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THE (SCIENTIFIC) DEATH OF JESUS:
At the age of 33, Jesus was condemned to the death penalty. At the time crucifixion was the “worst” death. Only the worst criminals were condemned to be crucified. Jesus was to be nailed to the cross by His hands and feet.
Each nail was 6 to 8 inches long. The nails were driven into His wrist. Not into His palms as is commonly portrayed. There is a tendon in the wrist that extends to the shoulder. The Roman guards knew that when the nails were being hammered into the wrist, that tendon would tear and break, forcing Jesus to use His back muscles to support Himself so that He could breathe. REMEMBER, HE DID THIS SO YOU AND I CAN HAVE ETERNAL LIFE!!!
Both of His feet were nailed together. Thus He was forced to support Himself on the single nail that impaled His feet to the cross. Jesus could not support Himself with His legs because of the pain, so He was forced to alternate between arching His back and then using His legs just to continue to breathe. Imagine the struggle, the pain, the suffering, and the courage!
Jesus endured this reality for over 3 hours. Yes, over 3 hours! Can you imagine this kind of suffering? A few minutes before He died, Jesus stopped bleeding. He was simply pouring water from His wounds.
From common images, we see wounds to His hands and feet and even the spear wound to His side. But do we realize the magnitude of the wounds actually made in His body? A hammer driving large nails through the wrist. The feet overlapping and an even larger nail hammered through the arches. Then a Roman guard piercing His side with a spear. But before the nails and the spear, Jesus was whipped and beaten. The whipping was so severe that it tore the flesh from His body. The beating so horrific that His face was torn and His beard was ripped from His face. The crown of thorns cut deeply into His scalp. Most men would not have survived this torture.
He had no more blood to bleed out, only water poured from His wounds. The human adult body contains about 3.5 liters (just less than a gallon) of blood. Jesus poured all 3.5 liters of His blood; He had three nails hammered into His members; a crown of thorns on His head and beyond that, a Roman soldier who stabbed a spear into His chest.
All these without mentioning the humiliation He passed after carrying His own cross for almost 2 kilometers, while the crowd spat in His face and threw stones, (the cross was almost 30 kg of weight, only for its higher part, where His hands were nailed).
Jesus had to endure this experience, so that you and I can have free access to God. So that our sins could be “washed” away. All of them! With no exception!
JESUS CHRIST DIED FOR US!
When it comes to the subject of the resurrection of the Christ, (literally his name was pronounced Yeshua). Many tend to believe it can’t be proven but must be accepted on faith alone. While faith is an important issue when it comes to the Bible, lets take a look at the facts surrounding the resurrection of Yeshua (English translation “Joshua” and every international translation “Jesus”).
In short, there is more proof that Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the dead, than we have that Julius Caesar even lived. If you find that hard to believe, then read on…
Evidence and Proof
Some excerpts of the article below are from: Rory Roybal
The reason I initially considered Biblical Christianity is because it is the only belief system massively supported by historical evidence that can be objectively verified. It has the only set of ‘scriptures’ in the world filled with real places, real people, real historical accounts, and real scientific claims that are proven accurate when critically investigated. The Bible is also the only record that had a significant amount of future prophecy when written (~1/3). Man-made religions don’t come close to matching up to the overwhelming and flawless physical evidence that has been thoroughly examined and verified from the Bible.
The Legal Perspective of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection and Character
Simon Greenleaf was royal professor of law at Harvard and a main founder of the Harvard law school. Greenleaf, was considered to be the greatest expert of evidence the world had ever known. He wrote the famous legal volume—A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, which many consider to be the greatest legal volume ever written. Greenleaf was a skeptic firmly set against Christianity, and taught his students Christianity was false. When one of his students challenged him to investigate evidence for Christianity for himself, he set out to disprove the Biblical testimony concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Greenleaf was certain that a careful examination of the internal witness of the Gospels would dispel all myths at the heart of Christianity, and disprove it once and for all. However, this legal scholar concluded Bible eyewitnesses were reliable and that Christ’s bodily death and resurrection were objective fact. If anyone should be qualified to state the reliability of Christ’s resurrection as an actual historical event according to the laws of legal evidence, it is Greenleaf. After years of exhaustive research and analysis, Greenleaf concluded:
“ The foundation of our belief is a basis of fact – the fact of the birth, ministry, miracles, death, resurrection by the Evangelists as having actually occurred, within their own personal knowledge … it was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually rose from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact. ”—-Simon Greenleaf —
Simon Greenleaf, LL.D., The Testimony of the Evangelists: The Gospels Examined by the Rules of Evidence, Grand Rapids, MI, Kregel Classics 1995.
Regarding the character of Jesus Christ portrayed by the Evangelists, Greenleaf determined:
“ the great character they have portrayed is perfect. It is the character of a sinless being, of one supremely wise and supremely good. It exhibits no error, no sinister intention, no imprudence, no ignorance, no evil passion, no impatience; in a word, no fault; but all is perfect uprightness, innocence, wisdom, goodness and truth. ”
Simon Greenleaf, LL.D., Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists, by the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice, with an Account of the Trial of Jesus, Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown 1846, p. 67.
Eyewitnesses to the Resurrection and Miracles of Jesus Christ
The entire framework of the Bible is based on reliable eyewitness accounts, which are the strongest form of legal evidence. These accounts include multiple eyewitness testimonies of the unique birth, life, miracles, death and bodily resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.
