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Discussion 17 to Meditation 38
Re: Sources for Jesus

by JT

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What I wrote about in Meditation 38 was the lack of contemporaneous evidence for Christ; that is evidence from his supposed lifetime (approximately 4 B.C. - approximately 30 AD.) Yet nothing exists until at least 20 years after his death (or his ascension, if you prefer.) Further, there is no evidence that those writings, regardless of traditional attributions, were actually written by people who knew him.

In fact, only two of the four Gospels (Matthew & John) are traditionally attributed to individuals who knew him. Even within Christian tradition, neither Luke nor Mark met Jesus. There is no proof that any of the attributions are true (or false for that matter.)

The inspiration for the article was someone writing to me: "And there are many other writings outside the Bible from Christ's time referring to his life and deeds." Yet he did not produce a single example. And so far, no-one else has produced a single one of those supposedly many writings from Christ's time. I doubt anyone ever will, unless we invent time travel.

Neither Josephus nor Pliny the younger provide contemporaneous evidence.

Both wrote long afterwards.

Much of the reference to Christ in Josephus's works is generally accepted, even by most Christian scholars to be latter day interpolations (inserts in the text.) In any event, Josephus Flavius did not live or write in Christ's lifetime. He had no first hand knowledge. What his source for the reference to Jesus was is not mentioned.

Even for events in his own lifetime, Josephus has been found to have embellished the story - not uncommon for historians of those times. For Masada - for which he is the prime source - many of the details he provided, particularly with respect to the final hours - have been overturned by archeological evidence, even though the major outline is correct.

As for Pliny the younger - he did not write about Christ (he was not alive in Christ's lifetime) - he wrote about Christians - and no-one is claiming there were no Christians in 112 AD when Pliny first encountered Christians - after all, he is one regarded as starting the Roman persecution of them.