Was Jesus Christ a Real Person?

My very first post asked the question “Who do you say Jesus Christ is?”

Who IS he? Prophet? Teacher? God, as we Christians believe? Or just a legend, not even an actual historical person at all?

The last possibility has fascinated mankind through the centuries. Is it possible that this man, formally professed as God by about 1.9 billion people or almost a third of the world’s population, did not even actually exist at all, except in the imaginations of his followers?

After all, if he was an actual important figure in history, why has there been no mention of him in the accounts of many historians who have written about the times in which he was supposed to have lived? As The Dissident Voice says, how come such writers as Seneca, Pliny the Elder, Quintillian, Plutarch, etc., who all lived during or very close to the time in which the man Jesus was supposed to have lived, taught, performed miracles, and been crucified, had nothing at all to say about him?

Actually, I can think of one possible reason. Speaking (or writing) as a native of the so-called “Third World”, I know the truth of the saying “The one who rules is the one who writes (or re-writes) history“. The Jews were just one of the many peoples conquered and ruled by the mighty Romans. It does not surprise me that events which the subjugated Jews would consider important would not even merit a footnote in the official records of the empire. We Filipinos have been treated the same way by our conquerors (and those of an older generation have been educated using textbooks which depict, minimize, emphasize or completely ignore events and people in a way that’s different from the way some Filipino historians would later depict them).

If there was one group of people who would be advantaged by proving that Jesus Christ did not actually exist—if in fact he did not—it would be the Jews, I think. Yet the Jewish Encyclopedia, in their article “Jesus of Nazareth“, says that Jesus was “Founder of Christianity; born at Nazareth about 2 B.C. (according to Luke iii. 23); executed at Jerusalem 14th of Nisan, 3789 (March or April, 29 C.E.). His life, though indirectly of so critical a character, had very little direct influence on the course of Jewish history or thought“.

In the above citation, the Jewish Encyclopedia referred to “Luke iii.23”. Luke is one of the so-called “Gospels” or accounts of the good news (the good news being Jesus Christ himself). These Gospels are our primary sources of information about the life, teachings, and death of Jesus Christ.

But is it reasonable to suppose that these Gospels are historical accounts and not mere stories or legends?

Coming Up: Are the Gospel accounts reliable?

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Related Posts:

Are the New Testament Documents Reliable?

Are the New Testament Documents Reliable? What About the Differences in the Manuscripts?

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5 Responses

  1. The problem with considering the gospels to be historical accounts is that they not only have substantial discrepancies in what they report, but they also indicate that some are just revised versions of a shorter, earlier account (see “Mark”) — and where that earlier account supplies no framework to follow, as in the birth and resurrection stories, those clearly based on it (“Matthew” and “Luke”) wildly diverge in their tacked-on birth and resurrection appearance stories.

    Of course there are many other reasons why people doubt the historicity of the “biblical” Jesus — just one being that the speeches and behavior attributed to him in “Mark” and “John” represent very different individuals. For example, in Mark Jesus is very secretive about who he is; in John, however, he makes long theological speeches declaring who he is.

    And of course there are many other reasons as well.

  2. hi mel,

    your articles have been a blessing to me, consider i am very much immersed in the market place…

    great reminder of the scholarliness of our intimacy with God…

    God is good!!!

  3. Hi, Rowen.

    Are you the Rowen C of BFH? Great to see you here, brother! How are you? It’s been a long time!

    Perry and I are going to the 3pm service of BFH on Sunday, Dec. 9. It’s their 8th anniversary. Hope to see you there.

    God bless you!

    Mel

  4. very interesting.
    i’m adding in RSS Reader

  5. I’m not sure what I believe about religion. But I do know that I learned that Jesus Christ is a real person when I was in grade school. I want to know if anyone has factual historical references to Jesus Christ’s existence?

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