Friday, February 17, 2012

Evidence that Jesus Lived

This morning I am asked to provide secular evidence for Jesus being a real person. Fair enough, I will do my best. When I read McDowell’s book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, what it did for me was to open my eyes to the truthfulness of the Bible.

Now for the references you asked for - Josh McDowell’s book is truly a good resource for you to find and have. I know it sounds outdated, but history does not change! Chapter 5 of his book is titled “Jesus – A Man of History”. Here McDowell gives quote after quote of secular historians attesting to the factual nature of Jesus; many of them are quotes from the Roman officials stating what a royal pain this Jesus was for them! And he has carefully footnoted each one and gives the references – here are two I thought would be most helpful to you:

Betz, Otto. What Do We Know About Jesus? 1966.

Bruce, F.F. The New Testament Documents, Are They Reliable? 1972.

And here is a very interesting quote, I’m somewhat certain the “updated” Encyclopedia Britannica would not say this, but maybe then it would. Political correctness has caused a lot of people to rethink what they would otherwise say. Anyway, here’s what he says about the 1974 text (15th edition), his footnote “3/145” may refer to the volume and page number, I’m not sure. The following paragraph is taken right from McDowell’s book, the 5th chapter:

The latest edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica uses 20,000 words in describing this person, Jesus. His description took more space than was given to Aristotle, Cicero, Alexander, Julius Caesar, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed or Napoleon Bonaparte. Concerning the testimony of the many independent secular accounts of Jesus of Nazareth, it records: “These independent accounts prove that in ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus, which was disputed for the first time and on inadequate grounds by several authors at the end of the 18th, during the 19th, and at the beginning of the 20th centuries.” 3/145

One last thing – if Jesus is a legend – why in the world, honestly, WHY do we name our years based on his birth? BC – before Christ and AD – Anno Domini, Latin for “in the year of the Lord” I think, at the very least, you must surely realize that a man with this name lived and that he was an important historical figure.


  1. Thank you for providing those references. I will have to check them out. And, yes, I've wondered about that last point you bring up about counting the years since his birth. It's a good point and suggests that he could have been a real person.

    The question I still have is this: why doesn't history remember him better? There might be a few obscure references to him here and there, but it surprises me that he is not remembered as clearly as are Alexander the Great, Bonaparte, Caesar, etc. Surely if the Bible account of him is true, then he is the most important figure in all history. But maybe McDowell addresses this in his book.

    Thanks again for sharing. You are the first believer I have ever encountered that is actually able to back up their claims with more than just blind faith.

    1. It is so sad to think that there are not more "me" out there. As I have said before, I hate "blind faith" as much as anyone possibly can. As a teenager I went to my church's leader and asked for help to refute the evolutionary science I was getting in high school and he told me you just have to have faith. I turned and walked away and never looked back.

      Then in 1983, someone actually gave me the evidence I was looking for and I've been on a mission ever since! I try to never let anyone (including Christians!) think that Christianity is based on blind faith.

      Here is a book you may be interested in finding at your local library: Gary Habermas; “The Verdict of History”, 1988. Here is what one reviewer had to say: Outside the Bible, Jesus is mentioned by his near-contemporaries. Extra-Biblical and secular writers (many hostile) point to Jesus' existence, including the Roman writings of Tacitus, Seutonius, Thallus and Pliny, and the Jewish writings of Josephus and the Talmud. Habermas has cited a total of 39 ancient extra-Biblical sources, including 17 non-Christian, which witness from outside the New Testament to over 100 details of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.

      I haven't read this book for myself, but I found this today for you online and it looks quite interesting.

    2. One more thought - those men you mentioned, Alexander the Great, Bonaparte, Caesar - they are not men to be hated as Jesus was. Jesus Christ comes up to a group of important religious leaders and says, "You brood of vipers!"

      His name is used as a curse word, not so with Caesar or any of those other fellows. Jesus was truly hated and those who hate Him have worked very hard to bury any remembrance of Him.