8 Reasons to Believe Jesus Existed
Sadly there is a belief growing among many that Jesus never existed. Though not taught at the university or seminary, this view is being promoted from various individuals on the internet through videos, books, and blogs. I myself have never met anyone holding to the view until recently. As I looked into it more, sadly I think many are buying into such a ludicrous position.
The position simply stated is this: Jesus never existed as human person, the early followers made it up to gain a following and they copied/borrowed their notions from ancient pagan myths. While such a view sounds absolutely absurd (on par with denying the holocaust), many Christians might be unsure of how to respond to those advocate it. Thankfully, many bright thinkers before us have already dealt with this issue.
Here’s eight reasons we should reject the Jesus myth (mythicist) position and hold to the traditional view that Jesus was a historical person:
- The argument that Jesus never existed contradicts the overwhelmingly vast majority of accredited biblical, historical and antiquity scholars (from last the 2,000 years up until the present who are from a diverse array of religious and non-religious convictions [agnostic, atheistic, theistic, Christian, Jewish, and other religions] who hold tenured positions at accredited universities and write in scholarly literature) who argue that the historical evidence points toward a historical Jesus who lived in the 1st century. Sure there might be few a people on the outer fringe that have some academic Bible credentials who support the Jesus Myth position (a scholar named Price for instance), but 99% percent of scholars do not even consider the question worth dealing with because it has been so overwhelming proved to be false. (Granted, the popularity of the position does seem to be growing now with the advent of the internet, but there are also quite a few other conspiracy-theoryish positions advancing fast because of the internet too). Here’s an agnostic (atheist-leaning) scholar who wrote a who book showing the historical Jesus:
Book: http://www.amazon.com/Did-Jesus-Exist-Historical-Argument-ebook/dp/B0053K28TSHere’s another non-Christian scholar debunking the Jesus myth:
(I don’t agree with all of their conclusions, but am with them on the evidence that Jesus existed)
Here’s a couple Christian scholars arguing for the historical existence of Jesus:
Larry Hurtado: https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/the-did-jesus-exist-controversy-and-its-precedents/ (the way he dismantles the fallacious reasoning of the mythist proponents in the comment section is well worth seeing how it is not historical evidence that drives the mythist position but arguments from silence and special pleading)
RT France: http://www.amazon.com/Evidence-Jesus-Library/dp/1573833703/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1444138612&sr=8-2-fkmr1&keywords=r+t+france+Jesus+exist (France is a world class scholar respected by Christians and non-Christians and presents the evidence well in his book)
2. The argument against the historical Jesus overlooks all of the New Testament evidence which assumes and presents a historical Jesus. Why should we reject this evidence from at least 9 different authors? To just claim it is biased and therefore cannot be trusted is special pleading. What evidence is there to prove it was intentionally fabricated? To claim that all 27 letters were intentionally written as myths by some grand myth maker (or group of myth makers) really stretches the imagination—especially when the first audience had in the accounts so many historical details which could have easily been shown to be fabricated. The mythicist must first deal with the fact that these documents came from the first century (a vast majority of scholars agree), claim to be eye witness accounts of the historical Jesus, some of the authors died believing that Jesus was a historical figure who accomplished something in history (if they knew it was a fabrication, do you really believe they would die for it?), and that the material in the NT it contains facts and information that bears all the marks of being historical accounting.
To all interested in really looking at the reliability of the New Testament records, I would encourage you to sit down and read through the New Testament (or even just read Matthew’s gospel). And then check out one of these books. (Contrary to the very vocal critics, there is good reason to trust the reliability of the New Testament documents as first century historical records):
FF Bruce: http://www.amazon.com/New-Testament-Documents-They-Reliable/dp/0802822193/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
- The argument that Jesus never existed overlooks the non-Christian 1st century Jewish historian Josephus who wrote about Jesus. Josephus was not a Christian and mentioned Jesus twice in his History of the Jewish people. Granted the wording of the one of the passages may have been doctored by a later pro-Christian individual, the fact remains that Josephus wrote about a historical Jesus. (A vast majority of antiquity scholars do not even question this fact).
- The claim that the Jesus story is just fabricated from various myths has been shown to be blatantly false. Here’s a good short article to show our ludicrous such a position is:
- The argument that ‘because no 1st century Roman historian ever wrote of Jesus proves that he never existed’ is a fallacious argument from silence. Jesus was probably not that well-known by most in the Roman world when he was crucified around 30 AD, except for his followers; most would have seen him as just another religious leader who was executed. Thus, there was no reason to mention him, or make statues of him, or create artifacts about him. The Christians were an underground persecuted sect for most of the first 300 or so years. Also, there were plenty of people that Roman historians did not write about in the first century, does that mean they did not exist either? If 200 years from now there are no Midwestern historians who mention us, does that prove we never existed? (Ehrman uses a similar example in the video above)
- Jesus was mentioned by a Roman historian Tacitus in the early second century (116 AD), and it is not likely that he would just include hearsay in his account. He reported the facts to that he believed to be historically true:
- None of the early critics of Christianity argued the mysticist position. It was not until the 19th century that it was even proposed. Don’t you think that some opponents of Christianity in the 1st or 2nd or 1-17th century would have argued the mythicist position if it was even remotely tenable? I think this is good evidence that such a position is not based on historical inquiry but on cultural prejudice—the higher critical thought of the 18th on and into our present day radical skeptical view of historical truth claims.
- The Mythicist position is inconsistent with how it views other historical figures. I could use their radical skeptical approach to make arguments to claim Plato never existed, or Pliny, or Euripides, or nearly anyone from ancient antiquity. (check here for a good link on dates on NT manuscripts compared to others: https://carm.org/manuscript-evidence ). The mythicist will not follow his/her radical skeptisicm with other ancient figures and this shows a bias in approach, not a willingness to follow a neutral agreed upon method of historical inquiry.
I hope those 8 reasons will help you see why the Jesus myth position is wrong and fails to deal with the historical evidence before us.
Jesus truly existed in history and he changed history forever. He claimed to be the truth and the only way to God (John 14:6). He was worshipped as God (John 1:1, Phil 2:6-10) and will return one day to judge the Living and the dead (2 Tim 4:1-2). That includes you and me.
The mythicist position ironically leads people to believe the myth that Jesus never existed and that a group of people just made him up. This mythology is not based on historical facts, but fallacious reasoning and a refusal to accept plain evidence.
All who have bought into the Jesus Myth argument, I encourage you to turn from the myth that Jesus never existed to the truth that will set you free. While believing the myth that Jesus never existed frees you from dealing with Jesus’ claims to be God and Judge, it does not free you to experience all the amazing joys and benefits that Jesus grants to all who come to him. You can be reconciled to the God who made you (1 Cor 5:18-21), you can receive forgiveness of sin (Col 1:14), you can become a child of God (John 1:12), you can receive eternal life (John 3:16). Such realities free you to experience God, who is objectively there and created you to know Him and love Him.