Either Immanuel Kant or Pascal had a proof of the existence of God that
said that, in man there is incompleteness, "a hole." When
man believes in God and lives a life with God in it, that hole is filled.
So, there must be a God who created this hole in man. For others, this
hole is due to the basic insecurities of life; the fear of death, the
fears of life (loosing one's job, your love, your children, etc), the
need to be important to society and individuals outside of yourself,
the fact that life is not perfect, and being told that "there is
a God hole in you." A "chicken and the egg" conundrum
arises. Did God create the hole in man, or did man create God to fill
used many different methods to answer this question, one of them is
archeology and the examination of ancient writings.
question and many others would be answered, if we could prove the Bible
is true. We would know that God exists, what God is like and wants,
and how to live a fulfilled life. One of the problems with this idea
is that the Bible can neither be proven true or false. If you can prove
that one thing happened, it does not prove it ALL happened, and vice
versa. Conversely, many things happen without leaving historical evidence,
or if it did, it disappears after a century (millennia) or two. There
is also the possibility we have not found it yet, or if we have, do
not understand it.
far as examples of specific incidents from the Bible (turning the water
into wine, Christ healing the blind, his trial, putting the ear back
on the soldier, etc.) there are none. When I read the following quotations
from the "contemporaries of Christ," one fact seems evident
to me. The fact is this, even if we assume them to be valid, the only
historian that comes close to "significantly" talking about
the person of Christ is Josephus, and his most important mention of
Christ is probably a forgery. Tacitus says that "Christus, was
put to death by the procurator Pontius Pilate in
the reign of Tiberius." This immediately follows his defining who
the Christians were.
It does not say that this was Jesus, or that he performed miracles,
etc. It also obviously does not describe anything abnormal about the
events, or that he was resurrected later.
Pliny the younger says nothing of the man Christ, but talks about Christians,
and their spiritual king and Savior Christ. Christians would sing a
hymn to him, as to a God, and that they would NOT curse him.
Suetonius said "He (Claudius) drove the Jews, who at the instigation
of Chrestus were constantly rioting out of Rome." Chrestus is a
significantly different name than Christ, which was not a name but a
title, his name was Yeshua (Jesus). It is also difficult to imagine
Christ with enough followers to "riot out of Rome," or that
he would have "instigated" such an act to begin with.
has never been any question whether Christians existed in the early
days, or that their founder, leader and savior was Christ. There also
has never been a question if anyone had that name, MANY people back
then were named Yeshua. What some have questioned is, "Are there
records of people who have experienced, or at least seen Jesus first
hand, or some of his miraculous works, as that mentioned in the Bible?"
If someone said, he heard something from someone else, (ie. A friend
of a friend), just as we should not give much credit to hearsay today,
we should not give credit to the hearsay of centuries past.
on to the last "contemporary." One of the eyewitnesses of
the events of the first century Jerusalem was a Jewish Pharasee and
rebel-turned-writer named Joseph ben Matthias. After fighting the Romans
during a Jewish revolt, he decided to join the Romans and adopt a new
name, Flavius Josephus. Being educated, the Romans saw a value in him
and kept him in royal circles. This was an example of the value of a
"liberal education." Josephus does say he was "a wise
man," and "a doer of wonderful works." However, neither
of these statements necessarily imply miraculous events.
second mention of Christ, the part about "James, the brother of
the so-called Christ," is for the most part accepted. But, there
are many questions about, and problems with his first testimony of Christ
(Testimonium Flavianium). In the first, he says Christ "drew over
many of the Jews and Gentiles." In the gospels, Christ made no
specific actions to accept Gentiles, this was a change brought about
largely due to Paul.
It is also very unlikely many of the Jews were swayed. If this had happened,
more contemporaries of the times would have written about it, particularly
the Jews themselves. There is only one specific miracle mentioned that
this Christ did, that was to come to life again after being crucified,
problems with Josephus's comments of Christ are as follows.
*He does call Jesus "Christ" but he never claimed to have
become a Christian. Which is also odd because Josephus not only claims
that he was resurrected, but that the divine prophets foretold "ten
thousand wonderful things about him." This would have essentially
been the same thing as admitting he had become a Christian, except he
would not have been able to deny it later if need be. Josephus also
never explained the difference between the Jewish and Christian definitions
*Josephus also made numerous mistakes in his writings. For one, Salome
the daughter of Herod, who supposedly wanted John the Baptist's head
on a platter got her wish after Christ was crucified (33 or 34 AD).
