Several Scripture scholars and historians say that the “historical Jesus” never really existed at all.
Important scholars like Bob Price and Earl Doherty, and many more “Mythicists” say that Paul and the early Christians made up a series of “Christ Myths” that circulated around Jerusalem and the Greek Islands, and these myths morphed into 10 or 20 different “Christ religions.” Now before you get upset, recognize that they’re right about the explosion of Christian religions.
Everybody recognizes the Pelagians and the Arians, but there were so many more “Christian religions” that Emperor Constantine in the year 325AD had to lock up 318 Bishops until they came up with one Church. They called their new Church: Christianity, and declared that all the other branches were heresies. But it didn’t last long. Look around; we have even more branches now than they did. There are two Catholic branches, the Roman and the Eastern Orthodox, each claiming to be the one True Church, and there are hundreds of Protestant denominations. (Maybe we need another Emperor Constantine?)
But back to Jesus. How do we know he existed? Christians believe he existed, but can historians prove he existed? Let’s take a look.
Dr. Bart Ehrman and Dr. Dominic Crossan, two of the most well-known and respected Scripture scholars and historians in our world today have produced enough proof that even gnarly old sceptics like myself have to accept it. Bart wrote a book called: Did Jesus Exist? And Dom wrote: The Historical Jesus. Both authors use historical documents, as well as Scriptural and non-scriptural sources that I bet many of you didn’t know existed. For example:
But the proof I like the best is the one Dr. Ehrman uses, called “Aramaic Words.” If there really was a Jesus, he spoke Aramaic (which sounds a lot like Hebrew). He didn’t write anything; maybe he was illiterate like 98% of his peers. But he talked a lot and people repeated his words, first in Aramaic, then in Greek as that language took over the region.
The Gospels were all written in Greek, 40-70 years after Jesus died by men most scholars say never knew him. They wrote down “oral traditions” that had been passed down from one generation to the next. Were there additions and redactions? Of course. But every once in a while we see an Aramaic word or phrase attributed to Jesus. If these were all made-up Greek myths, we’d never see that. A phrase like “Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani” (My God, My God, why have you forsaken me) is Aramaic, not Greek; why would a Greek myth-maker switch languages? And then there’s the touching story in Mark (5:41) where Jesus goes into the bedroom of the 12-year-old girl whom they think is dead, grabs her by the hand and says: “Talitha Koumi” (Get up, little girl!)
Oh I suppose a clever story teller could make his story seem more realistic by switching to the original language and that would explain all those Aramaic words, but I agree with Bart: they sound too much like our man.
At least, that’s my opinion on this Easter Sunday morning and I’m sticking to it.