30 Common New Testament Challenges By Sceptics Answered

by James Bishop

Introduction: The list of challenges that follow are very common and are used often by sceptics. They are used all the time by those that just needed to do a little bit more research to figure it out themselves, however most of those making these sort of challenges have no intention in trying to understand that of which they dismiss. But I am well aware of those who are really interested in learning more, and are open to evidence and arguments (whether that be a spiritual seeker, a Christian, agnostic, or atheist) – it is to them, the open minded, that this list is intended for. This list is also by no means exhaustive, that would require me to write a book, but it is a quick overview of the most common allegations you will hear or read. Nevertheless, please enjoy reading this, and share it with many as possible! This list is also susceptible to change, I have likely missed a few of the more common allegations of which I will in the future include here.

Contents of allegations:

1- The existence of Jesus is open to debate among scholars in the relevant fields today.
2- Jesus is only mentioned in the New Testament, so he could not have existed.
3- We don’t have any contemporary accounts of Jesus’ existence.
4- You can’t prove that Jesus rose from the dead, it takes faith to believe that.
5- The New Testament is full of contradictions! We must reject it.
6- The Gospels on Jesus are filled with non-historical information.
7- The Gospels are like the game of telephone.
8- The stories about Jesus are biased, we ought to reject them.
9- We can’t trust the Gospels because we don’t know who wrote them.
10- The Gospels aren’t mean to be literal history.
11- The original New Testament manuscripts are lost.
12- Time allowed for myth to expunge the true life of Jesus.
13- Miracles in historical sources must be rejected.
14- The Gospels do not claim to be eyewitness reports.
15- We can’t accept the eyewitness testimony in the Gospels. It’s unreliable.
16- The New Testament Jesus is a copy of pagan religions.
17- Why didn’t Jesus leave a larger ripple in the historical record?
18- Why does Paul seem not to mention much about Jesus? He never mentions Jesus ever walking on Earth.
19- There were other messiahs of the 1st century. Jesus isn’t unique.
20- Should the Gnostic Gospels be included with the four New Testament Gospels? Why aren’t they?
21- How could scholars possibly manage to get facts on Jesus from the Gospels?
22- Why didn’t other people write about Jesus?
23- The Gospels are not even based in actual history.
24- Emperor Constantine influenced which books were to be included in the New Testament.
25- What about Romulus? He is said to also have had a resurrection! The Gospels copied it.
26- Where are Jesus’ relics, such as the nails, the spear that thrust him, or his garments?
27- The town of Nazareth recorded in the Gospels did not even exist at the time of Jesus.
28- Apollonius also had a resurrection. That proves Jesus is not unique.
29- All sources originate from Mark! Therefore we don’t have four Gospels but actually only one.
30- The Gospel accounts were written over 100 years from when Jesus alleged lived.

1. “The existence of Jesus as seen in the New Testament is open to debate among scholars in the relevant fields today.”

Let us hear from Bart Ehrman in a presentation that he did (Ehrman is certainly no friend of Christianity, as is widely known) – someone in the crowd challenged him by stating that there is no evidence for Jesus ever existing. Ehrman is a leading New Testament historian, and perhaps the lead sceptic within the realms of relevant specializations, replies:

“I know in the crowds that you all run around with it is commonly thought that Jesus did not exist, let me tell you, once you get outside of your conclave there is nobody… I mean this is not even an issue for scholars of antiquity, this is not an issue. There is no scholar in any college, or university in the Western world who teaches classics, ancient history, New Testament, early Christianity, or any related field, who doubts that Jesus existed.” Ehrman goes on to say:

“The reason for thinking that Jesus existed is because he is abundantly attested in early sources, that’s why, and I give the details in my book. Early and independent sources indicate certainly that Jesus existed.”

The truth is that the existence of Jesus is not on the table of scholarly debate. Instead, scholars are interested in knowing details about Jesus; no scholar in the field denies his existence…

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30 Common New Testament Challenges By Sceptics Answered | Historical Jesus studies