Eyewitnesses included many people who knew Christ face to face for three years, such as the Apostles, so they could not have mistaken His identity. They saw, heard, touched, ate and drank with Christ after his bodily resurrection for 40 days. This overwhelming physical evidence overcame their initial incredulity and disbelief.
They were so sure of their experience that they were also willing to die for what they knew to be true. Some people may sometimes die for a lie that they believe to be true, but for a large group of individuals to all willingly endure severe persecution throughout their lives and die torturous deaths for something they know to be a lie (which they certainly would have known), doesn’t happen. —
The Supreme Justice of the Supreme Court said that Greenleaf’s testimony is the most basic and compelling testimony that can be accepted in any english speaking court in the world. When Greenleaf spoke, that settled the matter. He was far and away the most knowledgeable person on evidence the world had ever known. The London Times said that more light on jurisprudence had come from Greenleaf than all the jurists of Europe combined.
Greenleaf had one inviolable principle in his classrooms at Harvard, and that was, you never make up your mind about any significant matter without first considering the evidence. Greenleaf was not a Christian. When challenged by one of his students with this principle, he admitted that he had not considered the evidence. When he did, he became a Christian: believed in the deity, death and resurrection of Jesus.
After examining every thread of information he could find he said in his book, The Testimony of the Evangelists: The Gospels Examined for the Rules of Evidence, Greenleaf concluded:
“If any unbiased jury in the world considered the evidence for the resurrection of Christ, they would have to conclude that Jesus of Nazareth actually rose from the dead.”
And so he became a believer that Jesus was God and was converted. He wrote, “In requiring this candor and simplicity of mind and those who would investigate the truth of our religion.” He sees that Christianity is, in fact, the only evidential historical religion in the world, and the whole things rests upon evidence which he finds so compelling and so overwhelming that any honest person with an open mind examining the evidence would be like himself inescapably drawn to accept it and so he sets forth his first rule of legal evidence and for any other ancient document.
“Every document apparently ancient coming from the proper repository or custody and bearing on its face no evident marks of forgery, the law presumes to be genuine and devolves on the opposing party the burden of proving it to be otherwise.”
“This ancient document, the Scripture, has come from the proper repository, that is, it is has been in the hands of the persons of the Church for 2000 years almost and it bears on its face no evident marks of forgery and therefore the law presumes it to be genuine and those who would presume otherwise upon them devolves the responsibility of proving it to be false. We don’t have to prove it to be true. They have to prove it to be false. That’s what the law says.”
(Simon Greenleaf, The Testimony of the Evangelists: The Gospels Examined for the Rules of Evidence)
“It was IMPOSSIBLE that the apostles could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not JESUS CHRIST ACTUALLY RISEN FROM THE DEAD ” —
There are many miracles recorded in the gospel records, but not a single conflict in prepositional logic among the accounts. Therefore, there is no logical or historical reason to consider these accounts as invalid (barring devotion to the atheistic/naturalistic ‘religious’ assumption that miracles are impossible). As expected with genuine eyewitness accounts, and as I have personally witnessed in jury trials, different witnesses in the Bible’s Gospel records naturally focus on different people and events. If the Gospel accounts matched exactly, this would make their independence suspect, and they would be less credible from a legal perspective.
Even Christ’s disciples had a very hard time believing his resurrection, though he specifically predicted this and told them in advance. In fact, they rejected it over and over until they saw him with their own eyes, heard, touched and ate with Him. Their initial skepticism is understandable, but they were finally overwhelmed by verifiable evidence. The reactions of people recorded in the Bible seem very natural, and add credibility to the accounts.
Witnesses who saw Christ alive and well after His death and resurrection were numerous at the time, (500 total). These events were recorded and they were certainly carefully examined at the time. If these eyewitnesses were not credible, Christianity would have stopped before it started, since Christianity is foundationally based on the divine identity, physical death and bodily resurrection of Christ.
The resurrection of Christ is shown to be one of the best proven facts of history.
Greenleaf concluded that according to the jurisdiction of legal evidence the resurrection of Jesus Christ was the best supported event in all of history! Not only that, Dr. Greenleaf was so convinced by the overwhelming evidence, he committed his life to Jesus Christ!
What changed his mind? What evidence did Dr. Greenleaf encounter that so drastically turned him around? What facts did he discover that he could not rationally ignore?
In order to answer that, let’s go back to that scene nearly 2,000 years ago. That night in the garden of Gethsemene, as a blood-thirsty mob came and arrested Jesus Christ. He was brought before Pilate, and there in plain view, Jesus Christ was spit upon, cursed, he was laughed at, whipped, beaten. He was branded a blasphemer. And He was sentenced to die by the most extreme, shameful form of capital punishment ever devised — crucifixion. Galatians 3:13 reads, “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree”.
In the eyes of the deceived world, Jesus Christ died a curse. He died as a criminal. He died in open shame and disgrace. How sad is it that they couldn’t see he did this for them!!
