Did Jesus exist? (knowing this might blow up the whole dang blog)
All right, I know it’s in fashion lately in atheist circles to question whether Jesus ever existed. It seems like a clever move on their part, questioning the very existence of the person in which Christians found their entire movement.
But, as clever as it seems, there is really no basis for it at all from a historical research standpoint. I can reasonably see why atheists don’t accept Jesus as God, did miracles and was raised from the dead. Those are all certainly reasonable positions to assume and many educated atheists have taken those positions. I think they are wrong, but I understand their reasons for doing so.
What I don’t understand, is the people who attempt to deny Jesus existed at all. History is not like science, it just can’t be. So when people talk about empirical history, it makes my history major hives go into overdrive. It goes into overdrive because of the insistence that science must rule all academic disciplines. Once again, attributing things to science that just shouldn’t be the case.
But, putting all that aside, I realize that Christian apologetics are not credible to atheists. I think it’s the same mistake Christians make about Richard Dawkins, Hitchens etc, but I understand the point. And I also get that people don’t accept the Gospels as proof of Jesus existence either even though some of the best nonChristian scholars of the Gospels do.
So, we are left with metions from historians or other people who are not Christians. Allow me to list:
The Midrash and the Talmud-Although these are written down later, most historians accept these were oral traditions that go back before the time of CHrist.
Josephus- Yes, I know what you will argue, that these passages are not added in. But, actually, recent scholarship, Jewish especially, accept that passage as partially authentic. Plus, it makes little sense to metion James and John the Baptist while not mentioning Jesus. The main passage in Jospehus qualifies for a mention if you take out those which claim Jesus as God. In fact, we have every reason to believe those passages where altered later on in history. Why? Origien, a church father, mentions Josephus, but says he doesn’t believe that Jesus was the Christ. Jeff Lowder, over at Infidels.org, accepts this position.
I know that some atheists would argue that’s not enough, but by historical standards, its a hell of a lot more than we have for other historical figures. I’m mystified how there is a dog pile on the need for the historical Jesus. I have even seen this statement, “The Romans have no record of him, so he must not have existed”. First, this is purely an argument from silence. Everyone used to think that Troy never existed either until they dug up the whole city. It’s the “god of the gaps” of historical arugmentation and therefore, worthless for that reason alone.
There are much stronger arguments that can be made to show Christianity is not true. This is not one of them and atheists do no credit to their position in putting this forward as a major argument. I’m NOT suggesting it shouldn’t be considered. Far from it. But, once it is considered in a rational, reasonable way, you can see that to deny Jesus is just woo history.
I know it sounds sexy and daring to suggest that Jesus might not ever existed. But from a historians point of view, it’s the same thing as denying evolution happend from a scientific point of view. It just makes no sense and adds zero crediblity.
Let the cage match begin!!!