Thursday, April 30, 2009

Brief Commentary: Was Jesus Crucified? (

The claim by Ehteshaam Gulam of answering-Christian-claims goes:

Some Christian Apologetics claim that Jesus had to have been killed on the cross, due to the historical record. They claim that there are several documents in the 1st century that prove that Jesus was crucified. However the fact is that these "sources" of the crucifixion of Jesus come from authors who lived after the alleged crucifixion of Jesus.none of their accounts serve as eyewitness evidence for any alleged crucifixion of Jesus. There were over 60 historians in the 1st century in the Roman world. Yet only two non-Christian sources in the entire 1st century mention that Jesus was crucified. Here I'll analyze both Josephus and Tacitus sources and explain why they shouldn't be trusted as evidence.

Interestingly enough, a Muslim who bases their belief in the actions of Muhammad from traditions penned hundreds of years after the death of Muhammad is attacking the reliability of first century historians. The crucifixion of Jesus in the minds of even the most skeptical of historians is seen as a historical fact. As stated by John Dominic Crossan, “That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be, since both Josephus and Tacitus...agree with the Christian accounts on at least that basic fact.”[1]

We are informed that there were over 60 historians in the Roman world in the first century, yet we only have two non-Christians recording Jesus’ crucifixion. I invited anyone to take note of the size of the Roman Empire within the first century here. Now, tell me the logic behind expecting every non-Christian historian to record an event that occurred on the outskirts of the Empire in a region not even seen worthy enough to be ruled by the senatorial class or aristocracy of Rome.

If we look at what we do have, we have a substantial number of independent historical witnesses that testify to the crucifixion of Christ.

The author then goes on to dismiss Josephus and Tacitus without any solid justification. because they were not primary witnesses to the event. They claim that “many scholars’ believe Josephus’ reference to Jesus to be interpolations. This is incorrect, and a misrepresentation of textual critical scholarship on Josephus. It is to be noted, that the majority of scholars believe Josephus to have authentically mentioned Jesus and his crucifixion. The claims of interpolation refer to embellishments such as admission of Jesus being the Christ. To dismiss Josephus’ account on this bases is scholarly dishonest.

Furthermore, without establishing reasons against the historicity of Josephus and Tacitus they are simply dismissed for writing after the event. In fact, they go as far to say that Christians unwittingly or deceptively violate the rules of historiography by using after-the-event writings as evidence for the event itself.” With regard to this, I hate to point out that all literary historical evidence is composed after the event. That is why it is history and not the present – or a real-time media source such as a photograph or video from the first century.

As all historians know, simply dismissing a historical source as hearsay for being composed within a generation or two is simply bad history. This is especially significant in the case where oral testimony of historical matters was generally reliable and the true way in which the people of the time engaged in history. It is not Christian apologists who embarrass themselves by allegedly abandoning historical method but our Muslim friend. In short, no reason to reject the historical evidence is presented.

Our friend then turns to the Bible to prove his point, and I shall touch on this briefly before I end this part:

Now it gets interesting, nowhere in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John does it say that Jesus was resurrected. In the words of Dr.Naik "Not a single verse in any of the Gospels mention that Jesus was resurrected."

This is very interesting, especially as the historical account for the resurrection is so firmly grounded in these texts. I am sure this is another semantics game – although the text clearly and repeatedly state that Jesus was crucified, died, buried, rose again and visisted the disciples – it did not happen unless the text states verbatim “Jesus was resurrected on Easter.”

If we turn to the Gospel of John, for example:

  1. Jesus is crucified and died:

When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is completed!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:30

  1. Jesus was checked and confirmed dead:

But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.

John 19:33

  1. Just incase they double checked:

But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and blood and water flowed out immediately.

John 19:34

  1. Jesus’ body was laid in a tomb:

And so, because it was the Jewish day of preparation and the tomb was nearby, they placed Jesus’ body there.

John 19:42

  1. The tomb is then found empty:

So she went running to Simon Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

John 20:2

  1. Jesus was then alive, visiting his disciples who confirmed the marks of his crucifixion:

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

John 20:20

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and examine my hands. Extend your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe.

John 20:27

This reminds me of an explicit resurrection. Some might even say that the text talks about that Jesus rose from the dead and the disciples were not expecting it, “For they did not yet understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead.” (John 20:9)

…To be continued

See also:

[1] Crossan, John Dominic (1995). Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography. HarperOne. p. 145.

No comments:

Post a Comment