The Best Evidence that the Jesus of the Gospels Did Not Exist

Image result for image of jesus raising the centurion's daughter from the dead

The Raising of Jairus’ Daughter by Ilya Repin

I believe that it is likely that a man living in first century Palestine with the name of Jesus (a very common name) developed the reputation as a healer and (minor) miracle worker; preached an apocalyptic message; did or said something to antagonize the Jewish authorities; was executed by the Romans;  and soon after his death, some of his followers believed that he appeared to them.

But I do not believe that the Jesus described in the Gospels ever existed.

There are many reasons why the Jesus of the Gospels most probably never existed, but here is what I believe to be the strongest evidence against the historicity of this character:  Not one non-Christian contemporary of Jesus mentions a single word about him.

Jesus allegedly healed more people during his short ministry than all the Jewish prophets of the Old Testament combined.  Yet not one non-Christian contemporary of Jesus mentioned this fact.  But here is the kicker:  Only three people in all the Old Testament were allegedly raised from the dead.  Compare that to the number of people allegedly raised from the dead by Jesus, his apostles, and Paul.  If we include the “many” saints who were allegedly shaken out of their graves on the day of the Resurrection to walk the streets of Jerusalem, we are talking about dozens, maybe hundreds of people being raised from the dead!

But let’s exclude this group of people from our count as even some conservative Christians will agree that Matthew’s “Dead Saints Shaken Out of their Graves Story” is most likely theological hyperbole (fiction).  Let’s count all the other people (allegedly) raised from the dead in the New Testament:  Six, including Jesus.  Six!  Six people were allegedly brought back from the dead by Jesus and his followers…but not one non-Christian contemporary of Jesus bothered to mention this fact!

The Jewish philosopher Philo was a contemporary of Jesus living in Alexandria, Egypt.  Philo mentions Pilate quite a bit, but not one word about the man who raised just as many people from the dead as Elijah and Elisha combined!

Jesus and his followers allegedly performed more miracles and raised more people from the dead than all the prophets of Israel combined…but…neither Philo nor any other non-Christian contemporary of Jesus thought these facts were important enough to record them in their writings.

Give me a break.

The Jesus of the Gospels is fiction, folks!

 

Alleged Persons Raised from the Dead in the Old Testament:

1. Elijah raised the son of the Zarephath widow from the dead (1 Kings 17:17-22).

2. Elisha raised the son of the Shunammite woman from the dead (2 Kings 4:32-35).

3. A man was raised from the dead when his body touched Elisha’s bones (2 Kings 13:20, 21).

 

Image result for image Elijah raises boy from the dead
Elijah raises the widow’s son from the dead

 

Alleged Persons Raised from the Dead in the New Testament:

1. Many saints rose from the dead at the resurrection of Jesus (Matt. 27:50-53).

2. Jesus rose from the dead (Matt. 28:5-8Mark 16:6Luke 24:5, 6).

3. Jesus raised the son of the widow of Nain from the dead (Luke 7:11-15).

4. Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead (Luke 8:41, 42, 49-55).

5. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44).

6. Peter raised Dorcas from the dead (Acts 9:36-41).

7. Eutychus was raised from the dead by Paul (Acts 20:9, 10).

Source:  J. L. Meredith, Meredith’s Big Book of Bible Lists, (Inspirational Press, NY; 1980), p. 115

 

Image result for image of eutychus falling out the window
Eutychus falls asleep sitting on an upper story window ledge falling to his death

 

Image result for image of eutychus falling out the window
The Resurrection of Eutychus by Natale Carta

7 thoughts on “The Best Evidence that the Jesus of the Gospels Did Not Exist

  1. Historians agree that Josephus said “For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly.”

    But, if Josephus wasn’t going to even report on the “alleged resurrection” of Jesus, then I’m not sure why he would report on any of Jesus’ specific miracles.

    I did find something interesting in Jewish Wars thought (although, this is a bit off-thread, not related to the “Jesus” question):

    “Besides these [signs], a few days after that feast, on the one- and-twentieth day of the month Artemisius, [Jyar,] a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armour were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the] temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, “Let us remove hence”
    (Jewish Wars, VI-I-3)

    The reason I’m passing this on to you is that Josephus says “I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals”, which to me indicates that even people in the first century *did* call in to question whether this-or-that was a “miracle” or not.

    I see people saying stuff all the time, like “well, people back then just believed all kinds of stuff were miracles”, etc, etc. But, Josephus clearly makes a distinction between “fable” and an event (or events) that might have been quite bizarre, but, of at least *some* substance.

    Interesting thing about this particular event is that Tacticus seems to report on the same thing:

    “Prodigies had occurred, but their expiation by the offering of victims or solemn vows is held to be unlawful by a nation which is the slave of superstition and the enemy of true beliefs. In the sky appeared a vision of armies in conflict, of glittering armour. A sudden lightning flash from the clouds lit up the Temple. The doors of the holy place abruptly opened, a superhuman voice was heard to declare that the gods were leaving it, and in the same instant came the rushing tumult of their departure. Few people placed a sinister interpretation upon this. The majority were convinced that the ancient scriptures of their priests alluded to the present as the very time when the Orient would triumph and from Judaea would go forth men destined to rule the world.” (Histories, Book 5, v. 13).

