[Editor’s note:  I am doing the reverse of what I normally do here.  The question is so long, that I despair anyone would read to the end of it to find my response. So, I am doing something that might be a bit confusing here, which is to publish my response before the question]


This article is so biased that it is difficult for me to get motivated to respond to it, to tell you the truth.  I will give “Godless Engineer” some credit in that, at least he has done some research.  Basically, what he has done is look up a list of secular sources from the late first century and early second century and, in an extremely biased way, tried to undercut all this evidence.  For evidence he cannot refute, he simply says that anything which was written after the gospels, by definition, is not evidence.  This is very convenient, but it really is not an argument.  How do I refute this evidence?  By simply declaring it to not be evidence.  This is not a very good argument.
Godless Engineer is willing to concede that Paul is a real person.  Well, good for him.  The problem for him in admitting that Paul is a real person who really wrote gospels is this.  If Paul is a real person, then Peter and James and the other apostles in Jerusalem are also real people.  Peter was an eye-witness to the events he described to Paul and to many thousands of others he spoke to (or else he was a blatant liar and con-man, which is simply not credible).  Does “Godless Engineer” propose that Paul is such a gullible person that he believed dozens, no hundreds of complete liars and conspirators?  Paul mentioned more than 500 eye-witnesses to the resurrection in 1 Cor 15.  Are these people all part of a massive conspiratorial cover-up and lie?  Can any rational person believe this?   Did Paul simply invent the 500+ witnesses?  Obviously not, as he tells his hearers that they can ask the witnesses for themselves.   The answer, quite simply is no.  The idea that Paul, who knew literally thousands of Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, Antioch, Damascus, Tarsus and many other cities was able to invent Jesus out of whole cloth, and then convince all these Jews as well is so far-fetched as to be simply ludicrous.
If “Godless Engineer” wants to argue that some of the details in the gospel are in doubt, or even to question some of the accepted theology of the early church or of Paul, specifically, that is just fine and it is a reasonable thing to do.  But to create this blatant fiction that Jesus was not even a real person, but an invention out of whole cloth is beyond reasonable.  How gullible would the disciples who Paul knew in the year 35 AD (give or take a couple of years) when he was converted to Christ have to be?  This is proposing a conspiracy of a massive and unprecedented level.  The implication of “Godless Engineer” is that literally thousands of people got together and agreed to put forth a lie, even knowning that they would be persecuted, driven out of their Synagogues, and killed. What is the motivation for this lie?  “Godless Engineer” proposes that the motivation is a desire to have a Messiah.  But why propose a Messiah whom every single believer knows for a fact is a total invention?  What sense does this make?  None at all.
“Godless Engineer” makes the presupposition that every single Christian witness is a complete conspiratorial liar—either than or the gullible victim of one of these hundreds of conspiratorial liars.  This is a stupendous level of bias, to say the least.  That there were tens of thousands of believers by AD 50 is an established fact of history.  Is every single one of them willing to die rather than admit publicly that the entire premise of Christianity is an utter fabrication?
Also, “Godless Engineer” proposes that Thallus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, Ben Serapion and the other late first century and early second century pagan writers are extremely bad historians, who are also very gullible.  Sure, Tacitus’  and Josephus’ statements are second-hand.  That is true, but they were careful scholars who did not make blatant errors of fact.  I never saw Franklin Roosevelt, but I know people who have told me they actually saw him on television.  I believe them. My knowledge of Roosevelt is second-hand, but this does not make it unreliable, yet “Godless Engineer” believes that all of these men were duped by careless conspirators and blatant liars into believing in the reality of Jesus of Nazareth.  Again, this proposal is to be rejected out of hand.
On the Testamonium Flavium “Godless Engineer” does a fairly good job of creating some  reasonable doubt that Josephus actually wrote the section about Jesus.  That there was some sort of interpolation in Josephus seems to be fairly well established.  Even “Godless Emperor” seems to concede that Josephus did indeed at least mention Jesus, but implies that much of the famous section on Jesus is in doubt.  Unlike his other arguments, “Godless Engineer” does a reasonably good job of presenting a case that the Testamonium Flavium is not slam-dunk evidence for the reality of the person we know of as Jesus Christ.  Good job, “Godless Engineer.”  However, with literally all of his other arguments, they suffer from  an embarrassing level of bias which is so extreme, that it makes his article (outside the part about Josephus) a useless diatribe of no evidential value at all.  It is simply outside the range of believability that such a massive conspiracy to create a false person named Jesus of Nazareth could have been pulled off within twenty years of his supposed death, when a large majority of the original witnesses (or conspirators) were still alive, especially with literally no reasonable motive for such a lie having been presented.  Other than the section on Josephus, the rest of this article can and should be completely dismissed as nonsense.
John Oakes


