They have argued that much - if not most - of what is written in the New Testament is merely "commentary". And that the Biblical text were "invented stories" and the words were "placed in the mouths of Jesus and the apostles". These liberal scholars maintained that the events did not actually occur....
For example, one of the assertions of critics was that:
(Note: Nazareth does exist NOW, it's quite big even - that's because Emperor Constantine built a church there in the 4th century and became a center of Christian pilgrimages.
The skeptics were saying that Nazareth did not exist when Jesus was alive - so they are saying that Nazareth was built later !!!)
This is an indirect claim that the New Testament is nothing more than a fairy tale, because if Nazareth did not exist, Jesus never grew up in Nazareth.... so Jesus never existed.... In other words, Jesus is just as real as Peter Pan....
However, no acient historians or geographers before around 400 AD mentioned Nazareth....
The earliest appearance of Nazareth in Jewish literature was in a poem written around 700 AD
Obviously, this give the skeptics lots of ammunition in discrediting the New Testament....
This implies that Nazareth is a lowly, poor and backward place where it will never produce any person of significance....
Historians write about kings and emperors; not about people in rat holes...
It is the custom to select priests from every town and city to serve in the temple ,
When the temple was destroyed in 70 AD, the priests were no longer needed....
Archaelogists have discovered a list of 24 families of priests who were relocated after the temple's destruction and one of the family was registered as having moved to .... you guessed it.... Nazareth !
So Nazareth does exist in 70 A.D. !
Thus, his brutality portrayed in Matthew is consistent with his description in ancient history.
|John 5:1 --- After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is a pool at the Sheep Gate at Jerusalem, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of those who were sick, of blind, lame, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and troubled the water. Then whoever first stepped in after the troubling of the water was made whole of whatever disease he had. And a certain man was there, who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying, and knowing that he had spent much time, He said to him, Do you desire to be made whole? The infirm man answered Him, Sir, when the water is troubled, I have no one to put me into the pool. But while I am coming, another steps down before me. Jesus says to him, Rise, take up your bed and walk.|
For a long time, skeptics cited this as an example of John being inaccurate because no such place had been found....
But archaeology has recently vindicated John's testimony and accuracy:
(They knew that Romans used crucifixion earlier to kill slaves in a slave revolt led by Spartacus, but these skeptics claim that Romans have abolish its use before Jesus time)
The year was 1968.... they found an ossuary (burial box) in a Herodian tomb containing the bones of a young man who has been crucified - the ossuary is dated around 100 AD
The nail (of the crucifixion) had been driven through the man's heel into the cross and the nail had entered a knot in the wood.
The nail is stuck and cannot be removed from the wooden cross.
The problem was solved by removing some part of the wooded cross along with the nail with the body.
The nail was found with the bones in the ossuary...
No one in their right mind now doubts that crucifixion does not exist in Jesus' time.
|John 19:32 --- Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who was crucified with Him.|
This is again consistent with the description in John's Gospel
The Dead Sea Scrolls tell that both Jews and Romans abhorred crucifixion due to its cruelty and humiliation - just go see Mel Gibson's film "Passion" which is historically accurate
The scrolls also state it was a punishment reserved for slaves and any who challenged the ruling powers of Rome.
|Matthew 27:45 --- "Now from the 6th hour there occurred darkness over all the land until the 9th hour."|
|Mark 15:33 --- "Now when the 6th hour had come, it became dark over all the land until the 9th hour."|
|Luke 23:44-45 --- "It was now about the 6th hour, and darkness came over all the land until the 9th hour, the sun failing."|
But.... his work was cited by Julius Africanus' (160-240 AD) ( click here ) work, "Chronography":
On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness;
and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places
in Judea and other districts were thrown down.
This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun. For the Hebrews celebrate the passover on the 14th day according to the moon, and the passion of our Saviour fails on the day before the passover; but an eclipse of the sun takes place only when the moon comes under the sun. And it cannot happen at any other time but in the interval between the first day of the new moon and the last of the old, that is, at their junction: how then should an eclipse be supposed to happen when the moon is almost diametrically opposite the sun?
In: Julius Africanus, Chronography, 18:1. ( click here )
Thallus apparently has written about a darkness that occured around the passover, and Thallus explained that this darkness was probably caused by a solar eclipse....
Julius Africanus says that this is not possible, because a darkness that is caused by a solar eclipse occurs when the sun, earth and moon position are as follows:
Jewish passover always occured on the 14th day of a lunar calendar which is always full moon (like the lunar festival of the Chinese). And the Sun-moon position during a full moon is always as follows:
Therefore, the darkness that Thallus said he saw can't be caused by a solar eclipse....
|"In the 4th year of the 202nd Olympiad, there was a great eclipse [Greek = EKLEIPSIS] of the Sun, greater than had ever been known before, for at the 6th hour the day was changed into night and the stars were seen in the heavens. An earthquake occurred in Bythinia and overthrew a great part of the city of Nicaea"|
Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon,
there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the
ninth-manifestly that one of which we speak.
But what has an eclipse in common with an earthquake,
the rending rocks,
and the resurrection of the dead, and so great a perturbation
throughout the universe? Surely no such event as this is
recorded for a long
period. But it was a darkness induced by God,
because the Lord happened then
to suffer. And calculation makes out that
the period of 70 weeks, as noted in Daniel,
is completed at this time.
In: Julius Africanus, Chronography, 18:1. ( click here )
Let me quote Prof. McRay from "Case for Christ" pp 100:
(If you let a lie go around long enough, it will become the truth if the lie is not contested. These skeptics had no proof that it was true but Christians did not have any evidence to deny the things that these skeptics were saying were lies... so after many years, some opinions of these skeptics became "facts" - and archaelogy is now showing that these so called "facts" are nothing more than bloody lies.)