    Like I said, though, this is all off-thread. Just thought it might be interesting reading for you.

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    1. Historians agree that Josephus said “For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly.”

      Wrong! “A teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly”??? Josephus, a Jew, would not attribute Christian claims about Jesus as “the truth”.
      Historians do NOT agree on the origin of this quote.

      From “Jews for Judaism”:

      Jesus is mentioned twice in the works of Josephus. Jesus’ name appears once in identifying “a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ” (Jewish Antiquities XX. 9. 1. [200]), in which case Josephus is focusing on James, not Jesus.

      Elsewhere, Josephus mentions Jesus in a statement that seemingly confirms his personal belief in Jesus as the “Messiah“: “About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing among us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvelous things about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared (Jewish Antiquities XVIII. 3. 3 [63-64]).

      Josephus’ alleged positive statement about Jesus is spurious. The attestation that Jesus was the Messiah, the suggestion that he was more than human, the acceptance of his resurrection and the affirmation that his activities were foretold by the Hebrew prophets is a third century Christian forgery.

      Origen (c. 280) explicitly states that Josephus “did not believe in Jesus as Christ” (Contra Celsum Book 1. 47). Eusebius (c. 324), however, does know of this passage (Ecclesiastical History 1. 11). Quoting from the Christian interpolated text of Josephus, Eusebius writes: “About the same time, there was a certain Jesus, a wise man, if indeed it is proper to call him a man. This was Christ. Pilate . . . inflicted the punishment of the cross upon him . . . [but] those who had been attached to him before did not, however, cease to love him: for he appeared to them alive again on the third day, according to the holy prophets, who declared these and innumerable other wonderful things respecting him” (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 1. 11). Apparently, a change was made in the text during the interval between 280 C.E. and 324 C.E. whereby it was no longer obvious, as it was to Origen, that Josephus did not believe in Jesus.

      Moreover, Josephus considers the revolutionary zealots and apocalyptic messianists responsible for the Jews’ revolt against Rome and the consequent destruction of Jewish sovereignty. His loyalty to Rome and his strong sense of self-preservation would make doubtful any suggestion that he would risk his safety by affirming as Messiah a person whose followers the Imperial government held in disfavor.

      Source: http://jewsforjudaism.org/knowledge/articles/did-flavius-josephus-provides-corroborative-evidence-for-chrisitan-claims/

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  2. Your credibility wanted with these posts Gary.
    Herr such a great illustration of why this is an inane argument.

    i) Although Ruskin was, among other things, a social critic who wrote extensively about politics, his autobiography (Praeterita) fails to mention Queen Victoria, even though his life spanned her entire reign. 

    ii) Ruskin knew Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll). In his autobiography, Ruskin mentions that he used to visit the Liddell daughters, including Alice Liddell, who was the inspiration for the fictional character by that name in Carroll’s two storybooks. Yet in the autobiography, Ruskin never mentions Dodgson, or mentions the relationship between Alice Liddell and the storybooks.

    iii) In his autobiography, Ruskin mentions his “friend Rossetti”. Actually, there were several family members with that surname. He’s alluding to Dante Rossetti, but he fails to mention his brother William or their famous sister Christina. 

    iv) In his autobiography, he fails to mention other literary contemporaries like Kipling, Tennyson, and Mary Ann Evans (aka George Eliot). 

    v) In his evangelical youth, Ruskin was friend of Spurgeon, but he fails to mention him in his autobiography. That may be because Ruskin lost his evangelical faith and preferred not to mention that part of his life.

    vi) Ruskin fails to mention John Everett Millais in his autobiography, even though he mentions two other members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood: Dante Rossetti and Holman Hunt. As an art critic who championed the Pre-Raphaelites, how could he fail to mention Millais?

    http://triablogue.blogspot.co.za/2018/05/fireflies.html?m=1

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    1. It is true that an author’s silence regarding a person or an event does not prove that he or she knew nothing about this person or event. But this does not mean that we cannot use an author’s silence as a factor in determining the historical probability of a person or event. Why would Philo ignore the greatest miracle worker in all of Jewish history? Why would Josephus barely reference the man who turned first century Palestine upside down with his preaching, miracles, and resurrection from the dead?

      Philo and Josephus’ silence and near silence prove nothing, but suggest much!

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  3. “When we compare the historical Jesus to analogous figures – other early first century Jewish prophets, preachers and Messianic claimants – we actually find we have slightly more extra-Biblical references to him than we have for others of his kind. And the Biblical references to him that people like Coyne enthusiastically dismiss out of hand actually look far less like a mythic or celestial being being given a historical and human story and in fact show tell-tale signs of a human Jewish preacher being shoehorned, rather awkwardly, into the role of Messiah, with mixed results and success.”

    This is from an atheist blogger who would have some sympathy with your idea that an historical person lay behind what you think is a mythical/legendary person of Christian belief – he says as much in his post here: https://historyforatheists.com/2015/11/scientists-and-rationalists-getting-the-historical-jesus-completely-wrong/

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    1. There are brief, vague, extra-biblical references of a Jesus, but none which clearly identify this Jesus as the Jesus of the Gospels.

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