Did Jesus of Nazareth Really Live?


I have just finished reading Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s book Killing Jesus. 

O’Reilly has taken some heat for not affirming that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God.  While there are numerous references to Jesus as the Christ from  prophetic references, the preaching of John the Baptist, and the statements of Jesus himself, that was not the purpose of the book.  

        Killing Jesus is a history.  It recounts the political and historical events surrounding Jesus’ birth, life and death.  It provides a cultural and moral context to understanding the Roman world and the Jewish customs.  O’Reilly and Dugard also historically document and explain something that is seen in scripture regarding the interplay of the Jewish authorities with the Roman rulers. 

          Killing Jesus debunks the ridiculous notion that Jesus was only a mythological figure, as some so-called serious critics claim.  O’Reilly and Dugard have researched the secular historical sources.  The Roman historians Pliny the Younger, Cornelius Tacitus, and Suetonius and refer to Jesus in their writings.  Thallus and Phegon, Greek speaking historians, also mention Jesus.  And, of course, the eminent and often quoted Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, acknowledges Jesus of Nazareth lived.

When considering the historicity Jesus, these three facts are worthy of our consideration.

         (1) The historicity of Jesus is beyond question.

Whether you believe Jesus was the Son of God, it must be admitted that He lived in the first century.

The German historian Adolf Harnack (1851-1930) wrote that Jesus was such a dominant figure in history that he was “far beyond the power of men to invent.”  He further said those regarding him as a myth are lacking ““the capacity to distinguish between fiction and the documentary evidence”

Joseph Klausner, a Jewish scholar of Hebrew University, denied the deity of Jesus, yet he admitted that Jesus was a real person who lived and “exerted a powerful influence.”

(2) Antagonists of Christianity admit his historicity.

Celsus, a pagan philosopher, Lucian of Samosata, who both lived in the second century were critics of Christianity, yet admitted that Jesus was a real person.  So did third century philosopher Porphyry of Tyre.  He wrote 15 books in opposition to the Christian faith. Ironically, his impassioned opposition was an inadvertent admission of Jesus’ existence.

(3) The Conversion of modern-day skeptics, atheists and infidels are testimony to Jesus’ life and His extraordinary claims.  

John Clayton was an admitted atheist as a young man.  Today he is a Christian.  And a powerful proponent for the Christian faith.  He uses his influence through his “Does God exist?” ministry.  (http://www.doesgodexist.org/)

Josh McDowell has written many books of evidence about God, Jesus and Christianity.  In his book, “He Walked Among Us”, he documents detailed evidence for the historical Jesus.  He writes, “After personally trying, as a skeptic myself, to shatter the historicity and validity of the Scriptures, I had to conclude that they actually are historically trustworthy”

Chicago Journalist Lee Strobel, once an atheist, tells of his personal journey from scoffer and skeptic to believer and follower in his well researched books “The Case for a Creator,” The Case of Christ,” and “The Case for Faith .” He came to this conclusion “Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, prophets foretold the coming of the Messiah, or the Anointed One, who would redeem God’s people. In effect, dozens of these Old Testament prophecies created a fingerprint that only the true Messiah could fit. This gave Israel a way to rule out impostors and validate the credentials of the authentic Messiah…Jesus, and only Jesus, matched this prophetic fingerprint.”

O’Reilly affirms that Jesus of Nazareth was the most important and “the most famous human being the world has ever known.  Indeed.  And as Killing Jesus concludes, “He would go down in history not just as Jesus or Jesus of Nazareth, but as Jesus the Christ, the Messiah.”

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman


Filed under Jesus

4 responses to “Did Jesus of Nazareth Really Live?

  1. Larry Hafley

    Ken, Great article.  Much needed by the secular mind of unbelief.  Thanks.  Larry


  2. Brenda

    What great thoughts and writings confirming that our Savior is real and lives! Thank you for sharing, Ken…


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