Article - Jesus Was a Historical Man (part 4)
This article will consider only a few of the evidences of Jesus from ancient, uninspired testimonies of early opponents of Christ and Christianity. Though many of the comments made by Jesus’ opponents are false and can be easily refuted, the purpose of this lesson is prove that even Jesus’ enemies believed He was a real man who existed. If Jesus was not real, then why would individuals write and oppose an imaginary figure? Evidences: (1) CELSUS, pagan philosopher of the second century A.D., produced the oldest existing literary attack against Christianity. His “True Discourse” (c. A.D. 178) was a bitter assault upon Christ. He argued that “Jesus was born in low circumstances…As he grew, he announced himself to be God, deceiving many.” Celsus charged that Christ’s own people killed Him, and that His resurrection was a deception. Celsus’ statements affirm that Jesus did indeed existed; (2) LUCIAN of Samosata (c. A.D. 115-200) was a pagan rhetorician and satirist; he was called “the Voltaire of Grecian literature.” He said “ [Christians] still worship [Christ], the man who was crucified in Palestine because he introduced this new cult into the world…[Christ persuaded the Christians] that they are all brothers of one another…[they] have worshipped that crucified sophist himself and live according to his laws.” (The Passing Peregrinus); (3) PORPHYRY of Tyre (A.D. 234-c. 305) was a pagan philosopher. He studied philosophy in Greece, and lived in Sicily where he wrote fifteen books against the Christian faith. In one of his books, “Life of Pythagoras,” he contended that magicians of the pagan world exhibited greater powers than Christ. In his argument was an admittance of Jesus’ existence and power; (4) PUBLIUS CORNELIUS TACITUS (A.D. 56-117) was a pagan senator and historian of Rome. He was formally educated and held high positions under at least two different emperors. He wrote that the Roman Emperor “Nero fabricated scapegoats-and punished with every refinement the notoriously depraved Christians (as they were popularly called). Their originator, Christ, had been executed in Tiberius’ reign by the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilatus. But in spite of this temporary setback the deadly superstition had broken out afresh, not only in Judea (where the mischief had started) but even in Rome” (Annals XV.44). Tacitus also referred to Christianity in Histories where he spoke of the burning of Jerusalem temple in A.D. 70. [Continued in part 5]
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