The Criteria of Evidence About Jesus
Jesus is, without question, the most controversial person in human history. The life of Jesus of Nazareth began in the controversy of His virgin birth and ended thirty three and a half years later with the most astonishing claim that He actually rose from the dead on the third day following His death on the cross. He began His ministry with the miracle of turning the water into wine at a wedding feast in Cana. Later, Jesus created more controversy with His divine healings including opening the eyes of a blind boy. The ancient prophet Isaiah had foretold that one of the unique signs of the coming Messiah was that he would "open the eyes of the blindÓ (Isaiah 42:7). Until that point in history no one had ever healed someone born blind. Jesus astonished the religious leaders of Israel by healing the vision of a young man who was born blind because His miracle was tantamount to claiming He was the true Messiah. His miraculous healings of so many people afflicted with disease confounded the religious leaders of the day. His fulfillment of the dozens of messianic prophecies, His death on the cross, and His astonishing resurrection from the dead polarized Jewish society. While thousands acknowledged Him as the Son of God many others violently rejected His claims to be the true Messiah and equal with God.
His claim to be the Son of God ultimately launched the greatest religious movement in human history. Two thousand years have passed, yet today over a billion people throughout the world worship this poor Galillean teacher as the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords and the Son of God. Followers of Christ can be found in every nation on earth in every culture, language, and profession. Over twenty percent of the world's population, from simple peasant farmers in the Sudan to brilliant, well educated professors at Oxford, are committed Christians who believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that the Gospel record is correct. However, there are millions of people from all walks of life who totally reject the Bible's claims about Jesus. Many people simply cannot believe the Gospel's claims about His virgin birth, His miracles, and most of all, His resurrection from the dead.
But the questions remain: Did Jesus really live? Are the accounts about His miraculous healings and raising people from the dead true? Did He actually die on the cross? What evidence is there that He really rose from the dead? What historical evidence is there to support the Bible's extraordinary claim that Jesus is the Son of God and the true Messiah? The mystery of Jesus is that He is both part of history and He is also transcends it.
As we face the beginning of a new millennium perhaps the most important question is this: Can an intelligent person actually believe that the Bible's claims about Jesus Christ are true based on solid historical and archeological evidence? The tremendous development in our century of sophisticated archeological research as well as powerful scientific instruments such as electron microscopes, computer enhanced photography, and carbon 14 dating techniques have allowed us to lift the veil on many of the mysteries surrounding the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. For the first time in history we can scientifically examine the archeological and historical evidence including the tombs of the first Christian and the possible burial shroud of Jesus.
Questions regarding Jesus' true identity have fascinated humanity for the past 2000 years. Many have searched historical and archaeological records to validate or disprove the claims about His remarkable life. This book, Jesus: The Great Debate will attempt to answer these critical questions by examining all of the archeological, historical, and scientific evidence that has been discovered to determine the truth.
For thirty-five years I have examined the evidence about the life of Jesus of Nazareth. As I study His life, His teachings, and His resurrection, I am convinced that the evidence is overwhelming that the Jesus presented to us in the Gospels is, in fact, the true Messiah. In the balance of this book I will present the results of my exhaustive research that has taken me to the libraries and museums of Canada, the U.S.A, England, Europe, and Israel. I have spent countless hours exploring archeological sites in Israel including Bethlehem, Nazareth and Cana where He began His unique ministry, Capernaum where He taught in a synagogue, and Jerusalem where He died and rose from the dead. I have had the privilege of exploring the Dead Sea Caves where thousands of ancient biblical manuscript fragments were found in 1947 that confirm the astonishing accuracy of the text of the Scriptures. During my last two trips to Israel I examined the tombs of first century Jewish Christians as well as the tomb of Caiphus the High Priest (who presided at the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus). I have interviewed an individual who participated in the scientific examination of the controversial Shroud of Turin. It is my hope that this presentation of the evidence will enable you to come to a reasoned and knowledgeable decision about your personal response to the claims of Christ.
Some people suggest that there is no need for historical evidence for the Gospel. They suggest that we should simply blindly accept the Christian faith without regard to the evidence. However, I have never believed in accepting anything on unquestioning blind faith. The Scriptures do not suggest that God expects us to "leap into the darknessÓ in blind faith. Rather, the Scriptures ask us to examine the evidence and come to a personal conclusion about Jesus of Nazareth based on the light of His revealed truth as demonstrated by the historical and textual evidence of the Bible. Then, the Scriptures invite us to place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ as God. It is significant that the writers of the New Testament continually appeal to the evidence that Jesus has fulfilled many of the Old Testament prophecies about the coming of the Messiah as evidence for His credentials. The Apostle Peter reminds us "to be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fearÓ (I Peter 3:15).
In the Book of Acts we read: "Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these daysÓ (Acts 3:24). Luke, the writer of the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, declares that Jesus "shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of GodÓ (Acts 1:3). Luke and Peter both refer to the fact that they were eyewitnesses to the events they recorded about Jesus. Luke wrote: "Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the wordÓ (Luke 1:2). The Apostle Peter appealed to the reliability of the eyewitness evidence he presented to his readers: "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majestyÓ (2 Peter 1:16). After years of study of the New Testament I have come to the same conclusion as that recorded in the words of the great English writer Charles Dickens who wrote, "The New Testament is the best book the world has ever known or will know.Ó
Some Critics Discredit the Gospels
Many modern scholars dispute the historical accuracy of the Bible. They especially reject the accuracy of the Gospel accounts of Jesus' life, miracles, death, and resurrection. There are numerous writers who question whether it is truly that important to know that the Gospel's revelations about Jesus are historically accurate. The Hindu religious philosopher Sri Aurobindo expressed aspects of this modern viewpoint in his writings:
Such controversies as the one that has raged in Europe over the historicity of Christ would seem to a spiritually-minded Indian largely a waste of time; he would concede to it a considerable historical, but hardly any religious, importance; for what does it matter in the end whether a Jesus son of the carpenter Joseph was actually born in Nazareth or Bethlehem, lived and taught and was done to death on a real or trumped-up charge of sedition, so long as we can know by spiritual experience the inner Christ, live uplifted in the light of His teaching and escape from the yoke of the natural Law by that atonement of man with God of which the crucifixion is the symbol? If the Christ, God made man, lives within our spiritual being, it would seem to matter little whether or not a son of Mary physically lived and suffered and died in Judea.1
But it does matter whether or not Jesus of Nazareth truly lived, died, and rose from the dead. If the Gospel's record about Jesus is nothing more than a curious myth then Christianity is a fraudulent religion that has deceived countless billions of faithful souls over the last two thousand years. If Jesus did not rise triumphantly from the empty tomb then our hope of salvation is nothing more than a dream based on the greatest lie in history. The position espoused by many modern religious philosophers such as Aurobindo is that the "ideaÓ or myth of Jesus is the truly important thing. They suggest that Christianity would not be significantly weakened by abandoning the position that the Gospels record the truth about Jesus's teachings and His call to salvation through faith in His atoning death on the cross. However, once we abandon the solid ground of the teachings of the Scriptures about Christ's words and deeds we are left adrift on a sea of unlimited speculation. Ultimately, if Christianity is divorced from historical events as described in the written text of the Gospels, then every man is free to create his own "ChristÓ in his own image. Tragically, while such an imaginary "ChristÓ may be satisfactory and even comfortable to a religious philosopher, a mythological Jesus cannot reconcile humanity to God because it would only be a private myth with no more reality or substance than last night's dream. Fortunately, the discoveries of science and archeology during the last few decades as outlined in the pages of this book provide powerful evidence that the Bible's historical record is reliable and that the Jesus Christ of the Gospels truly lived and taught in Judea two thousand years ago.
