General Question

Joe_Freeman's avatar

Is there historical proof that Jesus Christ existed and, if so, is his life story accurately presented in the Bible?

Asked by Joe_Freeman (504points) June 12th, 2009
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

48 Answers

crisw's avatar

No real proof- about as much (or less) than there is for Robin Hood or King Arthur.

nebule's avatar

I’m sure there are fanatics that will say he did and… he didn’t. The fact is… no-one can prove that a “certain type” of person existed… I think what I would want to know is how the answer to the question could influence you… if at all?

If He really existed then the story in the bible would naturally be accurate would it not… or at least to a certain degree…and to which degree can never be answered accurately of course…because it’s all purely subjective… that’s what stories are…

that’s what humans are

DarkScribe's avatar

Accurately presented?

No, not really. For instance they say: “Hey, did you know that Jesus can walk on water?”

If it was accurate (by modern journalistic standards) they would have said: “Did you know that Jesus can’t swim?”

nebule's avatar

@DarkScribe I’m not sure how you get from walking on water to not being able to swim?

DarkScribe's avatar

@lynneblundell I’m not sure how you get from walking on water to not being able to swim?

An example of modern journalistic bias. Ignore the good, find the bad, sensationalise everything.

It is a joke.

avalmez's avatar

no one has ever found a birth certificate, but the historical evidence that he was a real live human being is as sound as that homer ever existed. very few serious credible scholars reject that jesus existed.

nebule's avatar

yes…but how does that help our questioner?

DarkScribe's avatar

@avalmez but the historical evidence that he was a real live human being is as sound as that homer ever existed.

He existed, there is little doubt of that. Roman records support it. As to many of his beliefs and claims, there is a lot of doubt about that.

gailcalled's avatar

Homer probably didn’t exist. The gospels tell four slightly different stories about Jesus.
Moses probably didn’t exist either.

avalmez's avatar

it was a 2 part question. i answered part 1. part 2 is an open debate that no one could respond to definitively. but, i think there are enough inconsistencies in the bible to make the assertion that the bible is most likely not completely correct.

hearkat's avatar

Oh my. Here we go again.

There is no irrefutable proof that Jesus, son of Joseph and Mary, ever existed. And the 4 gospels can contradict themselves at times, so the Bible isn’t accurate. I recently heard part of an interview with a man who authored a book about how the gospels are different… it sounds like an interesting book.

avalmez's avatar

@DarkScribe that you exist is without a doubt to your beliefs and responses…:)

DarkScribe's avatar

@hearkat who authored a book about how the gospels are different…

Several years ago they analysed writing styles and have a reasonable amount of evidence to indicate that the authors have been wrongly attributed.

DarkScribe's avatar

@avalmez that you exist is witout a doubt to your beliefs and responses…:)

Are you sure? I might be an experimental AI program. ;)

avalmez's avatar

@DarkScribe and a clever one at that :) btw, a book called The Book of J was written several years ago that analysed the dfferent “voices” (stlyes) in OT prophecy. that may be the book you’re thinking of. i read it a long time ago and it’s an interesting read though too many brain cells have since deceased to recall many of the details

DarkScribe's avatar

@avalmez analysed the dfferent “voices” (stlyes) in OT prophecy. that may be the book you’re thinking of

The instance I am referring to was when Oxford and Cambridge both used software to analyse styles and the styles of apprentices, the people who were taught to write by various masters. It was about twenty years ago. Around the time when they were doing the same thing with Shakespeare.

avalmez's avatar

@DarkScribe hmm…i’ll have to see if i can identify that book as it sounds interesting as well. thanks for the additional information.

DarkScribe's avatar

@avalmez i’ll have to see if i can identify that book as it sounds interesting as well.

It wasn’t a book, it was a series of reports. Should be on file – it is often referenced.

hearkat's avatar

@DarkScribe: This was a recent interview, so I have the impression that the book is fairly new. He wasn’t addressing the authorship of the gospels, but discussing the differences between them in telling Jesus’ life story.

This book was specifically about the gospels, and not OT which @avalmez mentions. I’m on my iPhone, but I’ll try to dig up more info.

Joe_Freeman's avatar

@lynneblundell: I think what I would want to know is how the answer to the question could influence you… if at all?

