Messiah or Myth?
Well here we go again. Every six months or so some self-proclaimed expert gains temporary notoriety by boasting from their special research that the authenticity of Bible and the claims of Christianity are a sham. Today’s scholar, Michael Paulkovich, writes to prove the messiah is a myth by citing more than 100 writers of the first and second century in which none of them mention Jesus. In short, his first argument being that if Jesus really did exist, then theses educated experts would have written about him. However, the simple absence of Jesus in the documents of these writers does not logically conclude that they had never heard of him. Even if they did not have knowledge of Jesus this does not prove that Jesus was a myth. All we know for certain is that they didn’t write about him. In one sense though, this would actually be expected as the mission of Jesus was not one of vying for public recognition. Jesus didn’t come for the paparazzi of the day or swim in the circles of the writers that Paulkovich referenced. Rather, Jesus spent most of his time with the least of humanity. The other side of the coin of which Paulkovich fails to research is the archaeological and historical writers of the era who did speak of Jesus. Here are just a few historians of the day who wrote about Christ.
Cornelius Tacitus: –Roman Historian writing in 112 AD
Flavius Josephus: -Jewish Historian of the First century.
Suetonius: -Roman historian and court official under Hadrian and reference to Nero.
Plinnis Secundus: -Governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor in 112 AD.
Tertullian: -Jurist in Carthage referencing exchange between Tiberius and Pilate.
Thallus: -Writing in 52 AD referenced as authoritative by Julius Africanus in 221 AD.
Lucian: -Satirist in Second century. Spoke of Christ as actual man.
It is amazing how many in the world of scholarship trumpet the works of Michael Paulkovich and his academic clan while all the time purposefully ignoring the tomes of historical evidence for the reliability of scriptures and the reality of Christ. The textual evidence is enormous. From the New Testament alone there are 5,366 manuscripts to draw from with many of those being from the second century. That is compared to only 643 copies of Homer’s Iliad which is the most famous book in ancient Greece. There are only 10 copies of Caesar’s Gallic Wars and no one in the ‘educated’ world questions those even though the earliest copies we have date 1000 years after the event. By contrast, some of the sections of the New Testament, such as the John Ryland fragments, were written within 70 years of the original events. Clearly there seems to be something other than pure scholarship going on here. It appears that the real struggle is not a problem of the head, but of the heart. The issue is not with evidence, but with attitude. At root is the theory that if one can construct a way to get rid of Jesus or God in general, then one can become their own god so to speak and create their own morality. In other words, if we can explain away God, then we can do what we want without anyone or anything above us telling us that we’re wrong. However, the fight against fact is just not that easy. There is simply too much evidence to honestly discount the Biblical texts. An easy and solid overview in starting an honest research would be a classic by Josh McDowell entitled The Evidence That Demands a Verdict or more recently A Case For Christ by Lee Strobel. The interesting point on Strobel’s work is that he began his research as a skeptic. It was after he had completed serious research that he came to a faith in Christ.
For those who choose to follow Christ and pursue His Kingdom, we can live with confidence in what we find in the pages of scripture. In our present world of chaos and uncertainty we can rest in the solidity of Christ and His Claims. Be encouraged friends.