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Is Jesus a myth?

Evidence for Jesus as an historical figure from non-biblical sources. I am indebted much to Dr. Gary Habermas for of his careful analysis of the quoted material.

Introduction

“Christ either deceived mankind by conscious fraud, or He was Himself deluded and self-deceived, or He was Divine. There is no getting out of this trilemma. It is inexorable.”

John Duncan (1796-1870)

The famous, perhaps infamous, trilemma for the deity of Jesus is expressed in the following syllogism;

  1. Either Jesus was a liar, a lunatic or is Lord.
  2. He was not a Liar or a Lunatic
  3. Therefore, Jesus is Lord

Notice that the first premise of this argument assumes that Jesus was a real historical figure. “Not unreasonable,” you might say. Yet there are many that are being deceived today by internet atheists claiming that Jesus never existed. This thesis is called Jesus Mythicism.

Bart Ehrman, prolific critic of Christianity and agnostic with respect to God’s existence, argues strongly against the Jesus Mythicist view.

“It is fair to say that mythicists as a group, and as individuals, are not taken seriously by the vast majority of scholars in the fields of New Testament, early Christianity, ancient history, and theology. This is widely recognized, to their chagrin, by mythicists themselves.”

Bart Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? (HarperOne, 2012), 20.

Jesus Mythicism is a radical hypothesis, given only a handful of professional historians in the world ascribe to it. Despite this, its never been more popular, being fanned to flame by internet memes and the public’s general ignorance of the abundance of evidence for the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Those that propagate it often have an axe to grind with religion, and often do not see the need to defend their view with evidence. The evidence for Jesus’s existence is so incredibly is preserved in the historical record, it surpasses the evidence for many of the Caesars.

It is useful therefore, to review the evidence for the life of Jesus, all of which confirm what we already know from the Biblical sources.

  • Ancient Secular Writers
  • Ancient Jewish Writers
  • Gnostics Sources
  • Church Fathers

Ancient Secular Writers

a. Tacitus (c. 55 120 A.D.) Cornelius Tacitus has been called the “greatest historian” of ancient Rome and is best known for two works, the Annals and the Histories. The most important reference to Christ is that found in the Annals, written about 115 A.D. The following was recounted concerning the great fire in Rome during the reign of Nero.

Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.

Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man’s cruelty, that they were being destroyed.

Information we recover from Tacitus: (1) Christians were named for their founder, Christus (from the Latin), (2) who was put to death by Pontius Pilatus (also Latin), (3) during the reign of emperor Tiberius (14-37 AD). (4) His death ended the “superstition” for a short time, (5) but it broke out again, (6) especially in Judae, where the teaching had its origin. (7) His followers carried his doctrine to Rome. (8) When the great fire destroyed a large part of the city during the reign of Emperor Nero emperor placed the blame on the Christians who lived in Rome. (9) Tacitus reports that this group was hated for their abominations. (10) These Christians were arrested after pleading guilty, (11) and many were convicted for “hatred for mankind.” (12) They were mocked and (13) then tortured, including being “nailed to crosses” or burnt to death. (14) Because of these actions, the people had compassion on the Christians. (15) Tacitus therefore concluded that such punishments were not for the public good but were simply “to glut one man’s cruelty.”

b. Suetonius. Gaius Suetonius Tranquillas (117-138 A.D.), the Roman historian, chief secretary of Emperor Hadrian who had access to the imperial records. The first to Christ is with reference to Emperor Claudius (41 54 A.D.)

Because the Jews at Rome caused continuous disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from the city.

The second reference again pertains to the Christians who were tortured by Emperor Nero.

After the great fire at Rome . . . Punishments were also inflicted on the Christians, a sect professing a new and mischievous religious belief.

Information we gain from Suetonius: (1) the Jews were expelled from Rome (which receives corroboration in Acts 18:2), (2) that it was Christ who caused the Jews to make the uproar in Rome, apparently by his teachings. (3) including the use of the word “mischievous” to describe the group’s beliefs and (4) the term “Christians” to identify this group as followers of the teachings of Christ.

c. Thallus. Cornelius Thallus (55-120 A.D.) wrote a history of the Eastern Mediterranean world from the Trojan War to his own time circa 52 AD. This work itself has been lost and only fragments of it exist in the citations of others. One such scholar who knew and spoke of it was Julius Africanus, who wrote about 221 A.D. In speaking of Jesus’ crucifixion and the darkness that covered the land during this event, Africanus found a reference in the writings of Thallus that dealt with this cosmic report. Africanus asserts:

“On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.”

