Did Jesus Really Exist? Bart Ehrman Explains.

Some people doubt that Jesus actually existed. They claim that some first-century men made up a story, and that a bunch of people were fooled into believing it. I’ve heard from a lot of skeptics of Christianity, and there’s a fair number who claim that Jesus never actually existed. There are many reasons why this is silly, but we tend to believe what we want to believe.

Bart Ehrman is a well-known New Testament scholar. He’s also an agnostic atheist…that is, he acknowledges he doesn’t know whether God exists, but he doubts that God exists. His books have been popular, as his doubts encourage other doubters. His arguments are regularly parroted by those who wish to discredit Christianity, which is why I’m posting this video. If you agree with Ehrman’s conclusions about Christianity, you should also agree with his conclusions about whether Jesus really was an actual person.

There is no scholar in any college or university in the western world who teaches Classics, Ancient History, New Testament, Early Christianity…any related field who doubts that Jesus existed.

Bart Ehrman

Did Jesus Ever Get Sick?

Did Jesus ever get sick?

An Anonymous Reader

The Bible doesn’t record Jesus being sick, and it doesn’t say that He never got sick…so we don’t really know.

Some presume that He never got sick because He is God, but they forget or ignore that He is also fully human. He grew in wisdom and stature, got hungry, got tired, got frustrated, felt pain…so there’s no reason to assume that He never got sick. Hebrews 2:17 says that “He had to be made like His brothers in every way”.

Some have suggested that Jesus simply healed Himself whenever He started getting sick. That doesn’t seem to be a good answer, because Jesus says over and over in John that He did nothing on His own…it was His Father who was doing His work through Jesus. The Father could have kept Jesus from getting sick, but we have no evidence that He did or did not.

So: the answer to your question is “I don’t know”…but – from what I can tell – it’s also “Probably”.

Was Dan Brown Right? Was Jesus Married?

A GodWords reader asked a series of questions:

The DaVinci Code talks about The Last Supper as a symbolic depiction of what is most likely truth. It never claims to be the exact image of the people that were there. You mention that some of the the things depicted in the painting are nontraditional for the day. Well, Jesus would have been married because it was expected of traditional Jewish men to be married and homosexuality was cause for stoning, which would have been the assumption made.

Ellie

While Dan Brown suggests that it’s a symbolic depiction, I think it’s important to ask “how does Dan Brown know that?”. The answer is simple: he doesn’t. There’s no historical evidence that indicates that The Last Supper is what he says it is. I think he’s making it up…he made up a lot of stuff that’s in his book. The “inaccuracies” in Dan Brown’s book are too numerous to mention in a single post. Let’s just say that there’s plenty of evidence that he was counting on his audience being ignorant. Here are a few short examples:

  1. It’s NOT a matter of historical record that Jesus married Mary Magdalene. Not even Gnostic gospels make that claim.
  2. The Dead Sea Scrolls say nothing about Jesus. They’re pre-Christian, and decidedly Jewish.
  3. Langdon (the main character) mentions “scholars of Aramaic” with reference to the Gospel of Philip…but the opinions of “scholars of Aramaic” are worthless when it comes to the Gospel of Philip. It’s not Aramaic, it’s Coptic.
  4. Brown’s depiction of Gnostics is exactly backwards. He says that they considered Him simply a man…but Gnosticism is based on the idea that the physical world is entirely evil. No Gnostic would have considered Jesus good or worthy if He were simply a man…they would only have revered Him as a purely spiritual being.
  5. The Priory of Sion isn’t an ancient order…it was founded in 1956 by a convicted fraud named Pierre Plantard who made it all up. He forged documents and pretended that it was really a legitimate ancient and secret society. It’s a matter of public record that it was simply a small group of friends…something that Brown probably doesn’t want his readers to know.
  6. Brown writes of the Knights Templar being burned at the Vatican in Rome…but the Popes weren’t even IN Rome at that time. The Vatican didn’t exist! They were in Avignon, France until 70 years after the fact. A small bit of homework will show that Brown is simply wrong on a great deal of what he claims are facts.

I’d like to even give Brown credit for being imaginative…but I can’t. I read Holy Blood, Holy Grail in 1986 or so, and it would be kind to only say that Brown plagiarizes heavily from it. That book was interesting fiction too, despite its claims. Let’s be honest here: Dan Brown is making a mint off people who don’t know any better. There’s nothing wrong with writing fiction…but when you present that fiction as spiritual fact you paint a large target on yourself. I think it’s a shame that this book has gotten so much attention, as it’s chock full of garbage. I get a steady stream of emails from people who wonder whether it’s all true. They do what Dan Brown intends: they question the legitimacy of their faith based on lies, distortions, and inaccuracies.

I find the logic in your statements about marriage intriguing. You seem to be suggesting that Jesus “would have been married” because that was common. To be sure, marriage was indeed common…but you’re not suggesting that every Jewish male at that time was married, are you? Paul was single, and he was an exemplary Jew. John was likely single, as were other disciples. John the Baptist was single, and he was respected by the Jews of his day…no one accused him of being homosexual, did they?

I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve gotten from those whose faith is shaken because they don’t know that Brown’s book IS fiction. If he were here, I’d demand an explanation from him. I wouldn’t hesitate to lay at his feet the blame for a lot of his readers suffering from sleepless nights and days spent worrying whether they’ve been duped into faith. I’m sorry to say it, Ellie…but you appear to have uncritically bought into Dan Brown’s game. I hope you’ll take the time to do a little more research. There are plenty of unbiased sources of information out there to turn to…plenty of atheists have debunked the book, so you don’t have to rely on those who may have a religious bias. Facts are generally pretty easy to spot, and lies are even easier.

