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THE HISTORICITY OF JESUS OF NAZARETH
MANUEL A. OCAMPO JR.
19 January 2012
THE HISTORICITY OF JESUS OF NAZARETH
There are many essentials in the Christian faith that will be detrimental to the mission of the church if they are removed. But none can be compared to Jesus Christ who is the central figure and foundation of Christianity. As the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:11, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Meaning, if you remove the foundation, who is Christ, the whole of Christianity will collapse. The founders of different religions though may be bearing their names, will continue to exist even if you remove the founders. But with Christianity it is different. The whole message, history, all the prophecies and our hope for the future will not only be affected but will be gone to oblivion. And one of the most important aspects of Jesus Christ as the central figure in Christianity is His historicity. The question “Did Jesus Christ really live?” is the question of scientific inquiry on the origins of Christianity. If Jesus Christ did not exist in history, then the whole story of His life will be treated as myth and folklore. This is one of the main implications if He did not really live. This implication will be a major key that will cause a domino effect which will destroy the credibility of the message of the Gospels, the influence of the church and personally speaking then our faith is in vain. We have believed a lie if Jesus did not really lived. And to borrow the statement of St. Paul, “we are the most miserable people in this world.” But regardless of how many atheists and so called secular philosophers deny the existence of Jesus Christ, many evidences prove His existence. Of all the men who walked on the surface of the earth, no one can equal Jesus Christ when it comes to greatness and influence in the lives of men both critics and followers alike. His birth even divided our history from before and after His birth. How can an imaginary person, if Jesus is not historical, influence different aspects and fields of human endeavors? No one can invent Jesus Christ. Van Voorst quoting Voltaire, who is no friend of traditional Christianity, in his book saying, “Those who deny the existence of Jesus show themselves more ingenious and unlearned.”
To deal with the issue at hand, I propose to present evidences or statements from both the Scriptures, the writings as found in the New Testament, and secular writers who with no apparent personal benefit mentioned Christ and treated Him as a historical person. The writers of the Gospels especially Matthew and Luke mentioned the family line of Jesus as they trace back His ancestry to King David. We can read this in Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38. It only proves that Jesus had a human lineage which means He existed. The Gospel writers mentioned historical figures and locations which if were not true would have been disputed by people living at the time and by other witnesses when these Gospels were written. For example Luke mentioned that Jesus was born during the time of Emperor Augustus when Quirinius was governor of Syria (Luke 2:1-2) and even mentioned the first census as if referring to an event familiar with Theophillus, the recipient of the letter. Also in Luke 3:1-2, the evangelist mentioned names which describes the political figures during the time of Christ. These and many others are reliable information proving the historicity of Christ. According to reliable New Testament scholars, the gospels were written between AD 50 and near AD 100 which means many people were still alive who can dispute what the gospel writers have written if they are not accurate. Now the life and works of Jesus Christ can be found not only in the biblical passages as written by...