Sunday, March 23, 2014

1. How do we know Jesus was a real person & not just a myth?

There actually is plenty of evidence that Jesus was a real person & the story of his life & death is not a myth. His crucifixion is attested to outside the Bible by Tacitus, Josephus & Pliny the Younger. All 3 were non-Christians writing in the 1st & early 2nd centuries AD. I've since read that there are at least 47 references to Jesus outside the Bible from close to the time he lived. 

Tacitus was a historian who wrote The Annals of the Roman Empire.  Josephus was a jewish historian that wrote a history called The Jewish War.  Tacitus confirms Christ died during the reign of Tiberius.  Both Tacitus & Josephus confirm that Pontius Pilate ordered Jesus’ execution & that it was by crucifixion.  Josephus also mentions that James the brother of Jesus was ordered to be stoned by the Sanhedrin, the jewish ruling council.  The jewish rulers wanted to do all that they could to stop the spread of Christianity. Jesus even gets a mention in the the Talmud, but they don't call him the Messiah or the Son of God. That was blasphemy according the jewish authorities. In the Talmud he is called a magician or a sorcerer for all the amazing things he did that they could not explain.

Pliny was a roman governor of an area that is now part of Turkey.  He wrote a letters to his friend the roman emperor Trajan.  In one of his letters he wrote about questioning, torturing & executing christians simply because they admitted they were christians.  They admitted to meeting before dawn to honor Christ.  Pliny was offended that they treated Christ like a god.  Why is that such a crime? Roman emperors were sometimes declared divine after death & even during their life & demanded to be called a god.  Denying that was not the road to a long life.

What’s important about these writings is not that they prove Jesus came back from the dead. We’ll get to evidence for that later on. They do confirm he lived, died by crucifixion & that early on christians worshipped Jesus as God.

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