Understanding the Attack on the Historical Jesus. BryAn cox 2012 February 25 MIN 528 Jesus & Apologetics. Overview. Understanding how knowing the historical Jesus can help us defend Him properly in our modern culture. Define historical background of Jesus Chronological view of Jesus
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Understanding the Attack on the Historical Jesus BryAn cox 2012 February 25 MIN 528 Jesus & Apologetics
Overview • Understanding how knowing the historical Jesus can help us defend Him properly in our modern culture. • Define historical background of Jesus • Chronological view of Jesus • Social climate of Jesus’ time • Political influence in Jewish society • Defending Jesus in modern culture • Nonbiblical evidence of Jesus’ existence • Types of attacks on Jesus • Countering attacks on Jesus
Historical View of Jesus • In order to be able to defend Jesus accurately, one must understand the time period in which he lived and ministered. • How does Jesus fit into the 1st century? • What were the people like? • What was the political climate of the time? • What was considered cultural norms? • All of this helps explain the context of Jesus’ ministry. • It also helps make sense of how and why Jesus said the things that he said. • One should also examine the social and political climates of His day. • It is also good to look at how Jesus and his ministry fit into the first century chronologically.
Historical View of Jesus – Chronological • How does Jesus fit into the 1st century? • It’s important to note that we can’t exactly pinpoint exact dates on such things as Jesus’ birth, the start of Jesus’ ministry, etc. • Bock states “The scholarly, historical study of Jesus is not always right, because it is a reconstruction done by fallible people.”1 • When was Jesus born? • We know in Matthew 2:1 that Jesus’ birth takes place during King Herod’s reign. • Josephus mentions a lunar eclipse during the end of King Herod’s reign. 2 • Tracing this back, leads one to a timeframe of sometime in March 4 B.C. 3
Historical View of Jesus – Chronological(cont.) • We also know from Luke 2:1-3 that there was a census around when Quirinius was governor. • We cannot be sure of the exact time of the census but it is likely during the end of Herod’s reign. • We know from the Bible that Herod was a little unstable and ordered the killings of infants for about two years in an attempt to kill the baby Jesus. • Knowing that Herod did not die before 4 B.C. and working backwards two years from this timespan we arrive at a range of 6-4 B.C. for the birth of Jesus. 4 • Just because we can’t arrive at an exact date, doesn’t mean Jesus didn’t exist. • In fact, the amount of extra biblical evidence coupled with the Gospels is quite an amount of evidence given the dating of events and time keeping in ancient times.
Historical View of Jesus – Chronological(cont.) • When was Jesus’ ministry? • From Luke 3 we can gather that • It was the 15th year into the reign of Tiberius Caesar • Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea • Herod was tetrarch of Galilee • Herod’s brother, Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis • Lysaniaswas tetrarch of Abilene in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas • John the Baptist started his ministry • All of this places us in the latter 20s-early 30s A.D.5 • Given that Luke was a Gentile and he probably used a Roman counting system and the number of Passovers mentioned in the book of John, Jesus ministry probably started around 28-29 A.D. 6 • This also means that Jesus was probably crucified in 33 A.D.
Historical View of Jesus – Chronological(cont.) • In Conclusion • Even though we cannot give the exact date of Jesus’ birth and ministry years, we can narrow it down to a limited range of a couple years respectively. • The historical evidence and biblical evidence for Jesus is quite substantial given who he was. • To the Romans, he would have been no more than some Jewish renegade that caused some trouble and was punished accordingly. • All of this chronological evidence helps us define the time periods in which Jesus lived. • From these periods, we can access the social and political climate.
Historical View of Jesus – Political • What was the political climate of the time like? • It’s important to understand the political culture of Jesus’ time. • Helps give depth and understand to his consistent conflicts with the authority of the time • Gives perspective on how the people of the time understood and related to Jesus’ teachings • Shows us how Jesus was the hope for the lost and sinners as well as a threat to people like the Pharisees
Historical View of Jesus – Political (cont.) • What were the times like before Jesus? • Very chaotic from their once former lifestyle as an independent state once the Babylonians destroyed the nation • Israel was ruled over by numerous kingdoms from this point on.7 • Babylonian Rule – 586-539 B.C. • Persian Rule – 539-331 B.C. • Alexander the Great to Antiochus Epiphanes – 331-175 B. C. • Antiochus IV to the Maccabean Revolt – 175-164 B.C. • Hasmonean Rule – 164-63 B.C. • Roman Rule from Pompey to Pilate – 63 B.C.-A.D. 36
Historical View of Jesus – Political (cont.) • What were the times like during Jesus’ ministry? • Roman rule over Israel • Tiberius was emperor over the Roman empire • Pontius Pilate was the prefect over the region • Sanhedrin ruled Jewish people and were under the prefect • Lead by the High Priest • This was Caiaphas in Jesus’ time • Jewish high court • While the Jewish people were free to a point, they remained under the authority of the Roman Empire and Sanhedrin. • They longed for God’s kingdom to be established and the Messiah who would rule over them and free them from their captivity.
