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Discussion 3 to Meditation 38
Historical Evidence - A Response

by JT

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Our original challenge in Meditation 38 was to provide documentary evidence, dating from the time of Christ's supposed life, to support a claim that he existed. In neither of Mark Crane's replies (1, 2)has this been provided, nor is it provided in Steven Meincke's Talk Back 19.

I will concede that it is probable[1] that Christianity does have its origin in a real living person, likely a charismatic itinerant teacher or rabbi. But, is this individual truly the Christ of the New Testament? Or are all the signs, portents, and miracles just tales which have been added as his teachings were handed down by word of mouth, and which became fixed when the gospels were actually written down years later?

How is it possible that these stories could get attached to the life of a man within 20 to 40 years of his death? I don't find it strange at all. There have been so many "religious" figures in my own life time that have had mythology tacked on, with or without their personal connivance. Consider, for example Haile Selassie, the living god of the Rastafarians who persist in their beliefs even though Selassie denied it. And even in death, he is still their "living god." Consider those who make extraterrestrials part of their mythology, such as Heaven's Gate and Scientology. Not to mention all the current Christian leaders who get their personal direction from their own version of god. Or a 900 ft. tall Jesus in the case of Oral Roberts.

And adding mythology is not just related to religious figures. We've all heard of Elvis sightings ("he faked his death to get away from his fame!") and there are similar stories about JFK ("He's not dead, but being kept in a private hospital because of severe brain damage.")

And if we see these tall tales, whether religious or secular, gaining credence in our own time, it is not a stretch to suggest it happened 2000 years ago.

Why don't I accept any or all of the references quoted by Mark? None of them establish the existence of Christ. None of them refer to independent and contemporary proof of Christ's existence. What they do establish is the existence of Christians, something that is not in question. And whether their aim is pro or anti-Christian, ultimately the source of their information about Christ is that Christian community and the New Testament.

Footnote:

  1. Probable, but not proven beyond reasonable doubt.