Dr. Oakes, can you please refute each of these mythicist arguments against the secular sources of Jesus that are made by Godless Engineer on YouTube? I emailed you these claims last month. I don’t see anyone refuting these claims. These are the claims made by Godless Engineer when people use the secular sources for Jesus:
[And thus begins the extremely long and unedited post I am asked to respond to. J. O.]

“Most apologists conveniently ignore all of the evidence that refutes their points and so they end up cherry-picking an argument that makes it seem like they are just ignorant of the academic research that’s contrary to their own position. Just like with the Q document which is hypothetical, this also is just pure speculation. There is literally no evidence to suggest that any other version of the Testimonium Flavianum has ever existed. Alice Wheely conclusively proved that all existing versions of the Testimonium Flavianum including the Arabic and Syriac versions all ultimately stem from Eusebius in the fourth century between 220 CE and 320 CE. The Testimonium Flavianum seems to just pop into existence out of no where almost like somebody just inserted this passage into Josephus’ work. Now Wheely does go on to suggest this highly convoluted way that Josephus could have written the Testimonium Flavianum as it exists now, but just because she’s wrong in her conclusion should not detract from the fact that she conclusively proves that all extant versions of the Testimonium Flavianum ultimately stem from Eusebius’ version. Also, Alice Wheely’s findings were published in 2008. Just because a position (mythicism) is in the minority doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s crazy, especially in this area of historical research. Originally, we considered Moses, Abraham, Noah, and all the patriarchs of the Old Testament to be real individuals that lived in the past. It was the “fringe” scholars at the time that overturned that consensus with a new consensus that they didn’t actually exist in history whatsoever. Instead of trying to poison the well against these scholars, how about you try refuting their evidence. The most defensible position against the authenticity of the Testimonium Flavianum as we’ve already shown with Alice Wheely’s work, the original Testimonium Flavianum that most likely existed is the one with the very non-Jewish phrases contained in it. This already makes it highly unlikely that Josephus would have written it. You can also look at Paul Hopper’s work in A Narrative Anomaly in Josephus where he establishes: 1. The Testimonium Flavianum uses finite verbs in a very different way than Josephus does elsewhere in his writing. 2. The Testimonium Flavianum uses oblique and passive language to insert Pilate into this passage which is completely contradictory to how Josephus inserts Pilate into his work in the surrounding passages. 3. The Testimonium Flavianum has a completely different time organization than all of the surrounding passages. 4. The Testimonium Flavianum seems to be absent of a plot which is completely contradictory to all of the passages surrounding this passage. And finally 5. The Testimonium Flavianum would only make sense to Christians. G.J. Goldberg has established a link between the Testimonium and Emmaus road story in Luke’s gospel. There are 19 parallels in both of these works. It’s not just the fact that the parallels exist. It’s the fact that these parallels exist in the exact same order in both works. This makes coincidence highly unlikely and dependence highly likely. Ken Olsen has also established multiple parallels in both language and content between Eusebius and the Testimonium Flavianum. This coincides with the fact that the Testimonium seems to pop into existence right around the time Eusebius was the caretaker of the library that Josephus’ work was contained and Lewis Feldman has also come to the conclusion that a Christian like Eusebius most likely wrote the Testimonium Flavianum. Phrases such as “wise man,” “worker of amazing deeds,” “teacher of human beings,” and a “Christian tribe” are used by Eusebius to describe both Jesus and Christians, but are otherwise unused in the rest of Josephus’ work outside of the Testimonium. Additionally, the Testimonium fails to even describe what it means to be a Christian which is very uncharacteristic of Josephus considering that he does it for all of the other sects he mentions. One common way that you can test for an interpolation is to take the passage or phrase out of the context in which it appears. If the surrounding text seems to flow seamlessly together, then it may have been interpolated. This is exactly the case for the Testimonium because the paragraph prior to this flows seamlessly into the paragraph after it with the Testimonium removed. Finally, as stated before, the Testimonium Flavianum seems to pop into existence between the third and fourth centuries. Origen had ample reason to quote this passage from Josephus because Origen regularly quotes Josephus. In fact, no other pagan or Christian scholar mentions this passage prior to Eusebius in the fourth century. Normally just because somebody doesn’t talk about it doesn’t necessarily mean that it wasn’t there unless other people had ample reason to talk about it. In the case of the Testimonium Flavianum, we definitely have ample reason for other people