn't enough time for any legendary development of the story to replace what really happened. For instance, we now know that the Gospels were written 30 to 50 years after the crucifixion of Jesus. More dramatically, we now date some of the early Christian creeds, proclaiming the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, to 3 to 10 years after His crucifixion. This includes Paul's letters to the Corinthians, Romans and Galatians. Finally, if Jesus' claim of deity was a myth, the early Jewish opponents of Christianity would surely have presented the fact that these claims never happened. Unlike modern skeptics, the Jewish rabbis never denied that Jesus made the claim that He was God. Instead, they called Him a liar, and tried Him for blasphemy.

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: Soldier4Christ on April 17, 2006, 05:00:02 PM
Jewish Tradition

Of all the ancient sources for Jesus, the least favorably biased seem to be rabbinic in origin. There are actually a significant number of references to Jesus in the Jewish tradition, but many of them use names like "that man" when they refer to Jesus Christ. Therefore, some of the references are now considered unreliable.

Regardless, in the Babylonian Talmud, the formal commentary on the Jewish Laws compiled between 200-500 AD, there's a powerful reference to Jesus:

      It has been taught: On the Eve of the Passover, they hanged Yeshu. And an announcer went out in front of him, for forty days saying: 'he is going to be stoned because he practiced sorcery and enticed and led Israel astray.' Anyone who knows anything in his favor, let him come and plead in his behalf.' But, not having found anything in his favor, they hanged him on the Eve of the Passover.1

This is considered to be a very credible reference to Jesus ("Yeshu") from the Jewish tradition. Here, the rabbinical writers verify that Jesus was an historic figure, that he was crucified on the eve of the Passover and that he did miracles, referred to as "sorcery." The events surrounding the life of Jesus were not denied, but definitely verified in the Jewish tradition.

Well, I was looking for unbiased sources, outside the Bible, that speak to the person of Jesus, his death by capital punishment, and the rise of a religion in his name. Remarkably, that's exactly what I got!

The non-Christian historical accounts of Cornelius Tacitus, Flavius Josephus, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, Mara Bar-Serapion, Lucan of Samosata, and even the writings of the extremely biased Jewish Sanhedrin all vindicate the Biblical accounts of the life and death of Jesus Christ in the first century AD.

In addition to the nine New Testament authors who wrote about Jesus in separate accounts, I found at least twenty additional early Christian authors, four heretical writings, and seven non-Christian sources that make explicit mention of Jesus in their writings within 150 years of his life. This amounts to a minimum of 40 authors, all of whom explicitly mention Jesus and the expansion of a spiritual movement in his name. More authors mention Jesus Christ within 150 years of his life than mention the Roman Emperor who reigned during His lifetime. Scholars are only aware of ten sources that mention Emperor Tiberius within 150 years of his life, including Luke, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Paterculus. Thus, within this short time frame, the number of ancient writers who mention Jesus outnumber those who mention the leader of the entire Roman Empire (effectively, the ancient world of the time) by a ratio of 4:1! 2

Alright, that's fantastic evidence for the historical life and death of a religious leader named "Jesus Christ", but what about the rest?

What about the alleged miracles...?

What about the greatest miracle -- his resurrection from the dead...?

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: Soldier4Christ on April 17, 2006, 05:01:54 PM
Messianic Prophecies

Messianic prophecies comprise the collection of over 300 predictions in the Jewish Scriptures about the future Messiah (Savior) of the Jewish people and the world. These predictions were written by multiple authors, in numerous books, over approximately 1,000 years.

Although I was now viewing the Bible as a credible source, and I was stunned by some of the historical prophecies I examined in the Old Testament, I just couldn't get over the gap dividing the Old Testament predictions from the New Testament Jesus. It was just too convenient... Or maybe it was just too perfect... I had to check them out and test them for myself...

I started reading and collecting the actual scriptures. I laid out the Old Testament passages and searched for the corresponding New Testament texts. As my little notebook took shape, it was really powerful! The Messiah had to fulfill all of these -- not just some of them... The statistical odds started revealing themselves to me... I must say, I was totally baffled...

      Jesus said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."1

Here's a brief snapshot of a few Messianic prophecies I looked at during my notebook exercise...