Though Africanus links this to Jesus’ crucifixion, we cannot verify it. If it is linked we can ascertain that (1) the Christian gospel, or at least an account of the crucifixion, was known in the Mediterranean region by the middle of the first century A.D. This brings to mind the presence of Christian teachings in Rome mentioned by Tacitus and by Suetonius. (2) There was a widespread darkness in the land, implied to have taken place during Jesus’ crucifixion. (3) Unbelievers offered rationalistic explanations for certain Christian teachings or for supernatural claims not long after their initial proclamation, a point to which we will return below.

d. Pliny the Younger (61 AD– c. 112 A.D.) was a Roman author and administrator who served as the governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor. Ten books of Pliny’s correspondence are extant today and the tenth book, written around 112 AD, speaks about Christianity in the province of Bithynia and also provides some facts about Jesus. Pliny wrote to Emperor Trajan to explain how he dealt with the Christians in his province.

Pliny dealt personally with the Christians who were turned over to him. He interrogated them, inquiring if they were believers. If they answered in the affirmative he asked them two more times, under the threat of death. If they continued firm in their belief, he ordered them to be executed. Sometimes the punishment included torture to obtain desired information, as in the case of two female slaves who were deaconesses in the church. If the person was a Roman citizen, they were sent to the emperor in Rome for trial. If they denied being Christians or had disavowed their faith in the past, they “repeated after me an invocation to the Gods, and offered adoration . . . to your [Trajan’s] image.” Afterwards they “finally cursed Christ.” Pliny explained that his purpose in all this was that “multitudes may be reclaimed from error.”

They (the Christians) were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food—but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.

Information we gain from Pliny the younger: (1) Christ was worshiped as deity (2) Pliny later refers to the teachings of Jesus and his followers as “excessive superstition” and “contagious superstition,” which is reminiscent of the words of both Tacitus and Suetonius. (3) Jesus’ ethical teachings are reflected in the oath taken by Christians never to be guilty of a number of sins mentioned in the letter. (4) We find a probable reference to Christ’s institution of communion. (5) A possible reference to Sunday worship in the words “on a certain day.”

Concerning early Christianity (6) we see Pliny’s method of dealing with believers, from their identification, to their interrogation, to their execution. For those who denied being Christians, worship of the gods and the emperor gained them their freedom. (7) True believers could not be forced to worship the gods or the emperor. (8) Christian worship involved a pre-dawn service, (9) which included singing hymns. The early time probably facilitated a normal working day. (10) These Christians apparently formed a typical cross section of society in Bithynia, since they were of all classes, ages, localities and of both sexes. (11) There were recognised positions in the church, as illustrated by the mention of the two female deaconesses who were tortured for information. While Pliny does not relate many facts about Jesus, he does provide a look at a very early example of Christian worship. Believers were meeting regularly and worshiping Jesus.

e. Emperor Trajan (112 A.D.) responded to Pliny’s letter.

The method you have pursued, my dear Pliny, in sifting the cases of those denounced to you as Christians is extremely proper. It is not possible to lay down any general rule which can be applied as the fixed standard in all cases of this nature. No search should be made fore these people; when they are denounced and found guilty they must be punished; with the restriction, however, that when the party denies himself to be a Christian, and shall give proof that he is not (that is, by adoring our Gods) he shall be pardoned on the ground of repentance, even though he may have formerly incurred suspicion. Informations without the accuser’s name subscribed must not be admitted in evidence against anyone, as it is introducing a very dangerous precedent, and by no means agreeable to the spirit of the age.

Information we gain from Trajan: (1) Christians should not be sought out or tracked down. (2) Repentance coupled with worship of the gods sufficed to clear a person. Pliny expressed doubts as to whether a person should be punished in spite of repentance and only recounts the pardoning of persons who had willingly given up their beliefs prior to questioning. (3) Pliny was not to honour any lists of Christians which were given to him if the accuser did not name himself.

f. Lucian was a second century Greek satirist whose purpose was to poke fun at Christians. From Lucian we learn a number of important facts about Jesus and early Christian beliefs. Many of these are not reported by other extra New Testament beliefs.

The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day — the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. . . You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property.

Information we gain from Lucian; (1) We are told that Jesus was worshiped by Christians. (2) It is also related that Jesus introduced new teachings in Palestine (the location is given in another unquoted portion of Section II) and (3) that he was crucified because of these teachings. Jesus taught his followers certain doctrines, such as (4) all believers are brothers, (5) from the moment that conversion takes place and (6) after the false gods are denied (such as those of Greece). Additionally, these teachings included (7) worshiping Jesus and (8) living according to his laws. (9) Lucian refers to Jesus as a “sage,” which, especially in a Greek context, would be to compare him to the Greek philosophers and wise men. Concerning Christians, we are told (10) that they are followers of Jesus who (11) believe themselves to be immortal. Lucian explains that this latter belief accounts for their contempt of death. (12) Christians accepted Jesus’ teachings by faith and (13) practiced their faith by their disregard for material possessions, as revealed by the holding of common property among believers.

