Yeshu: The Historical Jesus

There is perhaps no other person in history who is more controversial than Jesus of Nazareth. The number of books and articles written about the Carpenter from Galilee far exceeds those penned for any other person in antiquity. Even the records of secular history are populated with several citations about Jesus. The idea that Jesus is a mythological figure created by writers late in the first century has absolutely no evidentiary proof.

Despite the resources from history that proves Jesus is a real person, a great number of people still do not believe He ever existed. The primary point of stumbling for some is the idea that Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead on the third day.

See Inside The Book: “Yeshu: The Historical Jesus”

Many modern atheist New Testament scholars have described Jesus as a fabrication. Some admit He was a real person but He never claimed to be God. Modern atheist scholars assert that Jesus was made God by the writers of the New Testament.[1]

Whenever we are endeavoring to discover the truth about any event that has taken place during the recorded history of the world, we must first study carefully what was written at the time these events took place. It is in the texts of ancient manuscripts that we find clues to the truth of all ancient narratives.

Surprisingly, there are 24,593 surviving ancient manuscript copies of the New Testament. We have nearly complete copies of all 27 books, dated from 125-225 A.D.[2] There are no surviving original autographs for any works of antiquity of this age, primarily because the material used to record these original works have been destroyed by time and decay. In this regard, the New Testament presents us with the largest extant body of historical materials from the first century of any other event that has taken place in all of antiquity.

Regarding the time when these events happened and how soon the writers placed these narratives on papyrus, the evidence we have today demands that these writers recorded these events early in the first century. If we have surviving manuscript copies from 125-225 A.D., the original autographs must certainly have been penned early in the first century.[3]

Many people discount the New Testament as contrived, but these conclusions are made without real knowledge of the text. When we examine the 27 books of the New Testament, we discover that these documents are really just personal letters written by the authors to people in churches at various parts of Asia Minor. Historians understand that personal letters originating from antiquity are rarely fabricated but are, most often, genuine by their very nature.

The topics of all 27 of these letters are about the same person, Jesus, the man for whom the four Gospels are written—described as performing miracles, executed by crucifixion under the Romans, seen raised from the dead by the writers of the New Testament. Even if we did not have the Gospels, we could still validate the entire primary content of those texts by the other 23 letters that have survived time and decay.

I have spent the past 45 years gaining an education, researching the ancient New Testament manuscripts and secular resources that describe Jesus; writing, teaching, and publishing the true facts of the New Testament.

I began my journey of discovery as an atheist 45 years ago. I was a drummer for a touring rock band in the 70s and had all of the things that people in the world say will make a person happy. The problem was that I was not happy, though I had achieved many successes and had a promising future of fame and fortune.

I was not raised in a religious home. We never went to church or talked about God. I didn’t know anything about Jesus or the Bible, and I could not have cared less about church or religion.

I picked up a Bible one day and began to read the story about Jesus. I had never heard of anyone like the person described in these pages—much less, ever seen a man like Jesus, in the world. If this person really existed, said and did all the things that are written of Him, He would be the most unique person ever to have lived. I was fascinated by what I read, and I wanted to know the truth.

My curiosity propelled me into the four and one half decades of scholarly study that has been my life’s work.

A few of the discoveries that I made early in my research were the ideas I learned from other atheists, that there are similar myths of persons like Jesus before the New Testament was written. Upon a thorough investigation, I discovered that these early myths bore no resemblance to the specific details of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, as it is described in the New Testament.

There were many other alleged early persons and events that were said to be the original source of the Jesus’ story, but upon examination of the facts they all turned out to be nothing more than hearsay and conjecture.

There was so prima facie evidence anywhere in the historical record that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus was a mythological construct, or that the narratives found in these 27 letters originated from an earlier myth or legend.

There are several mythical narratives of mystery religions in the historical record, some resemble the narrative of Jesus, but they all occurred after the time of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament.