As an example of this widespread rejection of biblical authority and reliability, the Jesus Seminar, a group of seventy-five New Testament liberal scholars, meet semi-annually in America to determine whether or not any of the Gospel quotations of Jesus' words are authentic or credible. These scholars meet to examine individual "sayings" of Jesus as recorded by the four canonical New Testament Gospels as well as the non-canonical apocryphal (non-biblical) gospel of Thomas from the 2nd century. Each academic votes to accept or reject the plausibility of these individual statements. The Jesus Seminar is sponsored by the Westor Institute, a private California study center. The Jesus Seminar was founded by Robert Funk, a very liberal and agnostic New Testament scholar who has authored numerous books that question the authority and accuracy of the New Testament Gospel accounts about the life and teachings of Jesus. For example, in the introduction to Robert Funk's bookThe Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus he wrote:
The Christ of creed and dogma, who had been firmly in place in the Middle Ages, can no longer command the assent of those who have seen the heavens through Galileo's telescope. The old deities and demons were swept from the skies by that remarkable glass. Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo have dismantled the mythological abodes of the gods and Satan and bequeathed us secular heavens.2
Robert Funk also derided the orthodox beliefs of all traditional Christians over the last two thousand years in his ridicule of those who accept the Gospel's statements about Jesus' birth, miracles, and resurrection. Funk wrote,
The redemptive function of Jesus' death is usually expressed in mythological language. It is termed mythological because it refers to an act that was performed by God, or by God's son, on behalf of humankind. Such an act can be neither verified (nor falsified) on the basis of empirical data, by facts established by historical investigation. His death as redemptive event was not an act visible to the disinterested observer. All such mythological acts lie outside sciences and hence of the historian. When, on the other hand, literalists claim that certain biblical stories are descriptively true, they are making claims that are an affront to common sense. Such stories include accounts of Mary's conception while still a virgin, Jesus' exorcisms of demons, references to seven heavens in the vault above the earth and to Sheol or hell below the earth, and Jesus' resurrection as the resuscitation of a corpse. If this form of understanding were not so deeply entrenched in the literalistic mind, it would make us snicker.3
Another indication of the underlying attitudes of these seminarians regarding the authenticity of Jesus' words is revealed by the comments of Prof. Arthur Dewey of Xavier University, a member of the Jesus Seminar. As reported in an article in Time magazine in April 1994, Dewey stated that, while rejecting the accuracy of most of Christ's words as recorded in the Gospels, the scholars believe Jesus was occasionally "humorous.Ó4 One commented, "There is more of David Letterman in the historical Jesus than Pat Robertson." These particular liberal scholars are openly contemptuous in their rejection of the authenticity of the Bible based on their own theological anti-supernatural opinions. However, the Jesus Seminar participants merely represent the tip of the iceberg of modern academic scholars who generally reject, in whole or in part, most of Scriptures. These agnostic attitudes have permeated not only the academic world, but also our modern media and religious seminaries as well.
The Jesus Seminar participants began in 1985 to use a system of colored beads to indicate their personal vote as an indication of their opinion about the validity of particular statements of Jesus. If, in their opinion, these scholars thought that Jesus would "certainly" have made such a statement, they dropped a red bead into the box, indicating their belief that it was "authenticÓ statement. If they believed that Jesus "might" have made a statement close to what the Gospel writer recorded, they dropped a pink bead. When they believed that the statement may be close to what Jesus thought, but not what He actually stated, they dropped a grey bead in the box. Finally, when they completely reject a given statement in the Gospels as something they believed that Jesus would not have said, the scholars dropped a black bead into the box, indicating that it was not "authentic.Ó
Time magazine reported in their April 6, 1996 issue that during the Jesus Seminar's 1995 meeting in Santa Rosa, California, the scholars had decided that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were "notoriously unreliable: the judges . . . had to throw out the Evangelists' testimony on the Nativity, the Resurrection, the Sermon on the Mount."5 The article repeats "the assertion, published by the 75-person, self-appointed Seminar three years ago, that close historical analysis of the Gospels exposes most of them as inauthentic." The exclusion criteria used by these liberal scholars to exclude statements as inauthentic are as follows. They automatically reject any prophetic statements, statements by Jesus on the cross, descriptions of His trial, the Resurrection, and any claim by Jesus to be the Messiah or the Son of God. Their bottom line rule for exclusion is: "When in sufficient doubt, leave it out." Since these scholars automatically reject any statement regarding supernatural events they are forced to reject great portions of the Gospel record about the life of Jesus. However, if the view of the Jesus Seminar is correct --- that almost nothing definite can be known about the life of Jesus of Nazareth -- the basis for all Christian belief is destroyed. Fortunately, the evidence presented in this book will show that they are wrong.
Incredibly, this group has chosen to publish a new version of the Gospels which displays the "authentic words of Jesus" in various colors of ink reflecting their "validity.Ó Not surprisingly, very little of their final text is in red letters indicating authentic statements. For example, when these liberal academics examined the text containing the Lord's Prayer, they rejected every single word as spurious except for the opening phrase, "Our Father." In effect, these scholars declare by their votes whether or not they themselves would have made these Gospel statements if they were Jesus! The cable channel Cinemax 2, ran a program in April of 1996, called "The Gospel According to Jesus,Ó that records people reading from a new version of the Bible created by author Stephen Mitchell, based on Jesus Seminar research. In this version, Mitchell eliminated almost all of the Gospel statements, and most of the miracles by Jesus, as recorded in the New Testament. Not surprizingly, it was a very short book.
