SERIES: "Ancient Non-christian Historical Sources for Jesus"

(Part 2 of 2)  Here is the second installment of a special video addition I made to our "Ancient Non-Christian Historical Sources for Jesus" series.  This speaker's presentation is good, the information is solid, and hopefully it will hold you over through the weekend.

I encourage you to find someone this upcoming week, and purposefully/proactively engage them in a conversation about the historical evidence for the person of Jesus.  Be kind and patient, but seek out an opportunity to be an ambassador of the Truth, and a witness for Christ this week!

Have a great weekend!  Remember.... have an Intelligent Faith!

- Pastor J. 


Harvard University Law Professor Believes in Jesus Christ? - SERIES: "Ancient Non-Christian Historical Evidence for Jesus"

Harvard University, Royal Law Professor, 
and world renowned courtroom evidence expert:
Simon Greenleaf

This is an interesting 2 part video series that I wanted to introduce into our series on "Ancient Non-christian Historical Evidence for Jesus of Nazareth".  In this first video, you will be introduced to an interesting scholar of law and the courtroom standards for evidence, Simon Greenleaf.  

As you will learn, Greenleaf is was the Royal Professor of Law at Harvard in his day and literally wrote the book that determines the rules and standards for good/acceptable courtroom evidence.  Greenleaf was a legal scholar and firm believer in Jesus Christ historically.  He also went on to write a book entitled "The Testimony Of The Evangelists" which examines the historical and textual evidence of the 4 Gospels in the New Testament.  How would these 4 documents fare, if submitted to an examination of them in light of the Harvard and legal standards for courtroom evidence?  Watch and find out.....

Remember.... have an Intelligent Faith!!

- Pastor J. 


SERIES: "Ancient Non-Christian Historical Evidence for Jesus of Nazareth - Thallus & Pliny"

"Is there any historical reference to the darkness and earthquake that happened during the Crucifixion of Jesus?

"Did the Roman Emperors ever have correspondence concerning Christ?"

In today's video, we will be looking at what two interesting Roman citizens, Thallus (Roman Historian, 52 AD) and also Pliny the Younger (Roman Governor, 112 AD), had to say concerning the historical personage of Jesus of Nazareth.

Some interesting features of these 2 non-christian historical sources are that one of them mentions the darkness over the land and the earthquake that happened during the crucifixion of Christ, while the other is a direct correspondence with the most powerful man on the planet at that time in history, Emperor Trajan.

I hope this information is educational, answers any questions you may have, and strengthens your faith in the veracity and historicity of the Christian worldview.

Until next time.... have and Intelligent Faith!

- Pastor J. 

SERIES: "Ancient Non-Christian Historical Evidence for Jesus - FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS, 1st century AD

"What does the Jewish Historian, Flavius Josephus, have to say about Jesus?"

Well that's precisely what this new video will seek to demonstrate. One of the most famous and important non-christian historical references to Christ, comes from the Jewish Historian, Flavius Josephus (1st century AD).  

What are the 10 solid historical facts he can tell us about Jesus?

  Watch and find out.... 

This multiple part series, based off of the historical research of Dr. Gary Habermas (Liberty University) will cover 17 Non-christian historical sources for the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Though this does not (and is not intended to) verify the Christian worldview, or even prove the deity of Jesus, it is a necessary element in establishing the reliability of the New Testament documents and the historical events they record.

Remember....... have an Intelligent Faith!!

- Pastor J. 

NEW SERIES: "Ancient Non-Christian Historical Evidence for Jesus of Nazareth" - pt.3

Is there any good solid historical evidence for the existence of the person Jesus of Nazareth outside of the New Testament documents?

If such a man ever even existed, wouldn't there be tangible non-christian sources that record his life, deeds, death, and following?

Well that's precisely what this new series will seek to demonstrate.  Contrary to the opinion of certain "internet infidels" or well know atheists such as Richard Dawkins or the late Christoper Hitchens, the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth can be more reliably demonstrated than Tiberius Caesar or even Alexander the Great (both of which have less than 10 historical sources). 

This multiple part series, based off of the historical research of Dr. Gary Habermas (Liberty University) will cover

17 Non-christian historical sources for the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

  Though this does not (and is not intended to) verify the Christian worldview, or even prove the deity of Jesus, it is a necessary element in establishing the reliability of the New Testament documents and the historical events they record.

Remember....... have an Intelligent Faith!!

- Pastor J.