to quote it if it existed prior to the fourth century. This mountain of evidence leads us to the conclusion that either Eusebius or his predecessor, Pamphyllus inserted the Testimonium Flavianum into Josephus’ work using Luke’s gospel and the Emmaus road story in order to generate the skeletal structure for the Testimonium. The passage previous to the Testimonium Flavianum describes Pilate and how he slaughtered a bunch of Jewish protesters. The passage after the Testimonium Flavianum starts off with, “About the same time also another sad calamity put the Jews in disorder.” The Testimonium is a glowing review of Jesus especially coming from a Jew. So why on earth would the passage directly after it refer to the Testimonium as another sad calamity? Taking the Testimonium Flavianum out of Josephus’ work has the preceding paragraph talking about the Jews being slaughtered by Pilate and then the next paragraph being “another sad calamity put the Jews in disorder” seems to flow together rather nicely. They literally fit like puzzle pieces. The primary reason to disregard the Testimonium Flavianum would be all of the scholars that substantially lay out that Josephus did not write it. The fact that nobody mentions this passage prior to Eusebius is curious, but it is also explained by Eusebius or his predecessor inserting the Testimonium into Josephus’ work. Also, Origen and the other authors definitely had a reason to quote Josephus. Origen already cites Josephus in regard to Jesus. Why not also cite this glowing recommendation of Jesus? It just doesn’t make any sense. Considering that the other so-called messiahs that he mentions, he calls them an imposter or a false prophet. I would expect him to use that kind of language. This is just one discrepancy that should cause you to investigate it further. The real argument against this particular passage in Josephus is that Josephus wouldn’t have just called him the Christ without explaining what a Christ was to his audience. He does this with other sects that he mentions. He explains who the Sadducees were as well as all the other groups. We simply don’t see that in this section and if the Testimonium Flavianum was actually written by Josephus, then we should expect him to refer back to the Testimonium right here instead of explaining who a Christ was and yet again, he does this in other sections of his work. It just kind of seems like a special pleading argument to say that he wouldn’t have done that here, but also this wasn’t a malicious interpolation in Josephus. Most likely, it seems like a marginal note was accidentally taken as a correction and then during transcription, was put in the place of what was originally there, most likely identifying this James as the brother of Jesus ben Damneus who was later mentioned in the passage as taking James’ place as High Priest. That would make more sense than bringing up some random other Jesus that doesn’t really matter to the story. Josephus tells us nothing about the historical Jesus. Josephus confirms some basic facts we read in the New Testament. We learned that Jesus had a reputation for being a good man, he had many followers, Pilate had him crucified, his followers believed to have seen him after he died, and they thought he was the messiah and this doesn’t throw up a red flag for you that Josephus tells us things that are already in the gospel accounts. I don’t understand why this doesn’t cause you to pause and question some things on the evidence. In Josephus, James is a Jew who became a Jewish high priest, not a Christian one. I’m not sure why you think this James is connected to the Jesus of the Bible other than you just disregarding all the arguments that say that the Christ portion is an interpolation. Paul doesn’t really discuss Jesus’ birth as an actual thing that happened. He discusses how his body was manufactured from the seed of David. The birth mentioned by Paul is an allegorical birth that was not meant to be taken literally. It’s meant to tie Jesus to the human condition in order to emphasize the need for a spiritual transformation. Jesus being born of a virgin in Bethlehem is just gospel nonsense. James was a brother in Christ which just means that he was a fellow Christian just like all of the other brothers. They were not blood related. The words used by Paul to describe James as a brother are rather ambiguous in considering Paul’s theology surrounding the concept of brotherhood and family. It seems more like Paul was referencing a fictive kinship rather than a blood relative. They weren’t producing novel ideas necessarily. They were adding to the existing narrative that was created by Mark. Also, they were each one group in a multitude of different groups in the first century. Their works only later rose to popularity. To assume that they somehow campaigned for their gospel is just absurd and unsubstantiated. Scholars that are on your side of the historicity of Jesus just think that all this evidence doesn’t actually support the conclusion that you’re coming to. I really wish that these apologists would actually take the strongest mythicism arguments and argue against them. Tell me why the scholars are wrong. Tell me why their evidence is wrong. Don’t pull the easiest arguments that you can get and refute those and then declare that the Testimonium’s been successfully defended because it hasn’t.

