Last Week in the Trenches – 3/12/15


Last Week in the Trenches


As always, as you read these responses to recent posts on various groups on Facebook, think how you would have responded to them. I’ve posted the names of the groups as links for those who desire to jump into the waters themselves.

I had to narrow this down to the top 10 reactions to keep this from going on for pages and pages. The running theme with everybody who responded to this post was to avoid what was actually said by questioning the validity of the historical source, or to question the validity of the existence of Jesus or the validity of the gospel accounts. My challenge over and over again to them was for them to name one source outside of themselves that they trust and why. Only one responded of dozens and pointed to a scientific “peer reviewed” journal. This lead into a discussion of worldview and how that effects the way we interpret the evidence. At I continued to ask questions, what came out was flat out arrogance with some of them flat out insulting God. It was at this point that I felt lead to transition to what is called “presuppositional apologetics,” which points out to the individual that they do know deep down that there is a god, and to bluntly warn them about what that kind of arrogance is claiming and where it will lead them, to remind them that God loves them, paid for their sins and is reaching out to them.


Original Post


What impact does it have on the validity of the existence of Jesus and the validity of the New Testament that non-Christian ancient historical sources mention Jesus’ existence, along with some key facts about His life and ministry?


Groups this was posted in (with links):

The Biblical Worldview Put to the Test

Coexist: Religion and Philosophy

Science, Theology, History and Philosophy

Atheists/Christians & Political Discussion Group


  1. Not to mention the fact that nobody rises from the dead. To include this as some sort of factoid of any kind….we KNOW that people don’t rise from the dead, so the credibility of Josephus just on this particular point alone is immediately awash
  2.  I’d wager high odds that IF any sort of man like Jesus lived, legend simply transformed him surviving a torture session/crucifixion somehow, and recuperating…but he could well have died later from his injuries, or went into exile, or was killed at a later time out of the public eye.
  3.  any details about Jesus’ crucifixion are just conjecture. Quoting the bible incessantly isn’t honest history.
  4. If you have read Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny, Suetonius, Lucian, et al, you will realise that there’s nothing they say which isn’t in the gospels: quite likely their source. Josephus is too controversial to be used with any certainty. Then there’s a whole bunch of Jesus sayings that are not in the gospels, but these are rejected as being inaccurate and fictional by Christians of all people. They’re also rejected as being “too late”, that is “second century” when all the Roman stuff is dated between 112-180
  5. Jesus isn’t a very important issue to me. No matter how many historical references I read at some point I’ll have to use faith that his divine claims are real. I do not believe in divine
  6. I don’t think it makes any difference. The only question it possibly addresses is for those who claim that there is no evidence that a historical Jesus ever existed. The real question is is not was there a preacher named Jesus who got on the wrong side of the Jewish authorities, but did that Jesus had a divine commission. What could a historian contribute to that question. If we were to find an ancient historian who claimed Jesus was divine would that change anyone’s mind? If we were to find an ancient historian who wrote, I don’t know what these people were talking about, everyone knows that didn’t happen, would anyone’s mind change?
  7. Celsus is cited as a proof for the historical Jesus, but Celsus said that Jesus was the illegitimate son of Mary who learned sorcery in Egypt. Again, too late, according to conservatives to be of use, but not too late to confirm historicity.
  8. There were no metrics to being an historian thousands of years ago. Those folks could easily have said, “well, that’s what I heard,” and learned people might believe it. Try that in a college history paper today, and it won’t fly anywhere..
  9. If we did find new evidence about Jesus, it would probably be conservative Christians who would reject it. We have found a lot of extra Jesus material since 1945. We also have the Gospel of Thomas which is used for historical Jesus purposes. 

    Incidentally, some new, unknown sayings of Jesus were recovered recently, but they haven’t been published yet.
  10. I would say it’s credulous to accept ancient stories as historical when you would almost certainly reject a similar story on the news or from a different religious culture. It’s also arrogant to reject the conclusions of modern historians. Lastly, naive to think that the Jesus stories are eyewitness accounts: something that no credible historian would say..