Evangelical scholar Professor Michael Green, of Regent College, rejects the analysis of the proponents of the Jesus Seminar. Professor Green stated that the Gospels are the best authenticated of all ancient documents that survived from that period. Green wrote, "We have copies of them going back to well within the century of their composition, which is fantastic compared with the classic authors of the period. And in striking contrast to the two or three manuscripts we have attesting the text of these secular writers, we have hundreds of the New Testament. They give us the text of the New Testament with astonishing uniformity." Additionally, Professor Green noted the remarkable historical harmony of the facts found in the Gospel records: "The artless, unplanned harmony in their accounts is impressive and convincing."
Bishop John Spong's Attack on Fundamental Biblical Beliefs
Episcopalian Bishop John Spong is well known for his prominent attacks on evangelical Christians who believe the fundamental doctrines of the Word of God. Bishop Spong claims that there are three main paths for Christians to take in addressing the Bible. Two of these alternatives are described in his own words as "ignorant fundamentalism,Ó and "vapid liberalism.Ó The third alternative is his own "uniqueÓ but still strongly liberal path. However, Spong's third path is merely another example of a modernist liberalism that expresses a wholesale rejection of the miraculous and contempt for the orthodox doctrines of Christianity. The bishop claims his desire is to free Christians from "2000 years of misunderstanding.Ó Spong declares that the Gospel writers and the Apostle Paul never intended their "storiesÓ to be taken literally. As a result of his denial of the truthfulness of the New Testament accounts, Bishop Spong openly admits that he rejects the foundational doctrines of the orthodox Christian faith. He denies the virgin birth, the miracles and prophecies as well as the supernatural details of Jesus' crucifixion, and resurrection. As a result of his rejection of the literal meaning of Scripture, Spong feels no need to submit to the Bible's condemnation of homosexuality. Therefore, the bishop proudly proclaims his endorsement of homosexuality and admits that he oversees twenty-three openly homosexual priests in his Newark, New Jersey Episcopalian diocese.
While Spong despises fundamentalist, orthodox Christians as "uninformed, unquestioning, and ignorant,Ó he is forced to admit that the fundamentalist churches that teach traditional biblical doctrines are growing rapidly at the very time when most liberal mainstream churches are shrinking annually. Bishop Spong reluctantly acknowledges that biblical literalism appeals to people's need for certainty regarding spiritual matters.
Spong rejects the Genesis account of the beginning of man's sin, and states that "the fall of man . . . no longer makes sense.Ó He then dismisses as "no longer believableÓ the Bible's revelation, in which "Christ has been portrayed as the divine rescuer Ñ sent to save the fallen human creature from sin and to restore that creature to the goodness of his or her pre-fall creation.Ó6 Many liberal theologians and modern religious writers agree with Bishop Spong, condemning as "ignorantÓ any believers who uphold the orthodox, biblically based beliefs in salvation through faith in Christ's atoning death on the cross that have sustained billions of Christians for the last two thousand years.
However, anyone who observes the religious scene exhibited today in North America and Europe will recognize the utter failure of this anti-literal, anti-Bible, and anti-Christian religious viewpoint to motivate people to join the shrinking congregations of liberal mainline denominations. Spong himself reluctantly admits that the fundamentalist, Bible-believing churches are growing at an unprecedented rate, while the liberal mainline churches that reject the Bible's teaching "shrink every day in membershipÓ in his own words. He complains, "The only churches that grow today are those that do not, in fact, understand the issues and can therefore traffic in certainty. They represent both the fundamentalistic Protestant groups and the rigidly controlled conservative Catholic traditions.Ó In other words, Spong believes the successful and growing Bible-believing churches "do not, in fact, understand the issues,Ó primarily on the basis that they still espouse traditional, orthodox Christian beliefs which he personally rejects.
The truth is that once someone divorces their "ChristianityÓ from the recorded statements about the Jesus as found in the Bible, they have, in reality, created a new religion based upon an imaginary Christ that exists solely in their own minds. In other words, Bishop Spong's new liberal "Christianity,Ó divorced from the authority of biblical statements and stripped of the supernatural, would be virtually unrecognizable to the disciples of Jesus Christ or to the vast majority of His followers over the last two thousand years.
The Choice We Must Make Regarding Christ
Several decades ago one of the most brilliant professors in England, a well known atheist, converted to Christianity. After studying the evidence, he could no longer deny the existence of Jesus Christ. Ultimately, this man became one of the most compelling and effective witnesses to the historical truth of Christianity. However, Professor C. S. Lewis was constantly confronted by people who rejected Jesus Christ's claims that He is God, yet still professed a great reverence for Jesus as an inspired, ethical and moral teacher. Lewis recognized the inherent logical contradiction in this widely espoused opinion. In response, he wrote the following comment in his book Mere Christianity:
You must make your choice. Either this man was and is the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.7
If Jesus was only a normal human being, yet claimed repeatedly that He was God and could forgive man's sins, then He must have been mad or a very evil man. However, the evidence from the Gospel's statements revealing his inspired moral teachings demonstrate conclusively that He was neither mad nor evil. In fact, the considered opinion of the wisest philosophers and religious leaders throughout history is that Jesus of Nazareth was the most holy and moral human being who ever walked on earth. The logical conclusion is that His statements must be true.
Most individuals who take the time to carefully examine the life and teachings of Jesus as reported in the Gospels eventually come to a conclusion that He was more than just a man. The impact of His life and teachings upon untold generations of humanity in every nation and culture of the world demonstrates the supernatural nature of His profound influence on humanity. Even the greatest of the generals, kings, intellectuals, and statesmen have ultimately acknowledged that Jesus was more than just a man. For example, during his imprisonment on the island of St. Helena, the great general and emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte revealed his opinion to his companions about how Jesus of Nazareth far surpassed all other great men of antiquity.