The portion of Lucian not quoted presents some additional facts. (14) The Christians had “sacred writings” which were frequently read. (15) When something affected their community, “they spare no trouble, no expense.” (16) However, Lucian notes that Christians were easily taken advantage of by unscrupulous individuals.

g. Mara Bar Serapion The British Museum owns the manuscript of a letter written sometime between the late first and third centuries A.D. Its author was a Syrian named Mara Bar Serapion, who was writing from prison to motivate his son Serapion to emulate wise teachers of the past:

What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crime. What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning Pythagoras? In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King? It was just after that that their kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise men: the Athenians died of hunger; the Samians were overwhelmed by the sea; the Jews, ruined and driven from their land, live in complete dispersion. But Socrates did not die for good; he lived on the statue of Hera. Nor did the wise King die for good; he lived on in the teaching which he had given.

From this passage we learn (1) that Jesus was considered to be a wise and virtuous man. (2) He is addressed twice as the Jews’ King, possibly a reference to Jesus’ own teachings about himself, to that of his followers or even to the wording on the titulus placed over Jesus’ head on the cross. (3) Jesus was executed unjustly by the Jews, who paid for their misdeeds by suffering judgment soon afterward, probably at least as reference to the fall of Jerusalem to the Roman armies. (4) Jesus lived on in the teachings of the early Christians, which is an indication that Mara Bar Serapion was almost certainly not a Christian. Rather, he follows Lucian and others in the popular comparison of Jesus to philosophers and other wise men in the ancient world.

Ancient Jewish Writings

a. Talmud. The Jews handed down a large amount of oral tradition from generation to generation and this material was organized according to subject matter by Rabbi Akiba before his death in 135 A.D. His work was then added to and revised by his students and completed about 200 AD by Rabbi Judah and is known as the Mishnah. Ancient commentary on the Mishnah was called the Gemaras. The combination of the Mishnah and the Gemaras form the Talmud.

The most reliable information about Jesus from the Talmud would come from the earliest period of compilation—70 to 200 A.D., known as the Tannaitic period and from this portion, found in Sanhedrin 43a, we find a very significant quotation:

On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, “He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one who can say anything in his favour, let him come forward ad plead on his behalf.” But since nothing was brought forward in his favour he was hanged on the eve of the Passover!

From this passage in the Talmud we learn about (1) the fact of Jesus’ death by crucifixion and (2) the time of this event, which is mentioned twice as occurring on the eve of the Jewish Passover. We are surprisingly told (3) that for forty days beforehand it was publicly announced that Jesus would be stoned. While not specifically recorded in the New Testament, such is certainly consistent with both Jewish practice and with the report that this had also been threatened on at least two other occasions (John 8:58 59; 10:31 33, 39). It is related (4) that Jesus was judged by the Jews to be guilty of “sorcery” and spiritual apostasy in leading Israel astray by his teaching. (5) It is also stated that since no witnesses came forward to defend him, he was killed.

Another early reference in the Talmud speaks of five of Jesus’ disciples and recounts their standing before judges who make individual decisions about each one, deciding that they should be executed. However, no actual deaths are recorded. From this second portion we can ascertain only (6) the fact that Jesus had some disciples and (7) that some among the Jews felt that these men were also guilty of actions which warranted execution.

b. Josephus. Flavius Josephus (c. 37-97 A.D.) was born into a priestly family and became a Pharisee at the age of nineteen. After surviving a battle against the Romans, he served commander Vespasian in Jerusalem. After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, he moved to Rome, where he became the court historian for emperor Vespasian. His major work is The Antiquities, and provides valuable background information on the persons and events of first century Palestine

There are two relevant passages concerning Jesus. Written around 90-95 AD, they are earlier than the testimonies of the Roman historians. The first is very brief and is in the context of a reference to James, “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ” and his stoning to death. Here we find a close connection between Jesus and James and the belief on the part of some that Jesus was the Messiah.

The second reference is easily the most important and the most debated, since some of the words appear to be due to Christian interpolation. The quotation reports,

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

A Tenth Century Arabic manuscript came to light in 1971 that contains a shorter version of Josephus’s statement about Jesus.

At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.