*In Antiquities alone, nearly 40 chapter are devoted to a single king.
Entire pages are devoted to thieves and robbers. But the Messiah as
he calls him, this King of Kings, he devotes just a few lines, and never
again mentions him in his 20 books contained in his "Antiquities"
or his other books.
*The continuity of the narration is interrupted. A series of calamities
is striking the Jews, and then in the middle of it is found the soliloquy,
his wondrous awe of the Christ, and then back to the bloodshed. In literature,
this technique may be used, but this was a historical work. Some think
he would have been more concerned about technical accuracy that spinning
a good yarn.
*Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Chrysostom,
Photius, all quoted Josephus (but not this first passage). Many of them
quote the second passage concerning James the brother of the so-called
Christ. Not one of them quotes the first. Then the director of the Vatican
Library (Eusebius) where the document was held (its depository) first
mentions the passage, four centuries later.
following are some other historical opinions on this question.
At the end of the essay are copies in context of what they said "in
Jewish historian Josephus seems to refer to him, although at least
one of the passages mentioning Jesus is a later addition, possibly even
a Christian forgery."
Vol 12, pp1016 "Jesus Christ"
mentioned Christ twice; Once as the "so-called Christ," and
once in a passage which in its present form has certainly been interpolated
or altered, perhaps by a Christian editor, and may indeed be spurious
altogether. It cannot be by Josephus for it implies the divinity of
Eusebius at the beginning of the 4th century knew this text in its present
Josephus was much used by the church fathers.
His History formed the bases of the medieval work known as Josippon,
a collection of stories about Jewish history."
Vol 13, pp90 "Josephus Flavius"
have been made to refute the objections brought against this passage
both for internal and external reasons, but the difficulty has not been
definitively settled. This passage seems to suffer from repeated interpolations."
Vol. 8, pp523 "Josephus"
***Note: The Cath. Enc. has no discussion on ancient writings in "Jesus
scholars have regarded the so-called Testimonium Flavianum Josephus's
reference to Jesus Christ as interpolated at least in part."
Anchor Bible Dictionary
Vol. 3, pp990
To change (as a text) as in inserting new or foreign matter.
To insert (as words) into a text, or into a conversation.
what has actually come down to us is a passage which describes Jesus
as a wise man, a lover of truth, much beloved by his followers; it accepts
his miracles and resurrection and hints strongly at his divinity. The
passage is plainly a non-too-ingenious Christian invention and what
Josephus actually wrote has gone. Attempts to reconstruct it have not
so far won general acceptance
When we turn to the earliest Christian sources, we enter a terrifying
jungle of scholarly contradictions. All were writing evangelism or theology
rather than history, even when, like Luke in his gospel, they assume
the literary manners of a historian and seek to anchor the events of
Jesus's life in secular chronology."
A History of Christianity
By Paul Johnson pp.21-22
my view it is likely a forgery; not the entire document just the 1st
part about Christ. For nearly a thousand years the Catholic church had
absolute control over all religious (and most historical) documents
of the west. During this time it forged and changed hundreds and possibly
thousands of them. Sometime the motive was nothing more than to clarify
something, other times the motive is not clear.
the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon said the following;
First paragraph of Chapter #15 (volume #1) illustrates an admiration
"A candid but rational inquiry into the progress and establishment
of Christianity may be considered as a very essential part of the history
of the Roman empire. While that great body was invaded by open violence
or undermined by slow decay, a pure and humble religion gently insinuated
itself into the minds of men, grew up in silence and obscurity, derived
new vigor from opposition, and finally erected the triumphant banner
of the Cross on the ruins of the Capitol.
Nor was the influence of Christianity confined to the period or to the
limits of the Roman Empire. After a revolution of thirteen or fourteen
centuries, that religion is still professed by the nations of Europe,
the most distinguished portion of humankind in arts and learning as
well as in arms. By the industry and zeal of the Europeans it has been
widely diffused to the most distant shores of Asia and Africa, and by
the means of their colonies has been firmly established from Canada
to Chili in a world unknown to the ancients."
meaning of his final paragraph in Chapter #15 (and of volume #1)
I leave to the reader.