In my early research, and while still an atheist, I was under the impression that the Jesus story was simply a recycled redeemer account that has been repeated several times throughout history. In fact, many new religions have been created as imitations of the narrative of Jesus in the New Testament.

There are also a surprising number of ancient secular historians who lived during the same period that the events described by the New Testament were recorded. In this book I have an extensive list of 122 secular sources that cite Jesus in Jerusalem, crucified and allegedly resurrected from the dead.

None of these secular sources was sympathetic to Jesus, as they recorded their critical statements about Him in their ancient texts. The purpose for writing about Jesus was largely due to all of the problems He created in the Roman Empire and amongst the Jews who lived during that time. The people who believed in Jesus and began telling others about Him stated that He was crucified and rose from the dead. This incredible story became the source of great concern for the Romans and Jews—necessitating the recording of these events in the Annals of Rome and the Jewish Talmud—caused by Jesus and His followers.

Over five million Christians are recorded in the historical record as executed simply because they believed fervently that Jesus had risen from the dead.[4] The Roman government was very tolerant in the religious beliefs of the nations they conquered. The one exception to this rule was Christianity. The idea that a man had risen from the dead was impossible for the rulers of Rome to accept.

In the minds of the first ten Emperors, a belief in a resurrected Savior was tantamount to insanity. These potentates were certain that this new religion, based upon Jesus’ resurrection, would be extremely dangerous to the future of the Roman Empire. If the Emperors permitted Christianity to continue and spread throughout the nations of the Roman Empire, this mental illness caused by a belief in a risen Savior would deteriorate and destroy all of Roman society.

The belief in a resurrected Savior by Christians was so firmly recorded in the records of the Romans, that historians used specific words to describe the serious nature of this problem.[5]

Roman authors who describe the reasons that Christianity was deemed so dangerous to Roman society characterized the belief that Christians would not deny the resurrection of Jesus, as “superstitio.”[6] Tacitus called their trust in the resurrection, exitabilis (detestable).[7] Roman historian Suetonius referred to the Christian belief that Jesus had risen, as Superstitio nova ac malefica (a mischievous superstition).[8] Pliny wrote to Emperor Trajan that the Christian superstitious belief in the resurrection was a contagio (a disease).[9]

The Romans did not believe that Jesus had risen, but they could not deny the impact that those who did believe in His resurrection had on their society. Jesus’ resurrection was considered so dangerous that, if allowed to continue, Roman society would be destroyed.

The recording of these facts in the Roman archives of history validates that Jesus was in Jerusalem during the same period of history that the New Testament places Him there, but also that Christians believed Jesus was crucified and risen from the dead, just as the New Testament records.

The Christians of the first 250 years, after the New Testament scriptures had spread throughout the Roman Empire, believed the written testimony recorded in letters like 1 Corinthians 15, which declares that the faith of those who believed in Jesus depended completely upon the historical eyewitnesses who saw Jesus crucified and risen from the dead.

If Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave…But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.[10]

Early believers were so confident of these facts concerning Jesus’ resurrection, that a majority would never renounce Christ or the certainty that He had risen from the dead. This belief was intolerable for the Roman Government. History records that the resurrection of Jesus was so firmly believed by early Christians, that the Romans determined to eradicate those who believed in Jesus from every corner of the Roman Empire.

These facts of history exist as evidence that there was a firm belief in the resurrection of Jesus and that Christians were so certain Jesus had risen from the dead, they would not deny what the writers of the New Testament had recorded. By the end of the first century, these facts of Jesus’ resurrection had been distributed to every nation of the Roman Empire. It was the eyewitness testimony of men who saw Jesus crucified and risen from the dead that made it impossible for early believers to deny. These facts are placed indelibly into the historical record.

Because these records exist in the Annals of Rome, the existence of Jesus and many of the things He said and did are also found in the secular records of the Romans and religious texts of the Jews.