Most scholars accept one version or the other—few deny both passages entirely. Either the Arabic manuscript are the true words of Josephus and the first was changed later on by a Christian, or the first are Josephus’s true words and he kept the spectacular elements to rile the Romans a little, but a non-Christian changed it later on. Both are possible, but if we assume the weaker text we can still ascertain many things about the person of Jesus.

(1) Jesus was known as a wise and virtuous man, one recognised for his good conduct. (2) He had many disciples, both Jews and Gentiles. (3) Pilate condemned him to die, (4) with crucifixion explicitly being mentioned as the mode. (5) The disciples reported that Jesus had risen from the dead and (6) that he had appeared to them on the third day after his crucifixion. (7) Consequently, the disciples continued to proclaim his teachings. (8) Perhaps Jesus was the Messiah concerning whom the Old Testament prophets spoke and predicted wonders. We would add here two facts from Josephus’ earlier quotation as well. (9) Jesus was the brother of James and (10) was called the messiah by some.

Gnostic Sources

Gnosticism is generally said to flourished between the second and fourth century AD, and their theology was condemned by the church. Though the theological overtones and influence of the New Testament makes them different to the previous authors in this section, still they offer some important insights into the historical life and teachings of Jesus. Older sources could be utilised here, but the following second century sources have the benefit of being better established and containing more relevant information.

a. The Gospel of Truth. This is thought to have been written by Valentinus, which would date its writing around 135 160 A.D. If not, it was probably at least from this school of thought and still dated in the second century AD.

the Word came into the midst . . . it became a body.

Later he states:

For when they had seen him and had heard him, he granted them to taste him and to smell him and to touch the beloved Son. When he had appeared instructing them about the Father . . . . For he came by means of fleshly appearance

Jesus was patient in accepting sufferings . . . since he knows that his death is life for many . . . he was nailed to a tree; he published the edict of the Father on the cross. . . . He draws himself down to death through life . . . eternal clothes him. Having stripped himself of the perishable rags, he put on imperishability, which no one can possibly take away from him.

The Gospel of Truth confirms for us (1) that Jesus was the Son of God, the Word and (2) that he became a man and took on an actual human body which could be perceived by all five senses. (3) We are also told that he instructed his listeners about his Father. According to The Gospel of Truth, Jesus also died and was raised from the dead. (4) Jesus was persecuted and suffered and (5) that he was “nailed to a tree,” obviously referring to his crucifixion. (6) We are also told of the belief that it was Jesus’ death that brought salvation “for many,” which is referred to as the imparting of Light to those who would receive it (30:37; 31:12 20). It is also asserted (7) that Jesus was raised in an eternal body which no one can harm or take from him.

b. The Apocryphon of John. Thought to have been authored by the gnostic teacher Saturninus around 120-130 AD, this book was modified as it was passed on and was known in several versions. By c. 185 AD at least the major teachings of The Apocryphon of John were in existence since Irenaeus made use of one of these versions as a source for his treatment of gnosticism, Against Heresies. In a largely mythical treatise involving esoteric matters of gnostic theology, this book does purport to open with a historical incident.

It happened [one day]when Jo[hn, the brother] of James,—who are the sons of Ze[bed]ee—went up and came to the temple, that a [Ph]arisee named Arimanius approached him and said to him, “[Where] is your master whom you followed?” And he [said] to him, “He has gone to the place from which he came.” The Pharisee said to him, “[This Nazarene] deceived you (pl.) with deception and filled [your ears with lies] and closed [your hearts and turned you] from the traditions [of your fathers].”

The Apocryphon of John tells us (1) that John the disciple, in response to a question from Arimanius the Pharisee, stated that Jesus had returned to heaven, a possible reference to the Ascension. (2) The Pharisee responded by telling John that Jesus had deceived his followers with his teachings, which is reminiscent of the Talmud’s statements about Jesus. Whether such an encounter between John and Arimanius actually occurred or not, such is apparently a typical view of Jesus’ teachings from the standpoint of the Jewish leaders.

c. The Gospel of Thomas. This book describes itself in the opening statement as “the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke.” The text is usually dated from around 140-200 AD, although it reflects the thought of even earlier periods. As such it could present some accurate facts concerning Jesus.

In an incident similar to Jesus’ question at Caesarea Philippi, reported in the synoptic Gospels, The Gospel of Thomas also presents Jesus asking his disciples, “Compare me to someone and tell Me whom I am like.” They respond by describing him as an angel, a philosopher and as an indescribable personage. In a later passage the disciples refer to Jesus as the consummation of the prophets.