NEW SERIES: "Ancient Non-Christian Historical Evidence for Jesus of Nazareth" (pt.1)

Is there any good solid historical evidence for the existence of the person Jesus of Nazareth outside of the New Testament documents?

If such a man ever even existed, wouldn't there be tangible non-christian sources that record his life, deeds, death, and following?

Well that's precisely what this new series will seek to demonstrate.  Contrary to the opinion of certain "internet infidels" or well know atheists such as Richard Dawkins or the late Christoper Hitchens, the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth can be more reliably demonstrated than Tiberius Caesar or even Alexander the Great (both of which have less than 10 historical sources). 

This multiple part series, based off of the historical research of Dr. Gary Habermas (Liberty University) will cover 17 Non-christian historical sources for the life of Jesus of Nazareth.  Though this does not (and is not intended to) verify the Christian worldview, or even prove the deity of Jesus, it is a necessary element in establishing the reliability of the New Testament documents and the historical events they record.

Remember....... have an Intelligent Faith!!

- Pastor J.

Series - "Ancient Historical Evidence for Jesus of Nazareth" (pt.4)

So far we have seen Jesus or Christianity being mentioned by seven historical persons. Now we will be looking at two more sources in this category, The Ohter Jewish Sources. First we will be looking at the Talmud and then at Toledoth Jesu.

The Talmud

The Jews handed down a large amount of oral tradition from generation to generation. This material was organized according to subject matter by Rabbi Akiba before his death in 135 A.D. His work was then revised by his student, Rabbi Meir. The project was completed about 200 A.D. by Rabbi Judah and i known as the Mishnah. Ancient commentary on the Mishnah was called the Gemaras. The combination of the Mishnah and the Gemaras form the Talmud.

It would be expected that the most reliable information about Jesus from the Talmud would come from the earliest period of compilation - 70 to 200 A.D., known as the Tannaitic period. A Very significant quotation is found in Sanhedrin 43a, dating from just this period:

On the eve of the Passover Yeshu (Jesus) was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, "He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Anyone who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf". But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of the Passover!

Here we have a brief account of Jesus' death. It should be noted that these two references to Jesus being "hanged" is being spoken of also in the New Testament. There it speaks of crucifixion in the same way. Jesus is said to be "hanged" (Greek kremamenos Gal. 3:13), as were the two males killed at the same time (Greek kremasthenton in Luke 23:39). While the term "crucified" is a much more common reference to this event, "hanged" is a variant expression of the same fate.

Another early reference in the Talmud speaks of five of Jesus' disciples and recounts their standing before the judges who make individual decisions about each one, deciding that they should be executed.

Toledoth Jesu

This anti-Christian document not only refers to Jesus, but gives an interesting account of what happened to Jesus' body after his death. It related that his disciples planned to steal his body. However, a gardener named Juda discovered their plans and dug a new grave in his garden. then he removed Jesus' body from Joseph's tomb and placed it in his own newly dug grave. The disciples came to the original tomb, found Jesus' body gone and proclaimed hi risen. The Jewish leaders also proceeded to Joseph's tomb and found it empty. Juda then took them to his grave and dug up the body of Jesus. The Jewish leaders were greatly relieved and wanted to take the body. Juda replied that he would sell them the body of Jesus and did so for thirty pieces of silver. The Jewish priests then dragged Jesus’ body through the streets of Jerusalem.

it is true that the Toledoth Jesu was not compiled until the 5th century A.D., although it does reflect early Jewish tradition. Even though Jewish scholars scorn the reliability of this source, the teaching that the disciples were the ones who removed the dead body of Jesus persisted in the early centuries after Jesus' death. As reported in Matt. 28:11-15, this saying was still popular when the gospel was written, probably between 70-85 A.D. Additionally, Justin Martyr, writing about 150 A.D., states that the Jewish leaders had even sent specially trained men around the Mediterranean, even to Rome, to further this teaching, which is confirmed by Tertullian about 200 A.D. in other words, even if the Toledoth Jesu itself is too late or untrustworthy a source, in spite of its early material, the idea that the tomb was empty because the body was removed or stolen was common in early church history, as witnessed by other sources.

Next we will be looking at Other Gentile Sources. Until next time

-Nelis

Series - "Ancient Historical Evidence for Jesus of Nazareth" (pt.3)

We continue looking at the historical evidence for Jesus. In the last post we looked at the ancient historians Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus and Thallus and saw a few exerts of their writings. In the next post we will be looking at the Government Officials, Pliny the Younger, Emperor Trajan and Emperor Hadrian.