And there stood His apostles — in stunned unbelief. Here was their hope. Here were 12 men that had forsaken all and followed this man. They believed in this man for 3 years. Can you imagine what was going on in their minds? Didn’t He heal the sick? Didn’t we see Him walk on water? Didn’t we see Him raise people from the dead? Didn’t we see Him still the raging storm? Then to end like this? THAT NIGHT, THERE STOOD 12 DEFEATED AND CONFUSED MEN! They had given up everything for naught and then to die like He did. Beaten, smitten, humiliated, guilty, blasphemer. A complete disgrace! Or so it seemed to them. Oh how wrong were they!
And Mark 14:50, says, “And they all forsook him, and fled”.
There was the apostle Peter, the one who boasted, just days earlier, “Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee.” (Matthew 26:35) There he was that night, standing in the mob, defeated, confused, and hurt. Jesus was dead! He was crucified as a blasphemer! One of the women saw Peter and said, “you were one of them, you was with Jesus of Nazareth”. The Bible says “he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.” (Mark 14:71) Three times Peter denied the Lord, cursing and swearing, “I know not this man”.
“And they all forsook him, and fled!”
BUT SOMETHING HAPPENED!
Something happened to that small band of frightened and humiliated men. . . Less than two months later — they went back into Jerusalem boldly preaching, at the threat of death, that — JESUS CHRIST WAS ALIVE!
Listen to Peter in Acts 2,: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs. . . ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. . . THIS JESUS HATH GOD RAISED UP, WHEREOF WE ALL ARE WITNESSES.”
What transformed these fearful and confused men into fierce, bold lions?
Acts chapter 4:18-19, reads, “And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.”
And verse 20 reads, “For we cannot but speak the things which WE HAVE SEEN AND HEARD”.
What had these men seen? What had these men heard?
What was it that beatings, jail, torture and even death could not silence? In Acts 5, they put in jail and beaten — and verse 41 says “And they departed. . . rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name”.
What had these 12 men seen that they would eventually die a horrible death for?
Friend, there’s only one event in the history of this universe that could explain such a change.
THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST!
One theory suggests the apostles fabricated the resurrection. Two major problems: One, If the body of Jesus Christ was available, you’d better believe, the Roman authorities would have paraded His body for all to see. Christianity was spreading like a wild fire! And nothing could have quenched that flame quicker than the body of Jesus Christ! An article, suggesting Jesus faked His death and resurrection, appeared in the prestigious British Journal of the Royal College of Physicians. The article makes the assertion, “the whole episode was planned by Jesus and his followers. . . that death would be feigned so that early removal from the cross might be secured.”
Do you know the problem with that — if the resurrection of Jesus Christ was not true — there were 12 men that knew it!
Remember, friend — THESE MEN WERE EYEWITNESSES! They were there!
“Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were EYEWITNESSES. . .” Luke 1:2
“That which was from the beginning, which we have HEARD, which we have SEEN WITH OUR EYES, which we have LOOKED UPON, and our HANDS HAVE HANDLED. . .” 1 John 1:1
“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were EYEWITNESSES of his majesty.” 2 Peter 1:16
And these men went so far as seal their testimony with their blood! They died a horrible and martyrs death!
WOULD ALL THESE MEN DIE FOR A LIE. KNOWING IT WAS A LIE?
There is no way, these 12 men could have all been deceived.
For this reason — how could these 12 men die for a lie? — and here is the catch — IF THEY KNEW IT WAS A LIE!
If the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a lie — THEY WOULD HAVE HAD TO HAVE KNOWN IT!
You can not find a group of 12 men in the history of this universe who forsook all, were beaten, were jailed and even went so far as die for a lie — KNOWING it was a lie!
Michael Green, principal of St. John’s College, Nottingham, writes concerning the apostles, “You could imprison them, flog them, kill them, but you could not make them deny their conviction that on the third day he rose again.” Dr. Greenleaf wrote, “IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE that the apostles could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not JESUS CHRIST ACTUALLY RISEN FROM THE DEAD!”
And then there’s the man called Saul of Tarsus.
Saul of Tarsus thought Jesus was a false messiah, a fake, a blasphemer. And to exterminate Christianity totally, became his passion! The Bible describes him:
“As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.” (Acts 8:3)
“And Saul, yet breathing out threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, ” (Acts 9:1)
Saul of Tarsus was one of Christianities’ most rabid persecutors. One day traveling the dusty road to Damascus, Saul burning with vengeance, with documents authorizing him to capture all the followers of Jesus. But on the road to Damascus something happened to Saul of Tarsus.
“And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest”. (Acts 9:3-5)
And on the road to Damascus, the greatest conversion in history took place! For Saul of Tarsus, among the greatest enemies of Jesus Christ, that ever lived — became the Apostle Paul — THE GREATEST CHRISTIAN THAT EVER LIVED!
What happened to this man?
What could so transform this man, that he completely dedicated his life to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ? Who was later beheaded at Rome in 67 A.D. for his faith in Jesus Christ.
There is only one possible explanation.
JESUS CHRIST ACTUALLY ROSE FROM THE DEAD!
Gilbert West and Lord Lyttleton, two Oxford students, believed Christianity was a “tale gone mad” and they determined to refute the Christian faith. Lyttleton resolved to disprove the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, and West would refute the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They figured a careful, rational, examination of the evidence would easily disprove the Christian faith.
