Is there physical or hard evidence for Christ? Or, is it all reasoning?


The answer to this question will depend on what you mean by hard, physical
evidence. What do you mean by hard, physical evidence? What sort of
evidence would this be? How would we judge such date? Are you thinking
of a piece of clothing or a bone or a book signed by Jesus? Of course, we
do not have such items. In fact, even if we did, it would almost
certainly be impossible to confirm a claim that an individual piece of
hard evidence is genuine. As a general rule, except in extremely rare
cases, we do not have hard, physical evidence of ancient peoples. A few
exceptions are the mummies of Egyptian Pharaohs which can be identified by
inscriptions in their tombs. Clearly, we do not have such a thing of
Jesus, as he resurrected from the dead! Another example of “hard
evidence” would be a statue or a drawing made of Jesus at the time he
lived. This, too, will not be found for the simple reason that the Jews
never made statues or pictures of themselves because of the prohibition in
the Ten Commandments against making images. The answer, then, is that we
do not have actual, physical objects which prove that Jesus was a real

Perhaps this is not really the question you are asking. Perhaps what you
are really asking is whether there is strong evidence of an historical
nature that the person known as Jesus Christ lived. In this case, the
answer is absolutely yes. No legitimate historian questions the reality
of the man known as Jesus Christ. There is considerable debate about
exactly what he did and what he claimed, but the fact that Jesus lived is
not in doubt. There are several reasons we can say this with confidence.
First of all, non-believing historians from the first and second
generation after Jesus lived reported the life of Jesus and supplied some
details in agreement with the New Testament documents. Jewish historian
Josephus, who lived from about AD 35-AD 105 mentioned Jesus more than
once, assuming that it was common knowledge that he was a Jew who lived in
Palestine. Tacitus, Seutonius, Pliny the Younger and other Roman
historians of the late first and early second century confirm the
existence of Jesus, mentioning the nature of his death and the fact that
it was claimed he was a miracle-worker. In addition, the Jewish Talmud, a
document of the first few centuries AD also mention Jesus, although these
writers definitely do not accept that he was the Messiah!

All these confirm the reality of Jesus. However, the most convincing
evidence of all is the New Testament and the hundreds of eye witnesses who
became Christians in the first few years after the death and resurrection
of Jesus. We know that several of the New Testament books were written by
AD 60. Probably most of them were written by AD 70. There is not the
slightest chance that a myth of Jesus could have arisen out of nothing in
the same region where he lived in so short a time. We know from
historical evidence that many, including the apostle James, were martyred
in the first century, for example in the persecutions under Nero.

There is not the slightest shred of doubt that Jesus was a real person.
You ask if we can only believe in him by “reasoning.” The answer is that
the only possible, reasonable conclusion is that Jesus did in fact live,
he did die in Jerusalem under Pontius Pilate. There is no doubt at all
that a group of believers were devoted to him in the first half of the
first century AD. Other aspects of the life of Jesus and the claims in
the New Testament about what he said and did are perhaps debatable, but
the basic outline of his life is not in doubt.

John Oakes

Comments are closed.