It would not influence my behavior, but it would clarify something I’ve wondered about my whole life. Unfortunately, getting a straight answer to this question is elusive.

nebule's avatar

Dear Joe, I sincerely hope it isn’t elusive…i still believe the answer is there somewhere xxx

avalmez's avatar

@hearkat yes, of course that’s correct. also, the J in The Book of J is a voice the author (a journailst, as i recall, a NY Time’s journalist) holds is female…something for the ladies

hearkat's avatar

The book is Jesus, Interrupted by Bart Ehrman

He was interviewed on NPR, and you can find it on their site and on YouTube

(sorry no links – on my iPhone)

Joe_Freeman's avatar

@lynneblundell: i still believe the answer is there somewhere

Alas, Lynne, there are many answers “in there somewhere” that we cannot find. I try to keep my expectations low, that way I’m rarely disappointed.

nebule's avatar

you can only be disappointed if they prove otherwise… (and that’s not looking likely!) and if nothing else…Pascal’s Wager !!!

Jack79's avatar

btw there’s a lot of evidence as to the existance of King Arthur and Homer, both real historical figures. Even Hercules was probably real, though his deeds were most certainly widely exaggerated. But the only mention of Jesus is in the bible.

Blondesjon's avatar

Somebody stirred some serious shit up back then.

Hell, prove to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that Cleopatra or Hammurabi actually existed.

gailcalled's avatar

@Jack79: Homer is considered, by reputable historians, to be a modern construct . The poetry was transmitted by bards in the oral tradition and it is unlikely that there was a Homer. If you have original documents that disprove this, please supply the links.

pats04fan's avatar

As for existence, yes, the Jews kept records of all things done. For instance they have records of Shakespeare by his baptism. So yes I’m 100% sure there were records. As for the walking on water and other miracles, have faith that it happened, but I’m sure the eye witnesses wrote that stuff down.

cwilbur's avatar

@Jack79: There are contemporary Roman accounts about Christians. I think there’s sufficient evidence to demonstrate that a historical man named Jesus of Nazareth actually existed and founded a religion—whether what the Bible says about Him is true or not is another question entirely.

There is actually about as much evidence of the existence of Arthur as there is of Lear—which is to say, almost nothing except for accounts written down third- or fourth-hand. (In graduate school, I had to translate passages of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain.) And very few classical scholars actually believe that Homer was a single person any longer; the commonly held view is that the scholars of the Renaissance misunderstood the distinction between “written by Homer” and “written by largely anonymous poets working in the Homeric oral tradition.”

gailcalled's avatar

@pats04fan : Where did you get the notion that Shakespeare’s baptism certification was done by the Jews? And the Jews kept records of all things done? A ludicrous claim.

Shakespeare’s baptismal record is in the register of Stratford’s Holy Trinity Church in Great Britain.

The Church offers Holy Communion (C of E) and has not been ever connected to Judaism.

It was built three hundred years before Will was baptised in April 26th 1564:

pats04fan's avatar

Yuh I know i didn’t say done by the jews. I should have specified yes but i was just giving an example.

cyn's avatar

crap! I thought you people were talking about Homer Simpson…
as to the question, it’s arguable.

dannyc's avatar

If he existed or not, if you believe in what he is purported to say, may be enough. I think it unlikely he will ever be proved not to exist, only a sliding scale of percentage of whether he did. Unfortunately, given the passage of time, you may not see proof in your lifetime. Thus there is a quandary if you think it so necessary. My thought, even though I am not religious is the following. If the gospels provide you with benefit due to the words that Jesus was to have uttered seems a solution to life’s ills then it is probably pointless to make this a necessity. There are great works of literature throughout history that are merely stories, fables, or allegorical. That does not diminish their impact at all. I have always been very inspired by what Jesus had to say, real or not. It is actually quite amazing that many of his attributions are still so powerful, the ultimate hero and god. I might advise to just relax, be inspired, and make yourself a better person as a result of the words written about Jesus. If it is real to you, then it is real enough. Even atheists will respect that logic.

DarkScribe's avatar

@Blondesjon Hell, prove to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that Cleopatra or Hammurabi actually existed.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t prove to me that I exist. After all, I might be a figment of my own imagination.

I imagine that if I am imaginary and only exist in my imagination, and I am only imagining that I imagine being imaginary, then if I stop imagining things, I’ll cease to exist.