The Talmud most certainly was not talking about the Jesus that supposedly started Christianity. In fact, that reference is a completely different Jesus and none of the information about that Jesus matches up with the Jesus that supposedly started Christianity. Jesus probably didn’t exist. Most likely, he’s just a created figure that was made specifically to give Judaism its messiah that had been foretold for hundreds of years in the Old Testament. They knew one was coming and so they expected one and when one didn’t come, they just created him out of the existing scriptures that they had and there is no good evidence to point to his existence. There’s vague and ambiguous evidence, but as far as good evidence that definitely proves he existed in history, there’s not any of that at all. The gospels are not historic. They are not history even though a lot of people want to use them as history and proclaim them to be history even going as far as to say that most scholars agree that they’re historical accounts of Jesus. That’s just simply not true and the evidence is overwhelming for that. Luke is definitely not history and all of the gospels are based off of earlier works and earlier gospels. Paul is the best evidence that the Christians have that points towards maybe Jesus was a real historical figure. We know that at least a person referenced to as Paul existed and he wrote a number of these epistles. That is the earliest account of Jesus that would not be tainted by the gospel information. That’s why Paul is so important. Paul writing in the 50s and then on into the 60s predates the gospels, so there’s no way that Paul could get his information from the gospels despite what fundamentalist apologists want you to think. So what is the best evidence for a historical Jesus? It would have to be Paul, but even Paul doesn’t get you to a historical Jesus. The secular sources are not independent of the gospels. All of the secular sources come way after the gospels were being written. Once you hit 70 A.D., everything else is tainted because 70 A.D. has the Gospel of Mark being written and that historicizes Jesus. So everybody after that point is gonna believe that Jesus walked and talked on earth and did all those things. So these secular sources you can tell were in some way either directly or indirectly informed by the gospels. There’s a slight caveat you have to put with Tacitus because while Tacitus is generally considered to be a good historian, that does not mean that what he says about Jesus in his works was not informed by the gospels in some kind of fashion and in fact, Robert van Voorst, a Christian scholar, a New Testament scholar agrees just to emphasize how not even New Testament Christian scholars don’t even use Tacitus to prove that Jesus existed in history or at least they shouldn’t. Here’s Robert van Voorst’s opinion on the evidence of Tacitus: “Does this “Testimonium Taciteum” therefore provide definitive evidence of the existence of Jesus? If we could be certain that Tacitus’s account was based on non-Christian sources, the answer would be yes; but as we have seen, such independent knowledge is unverifiable. As R.T. France concludes, while the evidence from Tacitus corroborates the New Testament accounts of the death of Jesus, ” by itself it cannot prove that events happened as Tacitus had been informed,”  or even the existence of Jesus. This latter, France correctly argues, has abundant persuasive evidence in the New Testament.126 Tacitus, careful historian that he was, presumed the existence of Jesus and had no reason to doubt it.” So as you can tell, Robert van Voorst, New Testament scholar agrees that this information from Tacitus is not independent of the New Testament gospels. So declaring him to be this sort of independent account is just dishonest