Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Evangelism. Kind of an ugly word for a lot of folks. It gets a bad wrap. I just got home from the Keller study and I was chatting with a guy I met on the beach retreat. His group has an atheist in it who promotes some great discussion. I have a group filled with believers, and it's been good, but I long for some serious debate at times. Anyway, I was really glad to hear that the conversation was open and respectful. My buddy said that the atheist had really given some honest thoughts to the possibility of Christ.

I'm proud of the way we have run this course. All of our Well studies are set up to promote interfaith dialogue and healthy safe discussion. It's a forum where all sides can learn something. But at the same time, we're hopefully to make strides for Christ. We are doing our best to evangelize in a safe and loving way. No one is coerced to do anything. It's a forum where we can wrestle with tough topics and hopefully convince people that God loves them and desperately wants to know them. This is done through a humble, servant type of example.

I pray that our Christian community can live up to the standards and model set forth in the Bible. One of the points made tonight in the video was that no one was surprised that the Church had made mistakes in the past. It's an organization run by people and so it is destined to be flawed...that reaction to the Church bothered me. I want the world wide Christian community to be set apart. I want it to be filled with people that have been affected by the spirit and born again. I want people to be shocked and outraged when the Church lets them down. I want it to be special and held to a higher standard.

I want to reflect that I have been changed. I want to care about people before myself. I want my community to do the same. I pray for world wide change.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Prayer Beads

I've mentioned before in previous posts that I'm often drawn to the Catholic Church. A lot of their tradition captivates me, and I find it very beautiful. I think praying the rosary is an incredible way to enrich your prayer life. Unfortunately for me, many of the rosary prayers are inappropriate due to the focus on Mary as intercessor. I don't need to be spending that much time prayer to a Saint. I need to be focusing on Christ and his saving grace.

I recently found some Anglican websites that make protestant prayer beads. I think the prayers are beautiful and harken back to the tradition of the early church fathers without going down the needless intercessory road. I'm going to have to order some.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Battling Fear - Psalm 62

David is in the midst of fear. Yet he begins his prayer by glorifying God the Almighty. In verses 3 & 4 he cries out to his enemies. How long do they intend on kicking him when he is down? Verses 5 - 8 provide the bookend to his concern and anxiety with more praise to God. In fact, it almost reads as if he is teaching his people how to handle fear and uncertainty. Verses 9 & 10 remind us that putting our hopes in our idols to provide protection is a fruitless endeavor. 11 & 12 remind us that God is just and loving, but also that He will be faithful to us when we abide in Him.

1 Truly my soul finds rest in God; 
   my salvation comes from him.
2 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
   he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
 3 How long will you assault me?
   Would all of you throw me down—
   this leaning wall, this tottering fence?

4 Surely they intend to topple me
   from my lofty place;
   they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
   but in their hearts they curse.
 5 Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
   my hope comes from him.

6 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
   he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

7 My salvation and my honor depend on God;
   he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, you people;
   pour out your hearts to him,
   for God is our refuge.
 9 Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
   the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
   together they are only a breath.
10 Do not trust in extortion
   or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
   do not set your heart on them.
 11 One thing God has spoken,
   two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
 12 and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward everyone
   according to what they have done.”

We can't command ourselves to have less fear. Our fear needs to be overwhelmed by the greater 
sentiment of fearing God the creator. When we put God first, when we revere the awe inspiring 
God before we move to our concerns...everything is put in order. Thats the story of God's faithfulness.
The story of scripture. We find rest by pouring out our hearts to God like David does in verse 8. God 
wants us to vent to Him. It is cathartic for us, but also productive, since God is the only one that can 
truly come to our aid. We find rest by refusing to seek rest in the world's offer of security. A David says,
these offers are lies. One of the ways we learn to properly fear god is by learning to rest in him. Notice 
that rest is different from rescue. It's not the same thing as escape. It's a calm in the eye of the storm that 
you have to actively seek. Rest comes when we remind ourselves who God is and what he has done. 
David starts the psalm off that way. Stop listening to yourself and start talking to God. Start speaking to 
aloud about what you know is true. Examples of this dialogue, this pouring out of our hearts in prayer 
can be found throughout the psalms.

Lord, teach me to pour my heart out to you. Teach me to come to you in reverence, seeking to tell you 
what I know is true. That you are the only help in the midst of the storm. In you alone I trust.

Much Love.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Well Beach Retreat

Dueteronomy 10:12 And now oh Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

My wife and I are at a ginormous beach house with other members of our Well group. The theme for the weekend is fear. Where does it come from? What exactly are we afraid of and why?

