Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Does The Crucifixion of Jesus find Enough Support In Historical Sources?

This is in response to the said thesis. I have answered this same question before, perhaps on my blog or in one forum, but I don’t quite remember. However, I will briefly run through so you can give it to him and help others who could fall victim to his unbelief.

1. Internal Evidence.

I know many people reject internal evidence, but considering that we use personal testimony as internal evidence, it is necessary to use it. When a police officer arrests someone,  some times they ask you for your name first. After you give your name, then they proceed to verify or authenticate your identity. So let us start by examining what the Bible says about crucifixion before we authenticate it with external evidence. Crucifixion in history Deuteronomy 21: 23; Galatians 3:13. The gospels all talk about the crucifixion (Matthew 27: 1-66; Mark 15: 21-38; Luke 23:26- 49; John 19: 17-34).

2. External Evidence

A. The Koran

Now let me ask you a question: do you think the Koran will mention Christianity incidents if they did not take place? In Surah Women 157 the Koran says that the Jews thought they had crucified Christ but they did not for he was asleep. So the issue is not if the incident took place but how it ended. Did it end up in death or in some temporal delusion? Thus the Koran acknowledges the crucifixion.
In Surah Imran 55 the Koran cites Allah telling Jesus he was going to terminate his stay on earth, make him resurrect and then bring him back during parousia. So it is a given that the Koran accepts Jesus' death but disputes the manner of death. Yet, it does not reveal how he died. So let’s leave it with history to settle this matter.

B. Josephus (Epitome of Jewish History)

In Antiquities of the Jews (Book I 18, Chap. iii, sec. 3; 18:63-64), Josephus narrates the passion and crucifixion of Jesus. One may question the authenticity of  Josephus having been born at least 37 years after the death of Christ, yet what we cannot question is that his text did correlate with existing texts. If I can give my date of birth to match with my birth certificate, then my account about the day of my birth is true to say the least. Josephus said this:

Pilate sentenced Christ to be crucified to satisfy the clamor of the chief priests among us, and those who loved Christ at first did not leave him but continue with us to this day. They are called Christians after him.

C. The Testimony of the Jewish Talmud.
D. The Talmud mentions the crucifixion of Christ. Published in 1943 in Amsterdam page 43 it reads:

Jesus was crucified one day before Passover. We warned him for 40 days that he would be killed because he was a magician and planned to deceive Israel with his delusions. Whoever wished to do so was asked to defend him, and when none did, he was crucified on the eve of the Passover. Does anyone dare to defend him? Was he not a stirrer up of evil? It is said in the prophets Deuteronomy 13:8, ‘to a person such as this, do not listen, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you conceal him, but you shall kill him.’

E. Tacitus mentioned it in chapter 15 of his work.

Tacitus wrote “

People called 'Christians', hated for their abominable crimes. Their name comes from Christ, who, during the reign of Tiberius, had been executed by the procurator Pontius Pilate. (Tacitus, Annals 15.44).

D. The Record of Rome.

The chronicles of the governors of Palestine (roman records that kept the official records of the governors) indicate Christ was crucified. Pilate’s narration on the crucifixion is still archived in the records of Rome.

E. Flavius Justinus’s Account.

Flavius Justinus made reference of th crucifixion in his mail to Emperor Antonius Pius in 139A.D. Later in 199A.D Tertullian made the same reference from Carthage.

F. The Symbol of The Cross

The Muslims have the Crescent Moon, and the Jews have the Star Of David (Six-pointed star symbol) as their religious emblems. Each of them comes with some history. The Christians too have the Cross as their religious emblem. It began immediately after the crucifixion of Jesus where they carved it on graves and catacombs where they used to meet. The history of it is that the founder of Christianity Jesus Christ was crucified on a wooden cross for the sins of humanity.

3. Conclusion

The crucifixion took place because humanity needed salvation. Without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22). All have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ (Rom 6:23). So Jesus dying on the cross meets the requirements of the law. Since sin entered into the world via one man-Adam, salvation could only enter into the world via another man called Jesus Christ (Romans 5:12). Thus his death meets the atonement plan of God. An attempt to eliminate the cross from the gospel eliminates the process of attainment of that salvation. Therefore, it is expedient and paramount for Christians to know off head how to defend the evidence of the cross in historical sources.
Until then, God bless you.

“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk).Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk).Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).

Marcellin OLOUA said...
Hi Hamilton,

How are you?

My comment is not a reaction to the article,

But I would like to share with you an article I came accross this morning on the internet, it talks about a thesis defended by a man called Gunnar Samuelsson of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. In that thesis, he is denying the crucifixion of Jesus arguing that: the many accounts of the crucifixion of Jesus even the gospel find little support in historical sources.

It is said that the man is a devoted christian who does not put into question the whole of biblical texts.

Is it possible to give a reply to this?


Marcellin OLOUA

These are the contacts of the author of the thesis.
Title of the thesis: Crucifixion in Antiquity: An Inquiry into the
Background of the New Testament Terminology of Crucifixion
Author: Gunnar Samuelsson, tel: +46 (0)31 786 53 08 (office)
E-mail: gunnar.samuelsson@lir.gu.se
Time and venue for the public defence: Friday 21 May 2010 at 1.15 pm.
Lilla hörsalen, Humanisten, Renströmsgatan 6, Gothenburg Faculty
Examiner: Docent Erkki Koskenniemi
The thesis is out of stock and can no longer be ordered from the University of Gothenburg. It will, however, be published by publishing company Mohr Siebeck.
An abstract of the thesis is available at: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/22126

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