Napoleon declared: "I think I understand somewhat of human nature and I tell you all these were men, and I am a man, but not one is like Him; Jesus Christ was more than man. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded great empires; but upon what did the creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions would die for Him.Ó8 In the same vein he wrote, "I search in vain in history to find the similar to Jesus Christ or anything which can approach the Gospel.Ó Napoleon also spoke about the vitality and power of the Gospels. "The Gospel is no mere book but a living creature, with a vigor, a power, which conquers all that opposes it. Here lies the Book of Books upon the table, I do not tire of reading it, and do so daily with equal pleasure. The soul, charmed with the beauty of the Gospel, is no longer its own: God possesses it entirely: He directs its thoughts and faculties; it is His. What a proof of the divinity of Jesus Christ! Yet in this absolute sovereignty He has but one aim-the spiritual perfection of the individual, the purification of his conscience, his union with what is true, the salvation of his soul. Men wonder at the conquests of Alexander, but here is a conqueror who draws men to Himself for their highest good; who unites to Himself, incorporates into Himself, not a nation, but the whole human race.Ó9 On another occasion the emperor wrote, "The nature of Christ's existence is mysterious, I admit; but this mystery meets the wants of man. Reject it and the world is an inexplicable riddle; believe it, and the history of our race is satisfactorily explained.Ó
Agnosticism and Atheism
There are many people today who respond to the claims of Christianity with this agnostic comment: "I just don't know whether or not I can believe the Bible.Ó An atheist declares confidently that he totally rejects the claims of the Bible and Christ regarding truth and salvation. However, the agnostic claims that he cannot decide whether to believe or not based on the evidence he has seen thus far. To paraphrase Paul Little in his insightful book Know Why You Believe the question that confronts anyone who claims "they just don't know the truth about Jesus and the BibleÓ is to ask whether you are an ordinary agnostic or an ornery one. The ordinary agnostic honestly declares that he has not personally seen enough evidence yet to convince him that God exists and the Gospels are true. However, he is willing to acknowledge that others may have seen enough evidence to convince them of this fact. In other words, the ordinary agnostic says, "I don't know, but you may know.Ó However, the ornery agnostic says, "I don't know, and you can't know either.Ó10 The writer G. Lowes Dickinson declared, "The mistake of agnosticism, it seems to me, has been that it has said not merely, ÔI do not know,' but ÔI will not consider'Ó11 Another writer, Richard Downey, revealed the fundamental problem with agnosticism as an approach to revealed truth: "Agnosticism denies to the human mind a power of attaining knowledge which it does possess... Agnosticism, as such, is a theory about knowledge and not about religion.Ó12 Possibly Francis Thompson best described the fundamental problem with the philosophical approach of agnosticism in that they can never arrive at a satisfactory conclusion that provides confidence that they have found the truth. Francis Thompson acknowledged that, "Agnostism is the everlasting perhapsÓ13
The Importance of the Gospel's Histoical Claims
Simon Greenleaf was one of the greatest lawyers in western history. Although he wrote in the last century his book, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, on the proper evaluation of legal evidence in our judicial system is still an unsurpassed masterpiece. The London Law Magazine wrote, "Upon the existing Law of Evidence (by Greenleaf) more light has shone from the New World than from all the lawyers who adorn the courts of Europe.Ó Although he initially set out to overthrow the Gospel record about Jesus Christ his in depth evaluation of the evidence forced him to the point where he acknowledged the historical accuracy of the Gospels and became a committed Christian believer. Greenleaf wrote a thought provoking book on the historical reliability of the Gospels as legal evidence if presented in a court of law. Simeon Greenleaf's book, entitled The Testimony of the Evangelists, addressed the question as to the true importance of this historical quest to discover the truth about Jesus of Nazareth. He correctly pointed out that the claims of the Gospels regarding life, death, salvation, heaven and hell are so momentous that it was vital that we individually examine the evidence to determine whether the Gospel record is true or not. Nothing less than our soul's eternal destiny is at state. As Greenleaf wrote:
The things related by the Evangelists are certainly of the most momentous character, affecting the principles of our conduct here, and our happiness forever. The religion of Jesus Christ aims at nothing less than the utter overthrow of all other systems of religion in the world; denouncing them as inadequate to the wants of man, false in their foundations, and dangerous in their tendency. It not only solicits the grave attention of all, to whom its doctrines are presented, but it demands their cordial belief, as a matter of vital concernment. These are no ordinary claims; and it seems hardly possible for a rational being to regard them with even a subdued interest; much less to treat them with mere indifference and contempt. If not true, they are little else than the pretensions of a bold imposture, which, not satisfied with having already enslaved millions of the human race, seeks to continue its encroachments upon human liberty, until all nations shall be subjugated under its iron rule. But if they are well-founded and just, they can be no less than the high requirements of heaven, addressed by the voice of God to the reason and understanding of man, concerning things deeply affecting his relations to his sovereign, and essential to the formation of his character and of course to his destiny, both for this life and for the life to come.14
The Criteria Used to Judge the Evidence in the Gospels
In light of the supreme importance of our inquiry we need to free our minds from previous prejudice as far as that is possible and begin a search for the truth about the claims about Jesus. The most fundamental questions we should address are these: Are the Gospels a true and reliable record of the events and teachings of Jesus? Were the Gospels written by the followers of Christ in the first few decades following His death? Or, were the Gospels composed more than a hundred years after the events by editors of the early Church with a religious agenda who had never seen Jesus in the flesh? Are the descriptions of the miracles, healings, and resurrections from the dead accurate portrayals of eyewitness evidence or are they simply myths created more than a century later to bolster the reputation of their religious leader? The question of the date of writing of the Gospels is so important to our quest for truth that an entire following chapter will be devoted to explore the evidence related to this vital question.
However, before entering further into this matter it is important that we establish the proper criteria for an historical examination of this kind. Many critics of Christianity and even some Christians have fallen into the habit of applying inappropriate standards to the question of evidence regarding the Gospels. For example, some people ask the question: Can you establish scientifically to an absolute standard of demonstrated proof that Jesus rose from the dead, etc.? This question reveals a misunderstanding of the proper evaluation of historical evidence. Scientific demonstrative evidence cannot be offered to prove that President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in the Ford Theatre in Washington in 1865. The problem we face is that scientific demonstrative evidence requires that a hypothesis be capable of being tested in a laboratory repeatedly by other scientists to verify the results. The nature of historical events is that they can never be repeated and therefore cannot be tested as to their veracity by scientific methods. The great error of the skeptic is that they demand scientific demonstrated proof about historical accounts about Jesus in the Gospels when such absolute scientific proof about all other historical events is also impossible to obtain. However, the question about the historicity of the Gospel's claims about Jesus is a question of fact which is precisely the type of question that is considered and judged by courts of justice every day.
