Did Jesus Actually Exist?

Perhaps, one of the most common arguments against christianity is the assertion that Jesus never actually existed. I recently stumbled across this video of Bart Ehrman that I think sums it up pretty well. Keep in mind Ehrman is not a Christian and in fact left Christianity after going to Moody Bible Institute, getting his M.Div and PH.D.  from Princeton is now is a professor at UNC and an expert in New Testament Studies.

Check out what he has to say when someone in his audience says that he doesn’t believe there is evidence that Jesus actually exists. Also, keep in mind the award in front of him is from the Freedom From Religion Foundation who gave him the award because they believed he has been exposing religion.

What about Jesus as a kid?

This is one of the objections I hear a lot of times against Christianity. People feel frustrated there is an any information about Jesus when he was a child. If he’s that important, you would expect to hear about his childhood. So because the Bible doesn’t talk about his childhood it must mean the Jesus never existed. There are several problems with this objection.

First of all, the objection assumes that if someone existed in history we would have records of their childhood. This is obviously flawed thinking. Just because someone in the future may never write about my childhood doesn’t mean that I never existed. Furthermore, if we don’t have records of other ancient peoples’ childhood does that mean they never existed? Of course not.

Second, the objection assumes that all parts of a persons life are equally important. We don’t have infomation about their childhood becase those years weren’t important. Most people know a lot about Winston Churchhil durring the war but we don’t know much about him before and after the war. Why is that? Because those years were less important. His biggest influence in the world surrounds WWII. The same is true of Jesus. The years that he left his mark on the world are his three years of ministry of which we have more information about than any other person of that time period.

Finally, the question shows also shows a lack of knowledge of what we know about other people of the time period. If our lack of records are reasons for denying Jesus as being historical, we can do the same with Socrates, Alexander the Great, or Julius Ceasar. Should we dismiss them and others as historical because we don’t know much about their childhood? Of course not.

The fact of it is we have plenty of sources acknowledging that Jesus actually existed. Even apart from Christian sources we have information about Jesus from over 5 sources: 1. Josephus, a Jewish-Roman Historian, 2.the Jewish Talmud, 3. Tacitus, a Roman Senator and historian, 4. Lucian, a satirist and rhetorician, 5. Mara Bar-Serapion, a Roman Stoic Philosopher.

In reality we have just as many sources of Jesus without including the Bible as we do of Tiberius Ceasar. Then when you add the Bible there is overwhelmingly more sources for Jesus.

So was Jesus a historical figure despite his ‘missing’ childhood? Absolutely.

 

Isn’t Jesus just the adult version of a fairytale?

I’ve heard this view that Jesus and the rest of Christianity is just the adult version of a fairytale. The idea is, that like the fairytales we grew up with, Christianity has a great moral value and message but, in the end it isn’t really true. It’s a good story, kind of sweet and cute, like Cinderella, but with a little more of an adult feel. Have you ever heard this? Maybe you haven’t heard someone say this outright, but I think it’s a pretty popular view for people these days. There are two glaringly obvious problems I see with this. 

The historicity of the Bible

For one, unlike any of the fairytales we grew up with, Christianity and the story of Jesus are strongly backed historically. We have all of the stories of Snow White, but you aren’t going to find other historically texts referencing Snow White here or there as if she were someone who actually existed. We do get that sort of thing with Jesus. People like Josephus, a Jewish-Roman historian, Tacitus, a Roman historian and senator, Lucian, a Roman satirist and rhetorician, Mara-Bar Sarepion, a Roman stoic philosopher, and even the Jewish Talmud all reference Jesus. And that doesn’t even mention the 26 books of the New Testament that talk about Jesus. 

It seems to me a bit odd to say the least that the person, according to many historians, to be the most historically documented person of his time to be viewed as a fairy tale. 


It doesn’t smell of Myth
 

The second problem I see with this is simply a look at the texts themselves that talk about Jesus. They simply don’t read like a fairytale. I am not sure I can consider myself an expert, but I did get an English Minor and I did read a decent amount of mythology in some mythology classes, and the New Testament simply doesn’t read like mythology or a fairytale.

Read Luke 3:1-2 “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Ceasar- when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Abilene- during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the dessert.”

Does that sound like someone making up a nice fairytale? Of course not. If you are making up a story you don’t put in a bunch of information so someone can check your facts. Historians can cross reference this information and they know Luke is talking about the year 29AD. Why would Luke be so accurate here and not give accurate information later? 

Furthermore, just the feel of the text itself, apart from facts, doesn’t read like a mythology or a fairytale. If anyone would know this it would be C.S. Lewis. He was an English professor at Cambridge and Oxford and was good friends with J.R.R. Tolkien, who was a professor of mythology at Oxford. Lewis believed that the writings of the New Testament were clearly not mythology purely based on their style. So much so, part of the reason Lewis became convinced out of his atheism into Christianity is that he saw the New Testament couldn’t be just a story. 

When I hear someone say that the bible is a mythology or a fairytale I want to ask them “are you an expert in mythology then?”, “have you researched fairytales extensively so that you could identify the scent of them?” The fact is, people who say these things aren’t experts. They wouldn’t be able to tell you the distinguishing factors of mythology and fairytales. Their expertise in the area is probably limited to bedtime from their childhood and some Marvel movies with Thor, Disney’s Hercules, and maybe some study of Greek mythology in middle school.

So as much as I believe everyone can have their opinion. . . I am going with the experts on this one.

Planned Parenthood isn’t a place for prenatal services. . . you’ve been told wrong.

So many times we hear Planned Parenthood promoted as focusing on women’s services  but there is the problem. One service that all of us would agree would be central is prenatal care, as this video shows that is clearly not a focus of Planned Parenthood. If Planned Parenthood wants to promote themselves as a wholistic women’s health care service this needs to change.

Keep in mind, some Planned Parenthoods may provide such services, but clearly that is a rare thing and is not a focus of Planned Parenthood. Again, that lack of focus is what I believe needs to change.