    * He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14 / Matthew 1:21-23; Luke 1:26-35)
    * He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2 / Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4-7)
    * He would be heralded by a messenger of the Lord (John the Baptist) (Isaiah 40:3-5; Malachi 3:1 / Matthew 3:1-3; 11:10; Mark 1:2-3; Luke 7:27)
    * He would perform miracles (Isaiah 35:5-6; Matthew 9:35, and throughout the gospels)
    * He would preach good news (Isaiah 61:1-2 / Luke 4:14-21)
    * He would first present himself as king 173,880 days from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25 / Matthew 21:4-9; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-38)
    * He would enter Jerusalem as king riding a donkey (Zechariah 9:9 / Matthew 21:4-9; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-38)
    * He would die a humiliating and painful death (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53 / Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 19)
    * His hands and feet would be pierced (Psalm 22:16; / Crucifixion accounts of Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 19)
    * His executioners would cast lots for his clothing (Psalm 22:18; John 19:23-24)
    * None of his bones would be broken in his execution (Psalm 34:20; John 19:32-36)
    * His side would be pierced (Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34-37)
    * He would die with the wicked and be buried in a rich man's tomb (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60)

Although some of the other predictions I looked at could be called "generalized," taken as a whole, these "Messianic prophecies were remarkable to me! I couldn't get over the odds of just one man fulfilling each and every one of these predictions! Even when I tossed out a few of the more "basic" ones, I was still absolutely stunned by the statistical impossibility.

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: Soldier4Christ on April 17, 2006, 05:02:25 PM
Prophecy About Jesus

So, were these predictions really "prophecy about Jesus"? Was the Jesus of the New Testament really the promised Messiah of the Old Testament? For me, I started to see the mathematical impossibility of just one man -- Jesus -- accidentally fulfilling or purposefully manipulating over 300 predictions written hundreds of years before his birth.

Professor Peter Stoner (1888-1980) discovered the same thing. Stoner was Chairman of the Departments of Mathematics and Astronomy at Pasadena City College until 1953, and Chairman of the Science Division of Westmont College from 1953 to 1957. Stoner calculated the probability of one man fulfilling only a handful of the over 300 Messianic prophecies. In 1944, he published his research results in Science Speaks: Scientific Proof of the Accuracy of Prophecy and the Bible. Stoner concluded that the probability of one person fulfilling just eight of the specific prophecies was one chance in 1017 (one followed by 17 zeros). How about one person fulfilling just 48 of the over 300 prophecies? Stoner calculated these odds at one chance in 10157 -- way beyond statistical impossibility! 1

OK, this can't be considered true statistical science... Can it?

Actually, the American Scientific Affiliation gave Stoner's work their stamp of approval:

      The manuscript for Science Speaks has been carefully reviewed by a committee of the American Scientific Affiliation members and by the Executive Council of the same group and has been found, in general, to be dependable and accurate in regard to the scientific material presented. The mathematical analysis included is based upon principles of probability which are thoroughly sound and Professor Stoner has applied these principles in a proper and convincing way. 2

I was blown away! I had never really looked at this stuff. I had never really thought it all through...

I mean, this prophecy about Jesus wasn't generalized stuff!

The Book of Daniel was written 500 years before the birth of Jesus. In Chapter 9, Daniel predicts the very day that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem and present himself as king for the first time. The prophecy states that 69 weeks of years (69 x 7 = 483 years) would pass from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem until the coming of the Messiah. 3 Since Daniel was written in Babylon during the Jewish captivity after the fall of Jerusalem, this prophecy was based on the Babylonian 360-day calendar. Thus, 483 years x 360 days = 173,880 days.

According to records found in the Shushan (Susa) Palace, and confirmed in Nehemiah 2:1, the decree to rebuild Jerusalem was issued by the Persian king, Artaxerxes Longimanus, on March 5, 444 BC. Remarkably, 173,880 days later (adjusting for leap years), on March 30, 33 AD, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey (fulfilling the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9).4 Five days later, Jesus was crucified on a Roman cross just outside Jerusalem. (Actually, the form of his execution and even his last words were foretold hundreds of years earlier in Psalm 22.) Three days later, the New Testament accounts declare that Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Sunday, fulfilling numerous other prophecies of the long-awaited Messiah.

I stopped myself...

OK, that's all terrific stuff, but something was holding me back... I needed more... I needed something to squash my nagging doubt... Where's the evidence that this prophecy about Jesus wasn't written after the death of Jesus by a group of zealots that wanted to deify their departed religious leader...? I needed something else -- I needed one more piece of evidence showing that the prophecy about Jesus was in black and white prior to the time of Jesus... And there it was...

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: Soldier4Christ on April 17, 2006, 05:03:21 PM
Flavius Josephus (37 - 100 AD), a Jewish general and member of the priestly aristocracy of the Jews, turned to the side of the Roman Empire in the great Jewish revolt of 66-70 AD. Josephus spent the rest of his life in or around Rome as an advisor and historian to three emperors, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian. For centuries, the works of Josephus were more widely read in Europe than any book other than the Bible. They are invaluable sources of eyewitness testimony to the development of Western civilization, including the foundation and growth of Christianity in the 1st Century.

