Part 3 What sources outside the Bible support the Biblical Jesus

After Identifying who the critics are, I will now make a positive case for why I think the Jesus of history is the Jesus of the Bible.   In the process I will test the historical accuracy of the Bible.  Can the Bible be trusted?

Answering the critics

I will look at the writings outside the Bible that point to Jesus, examine relevant archeological findings, and then add any additional evidence in support of the historical accuracy of the Bible.

Test #1:  Do sources outside the Bible support the Biblical Jesus?

We begin our search for the historical Jesus by looking to writers who were ancient historians and gave us some unique insight into this special individual.  These extra-Biblical sources make it very difficult to deny Jesus ever existed.  People who do have to explain why the Bible is not trustworthy as a historical record and why ancient historians wrote about him.

Our first ancient historian is Josephus.  He was an important Jewish historian of the first century.  He was born A.D. 37, and wrote most of his four works towards the end of the first century.  In his autobiography, Josephus defended why he surrendered to the Romans instead of committing suicide like many of his colleagues.  Josephus decided it wasn’t God’s will that he commit suicide.  Due to his association with the Romans he was very unpopular with his fellow Jews but extremely popular with the Christians.  The main reason was he wrote about James, the brother of Jesus and about Jesus himself.  From his book Antiquities Josephus writes:

“… so he [Ananus – high priest] assembled the Sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned[1].”

Here we have a Roman historian referring to a person named Jesus.  According to Dr. Edwin Yamauchi, of Miami University a noted archeologist, “I know of no scholar who has successfully disputed this passage[2].”  So what do we learn from the words of Josephus?

  1. Jesus was a real historical figure and not a myth.
  2. He had a brother named James, which support the Biblical accounts.
  3. He was called the Christ or in the Hebrew the “Messiah.”
  4. James died by stoning.

All of these points align with the Biblical accounts.  Without a scholar successfully disputing these passages, we have solid historical information about Jesus from a non-Biblical source.

Go to part 4 here


[1] Josephus, “Complete Works of Josephus,” Book 20 Ch. 9 Sec. 1

[2] Strobel, Lee, “The Case for Christ,” Zondervan Publ. 1998, p. 78

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