But after examining the evidence — they both separately came to the opposite conclusion! Lyttleton concluded that Saul of Tarsus did, in fact, convert to the Apostle Paul through Jesus Christ. And Gilbert West concluded that the:
Resurrection of Jesus Christ was among the best established facts in all of history! West went on to write a book entitled, “Observations on the History and Evidences of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ”. —
Professor Thomas Arnold, former chair of history at Oxford, and author of the famous volumes, History of Rome, was skillfully educated in the study of historical facts. Professor Arnold, stated, “I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is PROVED BY BETTER AND FULLER EVIDENCE of every sort, than the great sign which God has given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.”
After investigating the evidence of the resurrection, Lord Darling, former Chief Justice of England, stated, “there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true.”
To deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ you have to close your eyes to the overwhelming facts of history!
Orthodox Christianity, Judaism and Islam all hold to the miracle of God’s special creation of the universe and life, but only Christ proved He is the Creator and Messiah by His well authenticated miracle of bodily resurrection from the dead. All leaders of ‘religions’ are dead and buried, but as Creator, Christ alone was victorious over physical death, and is the only One we must follow.
Historical and Archeological Accuracy of Old and New Testaments:
Nelson Glueck was one of the greatest modern archeologists, an ordained Rabbi, and former president of the Hebrew Union College and Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. He personally discovered over 1,000 ancient sites, including the copper mines of King Solomon and the ancient sea port of Ezion Geber. After studying archeological evidence for the Bible for decades, he said:
“ It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference. ”
Dr. Nelson Glueck, Rivers in the Desert: a History of the Negev, New York, New York: Farrar, Strous and Cudahy 1959, p. 136.
The renowned Sir Frederic Kenyon was a leading authority on the reliability of ancient manuscripts, and is considered to have been one of the greatest Directors of the British Museum. He drew this conclusion:
“ The interval then, between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established. ”
Kenyon, F. G., The Bible and Archaeology, New York and London: Harper 1940, pp. 288, 89.
Sir William Ramsey, an eminent British scholar and archaeologist, was a Professor at both Oxford and Cambridge. He was raised as an atheist and skeptic and was convinced the Bible was fraudulent. He believed Luke’s writings were not historically sound, and that travels of the Apostle Paul recorded in the book of Acts were the weakest part of the New Testament. Therefore, he set out to disprove the book of Acts by personally tracing the Apostle Paul’s journeys, spade in hand. However, his own extensive 15-year field investigation of near east archaeology in the Bible lands forced him to completely reverse his position. He stated:
“ I set out to look for truth on the borderland where Greece and Asia meet, and found it there. You may press the words of Luke in a degree beyond any other historian’s and they stand the keenest scrutiny and the hardest treatment. “ Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of facts trustworthy; he is possessed of the true historic sense … In short, this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians. ”
Sir William Ramsey, The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the trustworthiness of the New Testament, 1915, pp. 81, 222.
Of Ramsay’s book, Josh McDowell, Christian author and former skeptic, writes:
“ The book caused a furor of dismay among the skeptics of the world. Its attitude was utterly unexpected because it was contrary to the announced intention of the author years before. For twenty years more, book after book from the same author came from the press, each filled with additional evidence of the exact, minute truthfulness of the whole New Testament as tested by the spade on the spot. The evidence was so overwhelming that many infidels announced their repudiation of their former unbelief and accepted Christianity. These books have stood the test of time, not one having been refuted, nor have I found even any attempt to refute them. ”
Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Historical Evidences for the Christian Faith, CA: Here’s Life Publishers 1972, p.365.
Academia’s Outdated Bible Teaching
Our academic institutions generally teach false and disproved information about the Bible to unwitting and trusting students. The idea that Bible authors and historical events are not as internally stated and that the Old Testament is inconsistent with the New are common claims among skeptics, widely taught and accepted in higher academia as fact.
However, so-called ‘higher criticisms’ of the Bible still generally taught in university religion or philosophy courses have been completely discredited by the last century of archeology and rock solid manuscript evidence. Their ideas are obsolete, so much so that no leading historian today would dare challenge historicity of the Biblical text (all of it) and destroy their own professional reputation, regardless of theological beliefs.
Many professors still teach outdated and unfounded hypotheses and are aware they are obsolete, but don’t want to change their course material for obvious personal reasons, and some have gone on record saying it would simply be too much work to change their curriculum.
Unified Old and New Testaments
The Old and New Testaments form a tightly integrated whole, and are not disjointed as skeptics often claim. The New Testament was written almost exclusively by Jews well versed and believing in the Old Testament. Much of the New Testament is exposition of the Old Testament by those who were in a position to know it best, and they directly quoted the Old Testament approximately three hundred times in the New. Paul the Apostle was an ex-Pharisee from the eminent school of Gamaliel, and Paul wrote the majority of the New Testament. Many of the Pharisees had the Old Testament completely memorized, and Jesus Christ Himself said:
“ Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled ” (Matt. 5:17-18).
It is hard to imagine any stronger statement of reverence for the Old Testament, and in no cases do New Testament writers contradict it.
The Mature Science of Documentary Evidence
The mature discipline of documentary evidence is to determine whether recorded events are credible. It demands one look for things mentioned in documents that can be objectively verified, such as names of cities, cultural practices, names of people, and well known historical events.
The Bible has been intensely investigated in this area probably more than any other book, in no small part due to intense desire of skeptics to disprove it, but much also by people who are objective researchers and those who wish to further substantiate it. New Testament accounts are precisely true according to this rigorous and objective science, despite unfounded objections of skeptics.