Pliny the Younger

He was a Roman author and administrator who served as the governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor, Pliny the younger was the nephew and adopted son of a natural historian known as Pliny the Elder. The younger Pliny, is best known for his letter, and Bruce refers to him as "one of the world's great letter writers, whose letters...have attained the status of literary classics."

Ten books of Pliny's correspondence are extant today. The tenth book (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/pliny-letters.asp#GenPartX), written around 112A.D. , speaks about Christianity in the province of Bithynia and also provides some facts about Jesus. Pliny found that the Christian influence was so strong that the pagan temples had been nearly deserted, pagan festivals severely decreased and the sacrificial animals had few buyers.
Pliny dealt with personally with the Christians who were turned over to him. He interrogated them, inquiring if they were believers. If the answered yes he asked them again two more times, threatening to kill them. If they continued firm in their believe, he ordered them to be executed.

Pliny also added in his letters that Christianity attracted persons of all social ranks, all ages, both sexes and from both city and the country. He also mentioned that true believers could not be forced to worship the gods of the emperor. While Pliny does not relate many facts about Jesus, he does provide a look at a very early example of Christian worship. Believers were meeting regularly and worshiping Jesus.


Emperor Trajan

Trajan responded to Pliny's letters (http://www.bible-history.com/quotes/edwin_m_yamauchi_1.html) and tells him that his actions were generally correct. If confessed Christians perish in their faith, they must be punished. However, three restrictions were place on Pliny. (1) Christians should not be sought out or tracked down. (2) Repentance coupled with worship of the gods sufficed to clear a person. (3) Pliny was not to honor any lists of Christians which were given to him if the accuser did not name himself.

These conditions imposed by emperor Trajan gives us some insight into early official roman views about Christianity. While persecution was certainly an issue and many Christians died without committing any actual crimes, it is interesting that, contrary to popular opinion, the first century was not the worst period of persecution for believers. Trajan's restrictions on Pliny at least indicate that it was not a wholesale slaughter. Nonetheless, the persecution was real and many died for their believe.

Emperor Hadrian

The existence of trials for Christians, such as those ones held in the time of Pliny, is confirmed by another historical reference to Christians. Serenius Granianus, proconsul of Asia, wrote to Emperor Hadrian (117-138 A.D.), also in reference to the treatment of believers. Hadrian replied to Minucius Fundanus (http://www.earlychurchtexts.com/public/hadrian_rescript_to_caius.htm), the successor as Asian proconsul and issued a statement against those who could accuse Christians falsely or without due process. in the letter, preserved by third century church Historian Eusebius, Hadrian asserts:

"I do not wish, therefore, that the matter should be passed by without examination, so that these men may neither be harassed, not opportunity of malicious proceedings be offered to informers. If, therefore, the provincials can clearly evince their charges against the Christians, so as to answer before the tribunal, let them pursue this course only, but not by mere petitions, and mere outcries against Christians. For it is far more proper, if any one would bring an accusation, that you should examine it".

Hardian explains that, if Christians are found guilty, after an examination, they should be judged "according to the heinousness of the crime". Yet, if the accusers were only slandering the believers, then those who inaccurately made the charges were to be punished.

Here we see the persecution of the church as early as the first century and is still going on today, believers standing for their believe in Jesus Christ.

In the next post we will be looking at Other Jewish Sources: The Talmud and Toledoth Jesu.

Until next time, HAVE INTELLIGENT FAITH!!!

- Nelis

Series - "Ancient Historical Evidence for Jesus of Nazareth" (pt.2)

As mentioned before, there are no less that 17 NON-CHRISTIAN HISTORICAL SOURCES that detail the life of the historical figure, Jesus of Nazareth. In the previous video about the ancient historical evidence for Jesus, Pastor J gave us an overview of some of those sources. Over the next few posts, we will be going more into detail on each of the 17.
 They are divided into 5 categories namely Ancient Historians, Government Officials, Other Jewish Sources, Other Gentile Sources and Gnostic Sources.

First we have the Ancient Historians: Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus and Thallus. Let’s look at each one in more detail.