When I learned these facts of the historical record several years ago, I began publishing these findings in my books as essays.

It is also important to recognize that there were numerous ancient historians who lived during the time of Christ and wrote about Him. This book contains over 122 secular citations that describe many of the same facts of the New Testament.

For those who say that there are no contemporaneous sources for Jesus, they are simply wrong. Those who say such things are either willfully ignorant of these ancient writers, or they ignore these facts because they impeach atheist assertions.

I have learned over many years that there are no shortage of valid historical sources to validate the narratives of the New Testament, only honest New Testament scholars who will include these facts in their books.

The writings of Tiberius Caesar are considered accurate and reliable sources for genuine events of antiquity with just nine sources. The New Testament has thirty-nine extra-biblical sources, and are considered by critics as fabrications. The reason this has happened is obvious: resistant bias against any evidence that proves the New Testament is true.

Today, no reputable historical or New Testament scholar suggests that Jesus and the narratives of the New Testament cannot be corroborated by contemporaneous sources. Those who seek to impeach the New Testament narratives of Jesus are themselves impeached by the historical evidence that exists.

Jesus and the historical evidence for His life, death, and resurrection are not lacking proof; only honest people who study, learn, and stipulate that this evidence proves the New Testament narratives are true.

The 27 letters of the New Testament meet every requirement established by scholars for valid, historical events. The first chapter in this book provides you with these standards.

No longer can any genuine historian or scholar write a defensible treatise of impeachment against the historical records of the New Testament. The evidence to prove these texts are valid and reliable is overwhelming. All that any honest person can say today regarding the New Testament is that they don’t believe what is written. No ethical individual can ignore the historical evidence provided for us by these 24,593 extant manuscripts.

Objections to the New Testament, because of its supernatural assertions attributed to Jesus, have no bearing on the historical authenticity of these events. Historians cannot disregard or cast aside a record from history simply because they happen to disagree with the events or do not believe they took place. Once reliable sources are validated, all that anyone can do is accept that what is written is genuine testimony of events, that people who wrote these texts believed at that time.

It is not necessary or a prerequisite of valid historical events to believe they are true, only that they were properly recorded by reliable witnesses and were preserved and in the care of proper custodians from the time when these events took place, up to the present day.

The New Testament passes every literary and historical requirement as valid and reliable historical events.

[1] Atheist New Testament scholar, Bart Ehrman: How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee (p. 1). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
[2] You Are My Witnesses: The Men Who Saw Jesus, Robert Clifton Robinson, 2019, Kindle Edition.
[3] See: “You Are My Witnesses: The Men Who Saw Jesus,” 2019, by Robert Clifton Robinson, Teach The Word Publishing, Amazon Kindle Edition.
[4] 1.Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, Publisher: ReadHowYouWant, December 19, 2011, ISBN: 1459633199, Kindle Edition 2.Chuck Smith, “The Tribulation and the Church,” The Word For Today, Publishers, August 5, 2011, Kindle Edition. 3. Maurice M. Hassatt, “Martyr.” The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. IX, Robert Appleton Company, 1910
[5] ‘ Superstitio’ and the Persecution of the Christians, L. F. Janssen, Vigiliae Christianae, Vol. 33, No. 2 (Jun., 1979), pp. 131-159
[6] ‘ Superstitio’ and the Persecution of the Christians, L. F. Janssen, Vigiliae Christianae, Vol. 33, No. 2 (Jun., 1979), pp. 131-159
[7] Tacitus Annals, 15.44.4
[8]  Seutonius, Nero, 16,2
[9]  L. F. Janssen, Vigiliae Christianae, Vol. 33
[10] 1 Corinthians 15:14-20 (NLT)

Categories: Claims of Interpolation, Contradictions in the Bible, Empirical Evidence for the Resurrection, Exegesis and Hermeneutics, New Testament Criticism, Origin of the four Gospels, Principles of Biblical Interpretation, Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus, The Historical Jesus

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