Precise Bible Accuracy
Evidence for accuracy of the Bible is overwhelming, the greatest of all ancient books. There are over 40,000 extant New Testament manuscripts for comparison as of this writing, and less than .0015% statistical chance of textual errors This amounts to a few verses maximum, and none of those are direct statements of Jesus or change any basic tenets.
William Albright was a Biblical and archeological scholar who mastered more than 26 ancient and modern languages. He stated:
“ The excessive skepticism shown toward the Bible by important historical schools of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, certain phrases of which still appear periodically, has been progressively discredited. Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition to the value of the Bible as a source of history. ”
Albright, William F., The Archaeology of Palestine and the Bible, Ada, MI: Revell 1935, p. 127.
Millar Burrows, renowned Professor of Archaeology at Yale University, exposed the cause of persistent unbelief:
“ The excessive skepticism of many liberal theologians stems not from a careful evaluation of the available data, but from an enormous predisposition against the supernatural. ”
Burrows, Millar, What Mean These Stones? New York, NY: Meridian Books 1956, p. 176.
Dr. John A. T. Robinson, lecturer at Trinity College, Cambridge, and one of England’s most distinguished scholars, originally accepted ‘late dating’ of New Testament books. After investigating, however, he concluded that the New Testament is the work of the apostles themselves or of those who directly worked with them (such as Luke). He dates every book of the New Testament before 70 A.D., even including John’s gospel which was previously considered by many scholars to be the latest.
At one time, John’s Gospel was said by scholars to have been written no earlier than 150 years or so after Jesus’ lifetime. But then a fragment of papyrus was discovered in Egypt and acquired by the John Rylands Library in England. It was discovered that Fragment 52 of the John Rylands papyrus, dated to 135 A.D. or earlier, contained portions of John 18. In other words, what is thought to be the latest New Testament book can now be conclusively dated to within at least fifty years of John’s estimated lifetime, if not sooner.
William F. Albright, one of the world’s foremost biblical archaeologists, wrote:
“ We can already say emphatically that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about A.D. 80. ”
Albright, William F., Recent Discoveries in Biblical Lands, New York, New York: Funk and Wagnalls 1955, p. 136
In summary, the most current discoveries and research indicate that all the books of the New Testament were written within fifty years after the events they report, which would have been during the lifetimes of eyewitnesses, as the Bible internally claims.
First Century Eyewitness Manuscripts
Early manuscripts were written and distributed long before existence of the Roman Catholic Church, or Gnostic or Montanist counterfeit ‘gospels’ popularized in the fictional Da Vinci Code book and movie. Therefore, any supposed deviations would be revealed in extensive manuscript evidence.
Until a few years ago, the oldest assumed manuscript was the St. John papyrus (P52), housed in the John Rylands museum in Manchester, and dated at 120 A.D. (Time, April 26, 1996, p.8). Thus, it was thought the earliest New Testament manuscript could not be corroborated by eyewitnesses to the events. That assumption has now changed, for three even older manuscripts, one each from the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke have now been dated earlier than the Johannine account.
The Lukan papyrus, situated in a library in Paris, has been dated to the late 1st century or early 2nd century, so it predates the John papyrus by 20-30 years (Time, April 26, 1996, p.8). However, of even more importance are the manuscript findings of Mark and Matthew. New research has now been uncovered and published in a recent book The Jesus Papyrus by Matthew D’Ancona and Dr. Carsten Thiede, mentioning a fragment from the book of Mark found among the Qumran scrolls (fragment 7Q5) showing that it was written sometime before 68 A.D. It is important to remember that Christ died in 33 A.D., so this manuscript could have been written, at the latest, within 35 years of His death; possibly earlier, and thus during the time that eyewitnesses to that event were still alive!
The most significant find, however, is a manuscript fragment from the book of Matthew (ch. 26) called the Magdalene Manuscript. Using a sophisticated analysis of the handwriting of the fragment with a state-of-the-art microscope, Dr. Thiede differentiated between 20 separate micrometer layers of the papyrus, measuring the height and depth of the ink as well as the angle of the stylus used by the scribe. After this analysis Thiede was able to compare it with other papyri from that period; notably manuscripts found at Qumran (dated to 58 AD), another at Herculaneum (dated prior to 79 AD), a further one from the fortress of Masada (dated to between 73/74 AD), and finally a papyrus from the Egyptian town of Oxyrynchus. The Magdalene Manuscript fragments matches all four, and in fact is almost a twin to the papyrus found in Oxyrynchus, which bears the date of 65/66 AD. Thiede concludes that these papyrus fragments of St. Matthew’s Gospel were written no later than this date and probably earlier.
This suggests that we either have a portion of the original gospel of Matthew, or an immediate copy which was written while Matthew and the other disciples and eyewitnesses to the events were still alive. This would be the oldest manuscript portion of the Bible in existence today, one which co-exists with the original writers!
ref. Matthew D’Ancona and Dr. Carsten Thiede, The Jesus Papyrus, New York, New York: Galilee Trade, 2000. An Avalanche of Evidence There are even more manuscripts written in Latin and Syriac (Christian Aramaic), some of which were written as early as 150 A.D., such as the Syriac Peshitta (150-250 A.D.).
