About a week ago a fellow stated that there’s not a shred of evidence that Jesus lived. When I laid out a general case to this overconfident skeptic, he insisted he was still correct. After all, he said, there’s no direct evidence for Jesus.
I told fellow that, unfortunately, nobody live blogged the resurrection, took selfies w/ the Apostles, or otherwise documented the events in real time.
I explained, however, that the life of Jesus consists of some of the best attested events we have from the entire Greco-Roman world. 4 biographies (Gospels) record major life events & Paul (and a few others) wrote letters and provided additional witnesses of Jesus.
Initially, eyewitnesses passed on the events orally with great precision. Jews (now Jewish Christians) were practiced in memorizing scriptures. The teachings of Jesus were put to memory with little difficulty.
Later, within a few decades of Jesus’ death, the eyewitnesses’ accounts were recorded into the Gospels. It’s incredible to have something so close to the actual events.
Historians rarely have documents so close the actual events, as they do with the early New Testament manuscripts.
Later Church fathers in the 1st and 2nd centuries — Polycarp, Papias, & others — reported knowing the Gospel writers. The four Gospel writers are: Matthew (apostle & writer for Hebrew audience), Mark (non-apostle, Greek interpreter for Peter), Luke (non-apostle, Paul’s representative), and John (apostle).
So, based on what many others wrote, we know those Gospel writers were actual people. Of course, Paul wrote letters while he still lived.
So, no shred of evidence for Jesus? We’ve got an embarrassment of riches when it comes to historical witnesses — direct and indirect — of Jesus!
I thought this homicide detective, J. Warner Wallace, below explains why it’s extremely reasonable to believe that Jesus lived and that the Gospels are true.
Wallace explains that if you lack direct testimony (an eyewitness) — a very common phenomenon — you build a case on circumstantial evidence. Virtually all his cases are won without direct evidence or eyewitnesses.
Judges instruct jurors that direct and indirect evidence are neither entitled to greater weight than the other.
Another concern of this homicide detective: witnesses lie. They just do. So, you test eyewitnesses to ensure they’re trustworthy.
Test witnesses: 1) Was witness there at the crime scene? 2) Can detective corroborate witness’ presence at the scene? 3) Is witness consistent over time? 4) Is witness biased? Judge instructs that we must trust witness if these 4 points are confirmed.
Watch and enjoy!
This principle of witnesses also applies to the 11+ witnesses in our dispensation. Do they pass the above test? With flying colors, they do!
Richard Bauckman discusses his book, “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony.”