Photograph by: Redo Angelo
Did Jesus Actually Existed?
Jesus Christ is one of the most well known people in the world and the main foundation for one of the world’s most well known religion Christianity. He is well known because of his teachings and miracles he is claimed of saying and doing. Now many people would write articles and books saying that Jesus didn’t exist. That he was fabricated by Jews so they could have their messiah to worship, but is that true. Didn’t Jesus Christ actually existed? Many scholars including atheist and agnostic scholars who are in the field of studying the bible and the New Testament would claim that Jesus was an actual person historically.
Why Scholars Believe He Did?
Even though we hardly have any references of the historical Jesus in early Roman sources. Scholars claim that there is so many sources that mention him in Christian sources that it is impossible for one person or group to make him up. He’s mentioned in Paul’s letters, The Gospel of Mark, The Gospel of Luke, The Gospel of Mathew, The Gospel of John, The gnostic Gospels of Peter and Thomas, The Jewish Historian Josephus mentions him, and The Roman Historian Tacitus mentions him.
Bart D. Ehrman in his book A Brief Introduction To The New Testament says in chapter thirteen titled The Historical Jesus that what historians use to know if Jesus actually existed and while he existed what he mostly did and said is a set of a rules of thumb. First rule the earlier the source the better, so Mark’s Gospel would be a more reliable source because many scholars believe it was the first Gospel written. Second rule the more written about Jesus the better, so if we find two or more independent sources claiming that Jesus did something. That would be more reliable than one source claiming Jesus did something. Third rule the more the written sources work against the bias of the author the better for it being historical.
Applying The Rules Of Thumb To The Sources
So Mark’s Gospel was the earliest according to scholars it was written between 65-70 C.E. depending on what scholars you hear from some believe that Luke and Mathew gospels where written in 80-85. Depending on what scholars you go to some believe that Luke and Mathew copy their gospels from Mark’s Gospel. So many scholars would consider these three gospels as one source instead of three independent sources. Okay lets just say they’re all one source about Jesus, but scholars consider John’s gospel to be an independent source because of how different his gospel is from the other three Mark, Mathew, and Luke. Now remember rule of thumb number two if two or more independent sources claim Jesus did or said something not written exactly the same way it most likely happened. So lets analyze, lets start with Jesus’s crucifixion. Mark’s gospel has it written starting at Mark 14 and John’s Gospel has it written starting at John 18 even though Mark’s and John’s gospel dates are different for the events being taken place. There’s a reason why I believe that John purposely wrote his gospel on a different timeline than the the other three gospels that I will address in another post. But even though they differ in timeline they have similar events on how Jesus’ crucifixion happened they both claim that Judas betrayed Jesus, they both claim that Peter denied Jesus three times, they both claim that Pilate sentenced Jesus to the punishment of crucifixion. All of this according to the historical rule of thumb number two tells us this most likely happened historically. Also two more sources claim that Jesus was crucified by Pilate outside the Gospels according to Erhman roman historian Tacitus at least indicates that Jesus was executed by Pontius Pilate. Jewish historian Josephus writes about the description of Jesus being sent and executed by Pontius Pilate in book 18 of The Antique of the Jews, “At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one should call him a man……He was the Messiah. And when Pilate, because of an accusation made by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross,…”. All together four sources claim that the execution of Jesus happened which according to rule of thumb number two this is what historically happened.
Now rule of thumb number three claimed the more against the author’s bias the written works are the more historically accurate they are. What scholars and I mean when we say written work that goes against the authors biased; is lets say for example, what if one historian in United States history writes a piece explaining how the United Sates was created, but left out the part about slavery and claimed that we was always a country that always paid their workers from the very beginning. What if another historian in United States history writes the same piece but add in the slavery which goes against the United States idea of it being a country created on freedom. Which two historians would you most likely trust the second one because their information goes against the historians bias in United States ideology. You would think that if the gospel writers made up Jesus that they would claim that Jesus was not baptized by anybody, because why would he need to be baptized he’s God he would basically be saying that he’s less superior. Of course I got my reasons why Jesus was supposed to be baptized, but I mention that in another post. Most scholars would claim when Mark writes in Mark chapter 1:9 that Jesus was baptized by John the baptist that this goes against the bias of the author for the reason like I said before why would God need to be baptized. Also Mark writes in his gospel in Mark 14 that one of Jesus’ disciples Peter denied him three times when Jesus was on trial. You would think that if Mark was making this up he would frame Peter as a disciple that would not deny Jesus and also stand firm with Jesus. So according to scholars this goes against the bias of the author too. So according to rule of thumb number three these events most likely historically happened.
Overall scholars believed that Jesus was an actual historical person who existed because they are way to many historical references that mention Jesus that it can’t be possible that Jesus was made up. Also scholars like Erhman use a set of rules of thumb that they use to compare sources which historically prove that Jesus most likely existed as an actual historical person.