There are also over 32,000 quotations from the New Testament found in writings from before the council of Nicea in 325 A.D. Quotations of the Scripture in the works of early church writers are so extensive that the New Testament could virtually be reconstructed from them without the use of New Testament manuscripts. Sir David Dalrymple sought to do this, and from the second and third century writings of the church fathers he found the entire New Testament quoted except for eleven verses! Thus, we could throw the New Testament manuscripts away and still reconstruct it with the simple help of these letters, e.g. Clement (30- 95 A.D.), Ignatius (70-110 A.D.), who knew the apostles directly and quoted from 15 of the 27 books, and Polycarp (70-156 A.D.), a disciple of John.
The evidence at our disposal today provides us myriads of manuscripts with which to corroborate our current New Testament. The earliest of these manuscripts have now been dated earlier than 60-70 A.D., within the lifetime of the original writers, with an outside possibility that they are the originals themselves. On top of that we have 15,000 early translations of the New Testament, and over 2,000 lectionaries. Finally, we have scriptural quotations in the letters of the early Church fathers with which we could almost reproduce the entire New Testament.
From a documentary standpoint, it is difficult to imagine how evidence for the life, miracles, physical death and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ could be stronger. From a scholarly perspective, the default assumption of truth goes to the authors, and the burden of proof is on others to clearly prove why the consistent eyewitness accounts are not true based on fallacious internal or external evidence.
Skeptics almost always take an other approach, revealing extreme bias against the message, simply because they don’t want to believe what God says in his word and/or don’t want to be accountable to him. As of today, manuscript evidence is rock solid, so we definitely have in our hands what was originally written, and the Bible’s consistent eyewitness accounts are worthy to be believed.
All evidence we could reasonably expect for the life, miracles, resurrection and deity of Jesus Christ is in our hands today. Credible eyewitnesses carefully recorded dates, times, and events, and these written records are supported by overwhelming manuscript evidence according to the reliable and mature discipline of documentary science. This evidence aligns precisely with well known historical events, further substantiating eyewitness testimony.
If the Bible is 100% accurate on events which are provable (including hundreds of fulfilled prophecies, present in no other religions),
It should be considered accurate for events with no human eyewitnesses, and for which God Himself is the only eyewitness. These events include God’s creation of the universe and future events, which no man can know from direct experience, but will determine the eternal destiny of each of us.
The mathematical proof that Jesus is in fact who he said he was:
Here’s more evidence detailing the probability of Jesus fulfilling Old Testament prophecy by chance.
The reason why prophecy is an indication of the divine authorship of the Scriptures, and hence a testimony to the trustworthiness of the Message of the Scriptures, is because of the minute probability of fulfillment.
Anyone can make predictions. Having those prophecies fulfilled is vastly different. In fact, the more statements made about the future, and the more the detail, then the less likely the precise fulfillment will be.
For example, what’s the likelihood of a person predicting today the exact city in which the birth of a future leader would take place, well into the 21st century? This is indeed what the prophet Micah did 700 years before the Messiah. Further, what is the likelihood of predicting the precise manner of death that a new, unknown religious leader would experience, a thousand years from now – a manner of death presently unknown, and to remain unknown for hundreds of years? Yet, this is what David did in 1000 B.C.
Again, what is the likelihood of predicting the specific date of the appearance of some great future leader, hundreds of years in advance? This is what Daniel did, 530 years before Christ.
If one were to conceive 50 specific prophecies about a person in the future, whom one would never meet, just what’s the likelihood that this person will fulfill all 50 of the predictions? How much less would this likelihood be if 25 of these predictions were about what other people would do to him, and were completely beyond his control?
For example, how does someone “arrange” to be born in a specific family?
How does one “arrange” to be born in a specified city, in which their parents don’t actually live? How does one “arrange” their own death – and specifically by crucifixion, with two others, and then “arrange” to have their executioners gamble for His clothing (John 16:19; Psalms 22:18)? How does one “arrange” to be betrayed in advance? How does one “arrange” to have the executioners carry out the regular practice of breaking the legs of the two victims on either side, but not the legs of Jesus? Finally, how does one “arrange” to be God? How does one escape from a grave and appear to people after having been killed?
Indeed, it may be possible for someone to fake one or two of the Messianic prophecies, but it would be impossible for any one person to arrange and fulfill all of these prophecies.
Here’s a true story of how governments use prearranged identification signs to identify correct agents:
David Greenglass was a World War II traitor. He gave atomic secrets to the Russians and then fled to Mexico after the war. His conspirators arranged to help him by planning a meeting with the secretary of the Russian ambassador in Mexico City. Proper identification for both parties became vital. Greenglass was to identify himself with six prearranged signs. These instructions had been given to both the secretary and Greenglass so there would be no possibility of making a mistake. They were: (1) once in Mexico City, Greenglass was to write a note to the secretary, signing his name as “I. JACKSON”; (2) after three days he was to go to the Plaza de Colon in Mexico City and (3) stand before the statue of Columbus, (4) with his middle finger placed in a guide book. In addition, (5) when he was approached, he was to say it was a magnificent statue and that he was from Oklahoma. (6) The secretary was to then give him a passport.
These six prearranged signs worked. Why? With six identifying characteristics it was impossible for the secretary not to identify Greenglass as the proper contact (John Ankerberg, John Weldon and Walter Kaiser, “The Case for Jesus The Messiah”, Melbourne: Pacific College Study Series, 1994, 17-18).
