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Adventure Link: Was Jesus real?
Posted by Rev. Jeff Dixon, Senior Equiping Minister, Covenant Community Church on May 1, 2003, 14:17

The Adventure Link
Tough Questions and Helpful Answers

I have a friend who thinks that Jesus didn't really exist and there was a TV show on recently that cast the same type of doubts. What do you say to those things?

There are still many people today who make the claim that Jesus never existed, that He was only a mythical character.

Those who make such an accusation are certainly not historians, and are surprisingly ignorant of the facts. Usually with that type of question, facts are not really considered.

The New Testament contains twenty-seven separate documents which were written in the first century a.d. These writings contain the story of the life of Jesus and the beginnings of the Christian church from about 4 b.c. until the decade of the a.d. nineties.

The facts were recorded by eyewitnesses, who gave firsthand testimony to what they had seen and heard. “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life” (I John 1:1, NASB).

Moreover, the existence of Jesus is recorded by the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, who was born in a.d. 37, “Now there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works—a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles.
“He was (the) Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those who loved him at the firs did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day” (Antiquities, XVIII, III).

Although this passage has been contested because of the reference to Jesus being the Christ and rising from the dead, the fact of His existence is not in question.
Cornelius Tacitus (a.d. 112), a Roman historian, writing about the reign of Nero, refers to Jesus Christ and the existence of Christians in Rome (Annals, XV, 44). Tacitus, elsewhere in his Histories, refers to Christianity when alluding to the burning of the temple of Jerusalem in a.d. 70. This has been preserved by Sulpicius Severus (Chronicles 30:6).

There are other references to Jesus or His followers, such as the Roman historian, Seutonius (a.d. 120) in Life of Claudius, 25.4, and Lives of the Caesars, 26.2, and Pliny the younger (a.d. 112) in his Epistles, X. 96.

This testimony, both Christian and non-Christian, is more than sufficient to lay to rest any idea that Jesus, in fact, never existed. In light of the evidence, it is absurd to hold such a view. We know more about the life of Jesus than just about any other figure in the ancient world. His birth, life, and death are revealed in much more detail than most ancient figures whose existence is taken for granted by historians.
After examining the evidence about the life of Christ from contemporary sources apart from the New Testament, Roderic Dunkerley concluded, “In none of these various testimonies to the fact of Christ is there any slightest hint or idea that he was not a real historical person.

So don't sweat that kind of question too much. It is not really a very good argument, but at least you have a few things to respond with now.

The adventure continues

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