Tacitus: Cornelius Tacitus
He was a Roman historian who lived (ca. 55 - 120A.D.) through the reigns of over half dozen Roman emperors. He has been called the "greatest historian" of ancient Rome.
Tacitus is best known for two works- the Annals (http://classics.mit.edu/Tacitus/annals.mb.txt) and the Histories (http://classics.mit.edu/Tacitus/histories.mb.txt)
Tacitus recorded at least one reference to Christ and two to early Christianity, one in each of his major works. The most important one is found in the Annals, written about 115 A.D.
Several facts are of interest in the writings. Tacitus had to receive his information from some source and this may have been an official record. It may even have been contained in one of Pilate's reports to the emperor, to which Tacitus would probably have had access because of his standing with the government. Of course, we cannot be sure at this point, but a couple of early writers do claim to know the content of such a report.

Suetonius
Another Roman historian who also makes one reference to Jesus and one to Christians in Gaius Suetonius Tranquillas. Little is known about him except that he was the chief secretary of Emperor Hadrian (117 - 138 A.D.) and that he had access to the imperial records.
The first reference occurs in the section on Emperor Claudius (41 - 54 A.D.). Writing about the same time Tacitus. The second reference from Suetonius is again to the Christians who were tortured by Emperor Nero.

Josephus
Jewish historian Flavius Josephus was born 37or 38 A.D. and died in 97 A.D. He was born into a priestly family and became a Pharisee at the age of nineteen. After surviving a battle against the Romans, he served commander Vespasian in Jerusalem. After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., he moved to Rome, where he became the court historian for Emperor Vespasian.
The Antiquities,( http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/josephus/index.htm#aoj) one of his major works, was written around 90 - 95 A.D. It makes two references to Jesus. The first is very brief and is in the context of a reference to James, "the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ". The second reference is easily the most important and the most debated:
"at this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. His conduct was good and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he has appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive".

Thallus
At least the death of Jesus was mentioned in an ancient history composed many years before
Tacitus, Suetonius or Josephus ever wrote and probably prior to the Gospels. Circa 52 A.D. Thallus wrote a history of the Eastern Mediterranean world from the Trojan War to his time. This work itself has been lost and only fragments of its exist in the citations of others. One such scholar who knew and spoke of it was Julius Africanus, who wrote about 221 A.D.In speaking of Jesus' crucifixion and the darkness that covered the land during this event, Africanus found a reference in the writings of Thallus that dealt with this cosmic report. Africanus wrote:
"On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of history, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun".
Africanus objected to Thallus' racialization concerning the darkness that fell on the land at the time of the crucifixion because an eclipse could not take place during the time of the full moon, as was the case during the Jewish Passover season.

In the next post we will be looking at the Government Officials: Pliny the Younger, Emperor Trajan and Emperor Hadrian. If you need more details on the writings of any of the historians mentioned above please email us, we will be glad to provide that for you.
I hope that this will help you in your search for the truth about Jesus of Nazareth.

See you guys next time, and remember, have Intelligent Faith!!

- Nelis

NEW Series - "Ancient Historical Evidence for Jesus of Nazareth" (pt.1)

- Is Jesus a fairytale invented by first century Jews? 

- Did he never historically exist, as many atheists claim today? 

Surely, if such an important figure truly existed in history, there would be ample evidence and powerful proof that he actually lived and what he accomplished in his time.  Upon investigation of the historical evidence, THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT WE DISCOVER!

Actually, there are no less that 17 NON-CHRISTIAN HISTORICAL SOURCES that detail the life of the historical figure, Jesus of Nazareth.  These historical sources include world renowned historians such as Josephus, Suetonius, and even "the Father of History", Tacitus.  But they also include two of the most famous men that ever lived, the Roman Emperors Hadrian and Trajan.  Beyond these, there are a dozen well established non-christian historical sources that give testimony the life, deeds, death, and impact of the man Jesus of Nazareth.

Though many people are unaware of these historical facts, we are now living in a day and time, when it is simply intellectually irresponsible to doubt the historical existence of the Nazarene.  In fact, scholars haved readily admitted that the quantity and quality of evidence we have for Jesus of Nazareth far exceeds accepted historical figures, such as Alexander the Great or Tiberisu Caesar.

This video series will be bringing to light these 17 NON-CHRISTIAN HISTORICAL SOURCES that verify the life and deeds of Jesus of Nazareth, using the research of Dr. Gary Habermas of Liberty University.  The goal is to educate Christians and Non-Christians alike on the historical information surrounding the person of Jesus of Nazeth. 

For the Christian, this will help you to be better armed intellectually, when confronted by the uninformed criticisms of Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens, who deny that Jesus ever existed.

For the Non-Christian, I hope this information will begin to help you to build a proper understanding of the unshakeable and undeniable historical foundations of the Christian faith and it's Founder, Jesus of Nazareth.

- Pastor J.