How true, then, it must be that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, if he had 456 identifying characteristics well in advance, and fulfilled them all! In fact, what does the science of probability make of this?
The science of probability attempts to determine the chance that a given event will occur. The value and accuracy of the science of probability has been well established beyond doubt – for example, insurance rates are fixed according to statistical probabilities.
Professor Emeritus of Science at Westmont College, Peter Stoner, has calculated the probability of one man fulfilling the major prophecies made concerning the Messiah. The estimates were worked out by twelve different classes representing some 600 university students.
The students carefully weighed all the factors, discussed each prophecy at length, and examined the various circumstances which might indicate that men had conspired together to fulfill a particular prophecy. They made their estimates conservative enough so that there was finally unanimous agreement even among the most skeptical students.
However Professor Stoner then took their estimates, and made them even more conservative. He also encouraged other skeptics or scientists to make their own estimates to see if his conclusions were more than fair. Finally, he submitted his figures for review to a committee of the American Scientific Affiliation. Upon examination, they verified that his calculations were dependable and accurate in regard to the scientific material presented (Peter Stoner, Science Speaks, Chicago: Moody Press, 1969, 4).
For example, concerning Micah 5:2, where it states the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem Ephrathah, Stoner and his students determined the average population of BETHLEHEM from the time of Micah to the present; then they divided it by the average population of the earth during the same period.
They concluded that the chance of one man being born in Bethlehem was one in 300,000.
After examining only eight different prophecies (Idem, 106), they conservatively estimated that the chance of one man fulfilling all eight prophecies was one in 10 to the 17th power!
To illustrate how large the number 10 to the seventeenth is (a figure with 17 zeros), Stoner gave this illustration:
If you mark one of ten tickets, and place all the tickets in a hat, and thoroughly stir them, and then ask a blindfolded man to draw one, his chance of getting the right ticket is one in ten.
Suppose that we take 10 to the 17th power…. silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They’ll cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would’ve had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote them in their own wisdom (Idem, 106-107). —
In financial terms, is there anyone who would not invest in a financial venture if the chance of failure were only one in 10 to the 17th This is the kind of sure investment we’re offered by god for faith in His Messiah.
From these figures, Professor Stoner, concludes the fulfillment of these eight prophecies alone proves that God inspired the writing of the prophecies (Idem, 107) – the likelihood of mere chance is only one in 10 to the 17th.
Another way of saying this is that any person who minimizes or ignores the significance of the biblical identifying signs concerning the Messiah would be foolish. —
But, of course, there are many more than eight prophecies. In another calculation, Stoner used 48 prophecies (Idem, 109) (even though he could have used Edersheim’s 456), and arrived at the extremely conservative estimate that the probability of 48 prophecies being fulfilled in one person is the incredible number 10 to the 157th. In fact, if anybody can find someone, living or dead, other than Jesus, who can fulfill only half of the predictions concerning the Messiah given in the book “Messiah in Both Testaments” by Fred J. Meldau, the Christian Victory Publishing Company is ready to give a ONE thousand dollar reward! As apologist Josh McDowell says, “There are a lot of men in the universities that could use some extra cash!” (Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, California: Campus Crusade for Christ, 175).
How large is the number one in 10 to the 157th? It contains 15,700,000,000,000,000,000 zeros! Stoner gives an illustration of this number using electrons. Electrons are very small objects. They’re smaller than atoms. It would take 2.5 TIMES 10^15 of them, laid side by side, to make one inch. Even if we counted 250 of these electrons each minute, and counted day and night, it would still take 19 million years just to count a line of electrons one-inch long (Stoner, op. cit, 109).
With this introduction, let’s go back to our chance of one in 10 to the 157th. Let’s suppose that we’re taking this number of electrons, marking one, and thoroughly stirring it into the whole mass, then blindfolding a man and letting him try to find the right one. What chance has he of finding the right one? What kind of a pile will this number of electrons make? They make an inconceivably large volume.
This is the result from considering a mere 48 prophecies. Obviously, the probability that 456 prophecies would be fulfilled in one man by chance is vastly smaller. According to Emile Borel, once one goes past one chance in 10to the 50th, the probabilities are so small that it is impossible to think that they will ever occur (Ankerberg et. al., op. cit., 21).
As Stoner concludes, ‘Any man who rejects Christ as the Son of God is rejecting a fact, proved perhaps more absolutely than any other fact in the world (Stoner, op. cit., 112).’
God so thoroughly vindicated Jesus Christ that even mathematicians and statisticians, who were without faith, had to acknowledge that it is scientifically impossible to deny that Jesus is the Christ. our thanks to David Williams, a mathematician who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Sources outside the Bible that validate It’s validity
Now some people may be saying you can’t use the Bible to validate the Bible. Okay, let’s look at other historians, many of whom were not followers of Jesus:
Jesus Christ – An Historical Fact by JackWellman:
Perhaps most people don’t believe in Jesus Christ because they think that the only written record of His life is restricted to the Bible and many people see scriptures as less than 100% convincing. In fact, some go so far as to say that He never even existed or He was just a good teacher. This is hard to believe, since even the non-religious or other world religions have heard of Him. And there are enormous amounts of secular history from secular Historians who were contemporaries’ of Jesus and that go into great detail in writing about Him that are most convincing. And these Historians included almost every culture in the world at that time. Here is what they wrote.