Courts judge the truthfulness of witnesses and questions of fact according to a fundamental rule of judicial bodies which is summerized by legal expert Simeon Greenleaf as follows: "In trials of fact, by oral testimony, the proper inquiry is not whether it is possible that the testimony may be false, but whether there is sufficient probability that it is true.Ó Unfortunately, there are numerous examples of attacks upon the genuineness of the Gospel account which demonstrate a cavalier approach which quickly rejects the accuracy of the historical record about Christ whenever the slightest doubt is raised by anyone about any detail in the Gospel account. Unwilling to acknowledge that the evangelist's account is probably true they contemptuously reject the Gospel's statement because they believe that it is possible that it might be false. If this unreasonable basis of judging truth was applied to other records of historical events such as the assassination of Abraham Lincoln we would have to throw out as unreliable virtually all the statements of actual witnesses that allow us to understand what happened during that tragic event.
A vital principle that should govern any serious inquiry into historical events is to determine what actually constitutes historical proof. This legal principle from Simeon Greenleaf's book The Testimony of the Evangelists is defined as follows: "A proposition of fact is proved, when its truth is established by competent and satisfactory evidence.Ó15 Competent and satisfactory evidence is the type and amount of evidence that would satisfy a normal unprejudiced juror beyond any reasonable doubt. If our inquiry into the reliability of the Gospel's account about Christ can provide this degree of evidence that would satisfy an average jury beyond a reasonable doubt then we can consider the historical proof has been established.
Another important principle in judging evidence is outlined by Greenleaf as follows: "In the absence of circumstances which generate suspicion, every witness is to be presumed credible, until the contrary is shown; the burden of impeaching his credibility lying on the objector.Ó16 This point is vital. Many of the skeptical writers who reject the historical accounts about Jesus automatically discount as unreliable and false virtually all of the statements of the four Gospel writers by presuming them to be lacking in credibility. On the other hand, if these critics find a single non-biblical source that apparently contradicts the statements of the evangelists, they tend to judge the issue as settled automatically in favor of the objection to the truthfulness of the Gospels. However, based upon the well known judicial principle articulated by Simeon Greenleaf, the burden of evidence rests entirely on the critic who attacks the Gospel writer to prove that his statement is false. When the statements of the liberal critics are judged on this appropriate legal basis many of their harsh criticisms of the accounts of the evangelists lose their validity.
There is a fundamental principle that applies to ancient documents that should be considered in any historical inquiry such as this. As Greenleaf states the principle, "Every document, apparently ancient, coming from the proper repository or custody, and bearing on its face no evident marks of forgery, the law presumes to be genuine, and devolves on the opposing party the burden of proving it to be otherwise.Ó17
In other words, the principle of the presumption of innocence that is afforded to every suspect in a western court of law, is also applied to any ancient historical document such as the Bible. The assumption is that the ancient document is authoritative, reliable, and accurate in its contents unless sufficient evidence is produced to contradict that assumption. When we consider the case for the Bible's reliability the evidence is overwhelming that the Scriptures have been in use publically throughout thousands of independent churches for two thousand years. In addition, the fact that different sects quickly sprang up that constantly appealed to the Scriptural text in argument and defense of their differing doctrinal interpretations of the text's meaning, provides an overwhelming proof that the genuine text of the Scriptures has been reliably preserved down through the centuries until today. The existence of many different sects guaranteed that no one could change the biblical text without it being instantly detected by their opponents. The principles of law also provide clear guidance on the question raised by the fact that we do not at this time possess the original manuscripts of the Gospels, etc. Throughout the law courts of the western nations it is granted that copies of ancient documents which are universally received as legitimate such as the Bible are to be given the same value in evidence as the original manuscripts.
The Effect of the Attempt to Discredit the Gospels
The widespread agnosticism and atheism that is found almost everywhere within our modern government, media, universities, and seminaries has contributed to the increasing moral collapse of our society. The philosopher Thomas Hobbes wisely described the inevitable disastrous spiritual effects on society caused by growing agnosticism and a gradual abandonment of the authority of Scriptures in the life of our nations: "No arts, no letters, no society, and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."18 The inevitable consequences of our current national apostasy were accurately predicted in his writings.
In 1830 the government of France was faced with an overwhelming crime wave and overflowing prisons as a consequence of the virtual elimination of public religion following the French Revolution. The French authorities sent a well respected judge, Alexis de Tocqueville, to study the society, beliefs, and the prisons of the United States of America to find out why there was so little crime and so few jails in the vibrant young nation which had experience its own revolution only a few decades before France. America seemed a veritable paradise in comparison to the corruption and criminality that swept France during the period following the French Revolution, a period in history in which the church and religion in general were totally repudiated by the French. After several years of careful study he wrote his celebrated book entitled The Democracy of the United States in 1840. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote about the reason for America's greatness as a nation and the real cause behind her remarkably low crime rate at that time.
I sought for the greatness of the United States in her commodious harbors, her ample rivers, her fertile fields, and boundless forests-and it was not there. I sought for it in her rich mines, her vast world commerce, her public schools system and in her institutions of higher learning-and it was not there. I looked for it in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution-and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great!19
Tragically, de Tocqueville's analysis and prediction has proven to be correct. Today, the Bible, God's great gift to humanity, has been almost exiled from the Congress, the courts of the land, and our schools. As America has progressively abandoned her rich spiritual heritage, based on the public and private reverence for the teachings of Jesus Christ, we have witnessed growing violence and crime from the lowest levels of society to the highest. The moral breakdown in modern society has produced an appalling situation on which America has a higher percentage of its population in prison than any other nation on earth. Scandal and corruption in the highest political offices are now so commonplace that they seldom merit mention on the front pages of our newspapers. Our society has become so disillusioned by immorality and greed among business, military, religious, and political leaders that we are almost shell-shocked. The problem is that without a moral code of right and wrong, there will never be enough policemen or prisons to make our streets safe.
A century and a half later after de Tocqueville, America has publicly abandoned the Bible as the moral anchor of her society, government, courts, and education. It should surprise no one that, after decades of eliminating the Bible from our schools while teaching our children that there are no absolute rights and wrongs, we now face a widespread breakdown in public and private morality together with rising levels of violent youth crime as witnessed in the appalling shooting tragedy at Collumbine, CO. President Andrew Jackson shared the same opinion as Alexis de Tocqueville about the vital position of the Scriptures in the life of his nation. As he lay on his deathbed President Jackson pointed to the Bible on the table by his bed and said to his companion, "That Book, Sir, is the rock on which our Republic rests." Another scholar, Sir William Jones, described the Gospels as follows: They contain more sublimity, more exquisite beauty, purer morality, more important history, and finer strains both of poetry and eloquence, than could be collected within the same compass from all other books that were ever composed in any age, or in any idiom.Ó(Scriptural Genealogy From Adam to Christ, London: Samuel Leigh, 1817.)