Historical View of Jesus – Political (cont.) • Conclusions • Under the rule of so many kingdoms, the Jewish people struggled to keep their traditions and identity as God’s chosen people • The Jewish people looked forward to the promised kingdom that was foretold. • They hoped for the arrival of their Messiah that would establish this kingdom, free them from foreign rule, and rule over them righteously. • With all of this chaos, the Jews believed in one God, but multiple forms of Judaism formed. • Similar to the way Christianity has so many denominations today. • This would effect the social climate of Jesus’ time.
Historical View of Jesus – Social • Culture is a complex thing because it represents the norms of the time • There are always examples of extremes in a culture such as beliefs or political views for example • Not everyone accepts culture • Modern day example would be the Hippies from the 60s • Social lifestyle also plays a major part in the culture • Social status • Profession • Power • Religious beliefs
Historical View of Jesus – Social (cont.) • What was the culture and social norms of Jesus’ time? • Honor was a major cultural value that affected ancient life. • Thus, the Gospels help elevate Jesus to his appropriate place as God’s son giving him the greatest honor. • This is something the Jews would be looking for in their Messiah. • Social status was mostly fixed in ancient times thus the case for the Jewish people as well. • This produced a very hierarchical society which was common for many cultures of the time. • The dominant religious/political power of Jesus’ time was the Sadducees. 8 • Although they were the dominant religious power of the time, the ultimate authority would have been Roman. • Family also played an important part of the social structure back then.
Historical View of Jesus – Social (cont.) • Religion also plays a major part of cultures. • Three major aspects existed in the Jewish faith during the beginning of the first century. 9 • Monotheism-Election – Belief in one God who chose the Jewish people to be his and set apart for Him. • Covenant-Land – The Covenant God made with Israel that the land would be theirs. Jews longed for a time where they would own the land once more. • Circumcision – This was affirmation of the Jewish people to Abraham’s promise from God.
Historical View of Jesus – Social (cont.) • Wrap-up • These major Jewish beliefs played a major part in the life of the Jewish people during Jesus’ time. • This is evident on how they wanted to hold on to the Law given to them from Moses and how they struggled with letting some of the laws go as depicted in Acts. • Honor was high in cultural values as was keeping the family structure. • Social status was relatively fixed with the majority poor and concerned with just surviving. • These social and cultural values show us how Jesus would have been accepted as God’s son—giving him the greatest honor– and gives us context to his parables and the importance they would have had on the people at the time.
Defending Jesus in Modern Culture • Now that we know some of the historical and cultural background of Jesus’ time we can better understand him. • This knowledge gives us depth into his teachings. • It also serves as the starting point in understanding how to defend Jesus in our modern culture. • We can’t defend Jesus properly if we don’t understand the people he ministered to and his ways of doing this. • We need to be able to defend Jesus properly in our time more than ever. • This historical knowledge will be used in understanding the nonbiblical evidence of Jesus, the types of attacks on Him and the Gospels, and disproving these types of attacks.
Defending Jesus in Modern Culture – Nonbiblical Evidence • Many extra biblical sources exist that collaborate the existence of Jesus and the accuracy of the Gospels. • Extra Biblical Sources10 • Roman • Suetonius • Tacitus • Pliny the Younger • Syrian • Mara Bar Sarapion • Jewish • Josephus • Rabbinic Sources • Let’s examine just what they have to add to the defense of Jesus
Defending Jesus in Modern Culture – NonbiblicalEvidence (cont.) • Roman • Suetonius – Wrote about the expulsion of Jews from Rome from Claudius's declaration when the Jews revolted in A.D. 49 • This event is mentioned in Acts 18:2. • Tacitus – Wrote about the great fire in Rome in A.D. 64 which Nero blamed on the Jews. • In his writing, he mentions Christ, Christians, and that Pilate executed Jesus. • Pliny the Younger – Wrote about questioning and punishing Christians. He mentions their worship habits and their claim that Jesus was God and the only true God. • Syrian • Mara Bar Sarapion – Writes about wise people in history. Mentions Jesus as the king of the Jews and his new laws given to his people. • Jewish • Josephus – Wrote on James, Jesus, and John the Baptist. Mentions Jesus did marvelous deeds • Rabbinic Sources – Includes reports from the Sanhedrin on Jesus as a false prophet and practiced sorcery and led Israel astray.
Defending Jesus in Modern Culture – Nonbiblical Evidence (cont.) • Conclusions • There are numerous non-Christian/non-Jewish sources as well as Jewish sources that collaborate the Gospels as well as Jesus. • They speak of his claim to kingship, his healings, the early movements of the Church, and other people who are important in the Gospels like John the Baptist. • These extra biblical sources help us defend Jesus to those who do not believe in the authenticity of the Bible. • These extra biblical evidences also can help us claim the divinity of Jesus and the authenticity of the Bible when they come under attack.
Defending Jesus in Modern Culture – Types of Attacks • We know Christians and the Gospel will be attacked more and more as we come closer to Jesus’ second coming. • 2 Timothy 4:3 tells us there will be a time where people will not want to hear the truth and only what suits there own desires. • We need to be ready to defend against the attacks on Jesus, the Christian beliefs, and the Gospels. • These attacks come at various angles such as • attacking the authenticity of the Bible • using scriptures out of context • and trying to prove questionable texts are valid and that they add extra information on Jesus.