Thallus is perhaps the earliest secular writer to mention Jesus in his writings….even though his writings are so ancient, that no copies exist but those of Julius Africanus, who writing around 221AD quotes Thallus. Thallus and Africanus both explain mention a strange darkness that occurred at the point of Jesus’ crucifixion. And these stories of a “strange darkness” were written about far and wide on the earth. They all coincided with around 32-33AD.
Africanus writes that “Thallus in the third book of his histories, explains away this darkness as an eclipse of the sun…” This record of Thallus, confirms that Jesus lived, and was crucified and that something highly unusual and unexplainable happened on that day. There were many reports of various earthquakes, destruction, and a “strange darkness”.
Africanus also mentions a historian named Phlegon who wrote a chronological history around 140AD. In this history, Phlegon also mentions the darkness surrounding the crucifixion in an effort to explain it, but even more interestingly, he mentions Jesus’ ability to foresee the future in describing the life of our Savior.
Josephus (AD 37 – c. 100), born of a priestly and royal ancestry, survived and recorded the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 …and he was a prodigy. At age 13, he was already a consultant for the Jewish rabbis, by 16 he became a Galilean military commander and a Roman Citizen. And being under the rule of roman emperor Vespasian, he was allowed to write a first-century history of the Jews. Being a devout Jew and Roman Citizen, Josephus could hardly be described as a hostile witness. He wrote more about Kings the Messiah’s, but Josephus makes references to the Saducees, the names of Jewish High Priests of the time, the Pharisees and the Essenes, the Herodian Temple, Quirinius’ census and the Zealots. He also writes of such figures as Pontius Pilate, Herod the Great, Agrippa I and Agrippa II, John the Baptist, James the brother of Jesus, and to Jesus. He even describes the death of John the Baptist, mentions the execution of James. All of which are described in the New Testament
People, groups, times and events written about are corroborated in the New Testament by Josephus’ history. He describes the death of John the Baptist , and calls James the brother of “Jesus the Christ“. In his final passage he writes that Jesus was a wise man and the Messiah, and there is a retelling the resurrection story! All of which is described as such in the Bible. Josephus writes in his Antiquities of the Jews (18.63-64; 3.3).
“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate , at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”
The interesting thing is that the Historian Origen states that Josephus was “not believing in Jesus as the Christ” [1.] “he did not accept Jesus as Christ” [2.], but Josephus’ declares in the Jesus to be Christ (in the Testimonium). The manuscript evidence in support of the iron-clad reference to Jesus in Josephus is very strong and accepted by the great majority of professional historians. Between the New Testament and Josephus, there is no serious reason whatsoever to doubt the historical ‘existence’ of the Jesus of Nazareth behind those references.
All the relevant non-Jewish historical sources of the time mention Jesus! It is nearly universal. Not just in the books, but common knowledge of Jesus life and death among the people. This was not done under cover, but out in the open as much as could be possible. The Crucifixion was done on a hill, and always by a man thoroughfare, for all to see, far and wide. The list is enormous: Tacitus (Annals, AD 115-120), Suetonius (Lives of the Caesars, AD 125), Lucian (mid-2nd century), Galen (AD 150; De pulsuum differentiis 2.4; 3.3) Celsus (True Discourse, AD 170), Mara Bar Serapion (pre AD-200?), Jewish Talmudic References (AD 300).
Jesus historicity and story became known from the Mediterranean to Africa to Asia-Minor, and into most of the known world at the time. One example was around 70AD, when a Syrian philosopher named Mara Bar-Serapion, writing to encourage his son, compares the life and persecution of Jesus with that of other philosophers who were persecuted for their ideas. He used Him as an example of being persecuted for your belief. The fact that Jesus is known to be a real person with this kind of influence is important. It should not surprise us that Mara Bar-Serapion refers to Jesus as the “Wise King” and was held in high esteem but most of the known-world religions, save Judaism.
Additionally, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, and Eusebius of Caesarea, who was a third century theologian who used the library in Caesarea for much of his research. Tertullian wrote about Christian worship and persecution that is consistent with New Testament accounts. Justin Martyr, a Gentile who lived in Palestine and later became a Christian records the many doctrines of the church, like the Sacraments, Salvation, etc. “Resources for Philo of Alexandria” who was a Jewish philosopher and historian that lived in the first century.
In all of human history’s ancient antiquities, writings and records, none approaches the validity or the documentation of the Bible. Neither has any person in human history, dead or alive, ever had more written about Him than Jesus Christ.
As we have seen and read, Jesus Christ is historically indisputable; that He DID live, He DID many wonders, He died from crucifixion and for the Redemption of humans (John 3:16). We also know that He DID rise again, which makes it possible for us to do the same. THESE FACTS ARE HISTORICALLY INCONTROVERTIBLE! —
How Will You Respond to Christ’s Love?
God has revealed His incredible love to us through the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but will we accept and love Him in return?
By far, the Bible has much more historical and manuscript evidence to substantiate it than any other ancient text. According to standard literary analysis, the Bible should be considered accurate and historical unless proven inaccurate, like all other ancient documents.
Jesus Christ is the Creator of the universe and life, which He prov