Imagine that!

Blondesjon's avatar

@DarkScribe . . .You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

Jack79's avatar

Guys, I never said there was conclusive evidence about Homer, Arthur or Hercules. I’m just saying there is “a lot” pointing to that. They could be fictional people, or constructs loosely based on real people, or some other combination which we can’t check anymore. Personally, I’m pretty convinced about all three (even Hercules). Though who they were and where or when they lived is a mystery.

As far as Jesus is concerned, yes, there is obvious proof that there were Christians (at the time a Jewish sect) as early as the 1st c AD. I don’t think anybody disputes that. The question was whether there was mention of Jesus himself in historical texts of the time, and there isn’t. The reason being that he was not considered as important by his contemporaries as by people after the 4th c, when Christianity grew to become what it is today. That does not mean he didn’t exist, just that historians of his time didn’t realise his importance.

Ruthi's avatar

@Jack79 I agree with you about historians at the time not having any records on Jesus because he simply didn’t warrant enough importance at the time. Maybe it’ll also help to note that during the time he lived he wasn’t favorably looked upon, but was rather viewed as a revolutionary (and not in a positive way)

Accounts of Jesus’ life recorded in the bible may differ and may not necessarily be the most accurate. However, we also need to remember that since they were penned by different authors, they may also have varying perspectives…......and that may be one of the reasons they don’t really coincide in their narration of his life and work. To me personally, it all boils down to what each one decides to believe in.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

there’s no real proof. And the bible can’t be held as accurate, though there aren’t any alternative stories about his life currently so we’re so of stuck in a bind on the religion issue.

dausonlovi's avatar

Paul answered the question for us in his own writings about Jesus. Paul never thought that Jesus was an actual person on earth- he always thought of him in the spiritual sense. That’s why he said “If he were on earth…” Hebrews 8:4

DarkScribe's avatar

@dausonlovi Paul never thought that Jesus was an actual person on earth-

If that is the extent of your understanding of the Bible, then I hope that your next novels are more successful. But then from what I’ve heard, AEG don’t really care.

pats04fan's avatar

What!!!!!!!!!!! Brother read Romans 1:1, and if that doesn’t work for you, hoe about, Romans !:8, and if that doesn’t work, read all of the books that Paul wrote! Paul, knew that he was a person.

Jack79's avatar

Yes, I think he meant “If he were on Earth now” as opposed to “he was on Earth and now he’s not”. Paul of course did not start his life as a Christian, but I think we are referring to his post-conversion days here.

pats04fan's avatar

Oh ok my bad, and i think you mean Pre-conversion days, but do not forget those also.

no1atall12's avatar

ok, first of all, the Bible is a historically accurate source. In it, you have 4 main writers testifying to Christ’s life, and His actions in life. Then, there are several more authors in there re-enforcing those claims to His existence. Furthermore, there are at least 4 historical pagan writers stating that there was a man Christ who lived and died, along with a score of historical Catholic writers, who testified to the same thing.

Many events in history are accepted without question with less testimony and evidence. For instance, nobody questions the existence of Hannibal, or even the life of Herod, or the life of Euclid. We don’t have their direct writings, only some records of them. Some of these records can be based on only one, maybe two accounts, and yet they are not disputed. Arguing in the face of all the authors and writers who wrote about Christ, in this light, would be bias. So, I wold conclude by saying yes, there is sufficient historical evidence that Christ existed. At least by modern standards.

Just in case anyone is still interested in this topic.

Aster's avatar

If Jesus never existed just imagine all of our Doctors of Theology who have thrown their lives away on a big scam. And let us also bow our heads to all the scribes 2K years ago who spent all that time making stuff up. And I think I.m wasting time!

Shinimegami's avatar

Certainly is no real proof Jesus ever exist. Real evidence show he cannot possibly exist. Skeptics easily refute all alleged “proof” believers give. Flavius Josephus’ account of Jesus is much later forgery Christian monks add when copy his history. Torah, Tacitus, Seutonius, Pliny, etc. prove nothing either. @Aster- Many people waste lives at many scams. Yes, priests invent much fiction of gods and sons of gods long time. @no1atall12- Is certainly not sufficient evidence Jesus exist, is stronger evidence he not exist.

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