Re: Historical evidence of the existence of Jesus Christ

Date: Mon Jan 03 2000 - 23:28:49 MST

On Mon, 3 Jan 2000 09:01:06 EST writes:

> In a message dated 1/3/00 1:57:57 AM Central Standard Time,
> > writes:

> >
> >
> > > Is there any actual historical evidence that JC even existed?
> > > > > > EvMick

> > The most obvious, or famous, evidence is the New Testament,
> totally apart> > from whether one considers the New Testament to have
> religious> > validity.

> You don't consider it to be just a tiny bit biased?

Biased in the sense that it was written by Christian believers, but
biased documents can still recount truth. Almost any historical account
is written with motive, or bias. A standard challenge historians face is
to discern the truth beyond the slant of the sources they have available.
 You are right to be skeptical of specific accounts, as they are almost
all biased in some sense. But if we ignored all biased accounts we would
have practically nothing to go on.

> Some (most?) of the books of the New Testament were allegedly
> Allegedly.....key word here...
> > written by Apostles of Christ who knew him personally during his
> life,> > and were written down in contemporary Greek within a couple
> hundred> > years of the lifetime of Jesus,

> not exactly an eyewitness account...."he said that he said that she
> said that > he said.....for a couple of hundred years?

Well, the original writings were for the most part set down during their
own lifetimes by those who had been in personal contact with Jesus or if
not were nearly contemporary with Jesus and among the earliest
Christians. So the New Testament is for the most part not purported to
be multi-level hearsay. Many of the books of the New Testament are
actual letters which were written down directly by the author and
dispatched to distant Christian communities, who then carefully saved the
letters out of respect for the writer and the writing, much as a modern
American might save a letter from, say, President Kennedy, and perhaps
frame it and keep it on the wall.

> you missed my point is suppose... Is there any independent
> historical evidence that JC existed?

Ah. You asked for evidence, so I thought of the New Testament, which is
well-known and highly accessible, not realizing that you wanted evidence
from sources other than adherents of Christianity.

Is his existence mentioned by
> contemporary Roman historians for example?

Good question. Jesus was put to death in a manner used for common
criminals, but for largely political reasons, because he was becoming
very popular, what with going around performing miracles and attracting
large admiring crowds among the Jews, many of whom resented Roman rule.
But then the imperial Romans were commonly executing subversives and
rebels, so the killing of Jesus would not have seemed very noteworthy at
the time by observers in Rome. But later, when Christianity spread to
Rome itself, and the authorities tried to suppress it, there was a
mounting crisis which ended in the conversion to Christianity of the
Emperor Constantine, whereupon Christianity went from being a banned
religion to being the official state religion. Surely that would have
been a major news item of the time, and indeed it is commonly accepted
today as historical fact. But actual verbatim contemporary accounts may
be hard to come by due to the widespread destruction and loss of
documents associated with the fall of the Empire and the long Dark Ages.

> >
> > Dozens, if not hundreds, of towns and other sites mentioned in
> the New> > Testament are identifiable today, some with a high degree
> confidence,> > with ruins and physical features which can be directly
verified > in person> > by a modern visitor. Numerous artifacts of
various types, > including> > pottery and hundreds of thousands if not
millions of coins from > the> > general era of Jesus still exist and
provide abundant evidence of > the> > historical context in which rulers
or governors held power in > particular> > regions at particular times
surrounding the places and times
> associated> > with Jesus.

> And your point is? UFO sitings routinely identify local towns?
> So?
> >
> >

Contextual accuracy and consistency would mostly serve to show that the
New Testament was not, say, written by monks in Ireland in 1200 A.D. who
were not familiar with eastern Mediterranean lands, falsely palming it
off as ancient writings. An account which is internally consistent and
which meshes with other accounts of the same subject from other sources
has more credibility than one which is inconsistent and is at odds with
other credible writings.

Ron Kean




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