This blog continues to address the question of whether Jesus is a myth, as some philosophers would want one to believe. For the benefit of those who are readers for the first time, some information will be reviewed from the blogs of July and August, 2014.
A Roman historian, Cornelius Tacitus, in his writing speaks of “Christus” who suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius and Pontius Pilate. (The Annals, Book 15:440). There is no reason for him to have made up a story about Jesus if Jesus didn’t exist. Jesus was not and is not a myth. Also, Jesus and Pontius Pilate are mentioned in the bible in the book of Luke. The scriptures are historically reliable.
Pliny the Younger, in about AD 112, wrote a letter to Emporer Trojan asking how he should deal with followers of Jesus who met before daylight and sang verses as a hymn to Christ, as a god. (Wikipedia:Pliny the Younger; Epistle Concerning the Christian Religion). This request for advice, by Pliny the Younger, was after the death and resurrection of Jesus. The christians knew exactly who they were worshipping. Pliny and the Emporer, one can be certain, also knew who Jesus was. Between the death and resurrection of Jesus and the rule of Trojan was only about 100 years. During that time period christians were martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ.
Josephus (b.37-d.100) attested Jesus existence when he wrote ,”Now there was about this time Jesus…. he was a doer of wonderful works”. ( Josephus, ‘Antiquities of the Jews’, Book 18, 3:3) Josephus is considered a reliable historian and provides information that Jesus did exist.
Suetonius (A.D. 69-122) wrote in his publication, ‘Lives of the Caesars’, “Punishment by Nero was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition.” Obviously, since Christians were being punished for their faith in Jesus this provides proof that Jesus existed. They would not have been prepared to become martyrs if they considered Jesus a myth.
Lucian of Samatosa (AD 115-200) a second century writer, mentioned Jesus as a man people worshipped and that he was crucified in Palestine because he introduced a new cult into the world. Lucian did not speak positively of Jesus but it does show that he existed. ‘Life and Writings of Lucian of Samatosa’, by W. Tooke.
Justin Martyr (100-160) states in, ‘Dialogue with Trypho’ , that John, one of the apostles was an eye witness of Jesus.
Polycarp, (69-150? A.D) an early church father knew the apostle John and said that he was a disciple of Jesus. It is generally held that John was banished to the Isle of Patmos where he wrote the Book of Revelation. He was eventually allowed to leave the island and became a Christian leader at Ephesus.
Irenaeus, (A.D. 130-200) provided further information and said that Polycarp had personal contact with the apostle John and with others who had seen Jesus. (Eusebius V.XX). Also see on the internet, ‘The Historicity of Jesus Christ’, W. Jackson.
Polycarp and the christian martyrs before him believed that Jesus was God in the flesh, was crucified, died and resurrected. There is recorded an interesting verbal interchange between the Roman proconsul and Polycarp who was about to be martyred. The proconsul kept threatening Polycarp what he could do to him if he didn’t renounce his christian faith. Polycarp replied saying, “Eighty and six years have I served him and he never once wronged me; how then shall I blaspheme my King who has saved me ?’. After a further short verbal exchange he was taken to a stake and burned before all the people in the Stadium. ( pp, 25-26, ‘Foxe’s Book of Martyrs’, Spire Edition, 1998.)
The Talmud, Sanhedrin 43a, (Jewish Scriptures) say that on the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged which means he was crucified. The christian scriptures also use the word “hanged”,in Galations 3:13. It has the same meaning in this case as the word “crucified”.
The catacombs in Rome give witness to the existence of Jesus of Nazareth and the christian faith. During Roman times many people were buried in underground corridors. Many of these were of the christian faith as shown by their “art work”. This art work reflected their understanding and faith in what Jesus accomplished on the cross and by his resurrection. If you enter, ‘Christian Artwork in Roman Catacombs’, on your computer you will be taken to this material.
In Revelation 1;18 John quotes Jesus who said, “I am he who lives and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore,…. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”
In John 11-25, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live”.
The christians buried in the catacombs left a witness, through their art, that their spirit/soul went to heaven when they died. They further believed that in the future they would experience a resurrection.
Jesus is not a myth, and has made a way for us to receive forgiveness. All one has to do is ask.