Did Jesus Even Exist?-The Problematic Argument from Silence
by Chris Williams
Many of Christianity’s online critics opine the notion that Jesus never even existed. Part of their argumentation involves an argument from silence. In brief, this argument states that Jesus did not exist, because no contemporary writer ever mentions Jesus. Proponents of this view emphasize that many contemporary authors would have written about Jesus, if Jesus truly performed miracles and had such a massive following. The reality, however, is that this argument is a logical fallacy. Although an argument from silence can be logically valid in some cases, it is not legitimate when applied to the question of Jesus’s existence.
I contend that it is reasonable to concur with the vast majority of scholars that Jesus existed during the first century C.E. By “Jesus” I mean a Jewish man who was crucified under Pontius Pilate’s authority during the reign of Tiberius Caesar. This Jesus was also a reputed miracle worker. For the purposes of this blog entry, I will not assume that the New Testament gospels are factually accurate in every single detail that they describe. Instead, I will approach these texts the way the majority of scholars approach them: They are ancient documents and historians must apply careful methodological principles when mining through the gospels’ material. I will expound upon those methods below.
My discussion will be divided into three main sections: First, I will provide a crash course on ancient history and the basic methodological principles historians use to study ancient history. Second, I will discuss details that early Roman sources provide concerning the early Christian movement and I will use them to reconstruct a picture of the apostle Paul’s historical position in the first century C.E. Third, I shall conduct a brief survey of the data Paul provides concerning Jesus. Fourth, I will discuss some additional Jewish material that corroborates what the New Testament sources teach concerning Jesus…
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In The Case for the Real Jesus, former award-winning legal editor Lee Strobel explores such hot-button questions as: * Did the church suppress ancient non-biblical documents that paint a more accurate picture of Jesus than the four Gospels? * Did the church distort the truth about Jesus by tampering with early New Testament texts? * Do new insights and explanations finally disprove the resurrection? * Have fresh arguments disqualified Jesus from being the Messiah? * Did Christianity steal its core ideas from earlier mythology? Evaluate the arguments and evidence being advanced by prominent atheists, liberal theologians, Muslim scholars, and others. Sift through expert testimony. Then reach your own verdict in The Case for the Real Jesus.
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