The Inspiration of Scripture
The Christians and Jews of the 1st century as well as generations of Christian believers share an unshakable conviction that the Scriptures contain the infallible, inspired, and authoritative words of God. The Bible itself claims that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16). The Greek word translated "inspired" literally means "God breathed," indicating the Lord's direct supernatural supervision of the writing by the biblical author. The Bible claims that its words were not written by men in an ordinary manner, but that God inspired men to record His direct words as His written revelation to mankind for all time. Just as God created only one sun to provide light to our planet, He gave us only one book, the Bible, to enlighten our world spiritually. The great philosopher Immanuel Kant acknowledged the enormous gift that God has given humanity in His inspiration of the prophets who recorded His divine inspired revelation in the Holy Scriptures. Kant wrote, "The Bible is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced.Ó20 Another brilliant scientist, Sir Isaac Newton, was a true Christian who held a profound faith in the Word of God and in his personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Isaac Newton wrote, "We account the Scriptures of God to be the most sublime philosophy. I find more sure marks of authority in the Bible than in any profane history whatsoever.Ó21 In another place Newton wrote, "No sciences are better attested than the religion of the Bible.Ó The brilliant philosopher, John Locke, described his opinion of the Scriptures. "They have God for their author, salvation for their end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for their matter.Ó
Tragically, during this century many pastors, professors, and laymen have lost their faith and confidence that the Bible is truly inspired. Dr. Kennedy, a Regius Professor of Classics at Cambridge University, in the early decades of this century warned of the relentless battle that was about to begin over the authority of the Bible. "The inspiration of Scriptures will be the last battle ground between the Church and the world."22 Unfortunately, many in our churches and seminaries today have admitted defeat in this battle, at the hands of skeptics who openly hate the very concept of the authority and inspiration of the Word of God and Jesus' claim to be the Son of God.
This widespread rejection of the truthfulness of the Scriptures in modern times reveals the folly of men who "have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns" of vain philosophy (Jeremiah 2:13). The broken cisterns of existential philosophy have presented us with a hopeless worldview in which humanity has been set adrift as an evolutionary accident in a dying universe without meaning or purpose.
However, the prophet Jeremiah declared, "Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: 'Behold, I have put My words in your mouth'" (Jeremiah 1:9). God confirmed that He directly inspired His servants, the prophets, to record His words and instructions "word for word." In the New Testament the apostle Peter declared that "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:20,21). One of the strongest statements about the Bible' authority is found in the words of Jesus Himself who declared, "The Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35). The Scottish geologist Hugh Miller wrote, "The gospel is the fulfillment of all hopes, the perfection of all philosophy, the interpreter of all revelations, and a key to all the seeming contradictions of truth in the physical and moral world.Ó23
The Evidence of the Accuracy of the Scriptures
We will also examine the wealth of evidence that proves the accuracy and authenticity of the Gospel records about Jesus. This evidence includes the following:
1. Many ancient inscriptions and manuscripts that support the historical accuracy of the Scriptures.
2. Little known archeological discoveries of the actual tombs of people mentioned in the Gospel account of Christ's trial and crucifixion.
3. Ancient pagan as well as Jewish writers provide remarkable confirmation of the biblical accounts about the death of Jesus.
3. The fulfillment of many detailed Messianic prophecies about Jesus that authenticate the Scriptures.
4. The transformed lives of the writers of the Bible.
5. The unprecedented influence of Jesus Christ on the lives of individuals, the culture, and history of the world.
6. Ancient manuscripts from the Dead Sea Scrolls that refer to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
7. Astonishing new scientific discoveries about the ancient burial cloth known as the Shroud of Turin suggest that it may have covered the body of Christ.
The Accuracy of the Bible Manuscripts
Over the last four thousand years, Jewish scribes, and later, Christian scribes, took great care to correctly copy and transmit the original manuscripts of sacred Scriptures without any significant error. The Jewish scribes who carefully copied out by hand the manuscripts of the Old Testament were called "Masoretic" (from the Hebrew word for "wall" or "fence"). Their extreme care in meticulously counting the letters of the Bible created a "fence around the Law" to defend its accuracy. When a scribe completed his copy, a master examiner would painstakingly count every individual letters to confirm that there were no errors in the newly copied manuscript. If an error was found, the mistaken copy was destroyed to prevent it ever again being used as a master copy.
The Roman emperors did everything in their power to destroy the new faith of Christianity by burning both Christians and the manuscripts of the Bible. As an example, in A.D. 303, the Roman Emperor Diocletian issued an official command to kill Christians and burn their sacred books. Professor S. L. Greenslade, the editor of the Cambridge History of the Bible, recorded the history of this persecution: "an imperial letter was everywhere promulgated, ordering the razing of the churches to the ground and the destruction by fire of the Scriptures, and proclaiming that those who held high positions would lose all civil rights, while those in households, if they persisted in their profession of Christianity, would be deprived of their liberty"24
However, the Christian's enthusiasm and dedication to the Scriptures in those first centuries following Christ motivated them to produce numerous manuscripts that were widely copied, distributed, and translated throughout the empire. The New Testament became the most widely quoted book in history from the moment of its writing by the apostles until today. In A.D. 70, only four decades from the cross, Bishop Ignatius of Antioch, the minister responsible for several churches in Syria, quoted extensively from the New Testament in his writings. Clement, the Bishop of Rome in A.D. 70 (mentioned by Paul in Philippians 4:3) also quoted extensively from the New Testament within forty years of Christ's resurrection. Historians have recovered almost one hundred thousand manuscripts and letters from the first few centuries of this era that were composed by Christian writers. These numerous letters and books written by the early Christian Fathers contain an astonishing 99 percent of the almost 8000 verses in the New Testament demonstrating the profound love of the Scriptures in the life of the young Church. The scholars Norman Geisler and William Nix documented the astonishing number of N.T. verses that were actually quoted by the early Church Fathers in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. "A brief inventory at this point will reveal that there were some 32,000 citations of the New Testament prior to the time of the Council of Nicea.Ó25 One Christian writer, Origen, quoted individual N.T. verses 17,922 times according to the work of Geisler and Nix.