This is what I've come up with so far: If you trust God, you will fear him, and if you fear him, you will fear worldly things far less often. (I use fear in the sense that the ancient hebrews used the word. It encompasses more than just being afraid, but includes also a reverential sense of awe. We don't have an exact word in English to properly translate the Hebrew word fear in our bibles.)

Fear is so prevalent in today's society. I can attest to it. Sometimes I lay awake at night worrying about work the next work day. A lot of those nights, I can name nothing specific that consumes my thoughts. It's simply a general sense of anxiety. Ridiculous actually. And how often do I turn to my idols for a source of comfort and distraction, when I should be kneeling before the almighty Lord God in reverence? If I came to Christ in awe, knowing that through Him All things were made, including big would my concerns seem? Not very. But I'm not saying anything new. Check it:

Jeremiah 10:2
Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky,
Though the nations are terrified by them.
For the customs of the peoples are worthless;
They cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammers and nails
So it will not totter. (This reminds me of all my apple products).
Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak;
They must be carried because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them; They can do no harm nor can they do any good.
No one is like you, O Lord; You are great, and your name is mighty in power
Who should not revere you, O King of the nations? This is your due.

Isaiah 2:22
Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils.
Of what account is he?

So when you come to God with a sense of reverence and awe, it follows that your priorities will then be set right. But why is it so hard to remember to put God in His proper place of glory in our lives? I blame a lot of it on modern gadgets and the distractions that flow from them. Our modern day idols. Radio, tv, movies...constant filler and sound. I know many people who can't fall asleep without constant sound in the background. Anything to fill our mind and push away the concerns of life. If we can succeed at mastering/masking our fear with modern idols, why would we need to call upon God?

Another reason we don't like to go to God in reverence, is that our society teaches us that there is no such ing as sin. We are all free to be you and me, and that everyone is entitled to their own sense of morality...their own definition of right and wrong. It's all subjective. So if there isn't the acknowledgement that in the face of God we deserve nothing other than to be crushed and obliterated...than why revere Him? Why even acknowledge Him? Sometimes it takes a face to face encounter to get us to understand the power and glory of the almighty. Every example we see in the bible follows the following format. Falling on your knees in shame, begging for forgiveness, repenting in the face of the almighty, recoiling as God reaches out to you in forgiveness, and then volunteering to live for Him in supreme worship. Take Isaiah 6 for example:

1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

In the ancient hebrew there were no exclamation points. In order to describe someone's beauty, you would say she was pretty pretty. This is the only part of the bible where something is described in triplicate. The angels proclaim God as holy holy holy. This was a grammatical impossibility, but the only way to describe Gods glory. Isaiah was faced with this infinitely powerful truth, and could only fall to his knees in terror saying 'woe is me.' He acknowledges that he is a product of his generation, worried about things of this world, and living a life of unclean words and lips. The only thing he deserves is to be smote under Gods wrath. But in one of many snapshots, or foreshadowings of Christ's coming, he is forgiven and washed clean by the purifying act of God. His first instinct is to stand up and volunteer to a life of service.

Yes, we react to His grace don't we?!

God, I ask that you reorient me to a life of worshiping you. I ask that you fill me with the Holy Spirit and interrupt my life like you did Isaiah. Remind me that I am simply filled with one breath, without You, destined for eternal extinguishment. Absolve me of my sins through Christ's complete work on the cross, allow me to accept that gift, and to live my life according to your wishes for me. In Jesus's name I pray.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Historical Jesus