Remarkably, Flavius Josephus mentions New Testament events and people in some of his works. For me, this was some of the most significant evidence against the legend theories that plagued my view of early Christianity. Here are some excerpts I found fascinating:

      At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders. 1


      After the death of the procurator Festus, when Albinus was about to succeed him, the high-priest Ananius considered it a favorable opportunity to assemble the Sanhedrin. He therefore caused James the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, and several others, to appear before this hastily assembled council, and pronounced upon them the sentence of death by stoning. All the wise men and strict observers of the law who were at Jerusalem expressed their disapprobation of this act...Some even went to Albinus himself, who had departed to Alexandria, to bring this breach of the law under his observation, and to inform him that Ananius had acted illegally in assembling the Sanhedrin without the Roman authority. 2


      Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. 3

These three quotes from "Josephus" really speak for themselves! Professor Shlomo Pines, a well known Israeli scholar, discusses the fact of Jesus' historicity and the references to Jesus by Flavius Josephus:

      In fact, as far as probabilities go, no believing Christian could have produced such a neutral text: for him the only significant point about it could have been its attesting the historical evidence of Jesus. But the fact is that until modern times this particular hare (i.e. claiming Jesus is a hoax) was never started. Even the most bitter opponents of Christianity never expressed any doubt as to Jesus having really lived. 4

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: Soldier4Christ on April 17, 2006, 05:06:48 PM
Pliny the Younger (c. 62 - c.113 AD) was the Roman Governor of Bithynia (present-day northwestern Turkey). Around 111 or 112 AD, he wrote the following letter to Emperor Trajan of Rome asking for advice on how to deal with Christians.

      It is a rule, Sir, which I inviolably observe, to refer myself to you in all my doubts; for who is more capable of guiding my uncertainty or informing my ignorance? Having never been present at any trials of the Christians, I am unacquainted with the method and limits to be observed either in examining or punishing them. Whether any difference is to be allowed between the youngest and the adult; whether repentance admits to a pardon, or if a man has been once a Christian it avails him nothing to recant; whether the mere profession of Christianity, albeit without crimes, or only the crimes associated therewith are punishable -- in all these points I am greatly doubtful.

      In the meanwhile, the method I have observed towards those who have denounced to me as Christians is this: I interrogated them whether they were Christians; if they confessed it I repeated the question twice again, adding the threat of capital punishment; if they still persevered, I ordered them to be executed. For whatever the nature of their creed might be, I could at least feel not doubt that contumacy and inflexible obstinacy deserved chastisement. There were others also possessed with the same infatuation, but being citizens of Rome, I directed them to be carried thither.

      These accusations spread (as is usually the case) from the mere fact of the matter being investigated and several forms of the mischief came to light. A placard was put up, without any signature, accusing a large number of persons by name. Those who denied they were, or had ever been, Christians, who repeated after me an invocation to the gods, and offered adoration, with wine and frankincense, to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for that purpose, together with those of the gods, and who finally cursed Christ -- none of which acts, it is into performing -- these I thought it proper to discharge. Others who were named by that informer at first confessed themselves Christians, and then denied it; true, they had been of that persuasion but they had quitted it, some three years, others many years, and a few as much as twenty-five years ago. They all worshipped your statue and the images of the gods, and cursed Christ.

      They affirmed, however, the whole of their guilt, or their error, was, that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft, or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food -- but food of an ordinary and innocent kind. Even this practice, however, they had abandoned after the publication of my edict, by which, according to your orders, I had forbidden political associations. I judged it so much the more necessary to extract the real truth, with the assistance of torture, from two female slaves, who were styled deaconesses: but I could discover nothing more than depraved and excessive superstition.

      I therefore adjourned the proceedings, and betook myself at once to your counsel. For the matter seemed to me well worth referring to you, especially considering the numbers endangered. Persons of all ranks and ages, and of both sexes are, and will be, involved in the prosecution. For this contagious superstition is not confined to the cities only, but has spread through the villages and rural districts; it seems possible, however, to check and cure it. 1

This is quite a letter preserved from antiquity. I reproduced a great deal of it here, because it was so powerful for me in its entirety. "Pliny the Younger" speaks of Christianity spreading throughout the Roman Empire and he addresses the procedure for persecuting followers out of this "superstition." Pliny also mentions Christ by name three times as the center of Christianity and describes Christian practices, including the worship of Christ "as to a god."

Title: Re: Historical Evidence of Jesus
Post by: nChrist on April 19, 2006, 12:00:39 AM
Amen Pastor Roger!

I really enjoyed this series of posts. They are fascinating, and they should help many literally see the LIGHT and seek JESUS. I think they are also great for strengthening the faith of many babes in Christ who might still have some questions and doubts. Regardless, they represent a series of facts that are impossible to ignore, and I thank you for sharing them with everyone.


Love In Christ,

Psalms 31:19 NASB  How great is Your goodness, Which You have stored up for those who fear You, Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, Before the sons of men!