DID JESUS OF NAZARETH ACTUALLY EXIST?

QUESTION: Did Jesus of Nazareth actually exist?

ANSWER: Yes. The New Testament provides historical data teaching us that Jesus really lived (Jn. 20:30-31; 21:24-25; Lk. 1:1-4). The New Testament documents are the most attested to and authentic documents of Greek and Latin antiquity in the world (Reinventing Jesus, p. 71). In fact, we have 3 times more NT manuscripts written within the first 200 years of the originals (autographs) than the average Greco Roman writings have within the first 2000 years (Ehrman vs. Wallace Debate; See also: csntm.org).

Early Christian writings (sometimes known as the “Church Fathers”) are also a testimony to the historicity of Jesus. These were religious men who lived in the latter part of the 1st century through the 2nd century and wrote about Jesus and the Bible. There are approximately 20 independent sources that testify to the historicity of Jesus (Clement of Rome; 2 Clement; Ignatius; Polycarp; Martyrdom of Polycarp; Didache; Barnabas; Shepherd of Hermas; Fragments of Papias; Justin Martyr; Aristides; Athenagoras; Theophilus of Antioch; Quadratus; Aristo of Pella; Melito of Sardis; Diognetus; Gospel of Peter; Apocalypse of Peter; Epistula Apostolorum).

The Babylonian Talmud (70 A.D.- 200 A.D.) records Jesus being a real person (The Babylonian Talmud, tansl. By I. Epstein, London: Soncino, 1935, vol. 111, Sanhedrin 43a, p. 281.).

Josephus (37 A.D.-101 A.D.), a Jewish historian, recorded Jesus being a real person (Antiquities of the Jews, 20:9:1; Antiquities of the Jews, 18:3:3).

Tacitus (55 A.D.-177 A.D.), a Roman historian, spoke of Jesus as a real individual (Annals, 15:44).

Lucian (120 A.D.-180 A.D.), an enemy of Christianity, spoke of Jesus as being a real man (Lucian, The Death of Peregrine, pp. 11-13, in The Works of Lucian of Samosata, translated by H.W. Fowler and F.G. Fowler, 1949, vol. 4).

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, the information above demonstrates that the friends of Jesus, historians during Jesus’ time, persons neutral about Jesus and even Jesus’ enemies all attested to Him being a real human who actually lived.

– Kevin Pendergrass

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