"But how shall we excuse the supine inattention of the Pagan and
philosophic world, to those evidences which were represented by the
hand of Omnipotence, not to their reason, but to their senses? During
the age of Christ, of his apostles, and of their first disciples, the
doctrine which they preached was confirmed by innumerable prodigies.
The lame walked, the blind saw, the sick were healed, the dead were
raised, daemons were expelled, and the laws of Nature were frequently
suspended for the benefit of the church. But the sages of Greece and
Rome turned aside from the awful spectacle,
and pursuing the ordinary occupations of life and study, appeared unconscious
of any alterations in the moral or physical government of the world.
Under the reign of Tiberius, the whole earth, or at least a celebrated
province of the Roman empire, was involved in a preternatural darkness
of three hours. Even this miraculous event, which ought to have excited
the wonder, the curiosity, and the devotion of mankind, passed without
notice in an age of science and history.
It happened during the lifetime of Seneca and the elder Pliny, who must
have experienced the immediate effects, or received the earliest intelligence,
of the prodigy. Each of these philosophers, in a laborious work, has
recorded all the great phenomena of Nature, earthquakes, meteors comets,
and eclipses, which his indefatigable curiosity could collect. Both
the one and the other have omitted to mention the greatest phenomenon
to which the mortal eye has been witness since the creation of the globe.
A distinct chapter of Pliny is designed for eclipses of an extraordinary
nature and unusual duration; but he contents himself with describing
the singular defect of light which followed the murder of Caesar, when,
during the greatest part of a year, the orb of the sun appeared pale
and without splendor. The season of obscurity, which cannot surely be
compared with the preternatural darkness of the Passion, had been already
celebrated by most of the poets and historians of that memorable age."
of the contemporary writers of Christ include;
Apollonius Juvenal Pliny the Younger
Appian Lucanus Plutarch
Appion of Alexandria Lucian Pompon Mela
Arrian Lysias Ptolemy
Aulus Gellius Martial Quintius Curtius
Columella Paterculus Quintellian
Damis Pausanias Seneca
Dio Christosom Persius Silius Italicus
Dion Pruseus Petronius Statius
Epictetus Phaedrus Suetonius
Hermogones Philo-Judaeus Tacitus
Josephus Phlegon Theon of Smyrna
Justus of Tiberius Pliny the Elder Valerius Flaccus
to the Bible,
How are we expected to come to know God and the truth of Christ?
It is thru faith (Jn. 14:6, Jn. 3:18, Jn. 3:36, 1 Jn. 5:12, Acts 16:30-31,
Jn. 8:24, Mk. 16:16 1 Cor. 3:11, Jn. 3:16, Jn. 6:28-29, Jn. 6:47, Acts
4:12, Acts 13:39, Rom. 5:1 Gal. 3:11, 2 Tim. 3:15, Heb. 11:6, Eph. 2:8-9,
If there was evidence of Christ, what need would we have of faith?
Does this prove that Christ never lived, or that if he did, then his
message is not true?
or does it just prove the need for faith?
JOSEPHUS: (37-100? AD)
18.3.3 (93 AD)
"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 among 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."
20.9:1 (93 AD)
"But the younger Ananus who, as we said, received the high priesthood,
was of a bold disposition and exceptionally daring; he followed the
party of the Sadducees, who are severe in judgment above all the Jews,
as we have already shown. As therefore Ananus was of such a disposition,
he thought he had now a good opportunity, as Festus was now dead, and
Albinus was still on the road; so he assembled a council of judges,
and brought before it the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, whose
name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as
law-breakers, he delivered them over to be stoned."
TACITUS (55-117 AD)
XV, 44 (115-117 AD)
"But neither the aid of man, nor the liberality of the prince,
nor the propitiations of the gods succeeded in destroying the belief
that the fire had been purposely lit. In order to put an end to this
rumor, therefore, Nero laid the blame on and visited with severe punishment
those men, hateful for their crimes, whom the people called Christians.
He from whom the name was derived, Christus, was put to death by the
procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius. But the pernicious
superstition, checked for a moment, broke out again, not only in Judea,
the native land of the monstrosity, but also in Rome, to which all conceivable
horrors and abominations flow from every side, and find supporters.
