The Historical Evidence of the Existence of Jesus of Nazareth
by Justin Taylor
Below is an interesting introduction to Bart Ehrman’s new Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. As a New Testament scholar who has specialized in the gospels and early Christianity and also as a skeptic, he was confused by the regular stream of questions about the existence of Jesus and was largely unaware of the internet skeptics who spill an enormous amount of pixels writing on this issue.
Here’s how he opens the book:
Every week I receive two or three e-mails asking me whether Jesus existed as a human being. When I started getting these e-mails, some years ago now, I thought the question was rather peculiar and I did not take it seriously. Of course Jesus existed. Everyone knows he existed. Don’t they?
But the questions kept coming, and soon I began to wonder: Why are so many people asking? My wonder only increased when I learned that I myself was being quoted in some circles—misquoted rather—as saying that Jesus never existed. I decided to look into the matter. I discovered, to my surprise, an entire body of literature devoted to the question of whether or not there ever was a real man, Jesus.
I was surprised because I am trained as a scholar of the New Testament and early Christianity, and for thirty years I have written extensively on the historical Jesus, the Gospels, the early Christian movement, and the history of the church’s first three hundred years. Like all New Testament scholars, I have read thousands of books and articles in English and other European languages on Jesus, the New Testament, and early Christianity. But I was almost completely unaware—as are most of my colleagues in the field—of this body of skeptical literature…
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