Does Mark 7 prove that Jesus was a racist?

Not at all. Let’s look at the passage in question.

But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And He was saying to her, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.” And He said to her, “Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.”

Jews of that time, by and large, did not speak to Gentiles (non-Jews). They especially did not speak to women. In fact, it’s said that they went so far out of their way to avoid contact with women and Gentiles that they would cross the street to avoid passing next to them.

Prior to this passage, Jesus miraculously fed 5,000 Jews in Jewish territory in chapter 6. Next, the beginning of chapter 7 shows Jesus giving the longest discourse in the NT on the interpretation of Jewish dietary laws. Jesus taught that all foods are clean…that what’s in your heart is more important than what’s in your stomach. Jesus proceeded to travel into Gentile territory and ate at a presumably Gentile home. On His way out, He had a conversation with a Gentile woman…evidence that He was NOT acting in concert with the racist and sexist views of many of His people.

The woman asked Him to heal her daughter. At first Jesus did not reply…we know this from the parallel passage in Matthew. She persisted, and Jesus spoke to her in a way that seems rude: He said that it’s not good to give the children’s food to dogs. Looking carefully tells us more, though: while the Jews used the word KUON for “dog”, Jesus didn’t use that word…He said KUNARION which means “small dog”, or more literally “puppy”. The woman surely saw the difference between Jesus’ response and the traditional Jewish response, and acted in concert, saying “even dogs get the children’s crumbs”. Jesus’ actions were consistent with the context: He demonstrated that the Jewish traditions regarding unclean foods and unclean people should be put aside. He spoke with a Gentile woman, healed her daughter, and proceeded (in the next chapter) to feed 4,000 Gentiles in Gentile territory.

The context of this story shows that Jesus’ words were not racist, but were instead a clear denouncement of racism, and of sexism as well.

Why Do Christians Say that Jesus is In Their Heart?

Yeah, I know…I’m going straight to Hell. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Before you start forming your lynch mob, listen closely:

Jesus is NOT in your heart.

Jesus is in Heaven with the Father. At least a dozen Bible verses say that He would leave us and go back to the Father…John 16:28 is just one example. “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.” The inescapable conclusion? Jesus is NOT in your heart.

Some of you might say, “So, what’s the big deal?”. I’ll tell you: if you’re going to believe something, why not believe the TRUTH? If you’re going to take the time to tell a non-Christian what you believe, why not tell that person the TRUTH? If a single verse says clearly that Jesus is in Heaven, that’s what Christians should believe — and that’s what we should tell others, as well. In this case, there are over a dozen verses that conclusively show that Jesus is NOT in our hearts.

Of course, I don’t write this stuff to be a killjoy…there’s an upside as well. Before He left, Jesus told the disciples that He wouldn’t leave us alone…He would ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit to us, “that He may be with you forever” (John 14:16). The Holy Spirit doesn’t poke and prod us from the outside, but lives in us and communes with us. How do we know that the Holy Spirit indwells us? Easy…we’re told exactly that in 2 Timothy 1:14. “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you”. 1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us the same thing: the Holy Spirit lives in us.

Of course, some of you may now be saying, “So what? What difference does it make whether Jesus or the Holy Spirit lives in my heart?”. For that, I have a simple answer: because God obviously thinks that’s best! Jesus said so Himself: “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you (John 16:7). If there were a better way to do it, you can bet that that would have happened. Having the Holy Spirit living within you is the most incredible, life-giving, life-transforming opportunity that anyone can have…if that weren’t so, God would have done something else.

What Does ‘Jesus’ Mean?

I was told that the name of Jesus is special, and saying His name in a prayer means it will be answered. Is that true?

Anonymous GodWords Reader

No. There’s nothing about the name itself that makes it more likely that God will give you what you pray for. The word “Jesus” has no magical powers, and accomplishes nothing spiritually. It’s a name. In fact, it’s not even unique:

Yehoshua means ‘the Lord saves’, and is translated into English as Joshua.

Jesus’ Hebrew name is Yeshua, which is a shortened version of Yehoshua. Yeshua means ‘he will save’, and is translated into English as Joshua.

Yeshua translated into Greek is Iesous.

Iesous transliterated into Latin is Jesu.

Jesu became Jesus in English.

Jesus’ name is actually “Joshua”. There’s no special power in the name itself.

A translation conveys meaning, so Yeshua and Iesous mean the exact same thing. Jesus is not a translation, it’s a modernized Latin transLITERation of Iesous. A transliteration is simply a letter-for-letter switch: the letters in one language are swapped for letters in another language that make the same sounds. Jesu is a Latin word that sounds like the Greek Iesous. Jesus does not mean “Yahweh saves” or “the Lord saves” or even “He saves”. Despite the fact that Jesus Himself means a great deal to many people, there’s no English meaning to Jesus at all.

When the New Testament tells us to pray in Jesus’ name, it doesn’t teach us that the name itself is special. It tells us that the person is special. When an ambassador speaks to a foreign leader, he speaks “in the name of” – with the power and authority of – the one he represents. Jesus is an ambassador, speaking to the Father on our behalf…and speaking to us on behalf of the Father.

Jesus’ Disciples

Jesus traveled with 12 men throughout His three-year ministry. Here’s a list of the original twelve, and the one who replaced Judas Iscariot.

Jesus’ Disciples
Simon Peter (Cephas)
Andrew
James
Phillip
Thomas (Didymus)
Matthew (Levi)
Bartholomew (Nathaniel)
Simon
Judas (Thaddeus)
Judas Iscariot
James
John

After betraying Jesus, Judas committed suicide. His replacement was chosen from two men, by casting lots: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias.

The New Guy
Matthias