Caesar vs. Jesus – Historical Evidence

Could this be the dumbest or most ignorant meme ever created? :

bs

Yes. Yes it could.

First… let us handle this 13,000 manuscripts fib. They may as well say 13 billion and count every bible in existence.

If one has a receipt from the store saying they bought a gallon of milk and someone makes 13,000 copies of parts of that receipt, it doesn’t add to the historicity of them buying the gallon of milk. THE END.

The manuscript evidence for Jesus comes down to the four gospels and Acts. One cannot count parts of the new testament that don’t mention Jesus in real world situations as evidence for the historicity of a character.

The oldest “manuscript” in support of Jesus is a tiny scrap of the Gospel of John, called fragment P52 dated somewhere between 117 CE and 138 CE. (If you think Jesus died in 33 CE, then this means the earliest piece of text from a Gospel came 84 to 105 years after his death. Who do you know that died 84 years ago? What did you write about them?)

p52

This is one of the “13,000 manuscripts about Jesus” mentioned in the meme above. It measures at 8.9cm x 6cm. What does it say when translated?

the Jews, “For us
anyone,” so that the w
oke signifyin
die. En
rium P
and sai
Jews?”

on the back:

this I have been born
world so that I would test-
of the truth
Said to him
and this
the Jews
not one

We have six of these kind of scraps dating from the second century CE, but they may be later. (P52, P66, P77, P90, P103, and P104)

But what is the second oldest scrap of a manuscript?

Egerton Papyrus 2 containing portions from an unknown Gospel.

Jesus walked and stood on the bank of the Jordan river; he reached out his right hand, and filled it…. And he sowed it on the… And then…water…and…before their eyes; and it brought forth fruit…many…for joy…

So included in our “13,000 manuscripts” are evidence for a Jesus that Christians don’t worship and a story, an incomplete account of a miracle, they wouldn’t see as historical.

The truth is there are about 720 root texts for the New Testament. Most of those texts are medieval. Of the surviving texts very few are complete books. About 14 of these are before 200 C.E. Many of these fragments have fewer than 20 words.

But none of that matters. Like much work of the time, we don’t have any of it. We just have copies made hundreds of years after the fact. What matters is content. This is why we know so much about Caesar and his acts. We have extant manuscripts from various historians. Actual historians that weren’t just writing a religious novel about one man, but actual histories of various men living in their time. Further, for Caesar, we have letters to and from other people talking about Caesar. People that didn’t even like him. This is where we part from the gospel authors who have no historical writings to their name.

Are the Gospels evidence for the historicity of Jesus?

Based on historical method, the Gospels are extremely weak. They don’t name their authors and they don’t name their sources. They don’t name how they got their information or who they got it from. The traditional naming of the authors is complete fabrication. None of the evidence holds up the probability of this case. In fact, it goes against it.

Despite common belief taught in Sunday school, they don’t show their sources. None of them. Not even Luke (Who is often touted to be a “great historian.”)

If we look at the “Guide to the Historical Method.” We ask some question for external Criticism.

  1. When was the source, written or unwritten, produced (date)? Don’t know.
  2. Where was it produced (localization)? Don’t know.
  3. By whom was it produced (authorship)? Don’t know.
  4. From what preexisting material was it produced (analysis)? Don’t know.
  5. In what original form was it produced (integrity)? Don’t know.
  6. What is the evidential value of its contents (credibility)? Don’t know.

Based on the above. We don’t know much anything about the date, localization, authorship, analysis, integrity or credibility.

Further, all the accounts of the Gospels conflict with each other. This is often argued by apologist using the analogy of eyewitnesses to a car accident reporting slightly different stories. Sounds good on the surface but this isn’t what we are dealing with concerning the Gospels. These are huge differences that any reasonable person could not possible get wrong. If a detective was talking to these “witnesses” he would throw them in the drunk tank and let them sober up.

contradiction

 

What about extra-biblical evidence for the historicity of Jesus?

There is none. No contemporary historian in the area wrote about Jesus. All extra biblical evidence is from historians after Jesus’ death reporting hearsay from Christians or what they could have read in the New Testament. Most of the evidence they provide is for the existence of Christians. Nothing on any fact or act about Jesus’ life.

timeline

What about archeological evidence for Jesus or his followers?

There is none.

What about archeological evidence for Caesar?

We have coins dated to his lifetime:

coins

We have busts made during his lifetime:

bust

We have no such things for Jesus or his followers.

What about literary sources for Caesar?

  1. Diodorus Siculus (1st century BCE)
  2. Quintus Curtius Rufus (1st century CE)
  3. Plutarch (2nd century CE)
  4. Flavius Arrianus Xenophon (Arrian) (2nd century CE)
  5. M. Junianus Justinus (Justin) (3rd century CE)

How are they different than the Gospel writers?

The authors are not anonymous and they cite their multiple sources. We know who they are, when they lived, what they did. They wrote not just about one man, but many different men. We can judge their credibility based on their work. They didn’t write with the sole purpose of convincing people about the life and times of Caesar.

Further, they didn’t try to cram history into a literary style or structure like the Gospel writers.  For instance the “Markan Sandwich:”

A. Cursing of the fig tree
B. Clearing of the temple
A. Withering of the fig tree

The chances of actual history fitting into Markan Sandwiches is close to nil. These are used throughout Mark and encompass the entirety of Mark.

 

 

 

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