So i had this question in my mind and did some looking around, as a result i stumbled upon this article, before however i tried looking for evidence outside the bible on jesus’ existence and couldn’t find much other than some letters written by tacitus mentioning the christ and “antiquities of the jews” by flavius josephus. What i would also like to know is if there has been any archelogical discoveries attributed to jesus since this article was written?
It is extremely rare to have archeological evidence of particular persons. And when we do have such evidence, what does it consist of? It consists of writing about that person – emperors, kings, and a few philosophers. Of course, a lot of the writings about such people were somewhat mythical, even calling them gods. So we don’t believe everything those writings claim, but we do believe the person existed.
Well people did write about Jesus, obviously. Therefore it is only natural that the majority of secular scholars believe Jesus existed as well. The challenge to this recently has arisen from militant atheists fighting an all out war on Christianity – where there has been very little attempt at either objectivity or honesty.
Makes sense, i am just surprised that i have come across people who say jesus never existed or mythical, mostly the never existed part though.
Kevin, if you look at the article again you’ll see that it was originally published February 26, 2019: three years ago. If there had been any “archaelogical discoveries” in the last three years of anything that confirms that Jesus existed in 1st century Israel, I think it’s safe to say tthat it would have made it into news media darn near everywhere, if not everywhere, in English-speaking countries. As for other evidence outside the Bible, there’s not much, although Jesus’ existence has Bart Ehrman’s “say-so” going for it.
Jesus Mythicism is a conspiracy theory rejected by serious historians.
Who? I have never heard that name before, is he an archeologist?
No, he’s an atheist: I almost said: “a well-known atheist”, but since you haven’t heard of him, I guess he’s not that well-known, is he? But my point was: If Bart believes that Jesus existed, on the basis of what’s written in the Bible and the three or so things written outside of the Bible, and you meet someone who still says Jesus never existed, you can just tell 'em “Even Bart Ehrman says, says he did.”
Start with Paul.
Ultimately, the existence of Jesus isn’t relevant to the question of divinity or the other claims made in the gospels. Most of us will agree that that Muhammad, Buddha, and other religious figures were probably real, historical people. We even have photographs of Joseph Smith. However, people aren’t swayed to become part of a religion simply because its founder can be shown to have existed.
He is a religion professor at UNC Chapel Hill (still there I think), and that is why I am aware of his, as my mother went there (and father for grad school).
Artifacts (statues, altars, jewelry, weapons, tools, inscriptions, paintings, coins, scarabs, tablets, papyri, stelae, reliefs, and pottery) tell a story of the past, informational aids provide insight to accurate understanding. Bible was written so long ago, artifacts give us knowledge but contain historical stories with real people. Jesus and the Bible is a myth some say. But the bible preserves an accurate accounting of history that matches verified by artifacts - events, people and places including Jesus but goes beyond Jesus.
Artifacts confirm the historical reliability of passages in scripture.
Pontius Pilate the Governor (The Pilate Stone) Dated 26-36 AD. He was the fifth prefect of Judea Province in AD 26. He had six significant conflicts with the local population, one of which was with Jesus. He big conflict was with Sejanus. Two artifacts are directly connected to Pilate. A staircase (theatre at Caesarea Maritima) had a monument stone with a dedicatory Latin inscription reading “Tiberium, Pontius Pilatus, Prefect of Judea…dedicate.” (Dated 26-36). Second, a copper-alloy Roman-type ring bearing the name “Pilato” was found in the palace-fortress site of Herodium near Bethlehem. Prior to the ring and stone, Pilate was only known from manuscripts of Josephus, Philo, Tacitus, the Gospels, Acts and 1 Timothy.
Crucifixion in Judea (Crucified remains of a nail through a human bone) dated 1st century AD. Jesus crucifixion follows Roman practices are detailed in Roman sources
Jesus artwork in Rome (The Alexamenos)- look it up
Rumors of the Resurrection (The Nazareth Inscription)
Apostles and early church testify about Jesus - external source verifications of particular verses towns, people mentioned in the NT.
Then you have Aretas the King and Paul (Burial Inscription of Itaybel) then Sergius Paulus on Cyrus (Paulus the Proconsul Inscription) then Lystra & Derbe discovered (Inscriptions) then Thessalonica (Politarch Inscription) then Altar of the unknown god (Unknown Gods altar), then the Corinth Synagogue (Jebrew Inscription), Gallio the Governor (Delphi Inscription) then Erastur of Corinth (Erastud Pavement Inscription) then Artemis and Ephesus (Statue of Artemis) James the brother of Jesus (James Ossuary), then Fighting the Wild Beasts (Bestiarius Oil Lamp) Titus and the temple destruction (Arch of Titus relief ) Rome.
What others recorded about Jesus + enemeis
Jesus was mentioned by only three Graeco-Roman authors: Pliny (Epistles 10.96), Tacitus (Annals 15.44), and Suetonius (Lives 24.4). Tacitus noted that Christ was executed under Pilate; Pliny wrote Emperor Trajan about the Christian “superstition” and Christ as an object of ridicule; and Suetonius noted Jewish restlessness under “Crestus.”
Jewish sources, such as Josephus (Antiquities) and the Talmud contain scant data about Him. Josephus’ statements validate John the Baptist’s execution—and a contested passage refers to Jesus as a wise man with a significant following who appeared to His followers after His resurrection, as the prophets had predicted. If the disputed passage about Jesus is authentic, it would validate the biblical narratives. The references in the Talmud were much later and sought to exonerate the Jews for the crucifixion—that is if they are indeed references to Jesus of Nazareth (a point still disputed). They also scorned Jeshu of Nazareth for leading the world astray.
Nice article…I subscribe to BAR and also have read the arguments cited in that History piece — remarks by Ehrman and others. Durant, writing decades ago (admittedly) said that Christianity rose up too quickly as a religion for there not to have been /Someone behind it.
And yes, I know that some atheists have argued vehemently against the evidence in Nazareth – critiquing Dark’s work etc — but the idea that Jesus never existed is a hard slog, given the details described in that article and by others.
That someone is easily explained naturally.
Note I think Jesus did exist; however:
The Alexamenos is usually dated to 200CE (with some considering it earlier) so evidence for Christian beliefs about Jesus (or rather caricatures people had about Christian beliefs since I doubt early Christians would depict Jesus as a crucified donkey) but less so for Jesus.
The “Nazareth” inscription is an edict against disturbing tombs from the first century (either late BCE or early CE). Its provenance is unknown (it was bought in 1878 in modern Nazareth which had a thriving antiquities market hence the name given the inscription but that doesn’t give much information about where it was unearthed). It does not mention Jesus and tomb disturbing/robbing was a known crime in the Roman empire (known from laws predating Jesus’s birth much less death).
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