36 Reasons Why Scholars Know Jesus Really Existed
by James Bishop
This list has taking me quite a few days to put together, but it’s been a joyful time doing so. I was already familiar with most of the literature on this topic so that would have shortened my time spent on the list, however there is always something that one seems to have missed when going over things for the first time, and therefore it is worth it going over it a second or third time.
Nevertheless, I always have a great time surveying evidence, and piecing it together so that we can come out with a picture on the other end, and that would be my point for this blog article – to survey the historical evidence for Jesus’ existence. Another reason that the topic of Jesus’ existence is seemingly so welcoming for me is because Jesus is so well established in history – I can’t lose, so why not use that to your advantage, that’s the way I see it, and that is just the way it seems to be in all spheres of historical scholarship.
So, here is a list that I wish for believers and even unbelievers (who do not deny that Jesus’ existed at one time) to share with their friends, colleagues and whomever else. But if you do share this, please would you credit my blog, as well as my Facebook page Happy Christian Apologetics Community.
1) Nothing to the contrary:
If Jesus really were a non-existent figure of history it would be expected that some anti-Christian group would make this known. In fact the most hostile group towards Jesus and early Christianity were the Jews, yet they affirmed Jesus existence by trying to accuse the disciples of stealing Jesus’ body from the tomb. Also we find anti-Jesus material in the Jewish Talmud accusing him of treachery and leading Israel astray. Those that hated Christianity the most just had to discover that Jesus was a figment of the early Christians imagination and expose it, and that would be the end of Christianity – odd that this is not what happened. Why?
Because they knew Jesus existed, and he was a threat to them. This is what led the scholar Paul Maier in his work ‘In the Fullness of Time’, to write:
“Jewish polemic shared with Christians the conviction that the sepulcher was empty, but gave natural explanations for it. And such positive evidence within a hostile source is the strongest kind off evidence.”
We should ask ourselves, why did the Jews try to explain away Jesus’ tomb if there was no Jesus in the first place? It’s because Jesus existed. To continue with Paul Maier:
“Now you can argue about whether he was the Son of God or not, you can argue about the supernatural aspects of his life, but in terms of the historical character there is absolutely no evidence to the contrary and all the evidence is in the favor.”
Why should we believe the hyper-skeptical, who lives 2000 years after the events he is saying never happened, over those who lived at the very times, and shortly after Jesus?
2) Scholars know that Jesus existed:
The most credible historical, New Testament, Biblical, historical, and early Christianity scholars today, from all backgrounds of belief, agree wholeheartedly that Jesus existed. Of course the debate arises in what we can know about Jesus, but that is irrelevant to this discussion.
As Professor Bultmann, Professor of New Testament studies, once wrote:
“Of course the doubt as to whether Jesus really existed is unfounded and not worth refutation. No sane person can doubt that Jesus stands as founder behind the historical movement whose first distinct stage is represented by the oldest Palestinian community.”
As Paul Maier, former Professor of Ancient History, remarks:
“The total evidence is so overpowering, so absolute that only the shallowest of intellects would dare to deny Jesus’ existence.”
Also, Craig Evans who is widely known for his writings on the subject of the historical Jesus says that:
“No serious historian of any religious or nonreligious stripe doubts that Jesus of Nazareth really lived in the first century and was executed under the authority of Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea and Samaria.”
Even the most skeptical of New Testament scholars Bart Ehrman (who is certainly no friend of Christianity) states that:
“These views are so extreme (that Jesus did not exist) and so unconvincing to 99.99 percent of the real experts that anyone holding them is as likely to get a teaching job in an established department of religion as a six-day creationist is likely to land on in a bona fide department of biology.”
Grant says, “To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory. It has ‘again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars.’
The most telling admission comes from a leading atheist New Testament scholar in Germany…
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