The Evidence for Jesus

This is the last talk I gave at the lawyers breakfast in Sydney.

The evidence for Jesus – City Bible Forum

What do the historical sources tell us about Jesus?

Did Jesus exist?

What do we make of claims like the virgin birth?

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The others are here –

The Evidence for Miracles – City Bible Forum

Evidence for the Bible – City Bible Forum

The talks are summaries of chapters in Magnificent Obsession – Why Jesus is Great

29 thoughts on “The Evidence for Jesus

  1. Very good talk David. I’m not a historian by any means so it’s good for ‘ornery’ folk to have a historian to refer to. Your delivery is a nice balance between formal academic and relaxed ‘plain’ speaking so is stimulating enough for the intellectual and understandable enough for the ‘ornery’ folk. It’s laced with a bit of humour, which everyone likes and illustrations from your everyday life add credibility and a necessary ‘down-to-earthness ‘ to show that Christianity is not only a belief system but also has practical application in everyday life. Your diction is more than adequate and your pace of speaking is ideal for all ears. Stop dropping your consonants though!

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  2. Hi, wee flea. I’m also interested in your evidence. In the interest of saving time and typing, can we just focus on one item at a time?

    You mentioned Josephus and the Testimonium Flavium. Please walk me through your process for determining the legitimacy and veracity of the passage?

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      1. Nope…sorry – can’t be bothered. Basically I don’t believe you and even if I did I don;t have the time. I’m sure you have googled and made your mind up already….

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      2. No, seriously, I’ve listened to Bart Ehrman and Richard Carrier both discuss this, and they have different views. I obviously don’t think Jesus was the son of God, but there are conflicting camps on if he even actually existed. Hence I came to this post.

        I doubt you’re going to be able to provide a full argument to divinity claims in a forum like this, but since you are a historian, and mentioned Flavius, I’d like your take on the passage and how you drew those conclusions.

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      3. theweeflea can you stop dodging the question and answer it
        How did you ascertain Josephus and the Testimonium Flavium to be legitimate

        And I asked you to show me the sources for your overwhelming evidence for Jesus and I have not heard from you

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      4. As I have indicated several times if I thought you were serious and had real questions as opposed to accusations I would answer…but I don’t – and I don’t play those kind of games…You are well able to read the sources on Josephus yourself – here is a fair summary – http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/testimonium.html The overwhelming evidence for Jesus is listed in my book Magnificent Obsession…you’re welcome…

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  3. I actually am very interested in history, and my interest is the ongoing debate on if Jesus was a historical figure, or entirely mythology. I hoped as a historian you could shed some light on that debate.

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    1. No – I don’t think you did…I think you’ve made your mind up. The reason I don’t argue with those who claim Jesus is a myth is the same reason I don’t argue with those who deny the holocaust or indeed any conspiracy theorist. There is no point – there mind is made up and won’t be changed because everything you say is part of the conspiracy. As someone who is interested in the subject I’m sure you’ve read Bart Ehrman (no Christian)…perhaps try John Dickson from Sydney? And many others. No serious historian denies the existence of Jesus any more than they deny the Holocaust.

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      1. The agreement among scholars is that Jesus as described in the bible did not exist, also the claim to divinity is baseless. What scholars see as the historical Jesus is far apart from the bible Jesus

        I ask you again what evidence and what are your sources to the claim that the biblical Jesus and all the miracles attributed to him have a historical base

        Keep in mind that despite the overwhelming evidence that Alexander the great existed as a historical figure, almost no one including you I presume accept the claims to divinity attributed to him. So I am not looking for evidence for any Jesus who lived in the first century, Jesus was a fairly common name, I am asking you for your overwhelming evidence in support of the biblical Jesus and the divinity claims

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      2. You are wasting time….asking for evidence of the historical Jesus is one thing – asking for proof of his divinity is another – not least because you don’t accept there is such a thing as divinity….as I said – read the book…meanwhile bye..

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  4. “As I said – I don’t debate with people who don’t know that the Holocaust happened….you’re in the same league…”
    theweeflea are you trying to imply that if one day my little 2 years old relative ask me if the holocaust happened, I should not have a conversation with her because from what you said you don’t engage in a conversation with people who don’t know the holocaust happened
    How would she know about the holocaust if no one told her and I don’t see how her mind is already made up
    Now you refuse to engage in a conversation with us who are simply asking you for a list of your sources. This isn’t even a debate it just a request and if you keep avoiding to honor my request then it would be safe to assume that you have no source for your overwhelming evidence for the biblical Jesus

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    1. Yes – you put it very well….it is like discussing with a two year old! If you really want to know my sources – read the book….meanwhile feel free to write away on your own blog….