because Tacitus wherever he got his information from would have been information from the gospels because Tacitus was writing in the second century and he was pen pals with Pliny the Younger. Pliny the Younger could have informed him about these beliefs of the Christians and he could have written that down in his document. The important point here is that he’s in the second century and he’s informed by the current community of Christians that exist which include the gospels and at the point in time when Tacitus was writing, there probably would have been access to at least 3 of the gospels that were floating around the Christian community. The Christian community at large either directly or indirectly informed Tacitus and that makes Tacitus not independent and that’s if you don’t even want to go through the rigmarole of doubting whether or not Tacitus wrote this portion which there is a very solid argument to say that he didn’t even write that. For one thing where it’s mentioned with this Chrestus or Christus, it was actually originally Chrestus and he called them the Chrestians. A lot of people want to say that this is a common misspelling that was purposefully done to denigrate this group of people and there isn’t any good evidence for this. Misspellings often did happen, but in more vulgar works. Not that these works were like cursing all the time, but just in a simpler writing style or a simpler understanding of writing in general. But to say that Tacitus was writing vulgar stuff instead of being this very exquisite historian that they all claim he was is a bit of cherry-picking. If you’re the best historian, then you’re gonna communicate in the best way that you can or that exists at that time. So don’t fall for the cherry-picking thing about that. You can also take out the portion of Tacitus that talks about when he was crucified and all this other stuff. You can take that out and the rest of the passage flows seamlessly which isn’t proof that it wasn’t there, but it’s definitely an indication of a possible interpolation and coupled with the fact that all of this information is found in the gospels, it would be very easy for somebody to insert this into Tacitus’ work. Let’s not even mind that argument because we don’t need it. Tacitus was not an independent account of Jesus. He was definitely informed by the New Testament information. That literally means that you can’t add it to your list of secular sources for Jesus. Specifically that this Chrestus person riled up the Jews and caused a lot of disturbances and it was specifically Chrestus and you notice how he speculatively wrote in there, Christ. Now Christ was a title, not a name. Chrestus is a name, not a title. So it’s more likely they were talking about a separate individual called Chrestus who Tacitus later tried to suggest that Nero blamed these Chrestians for the fire in Rome. That seems way more likely than them just misspelling it because you’re requiring these people that were typically regarded as some of the best historians at that time. You’re trying to tell me that for some reason around the name Christ or Jesus Christ, they instead decided to misspell his name for some reason without any kind of indication that they were trying to denigrate them or anything like that. It just seems very speculative and arbitrary to me. So Suetonius writing about it happening in 55 and meaning that this Chrestus person was the one that was causing the problems means that it could not be Jesus Christ because this all happened in 55. So this literally cannot be a reference to the Jesus that supposedly started Christianity. Paul would have already been an apostle by this time and would have already started writing his stuff about Jesus dying and resurrecting. So it literally makes no sense to bring up Suetonius.

