- In the first lesson, a foundation was laid for Christian Apologetics, showing that the Christian faith is:
- An objective faith.
- Jesus of Nazareth is the object of that faith.
- Jesus is the Son of God, who died for our sins and rose from the dead.
- A historical faith.
- Based upon real people, places, and events.
- Actually took place in history.
- An intelligent, rational faith.
- A faith that invites people to use their minds.
- Historical evidence logically supports placing one's faith in Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God.
- With these things in mind, we begin considering the evidence showing that Jesus of Nazareth was a historical figure who lived in Palestine during the first century A.D.
- Jesus a Historical Person.
- There have been skeptics who believed Jesus was a myth.
- This was a popular concept among some scholars in the 1800s.
- They were ignorant of the facts.
- They suppressed evidence, as was done in formerly communist-dominated countries.
- No serious historian (even those who are atheists) disputes that Jesus lived.
- H.G. Wells.
- An atheist, Wells spoke of Jesus in his book, Outline of History.
- "One is obliged to say, 'Here was a man. This part of the tale could not have been invented.'"
- Will Durant.
- Ex-professor of Philosophy of History at Columbia University.
- He spent two chapters in The Story of Our Civilization representing Jesus as a historical figure right along with the Caesars.
- Encyclopedia Britannica.
- Used over 20,000 words to describe Jesus.
- More than Aristotle, Cicero, Julius Caesar, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, or Napoleon.
- Other evidence for a historical Jesus.
- Thallus (A Samaritan historian, c. A.D. 52).
- Wrote attempting to give a natural explanation for the darkness which occurred at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus.
- He did not deny the existence of Jesus.
- He only tried to explain away the strange circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus.
- Letter of Mara-Serapion (written to his son, c. A.D. 73).
- He tells of the deaths of Socrates, Pythagoras, and of Jesus.
- "What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their king? ... Nor did the wise king die for good; he lived on in the teaching which he had given."
- Cornelius Tacitus (Roman historian, c. A.D. 112).
- Wrote of Jesus in his Annals.
- "Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberias."
- Pliny the Younger.
- Governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor, c. A.D. 112.
- Wrote to the emperor Trajan about Christians and their devotion to Christ.
- Seutonius (court official and annalist under Hadrian, A.D. 120).
- "As the Jews were making constant disturbance at the instigation of Christus, he expelled them from Rome."
- Luke makes reference to this banishment in Acts 18:1-2.
- Among Jewish sources.
- The Talmud.
- Is two separate books dealing with Jewish law, written A.D. 100 to A.D. 500.
- Speaks frequently of Jesus of Nazareth in unfriendly terms, but never disputes his status.
- Flavius Josephus.
- A Jewish general turned Roman historian, born A.D. 37.
- Makes references to Jesus in his History of the Jews.
- Implications of This Evidence.
- The evidence proves:
- A solid basis upon which one can accept the fact that Jesus existed in history.
- It shows the shallow thinking of people who would try to mark Jesus off as a myth.
- It requires everyone to give some sort of answer to the questions posed by Jesus himself, "But who do you say that I am? " (Matt. 16:15).
- What the evidence does not do.
- The proof of Jesus historical existence does not, within itself, prove that Jesus is the Son of God.
- It does not tell us anything about Jesus except: He lived and died and did something significant to gain notoriety by the historians.
- To learn more of Jesus we must look elsewhere.
- There have been many fanciful stories about Jesus.
- Christians consider the 27 books known as the New Testament to be the only reliable source of information about Jesus.
- Is the New Testament a historical document?
- Can we be sure that in our Bibles we have what was written by the original authors?
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