Jesus is said to have partially answered his own question on several occasions. He describes himself as the Son of Man (47:34 48:4), which is also the name most commonly reported in the Gospels. On other occasions he speaks of himself in more lofty terms. To Salome, Jesus states “I am He who existed from the Undivided. I was given some of the things of My father.”

In passages such as these which concern the identity of Jesus, we are told (1) that Jesus asked his disciples for their view. (2) Their responses were varied, with the comparison of Jesus to a philosopher being especially reminiscent of the references by Lucian and Mara Bar Serapion. Jesus then identified himself as (3) the Son of Man, (4) the Son of His Father and (5) as the All of the Universe.

The Gospel of Thomas also records a parable concerning the death of Jesus (45:1-16) and relates his subsequent exaltation (45:17- 19). Again, Jesus is identified as “living” or as the “Living One,” a reference to his post resurrection life (see Rev. 1:17 18). These references relate (6) the death of Jesus and (7) his exaltation as a result of his resurrection from the dead.

Early Church Fathers

a. Clement of Rome

“Let us consider, beloved, how the Lord continually proves to us that there shall be a future resurrection, of which He has rendered the Lord Jesus Christ the first-fruits by raising Him from the dead.”

Chapter 24, First Epistle of Clement of Rome

b. Polycarp, one of John’s regular pupils

“still flourishes and bears fruit unto our Lord Jesus Christ, who endured for our sins, even to the suffering of death, “whom God raised up, having loosed the pangs of Hades, . . . knowing that “by grace ye are saved, not by works” but by the will of God through Jesus Christ.”

Chapter 1, Letter to the Philippians

“…believing on him who raised up our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and gave him glory,” and a throne on his right hand, “to whom are subject all things in heaven and earth,” whom all breath serves, who is coming as “the Judge of the living and of the dead,” . . . Now “he who raised him” from the dead “will also raise us up” if we do his will, and walk in his commandments and love the things which he loved, refraining from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, false witness,…”

Chapter 2, Letter to the Philippians

“…who shall believe in our Lord and God Jesus Christ and in his “Father who raised him from the dead.”

Chapter 12, Letter to the Philippians

c. Papeus (60-140 A.D.) claimed he knew the authors of the NT.

“If, then, any one came, who had been a follower of the elders, I questioned him in regard to the words of the elders,—what Andrew or what Peter said, or what was said by Philip, or by Thomas, or by James, or by John, or by Matthew, or by any other of the disciples of the Lord, and what things Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say. For I did not think that what was to be gotten from the books would profit me as much as what came from the living and abiding voice.”

“Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward, as I said, he followed Peter, who adapted his teaching to the needs of his hearers, but with no intention of giving a connected account of the Lord’s discourses, so that Mark committed no error while he thus wrote some things as he remembered them. For he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to state any of them falsely.”

Eusebius Pamphilius: Church History, Life of Constantine, Oration in Praise of Constantine

d. Ignatious

“Jesus Christ, who was with the Father before the beginning of time, and in the end was revealed.”

Chapter 6, Letter to the Magnesians

“there is one God, who has manifested Himself by Jesus Christ His Son, who is His eternal Word,”

Chapter 8, Letter to the Magnesians

“Jesus Christ, who died for us, in order, by believing in His death, you may escape from death.”

Chapter 2, Letter to the Trallians

“Stop your ears, therefore, when any one speaks to you at variance with Jesus Christ, who was descended from David, and was also of Mary; who was truly born, and ate and drank. He was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate; He was truly crucified, and [truly] died, in the sight of beings in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth. He was also truly raised from the dead, His Father quickening Him, even as after the same manner His Father will so raise up us who believe in Him by Christ Jesus, apart from whom we do not possess the true life.”

Chapter 9, Letter to the Trallians

“…according to the love of Jesus Christ our God,”

Greetings, Letter to the Romans

“For our God, Jesus Christ, now that He is with the Father, is all the more revealed [in His glory].”

Chapter 3, Letter to the Romans

“being united and elected through the true passion by the will of the Father, and Jesus Christ, our God:”

Greetings, Letter to the Ephesians

“There is one Physician who is possessed both of flesh and spirit; both made and not made; God existing in flesh; true life in death; both of Mary and of God; first passible and then impassible— even Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Chapter 7, Letter to the Ephesians

Conclusion

The sources we have surveyed above only confirm some of what the Bible has to say about Jesus—they do not add to it. Having established the historical credibility of the person of Jesus from extra-biblical sources, we have also uncovered many of the beliefs of the early church regarding Jesus of Nazareth. We can now turn the Bible with more confidence than what Jesus Mythicists usually ascribe to it.

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