The problem with using Antiquities 20:9 is that it was most likely interpolated because in that passage later on, they reference a completely different Jesus. Jesus ben Damneus as if they had been talking about that guy the entire time. So it makes more sense that the earlier part, the “who was called Christ” was inserted in order to create a reference to Jesus and the reason why this is the most likely conclusion about this particular reference is that Josephus doesn’t bother to explain what a Christ is at that point. Now if the Testimonium Flavianum had existed in Josephus’ work like a lot of people want to say, then, at that point, Josephus like he’s done for several other groups and several other people in the rest of his work would have referenced back to that particular passage to explain what a Christ was to his audience or to remind them rather what a Christ was, but he doesn’t do that. So you can’t use that particular explanation. The other thing is that Josephus does not explain what a Christ is within that particular paragraph. If this concept of a Christ and what it means to the Jews had not been discussed previously, then Josephus would feel compelled to explain it at that point, but he doesn’t do that and the fact that he doesn’t do that is quite odd for Josephus because he does this for every other group that he brings up and mentions to his audience. So it just simply doesn’t make sense that this “who would be called Christ” would be put there. It most likely originally said something about this James being the brother of Jesus ben Damneus. It would make a lot more sense if Jesus ben Damneus was being referenced and not Jesus who was called Christ.

There’s multiple problems with the Thallus evidence. For one thing, this is like third hand information. So this reference is quoted by George Syncellus who is quoting Julius Africanus who is then quoting Thallus and Thallus was writing in the second century. This doesn’t necessarily rule it out as historical evidence, but the other information surrounding this particular section would definitely rule it out as historical evidence. So for one thing, Thallus never centers this event as happening around Judea or anywhere near where Jesus was crucified. Also another thing that makes it problematic is that the eclipse that supposedly happened during Jesus’ death or right after Jesus died only occurs in the gospels and so that kind of leads us in the direction that it was informed by the gospels as far as when Thallus was talking about it, but considering that Thallus never attached this event to Jesus’ death or even the place where Jesus was crucified kind of makes it sound like people are just pulling random observations of eclipses out and saying, “Oh see, see, that proves there was an eclipse at Jesus’ death.”  All of this was written at a time after the gospels had been written and therefore are informed by the gospels and how we can know that there was nothing really special about Jesus’ death like for example, an earthquake or this eclipse that supposedly happened is that Paul doesn’t mention any of these things happening at Jesus’ death. These are very symbolic things with the the earthquake and the sky darkening and all this other stuff that would definitely be referenced by Paul, but because it’s not, it’s more than likely legendary accretion rather than something that historically happened. So another piece of evidence that doesn’t actually independently attest to a historical Jesus. There’s a pattern here with all these pieces of evidence for Jesus and all of them need the gospels to exist in order for Jesus to exist.

Pliny was writing in the second century and Pliny was also saying that he was interrogating the Christians and then he had never heard of the Christians whatsoever before this point. Pliny is interrogating these people and these people are telling him about their religion in the second century. By the second century, they had 3, if not all 4 gospels available to them. Jesus was completely historicized by that point and everybody thought that Jesus actually died on earth and resurrected as a god man. At that point, you can’t use any of the information. That makes Pliny the Younger useless in our investigation of the historical Jesus because all he does is say, “Oh hey, these are Christians. This is what they believe in the second century and here’s how they worship.” That’s it. This is not an independent reference to Jesus. Why would anybody include this piece of evidence?

The Talmud is by far the most deviously used piece of evidence for Jesus. The particular reference to Jesus of Nazareth being executed and everything actually comes from the reign of King Gennaeus which happened between 104 BCE and 74 BCE. Also all of the information surrounding this Jesus’ death does not match up whatsoever to the Jesus that supposedly started Christianity. For one thing, he was put to death for sorcery, not blasphemy. You see, they didn’t really care about Jesus doing miracles, they cared about the fact that Jesus was talking about how he is the I Am, he’s like the son of God, and all this other stuff. That’s what they cared about. They didn’t care about him doing miracles and another thing is that this particular Jesus was executed directly by the Jews, not the Romans. He was also stoned as indicated by Jewish law and not crucified and to pile it on, he was executed in Lifta and not Jerusalem. This reference of the Talmud continues on to say that this Jesus had a connection with the government and had 5 disciples that were immediately put to death after him. All of this is contrary to everything we know from either the gospels or from Paul. So this particular Jesus should not be mentioned. This doesn’t prove your point. You need to throw it out.

