|Interior – St. Peter’s Basilica as painted by Giovanni Paolo Panini||
Claims that there is no evidence that Jesus ever existed are simply untrue. Here’s why.
In the companion article, Is Faith Rational, I note that many atheists claim:
You’ll find this objection from bloggers and authors2 alike among other skeptics. In response, I pointed out 4 items that are historical or archaeological evidence of the existence of Jesus to silence this claim. They are:
In the companion article there was not space to discuss these issues, so here is that discussion.
Physical Evidences of Jesus’ Existence:
First, please note these are presented as evidences not proofs. It’s very difficult to “prove” anything that happened in the past. However what we do have left from events in the past is evidences that the event occurred. The following are evidences that Jesus existed.
1. St Peter’s Basilica; Cathedrals and Churches all over the world.
Before moving on – wait – I hear an atheist saying, based on that logic every pagan god for which a temple was built must also exist. Nice try. Let’s consider a pagan temple the Bible mentions – the temple of Artemis (Roman name: Diana) in the city of Ephesus. (Acts 19.27) and compare how people treat a mythical god with how they treat Jesus:
– Is Artemis worshipped in any significant way today? Does she have thousands of temples/churches?
– When swearing or cursing, does anyone swear by Artemis? Or use Artemis as an expletive?
– Does anyone claim Artemis loved mankind enough to become incarnate, live on earth and redeem mankind from his own sin and folly?
– Is time divided before and after the coming of Artemis?
– Does Artemis have an animal marked on its body with her symbol that carried her in triumph as Jesus does? (John 12.12-15) Has her symbol inspired kings and armies like the Chi Rho did Constantine and his army?
– Did Artemis prophesy anything that was fulfilled?
Whether you love Jesus and revere him or despise him and use his name as an expletive, clearly the responses to Jesus has always been, and always will be qualitatively and quantitatively different from any other so called god. This makes both the worship of Jesus and his places of worship also qualitatively different. There is an entire fabric of evidences that St Peter’s Basilica becomes part of strengthening the entire case for the existence of Jesus. The temple of Artemis [or substitute any false god – Zeus, whatever] is a single thread that simply reminds man of his tendency to idolatry and folly. So please, don’t bother with the comparisons to other fallen temples.
2. Nails From the the Cross of Jesus
While this find is helpful, what’s even more interesting is this: archeologist Simcha Jacobovici, noted that in the grave of the Caiaphas were two nails. He believes he has found the very nails used to affix Jesus to the cross, stating he has made:
Clearly if these are the nails used to nail Jesus to the cross, Jesus existed.
3. The Spear of Destiny
In addition to this being a fulfillment of prophecy (predicted in Psalm 34.20; the apostle John notes the fulfillment in John 19.36), the spear itself is evidence to the existence of Jesus. Like the bronze snake Moses fashioned to heal the Israelites after their disobedience (Numbers 21.5-9) the spear became an idol and a talisman. Just as the Israelites began worshipping the bronze snake, giving it its own name (Nehushtan 2 Ki 18.4), likewise the spear has risen to the status of a talisman and also has its own name. It is believed by some that whoever wields it is invincible. So rulers since Constantine the Great in the 4th century have desired to possess it. Charlemagne possessed it – and was a great conqueror. Napoleon and Hitler wanted it for that same reason.4 Even General Patton wanted it, and was so adamant on having it “that Dwight Eisenhower, the supreme commander of all allied troops in Europe has to intervene”5 to allow it to go back to Vienna (from where it was taken) instead of the United States.
St. Peter’s Basilica was built with four chapels that contain highly regarded relics of the Christian faith:
– The Veil that wiped Christ’s face on his way to Calvary, the place of crucifixion
While we don’t know whether the one at the Vatican or the one from Vienna is the real one, the point of this historical excursus is simple: some researchers have concluded the spear – the one that pierced Jesus’ side – is real and exists:
Naturally if the spear that pierced Jesus’ side exists; the Jesus that was pierced also existed.
4. The Shroud of Turin
These few lines of the Gospel of Matthew do much to dispel the spurious claims of Bible doubters about the existence of Jesus and the dedication of his followers. I won’t take the time go into detail on all of it save to note in passing that the Bible records Pontius Pilate as the Governor of Judea at the time of the crucifixion, and this is corroborated by extra-biblical sources such as Josephus (Antiq of the Jews. 18.3.1(55)). (Chalk up another confirmation of the historical accuracy of the Biblical record.) But our real interest is in verse 59 – the linen cloth that Joseph of Arimathea wrapped Jesus in after he was taken down from the cross. Many (including this writer) believe this linen cloth has been preserved, and is now in Turin, Italy known as the Shroud of Turin.
The fascinating thing about the shroud of Turin, is that when photographed, the image of a man is revealed – a man whose wounds are “totally consistent with a crucified individual”7 and “matches perfectly with everything we know about the death of Jesus”8 according to shroud researchers. Additionally there is bleeding from the head as if a crown of thorns had been placed upon it. The Shroud was initially dismissed as a forgery, a well done painting, but that hypothesis has been proved incorrect. In 1978 a team of scientists did an extensive study of the Shroud, using a battery of non-destructive tests including a number of different photographic methods such as ultraviolet florescent photography and X-Rays. Those tests reveal a number of facts that point to the Shroud being authentic and not a fake. Here’s a few of them:
Modern science can not figure out how to produce such an image with all of its characteristics. How could a medieval forger do it? There are many more persuasive pieces of evidence but let me jump to the summary as stated by shroud researcher and author Michael Minor:
The medieval date that he refers to is from a Carbon 14 test done in 1988. It returned a date for the shroud originating between 1260-1390. If that were correct, the shroud could not be the burial cloth of Jesus since the crucifixion happened about 30 AD. However further research and tests12 have shown that the Carbon 14 date is in error because it is based on a contaminated sample (or had a “material intrusion” – the preferred term – in it). Further investigation proved the sample taken from the Shroud for Carbon 14 testing had medieval aged material re-woven into it to repair and strengthen it after it was burned in a fire in 1532. This fact invalidates the date arrived at by the Carbon 14 testing. Thus there is no evidence that suggests the Shroud is not authentic.
So much for there being no evidence of Jesus’ existence. When you hear such claims you will know the person making them either doesn’t know what he or she is talking about or is pressing an agenda and is surpressing the evidence to do so.
Finally, as I said above, these are not presented as definitive “proofs”, rather like the miracles of Jesus they are presented as evidences “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20.31)
Duane Caldwell | posted 10/28/2014 | print format
1. From the article Faith is not Rational by “Cephus” http://bitchspot.jadedragononline.com/2013/06/05/faith-not-rational/
2. For example Author Clint Blauer says much the same thing.
3 Simcha Jacobovic Secrets of Christianity episode “The Nails of the Cross”
4 Brad Meltzer’s Decoded episode “Spear of Destiny”
5 Myth Hunters episode “Hitler and the Spear of Destiny”
6 Buddy Levy, Brad Meltzer’s Decoded episode “Spear of Destiny”
7 Dr. Frederick T. Zugibe, Forensic Pathologist
8 Dr. Firpo Carr – Professor of Semitic Languages
9 Kenneth Stevenson, co-author The Verdict on the Shroud,
10 Dr. Max Frei, Criminologist and Botanist
11Michael Manor, author: A Lawyer argues for the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin,
12 Shroud researchers Sue Benford and Joe Marion proposed the piece cut from the Shroud for Carbon 14 testing had medieval aged material invisibly re-woven into the fabric, invalidating the test. Their theory was confirmed by Ray Rogers, a chemist at Los Alamos National Laboratory