Geisler and Nix quoted from the original exhaustive research by the biblical scholar Sir David Dabrymple who completed an astonishing survey of every N.T. verse that was quoted by Church Fathers before the A.D. 325 Council of Nicea. Dabrymple declared: "You remember the question about the New Testament and the Fathers? That question roused my curiosity, and as I possessed all the existing works of the Fathers of the second and third centuries, I commenced to search, and up to this time I have found the entire New Testament, except eleven verses.Ó26 In other words, even if the Romans had succeeded in destroying the New Testament, we could still reliably reconstruct 99 percent of the New Testament text from these numerous surviving quotations. This fact shows the absolute reliability and integrity of the surviving text of the New Testament as it exists today.
Professor E. B. Pusey, in his brilliant defense of the authenticity of the Scriptures against the higher critics of his day, wrote about the continual attacks on the inspiration of Scripture from those who still claimed to be ministers of the Gospel:
The faith can receive no real injury except from its defenders. Against its assailants, those who wish to be safe, God protects. If the faith shall be (God forbid!) destroyed in England, it will not be by open assailants, but by those who think that they defend it, while they have themselves lost it. So it was in Germany. Rationalism was the product, not of the attacks on the Gospel but of its weak defenders. Each generation, in its controversies with unbelief, conceded more of the faith, until at last it was difficult to see what difference there was between assailants and defenders. Theology was one great graveyard; and men were disputing over a corpse, as if it had life. The salt had 'lost its savour.' The life was fled.27
Archaeological Evidence Indicates that the Bible is Reliable
Throughout most of the last two thousand years, the majority of men living in the western world accepted the statements of the Scriptures as genuine. Respected biblical scholars including Brown, Adam Clarke, and Faussett, among others, wrote numerous Bible commentaries in the early part of the 1800s. However, despite their best efforts, their knowledge of the history and archeology of the ancient world was limited solely to the Bible and limited excerpts from classical writings from Greek and Latin writers. Unfortunately, most writers of the pagan classics either exaggerated or failed to differentiate between mythology and historical events. As a result, most Bible commentators in past centuries were unable to add much additional knowledge to confirm the Bible's accounts of events. Fortunately, the field of biblical archeology has exploded in the past century and a half. The discoveries have provided tremendous new insights into the life, culture, and history of the ancient biblical world. Most importantly, while archeology can never "proveÓ the inspiration of the Bible, these discoveries have confirmed the historical accuracy of thousands of individual biblical statements.
The new discoveries by archeologists digging at sites in the Middle East have produced fascinating finds including the tombs of Caiphus the High Priest and others mentioned in the Gospels. Many new discoveries in Israel and the surrounding nations have provided tremendous confirmation of the accuracy of the Word of God. As a result of these continuing discoveries, Dr. Nelson Glueck, the most outstanding Jewish archeologist of this century, wrote in his book, Rivers in the Desert, this powerful statement.
It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries. They form tesserae in the vast mosaic of the Bible's almost incredibly correct historical memory.28
In confirmation of Dr. Glueck's statement, another respected scholar, Dr. J. O. Kinnaman, declared: "Of the hundreds of thousands of artifacts found by the archeologists, not one has ever been discovered that contradicts or denies one word, phrase, clause, or sentence of the Bible, but always confirms and verifies the facts of the biblical record." 29
Only fifty years ago many liberal scholars rejected the historical accuracy of the Bible because they claimed that the Scriptures spoke about kings, places, and individuals that could not be confirmed from any other historical or archeological records. Recent discoveries, however, have now confirmed many biblical details, events, and personalities. For example, many modern scholars have contemptuously rejected the Bible's statements about King David. As an example Professor Philip R. Davies wrote "I am not the only scholar who suspects that the figure of King David is about as historical as King Arthur.Ó30 Textbooks used in many universities and seminaries have openly rejected historical statements in the Scriptures about King David or Solomon. Examples of this approach include the books In Search of Ancient Israel, by Philip R. Davis, and The Early History of the Israelite People, by Thomas L. Thompson. He wrote, "The existence of the Bible's 'United Monarchy' during the tenth-century [B.C.] is . . . impossible."31 For example, in 1997 Israeli Professor Nadav Na'a,an ignored the most recent discoveries and declared that there were no surviving inscriptions that referred to the first kings of Israel:
"It is true that no extra-Biblical source mentions either David or Solomon. This is not surprising. Detailed accounts of first-millennium international affairs appear for the first time in the ninth century B.C.E. All Syro-Palestinian inscriptions of the tenth century refer to local affairs and shed no light on political events. In other words, even if David and Solomon accomplished the deeds attributed to them in the Bible, no source would have mentioned their namesÓ (Nadav Na'a,an, Cow Town or Royal Capital, Biblical Archeological Review, July/Aug. 1997).32
However, Israeli archeologists were astonished to discover an ancient stone inscription at Tell Dan near the ancient city of Dan at the foot of Mount Hermon in northern Israel. This inscription fragment from a stele victory monument was written in the Aramaic language and clearly mentions "the house of David.Ó It was created by an enemy of Israel approximately 900 B.C. to describe their defeat of a Jewish army. An article in Biblical Archeological Review, March- April, 1994 reported, "Avraham Biran and his team of archaeologists found a remarkable inscription from the 9th century [B.C.] that refers both to the 'House of David' and to the 'King of Israel.' This is the first time that the name David has been found in any ancient inscription outside the Bible. That the inscription refers not simply to a ÔDavid' but to the House of David, the dynasty of the great Israelite king, is even more remarkable.Ó33 A review of recent archeological books and articles reveals that evidence has been found in this century that confirms the historical existence of the following biblical kings: Ahab, Ahaz, Omri, Hezekiah, Hoshea, Jehu, Jeroboam II, Manasseh, and Pekah.