Defending Jesus in Modern Culture – Types of Attacks • Attacking the authenticity of the Bible • Some modern scholars have stated that 11 • Jesus was illiterate • Jesus wasn’t interested in scripture • Jesus wasn’t interested in the final plans or rule of God • Jesus didn’t claim to be the Messiah • All of these degrade the image of Jesus and the Gospel resulting in declaring the Gospels not as accurate as they are claimed. • If Jesus was illiterate, how could he be so studied in God’s word? What does this say about the son of God? • If Jesus was the Messiah but wasn’t interested in scripture or the final rule of God, what then? How could the son of God be taken seriously? • If Jesus didn’t see himself as the Messiah, then what claims of hope and salvation can be found to be true within the Gospels?
Defending Jesus in Modern Culture – Types of Attacks • Using scripture out of context • Some scholars say that sayings of Jesus are not really from him at all. 12 • These sayings actually represent the beliefs of the early church. 13 • They strip the sayings from the context of the narratives of the Gospels. • Doing this changes the meaning and the outcome of the sayings altogether. • The contexts added in the Gospels are artificial and from secondary sources. 14 • These contexts thus mislead people into believing the sayings of Jesus are actually from him.
Defending Jesus in Modern Culture – Types of Attacks • Use of questionable texts to add more to Jesus • These texts are those outside of the New Testament. • They supposedly add more to Jesus such as teachings, values, and additional historical information not mentioned in the New Testament. • Da Vinci Code helped to promote some of these books and teachings from the questionable texts. • Some of the most popular texts from this category are • The Gospel of Thomas • The Gospel of Judas • The Gospel of Peter • The Gospel of Mary • The Gospel of Hebrews
Defending Jesus in Modern Culture – Defending Against Attacks • Now that we have seen several angles of attack, we need to know how to counter them and defend Jesus and the authenticity of the Gospels. • We should be able to counter the authenticity of the Bible, using scriptures out of context, and the questionable texts against those who question such things. • Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Jude 3-4
Defending Jesus in Modern Culture – Defending Against Attacks • Countering Authenticity • Jesus was illiterate • Luke 4:16-30 shows Jesus reading from the book of Isaiah in the synagogue in front of people • John 7:15 shows that the people were astonished that Jesus was so learned when he had never been educated. • We weren’t expect an educated person to be illiterate. • Jesus wasn’t interested in scripture • Jesus quotes 23 out 36 books of the Hebrew Bible 15 • All five books of Moses • All major prophets, 8 of the 12 minor prophets • Clearly he was interested in scripture as many times as he referenced it and the range of books that he did reference. • Jesus wasn’t interested in the final plans or rule of God • Luke 11:20 states that the kingdom of God has come upon men. • Jesus constantly taught his disciples to obey God’s rules and look forward to kingdom of God • Jesus didn’t claim to be the Messiah • When John the Baptist asked if he was the Messiah, Jesus quoted several passages from Isaiah about the Messiah. • Jesus claimed to the be the Messiah through this • He also referred to himself as the Son of Man and God’s son.
Defending Jesus in Modern Culture – Defending Against Attacks • Countering the use of scriptures out of context • No evidence that Jesus really didn’t say what he said in the Gospels. • Scholars shouldn’t try to read 1st century stories only in a 21st century context. • Read the stories and parables of Jesus in the context of the day to get the most clarity out of it. • Even if the stories and parables do not have exact contexts, they do have general contexts from which we can draw assumptions and conclusions that fit the stories and parables of Jesus.
Defending Jesus in Modern Culture – Defending Against Attacks • Countering Questionable Texts • All of these texts come from, at the earliest, the mid 2nd century. • Too far away time wise to be considered credible. • Many contain contradictory teachings from what Jesus teaches in the Gospels and even what is found in other New Testament books. • Many sayings in these books are copied from the original Gospels and then added upon so they are not original texts from Jesus’ time period. • Many refer to contexts different from Jesus’ time and include contexts from the suffering church. • The suffering church wouldn’t be applicable until after Jesus’ ascension into heaven and the establishment of the early church.
Conclusions • We have learned about what the historical Jesus look liked chronologically and the political and social climate of His time. • All of this has helps us better defend Jesus in our modern culture against such attacks as questioning the authenticity of the Bible, attacks on Jesus, and how to counter these attacks. • The amount of evidence for Jesus as an actual person and as the savior of the world is extraordinary. • We must be able to proclaim the greatness of His name and defend him against all who do not believe in Him.
Sources and Reference List • Bock, D. L. (2002). Studying the historical Jesus: A guide to sources and methods. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. • Page 67 • Page 71 • Page 71 • Page 71 • Page 72 • Page 73 • Pages 81-96 • Page 121 • Page 123 • Pages 47-62 • Evans, C. A. (2006). Fabricating Jesus: How modern scholars distort the gospels. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. • Pages 34-43 • Page 123 • Page 123 • Page 124 • Page 39