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Selective Skepticism and the Existence of Jesus
As we were growing up, adults would tell us “Don’t believe everything you hear”, or “Don’t believe everything you read.” If we did, we’d eventually be taken for a ride, which could cost us time, money, or even our lives. But when does a healthy skepticism go too far? Well, certainly that line has been crossed when in order to maintain one's skepticism you must be completely unskeptical of something else. As an example, I’d like to offer up the idea that Jesus never existed, a canard that keeps resurfacing in skeptical quarters.
Despite the number of followers that it commands, it’s a claim that doesn’t even rise to the level of being called tenuous or flimsy. One must show that EVERYTHING in the Gospels was made up, and that the Roman and Jewish references to him do not establish Him as a historical figure. In one of the online discussion forums that I participate in, one person relayed some objections regarding the historicity of Jesus that she’d heard. One was that the non-Christian references to Jesus didn’t confirm his existence because it was still
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possible that they had just merely repeated the claims of what Christians were saying. But wait a minute! What confirmation do we have for the claim that these writers were just going off of what Christians were saying?
Let’s examine two of these non-biblical witnesses. First up is the Jewish Historian Flavius Josephus, author of a passage that has been disputed as a later Christian interpolation, but is recognized by most scholars as only being a partial one, with a core that is original to Josephus. I’ll quote the Arabic version, as there is no evidence of later Christian tampering, and is likely to be pretty close to what Josephus originally wrote…
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