First, therefore, those were arrested who openly confessed; then, on
their information, a great number, who were not so much convicted of
the fire as of hatred of the human race. Ridicule was passed on them
as they died; so that, clothed in skins of beasts, they were torn to
pieces by dogs, or crucified, or committed to the flames, and when the
sun had gone down they were burned to light up the night. Nero had lent
his garden for this spectacle, and gave games in the Circus, mixing
with the people in the dress of a charioteer or standing in the chariot.
Hence there was a strong sympathy for them, though they might have been
guilty enough to deserve the severest punishment, on the ground that
they were sacrificed,
not to the general good, but to the cruelty of one man."
PLINY THE YOUNGER
a letter to the Roman Emporer Trajan (112 AD)
"Sir, It is my constant method to apply myself to you for the resolution
of all my doubts; for who can better govern my dilatory way of proceeding
or instruct my ignorance? I have never been present at the examination
of the Christians [by others], on which account I am unacquainted with
what uses to be inquired into, and what, and how far they used to be
punished; nor are my doubts small, whether there be not a distinction
to be made between the ages [of the accused]? and whether tender youth
ought to have the same punishment with strong men? Whether there be
not room for pardon upon repentance?" or whether it may not be
an advantage to one that had been a Christian, that he has forsaken
Christianity? Whether the bare name, without any crimes besides, or
the crimes adhering to that name, be to be punished? In the meantime,
I have taken this course about those who have been brought before me
as Christians. I asked them whether they were Christians or not? If
they confessed that they were Christians, I asked them again, and a
third time, intermixing threatenings with the questions. If they persevered
in their confession, I ordered them to be executed; for I did not doubt
but, let their confession be of any sort whatsoever, this positiveness
and inflexible obstinacy deserved to be punished. There have been some
of this mad sect whom I took notice of in particular as Roman citizens,
that they might be sent to that city. After some time, as is usual in
such examinations, the crime spread itself and many more cases came
before me. A libel was sent to me, though without an author, containing
many names [of persons accused]. These denied that they were Christians
now, or ever had been. They called upon the gods, and supplicated to
your image, which I caused to be brought to me for that purpose, with
frankincense and wine; they also cursed Christ; none of which things,
it is said, can any of those that are ready Christians be compelled
to do; so I thought fit to let them go. Others of them that were named
in the libel, said they were Christians, but presently denied it again;
that indeed they had been Christians, but had ceased to be so, some
three years, some many more; and one there was that said he had not
been so these twenty years. All these worshipped your image, and the
images of our gods; these also cursed Christ. However, they assured
me that the main of their fault, or of their mistake was this: -That
they were wont, on a stated day, to meet together before it was light,
and to sing a hymn to Christ, as to a god, alternately; and to oblige
themselves by a sacrament [or oath], not to do anything that was ill:
but that they would commit no theft, or pilfering, or adultery; that
they would not break their promises, or deny what was deposited with
them, when it was required back again; after which it was their custom
to depart, and to meet again at a common but innocent meal, which they
had left off upon that edict which I published at your command, and
wherein I had forbidden any such conventicles. These examinations made
me think it necessary to inquire by torments what the truth was; which
I did of two servant maids, who were called Deaconesses: but still I
discovered no more than that they were addicted to a bad and to an extravagant
superstition. Hereupon I have put off any further examinations, and
have recourse to you, for the affair seems to be well worth consultation,
especially on account of the number of those that are in danger; for
there are many of every age, of every rank, and of both sexes, who are
now and hereafter likely to be called to account, and to be in danger;
for this superstition is spread like a contagion, not only into cities
and towns, but into country villages also, which yet there is reason
to hope may be stopped and corrected. To be sure, the temples, which
were almost forsaken, begin already to be frequented; and the holy solemnities,
which were long intermitted, begin to be revived. The sacrifices begin
to sell well everywhere, of which very few purchasers had of late appeared;
whereby it is easy to suppose how great a multitude of men may be amended,
if place for repentance be admitted. Pliny"
of the Ceasars (Claudius) (120 AD)
"He (Claudius) drove the Jews, who at the instigation of Chrestus
were constantly rioting out of Rome."