I hear people saying that the Bible is a myth, a fairy tale and that we Christians worship a mythical “man in the sky”. If there weren’t so much evidence of Jesus, perhaps I could see their point. The first time I looked into documented proof of Jesus I read Lee Strobel’s “A Case for Christ”, and I highly recommend it.
Do you have any idea the mountain of documented, verifiable proof there is of Jesus? Not only that he lived, but that his followers thought he was the Son of God, and that many claimed to have seen him after his death?
Josephus was a non-believing historian who wrote:
He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”
“the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ.”
Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa…
What “mischievous superstition” do you think he was referring to? Could it have been something as benign as Jesus being a mere prophet? I doubt it.
Pliny the Younger wrote:
Meanwhile, in the case of those who were denounced to me as Christians, I have observed the following procedure: I interrogated these as to whether they were Christians; those who confessed I interrogated a second and a third time, threatening them with punishment; those who persisted I ordered executed.
“They (the Christians) were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.”
Lucian of Samosate wrote:
“The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. . . . You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property.”
If we take only non-Christian references to Jesus, we still hit many points of the theological Christ Jesus.
- Josephus said Jesus was called the Christ
- Jesus did “magic” (miracles), led Israel into new teachings and was hanged on Passover – according to the Babylonian Talmud
- Tacitus said Jesus was crucified in Judea
- Jesus claimed to be God and would return – said Elizear
- Pliny the Younger wrote that Christ’s followers believed He would return and that the followers were worshiping Jesus as God.
You don’t have to believe in Him, or even believe that He was the Son of God, but He was anything but mythical.
I used several different resources to support this article, mainly because my hard copy of Strobel’s book is packed away.
Strobel’s book in .pdf form