“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” ~ 2 Peter 1:16
The Historical Jesus movement often aims to scrutinize the life and teachings of the Jesus of Nazareth through the lens of incredulity. “Who is Jesus Christ?” “Did He even exist?” “How accurate are the biblical accounts that portray the life of Jesus throughout Scripture?” “Is the Bible even reliable at all?” These are the common questions often posed by the masses, since Jesus Christ graced the world with His presence. Likewise, as the Apostle Peter addresses in the Scripture above, there are also those who claim the Bible is nothing more than mere myths, fables or half-truths.
More Than Judas will approach this issue a bit differently than others- as this is not a scholarly expedition, but rather, a resource to breakdown the complicated concepts into simplistic terms for the common man. We will begin by examining the Word of God, the Gospel Accounts, and move from there to consider the non-biblical sources which document the life of Jesus.
The Bible serves as one foundation of Christianity- the other being the historical reference of the Death and Resurrection of Christ Jesus on the Cross at Calvary. As such, understanding why Scripture is trustworthy is critical.
No legitimate historian doubts the existence of Jesus Christ. Yet, scholars differ amongst parties concerning the reliability of the accounts which describe His life, as well as whom He was exactly. Indeed, there are many skeptics.
Though some Skeptics give serious consideration throughout this exploration, many, surprisingly offer minimal efforts in making this conclusion. 9 out of 10 times this doubt spurs from a lack of trust in the Bible. As such, More Than Judas will begin there.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edge sword, piercing to the division of the soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” ~ Hebrews 4:12
Is the Bible Reliable?
Objection: One of the most popular criticisms I hear as a minister is “We do not have the original manuscripts of the Bible! So how do we know the Bible is reliable?”
Explanation: True. Initially the Old Testament authors compiled the writings on stone, clay or leather. The New Testament was written on papyrus. Over centuries these materials disintegrated. However, throughout time both of the OT and NT manuscripts were copied by professional scribes. “The coping method is exact, and so precise, that the New Testament alone is considered to be 99.5% textually pure. This means of the 6,000 Greek copies (the New Testament was written in Greek), and the 21,000 copies in other languages, there is only one half of 1% variation.” (M. Slick, CARM)
The study of accuracy concerning ancient literature is called Historicity. Of this small percentage given, the copying mistakes only include word repetition, spelling, or other minor variant mistakes. THERE ARE NO ISSUES CONCERNING DOCTRINAL MATTERS WITHIN THE WORD OF GOD.
Let’s consider the documentation concerning Jesus’ Life compared to other Figures of Antiquity. (Graph provided by M. Slick, CARM)
Consider the daunting reality of this chart for a moment. There is more evidence supporting the Life of Christ than Homer’s Iliad, Aristotle, Caesar, Herodotus Plato and all the others combined. None of these well-known historical figures are debated, questioned, or minimized as much as Jesus Christ.
The Gospel accounts were written mere decades after His life, a consequence of the culture that relied on memorization and vocalization as their primary form of dictation. Conversely, Caesar’s life, for example, was documented centuries later, yet historians or the secular society rarely object.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” ~ 2 Timothy 3:16
Having questions is perfectly acceptable and welcomed. Most Christians wrestle with doubts concerning faith. I know I have before. However, usually these suspicions are a consequence of one’s lack of knowledge, rather than the lack of evidence. Personally, this is why I delved into Christian Apologetics roughly ten years ago, because I wanted to know how to give an explanation for my faith in Christ Jesus.
“Can the Bible as a whole be trusted?” “Are the Gospel accounts reliable?” “Why should one be a Christ Follower?” “How can one defend their faith?” Over the next several months More Than Judas will address questions as such. Furthermore, we’ll take an in-depth look at Why Christianity and the Life of Jesus Christ, actually do make perfect sense.
“I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ was no mere man: between Him and whoever else in the world there is no possible term of comparison.” ~ Napoleon
Prayer: Father God I lay down my doubts and preconceived notions. Reveal to me who You truly are. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.