Lucian of Samasada was a satirist that was writing in the second century. Again, as we’ve already established, everything after the gospels had been established in the Christian community that would have happened at least by 80 CE. So with Lucian writing in the second century, he was just reporting what the current Christians of that time were saying. So this is not an independent source about Jesus or anything like that. He definitely got his information from a Christian source in some kind of way. Even Robert van Voorst in his book, Jesus Outside the New Testament agrees that this information that Lucian was getting was common knowledge at that time. This is not anything that can be used to prove that Jesus existed. It just proves what Christians believed in around 165 CE.

Mara bar Serapion is again like Lucian of Samasada, unusable to us because he was tainted by gospel information. Scholars have dated this text to between 73 CE and the third century with the most likely dating being the second century. This is due to the sociopolitical environment that he’s talking about at that time and that he existed within. It fits more with the second century dating than any other dating and there’s multiple reasons to think that he is sourcing his information from either the gospels themselves or by just talking to Christians or knowing about what Christians believe. For one thing, he links the destruction of the temple to this death of the wise king. That is clearly only taught in the gospels. Another thing that gives us this indication is that he blames the Jews for this wrongful death. You wouldn’t necessarily do that if you were talking about some kind of independent source or anything like that for Jesus because the outside view would be that the Romans put him to death, not the Jews. The only place where that ever pops up is in the gospels. Paul never mentions that it’s the Jews that killed Jesus, In fact, Paul doesn’t even talk about the Romans killing Jesus. Paul specifically talks about the archons of this aeon putting Jesus to death which some have said means the Romans, but in other places, Paul uses the same type of phrase to refer to Satan and his demons. So it kind of makes it sound like he was probably most likely talking about Satan and his demons are the ones that crucified Jesus. This just simply was not evidence of Jesus.

The Gnostic writings occurred way after Christianity was already established. None of these writings occurred like congruently with Paul reference some kind of independent source for Jesus. These are all things that occurred after that fact.

If everything that these sources are telling us confirm what is in the gospels, it kind of seems like maybe the gospels are the source for all this information and as we have seen, that’s most likely where they got this information. So none of this is actual historical proof of Jesus because what we would need for historical proof of Jesus existing is independent testimony about Jesus walking around and doing stuff on earth, but that’s the problem is that Jesus was historicized so early in Christian history that it’s really hard to find good evidence for him being a real person. That leaves us pretty much only with Paul until we can find better evidence. Textual critic, Bart Ehrman has just created sources that are behind the gospels and then he just summarily labels them as being independent testimony about Jesus and that all 4 gospels have these imaginary sources underneath them and apparently, he can analyze those to know that they’re independent accounts. It just seems ridiculous if you have to create sources to verify your own position. Given the current documentation about Jesus, there is nothing that solidly places him in history and apologetic videos are not even considering the critical scholarship on these sources that they’re talking about. They’re just listing off the same sources that apologists like the detectives use or like the really bad reporter uses or Frank Turek with his “from the goo to the zoo to you” whole thing of denying evolution and that is the ultimate place where all of these people are getting this information and it’s just redundant. The sources don’t prove that Jesus existed. We need to shift the conversation to primarily talking about Paul and his evidence because that is the earliest evidence that we have. It also predates the gospels, so it cannot be tainted by the gospels and the fact that apologist organizations like this just cannot even do a bare minimum of looking at the critical scholarship on their sources from their own camp just screams volumes.

The people that were dying as martyrs were separated by whole generations from the people that would have “lied” about it. The first Jewish Christians who are the Jewish Christians that came even before Paul sincerely believed that all of this had happened. So it’s not just a lie or it really happened. That’s a false dichotomy, but to present the people that were dying as martyrs as being the ones that concocted a lie is just dishonest and it doesn’t match up with the information that we have. This is just another way that apologists try to use this kind of emotional manipulation about believing something to be true and then lying about it. They’re conflating two groups of people that did not live at the same time. Nothing is really evidence for Jesus. All of it was informed by the gospels.”

Thank you! I appreciate you refuting the arguments mythicists make because it helps strengthen my faith. I also saw an argument that the Gospel of Mark was copied from Josephus.


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