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      1. I see this as a weak attempt to loot money from me. I am not even asking you to post everything contained in your book. I just ask you to open the section of your book that contains your bibliography or references or whatever you call it and post it.
        From your about page I see that you are a minister. It seems that my assumption that you would want to use this as an opportunity to make Christ known to me. By making me see the wealth of scholarly sources in favor of the biblical Jesus rather the only thing you keep doing is market your book was misplaced
        If you did have an overwhelming sources in support of Jesus you would have been glad and willing to share them. Your reluctance would only mean either you have no overwhelming sources or your sources are not credible
        If you can show credibility and honestly by listing your sources then I would read your book. But all you have done so far is show your scholarly dishonesty

        A quick google search doesn’t show scholarly accepted ancient sources for the biblical Jesus. I was hoping you did have one that I am not aware of. Guess I hoped wrong

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      2. Let me save you any further time. Yes I can give a list of the books and sources used….but no I can’t be bothered doing that for you – I really don’t play those kind of games. You have no interest whatsoever and are just trying (and failing) to be smart. I have no interest in getting money from you – if you bought the book I would probably get about £0.20 eventually! As for making Christ known to you – providing you a list of sources – which you will automatically reject won’t do that either. You could of course start with the primary sources – the Gospels – and read them with an open mind…but that will take a miracle…still…I believe in miracles….now please stop wasting your time…and mine…

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      3. I have read the gospels and also read Hesoid theogony and Homer Iliad
        I need independent sources to verify their content
        If the gospels are your sources for Jesus why don’t you accept Herodotus, Pindar, Pausanias, Plutarch, Cicero, Apollodorus etc account of the life of Hercules. My guess is you have already made up your mind that Hercules did not exist

        See you have already made up your mind that my mind is not open and I have no interest. And you talk about keeping an open mind

        As for the gospels we have more than 4 gospels, a vote of yes and no that brought the 4 gospels into canon does not make it historical. If you read all the other gospels account with an open mind you would know that we need to verify each

        “Yes I can give a list of the books and sources used”
        Are you talking about your nonexistent sources or let me guess your sources are apologetics books and no ancient sources to back your claim. I can tell you that they is no scholarly accepted ancient sources that proofs the biblical Jesus existed as a historical figure

        Maybe you should heed your advice and keep an open mind that if you give me the list of the ancient sources for the biblical Jesus I would be interested

        Maybe you should read the Quran , the four Vedas, Upanishads, Bhramanas, Aranyakas and Bhagavad Gita with an open mind

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      4. This I’m afraid is my last post – I have broken all my own rules about not engaging with Holocaust deniers…its just that your posts become increasingly ridiculous. There are no independent sources…all have a bias. I have numerous ancient sources – I am a trained historian who realises the importance of primary sources. I can tell you that there are no serious historians who deny that Jesus existed as a historical figures – and there are plenty ancient sources. I have read the Quran, some of the Veda and Gita…and yes I do read them with an open mind. But I also think. I would suggest you do so…now – no more games. Bye

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  5. I actually took the time to listen to the podcast from the city legal link regarding the claimed evidence for the character Jesus of Nazareth..

    You stated that Tacitus mentions Jesus Christ.
    This is not true.
    In the passage he mentions a Chrestus… you are aware , I’m sure that the word Christus has been deemed to be a gloss, possible made by a Christian scholar?

    Modern scholarship also rejects the Testimonium Flavianum as an interpolation i its entirety just as it was once regarded, even by Christians.

    What other verifiable evidence is there?

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    1. Ark – just because you read something that confirms your bias does not make it true. Citing your opinions as authority (and then backing them up with ‘experts say’ – ie. those who agree with me) is not evidence. Tacitus does mention Jesus and the Testimonium Flavianum is disputed – but then so is every ancient document by someone.

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      1. Nope. Tacitus mentions Chrestus. I have Annals and Histories.

        As a historian you should know the history behind Annals and the Chrestus piece especially.
        How many copies were discovered, where when and how many Church fathers and other Christians quoted this particular passage in Tacitus prior to its discovery.
        And which pats/years are considered incomplete.

        You are the one who is showing your bias, David.

        And I repeat, when the TF was first mentioned -Eusebius wasn’t it? – it was Christian scholars who rejected it in its entirety.

        I wonder why this is?
        You’re the one with the history degree – you tell me the reason!

        No doubt your fellow evangelical, John, will soon leap into the fray and with his usual aplomb, claim to dismantle my comment/s and dismiss me as ignorant.,
        Par for the course I suppose.
        This will look great to those other evangelical Christians reading along.

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      2. Can you give us your list of sources

        “Ark – just because you read something that confirms your bias does not make it true. Citing your opinions as authority (and then backing them up with ‘experts say’ – ie. those who agree with me) is not evidence. ”
        Ark, why do you even bother. David does not care about what the “real” scholars say only what he wants them to say

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      3. “Tacitus does mention Jesus and the Testimonium Flavianum is disputed – but then so is every ancient document by someone.”
        What are your sources that show that the biblical Jesus existed as a historical figure. I’m aware of who the historical Jesus is and how he deviates greatly from the biblical Jesus. What are your sources in favor of the biblical Jesus

        “but then so is every ancient document by someone.”
        I’m quite certain that you don’t take Perseus, Achilles, Hercules to be historical figures. On what bases other than you don’t believe it to you arrive at this stance

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