There Were No Eye-witnesses To Jesus' Life

From: Simon Ewins
To: Andrew Ruys

Problem is I do not attempt to address secular evidence of anything to do with Jesus Christ because, a) Christ is a title, not a surname (it should be Jesus the Christ), b) christ is a title designating one who is annointed and I don't have a big quarrel with the stipulation that he was annointed, in fact I think it is very likely that he was, its significance has, however, been greatly exaggerated.

The main reason that I am more than willing to state that "a man named Jesus was executed by the Romans during the period governed by Pontius Pilate", is because there are so many non-Christian sources that support the idea. Roman, Jewish and gnostic sources as well as the gospel authors and virtually all competent biblical scholars, agree that this was the case.

That is evidence that is satisfactory to me. However, I question to the point of dismissal claims that he was born of a virgin, rose from the dead, rose others from the dead or walked on water because Roman, Jewish and gnostic sources as well as the gospel authors and biblical scholars do _not_ agree and in fact either contradict each other most of the time or totally ignore such events, never mentioning them at all.

To convince me of the divinity of Jesus will require the same kind of evidence that has convinced me that he existed and was executed by the Romans under Pontius Pilate. No more and no less. The sources that you cite as being supportive of the more outlandish claims made in the NT in actual fact do not only not support those claims but they speak loudly against them since they ignore them. Yet these events are too fantastic to be ignored if they actually happened. The more mundane claims, I do not deny. However, for the more extraordinary claims equally extraordinary evidence is required.

I assure you that I _can_ be convinced... given the right kinds of evidence.

Then you should realize that there is nothing in extant that was written about Jesus any earlier than Paul's letters which are still, at the very earliest, dated to ten years after Jesus' death. As you should know, Mark is dated by most scholars to 70-75 C.E. which is about forty years after Jesus' death. Matthew at about 80-85 C.E., Luke at about 85-90 C.E. and John at 110-120 (if not as late as 140) C.E.

You should find it suggestive that the earliest (Paul) make no mention of a virgin birth, raising the dead or walking on water kinds of miracles. A little healing but no big "WOW" except the resurrection. The next earliest source, Mark, adds a few miracles but no virgin birth and no raising people from the dead. Matthew has a virgin birth and even more miracles. Luke adds to the virgin birth and presents a slightly more miraculous being. John takes it another step by making Jesus the son of a god, raising Lazarus and generally being more spirit than human. The later the source the more fantastic the reports.

- Jesus dies.
- Paul adds resurrection.
- Matthew/Luke add virgin birth.
- John makes him a god.

As I say, that should be suggestive of something to you. If nothing else Paul and the authors of Matthew, Mark and Luke should have noticed something as phenomenal as the raising of Lazarus from the dead (especially Paul, that would have been something that he would have made a very big deal about). None even mention it. Even the editor of the "The Abingdon Bible Commentary" finds that hard to swallow, "He [John] is the only one to record the miracle of Lazarus, a miracle so incredible that it could hardly have escaped the attention of Paul, Mark, Matthew, and Luke had it really happened. Why did they not make mention of this miracle?"

My answer is "Because it never happened.". So, if John is considered to be accurate history by yourself then you must dismiss the others as inaccurate or at least very bad history for missing such a phenomenally noticeable thing.

How you can assert with any honesty that what ended up in the gospels is related to accurate history is beyond me.