Prof. Millar Burrows wrote about the underlying reason most scholars reject the authority of the Bible, "The excessive skepticism of many liberal theologians stems not from a careful evaluation of the available data, but from an enormous predisposition against the supernatural. . . . On the whole, however, archaeological work has unquestionably strengthened confidence in the reliability of the scriptural record.Ó34 Even the sceptic, Dr. Geza Vermes, described Jesus of Nazareth as a "healerÓ as well as "an unsurpassed master of the art of laying bare the inmost core of spiritual truth.Ó Vermes also wrote about Jesus that "he took his stand among the pariahs of his world, those despised by the respectable. Sinners were his table- companions and the ostracized tax-collectors and prostitutes his friends.Ó 35
The remarkable truth is that the life of Jesus of Nazareth occurred in historical time as opposed to some mythological period in the distant past. There is no other period in the ancient past that is so well documented as the first century of the Christian era during the rule of the Roman emperors. Even the great Jewish existentialist scholar Martin Buber wrote in 1961 about Jesus as follows: "I am more than ever certain that a great place belongs to [Jesus Christ] in Israel's history of faith.Ó36 Some of the greatest historians of the ancient world were contempories of Jesus and His disciples, including the Roman writers Livy and Seneca as well as the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, whose works have survived through the centuries.
The evidence reveals that the Gospel writer Luke was an accurate historian who mentions well attested historical figures including Pontius Pilate, King Herod, Tiberius Caesar, the High Priests Annas and Caiaphas, as well as James, the brother of Christ, John the Baptist, and Jesus of Nazareth, all of whom are also mentioned by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in A.D. 73. It is interesting to note that even a relatively obscure person such as Lysanias, tetrarch of Abilene, who is mentioned in the third chapter of Luke's Gospel, has been confirmed by the discovery of two archeological inscriptions confirming his existence and office. Furthermore, even the greatest critics of Christianity in the early centuries including Celsus who debated Christian writers in the second century of the Christian era, never once ventured to suggest that Jesus of Nazareth did not live or die in Jerusalem as affirmed by the Gospel records. Surely if the pagans had possessed any evidence that contradicted the basic account of Christ's life as myth they would have openly challenged the Christian writers with that fact. However, the pagans never claimed that Jesus was a myth because they too were familiar with the historical facts of Christ's life that were
well known to thousands in Israel.
The Problem of the Miracles in the Life of Jesus
The problems of the multiple miracles as taught in the Gospels is a fundamental problem to many of the historians and theologians who philosophically reject the very possibility that God would intervene in human history to demonstrate His supernatural power as claimed in the Gospels that describe the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. The Gospel writers had personally witnessed Christ's miraculous feeding of the five thousand. The Apostle Paul declared he knew of five hundred witnesses who had seen Jesus Christ alive during forty days following His resurrection from the grave. Anyone who, like Paul, declared publically in writing that Jesus of Nazareth had risen from the dead and preached to hundreds of individuals for forty days would have been instantly rejected and condemned as a dangerous charlaton if the evidence he pointed to was not true and capable of being verified by others who lived at that time.
When you carefully consider the Gospel claims about the feeding of the five thousand and again the four thousand you realize that these supernatural claims would instantly have been rejected as absurd unless thousands of people in Israel had actually witnessed these miracles. To make such claims of astonishing miracles, if they never occurred, would have been the surest way to make certain that the new religion of Christianity would have been rejected with contempt by the population of the country. The fact that Christianity constantly affirmed the greatest miracles in history including the resurrection of Jesus Christ, while thousands of eyewitnesses to these events were still alive, provides the strongest evidence that these remarkable events must have actually occurred as recorded in the Gospels. As this book will demonstrate in another chapter the Gospels were written, distributed, and translated into other languages within thirty to forty years of the crucifixion while thousands of Jews who witnessed these events in Christ's life and ministry were still alive. Christianity could never have survived, let alone flourished, if it was based on a lie.
The evidence provided in this book will confirm that the details about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth are better attested by multiple historical eyewitness statements and documentary evidence from adversaries than any other historical person of the ancient world. As a result of the details in the four Gospels and the multitude of documents from Roman, pagan, and Jewish sources about Jesus of Nazareth we know an astonishing number of historical details about the life of Christ. However, at His birth the prophet Simeon warned, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken againstÓ (Luke 2:34). Jesus Himself warned during His life that He would become the centre of the greatest debate that would divide families and the world. The balance of this book will demonstrate the powerful historical, archeological, and scientific evidence that reveals that Jesus was the true Messiah and the Son of God as He claimed.
1. Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle.
2. Robert W. Funk, The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus)
3. Robert W. Funk, Honest To Jesus, San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1966.).
4. Arthur Dewey,TIME, April 1994
5. TIME, April 6, 1996
6. John Shelby Spong, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1991) 35.
7. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1977).
8. Napoleon Bonaparte, quoted in Bertrand's Memoirs (Paris, 1844).
9. Napoleon Bonaparte, quoted in Bertrand's Memoirs (Paris, 1844).
10. Paul Little, Know Why You Believe
11. G. Lowes Dickinson, Religion, 1905).
12. Richard Downey, Critical and Constructive Essays, 1934).
13. Francis Thompson, Paganism Old and New, 1910).
14. Simon Greenleaf, The Testimony of the Evangelists (New York: J.C. & Co., 1874).
15. Simon Greenleaf, The Testimony of the Evangelists (New York: J.C. & Co., 1874).
16. Simon Greenleaf, The Testimony of the Evangelists (New York: J.C. & Co., 1874).
17. Simon Greenleaf, The Testimony of the Evangelists (New York: J.C. & Co., 1874).
18. Thomas Hobbes
19. Alexis de Tocqueville, The Democracy of the United States, 1840)
20. Immanuel Kant
21. Sir Isaac Newton
22. Dr. Kennedy
23. Hugh Miller, The Headship of Christ. (Edinburgh: William P. Nimmo, 1857).
24. Professor Stanley L. Greenslade, Cambridge History of the Bible (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1963).
25. Geisler, Norman L. and William E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1968.)
26. Geisler, Norman L. and William E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1968.)
27. Dr. E. B. Pusey, The Prophet Daniel (Plymouth: Devonport Society, 1864, p. xxv, xxvi)
28. Dr. Nelson Glueck, Rivers in the Desert (New York, Grove, 1960, p. 31)
29. Dr. J. O. Kinnaman
30. Philip R. Davies, Biblical Archaeology Review, July-August, 1994, p. 55).
31. Thomas L. Thompson, Early History of the Israelite People (Brill: 1992).
32. Nadav Na'a,an, Cow Town or Royal Capital, Biblical Archeological Review (July/Aug. 1997).
33. Biblical Archeological Review, March-April, 1994, p. 26)
34. Millar Burrows, What Mean These Stones? (New York: Meridian Books, 1956, pp. 258-259).
35. Dr. Geza Vermes, Jesus the Jew (p. 224.).
36. Martin Buber, Two Types of Faith (1961, p. 13).
***These fascinating few excerpts were taken from the new book Image
Of The Risen Christ - $13.99.