Extra Biblical Christian Evidence

Note: Though many skeptics claim the early church fathers did not use independent extra-Biblical sources, throughout this section will show otherwise. Potential references to the use of a extra-biblical sources will be shown using purple font.
CLEMENT OF ROME (? – 98? A.D.) Clement was a bishop of Rome and later became known as the fourth pope. He was eventually martyred in approximately 98 A.D. Some speculate Paul was referring to Clement in Philippians 4:3 but this cannot be proven. Clement was a first century apostolic author which gives credence to his first-hand account of early Christianity. In the passage below, Clement confirms the ministry of the disciples and some of the basic tenets of early Christianity.
“The Apostles received the Gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was sent forth from God. So then Christ is from God, and the Apostles are from Christ. Both therefore came of the will of God in the appointed order. Having therefore received a charge, and being fully assured through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and confirmed in the word of God will full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth with the glad tidings that the kingdom of God should come. So preaching everywhere in country and town, they appointed their first fruits, when they had proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons unto them that should believe.”Corinthians 42
Examples of Extra-Biblical Resource Evidence for Clement:
  • And giving heed unto His words, ye laid them up diligently in your hearts, and His sufferings were beforeyour eyes Chapter 2 (correspondence with possible eye-witnesses)
  • Tertullian and Jerome record the belief Clement was personally ordained by and a disciple of Peter (whichimplies he was privy to extra-biblical information as he was close to an original apostle).
  • “The New Testament he [Clement] never quotes verbally. Sayings of Christ are now and then given, butnot in the words of the Gospels. It cannot be proved, therefore, that he used any one of the SynopticGospels.” The Catholic Encyclopedia Online
IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH (? – ~100 A.D) Ignatius was a Bishop of Antioch reported to have been appointed to his position by Peter of whom he was a disciple. He is also believed to be a disciple of Paul and John. Ignatius was arrested by the Romans and executed as a martyr in the arena. Even though his testimony would ultimately lead to his death, Ignatius was adamant about the things he witnessed. He reinforces early Christian beliefs in the letters he penned while in prison. Even when execution was imminent, Ignatius refused to recant his faith.
“Jesus Christ who was of the race of David, who was the Son of Mary, who was truly born and ate and drank, was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate, was truly crucified and died in the sight of those in heaven and on earth and those under the earth. Who moreover was truly raised from the dead, His father having raised Him, who in the like fashion will so raise us also who believe in Him.” Trallians
“He is truly of the race of David according to the flesh but Son of God by the Divine will and powered, truly born of a virgin and baptized by John that all righteousness might be fulfilled by Him, truly nailed up in the flesh for our sakes under Pontius Pilate and Herod the tetrarch… That He might set up an ensign unto all ages through His resurrection.” Smyrneans, 1
“Be ye fully persuaded concerning the birth and the passion and the resurrection, which took place in the time of the governorship of Pontius Pilate. For these things were truly and certainly done by Jesus Christ our hope.” Magnesians XI
Examples of Extra-Biblical Resource Evidence for Ignatius:
  • Theodoret states Ignatius was personally appointed to the Antioch See by Peter (like Clement, this impliesa personal relationship with an original apostle, making extra-biblical information available to him).
  • John Chrysostom emphasises the honor bestowed upon Ignatius as he personally received his dedicationfrom the apostles.
  • Clement was also believed to be a disciple of Paul and John.

Skeptic Interjection: How can Clement and Ignatius knowing the apostles be considered extra-biblical

resources? If some of the apostles were said to have written the New Testament, how is this any different thanusing the New Testament as a source? Answer: There are several reasons why this is important. First of all, Clement and Ignatius would have most certainly been privy to the apostles’ first-hand testimonies instead of simply having to rely on a “text” that “someone” had written. Second, because they were said to have known the apostles intimately, they would have had a far greater ability to discredit their claims. Apparently the disciples passed all of their tests because both Clement and Ignatius died as martyrs (which would have been highly unlikely if they had any doubts concerning
the apostles’ claims).
QUADRATUS OF ATHENS (126 A.D.) Quadratus was an Athenian bishop and direct disciple of the Apostles. He is generally regarded as the first Christian apologist because of his defense given to Emperor Hadrian in 126 A.D. Quadratus points out the fact that a few who were healed and resurrected by Jesus lived until modern times.
“The deeds of our Savior were always before you, for they were true miracles. Those that were healed, those that were raised from the dead, who were seen, not only when healed and when raised, but were always present. They remained living a long time, not only while our Lord was on earth, but likewise when he had left the earth. So that some of them have also lived to our own times.” Eusebius IV III, 2
Examples of Extra-Biblical Resource Evidence for Quadratus:
  • In the above passage, Quadratus refers to those who were healed by Jesus and had lived until moderntimes.
  • Like Clement and Ignatius, Quadratus was said by Eusebius to be a direct disciple of the apostles.
ARISTIDES THE ATHENIAN (126 A.D.) Aristides, along with Quadratus mentioned above, presented an apology to Emperor Hadrian during his stay in Athens in 126 A.D. Aristides describes the treatment of Jesus by His own people, the Jews, and contrasts their beliefs with those of the Christians.

“When the Son of God was pleased to come upon the earth, they received him with wanton violence and

betrayed him into the hands of Pilate the Roman governor. Paying no respect to his good deeds and the
countless miracles he performed among them, they demanded a sentence of death by the cross… Now the Christians trace their origin from the Lord Jesus Christ… The Son of the most high God who came down from heaven, being born of a pure [Hebrew] virgin, for the salvation of men… And he was crucified, being pierced with nails by the Jews. And after three days He came to life again and ascended into heaven. His twelve apostles, after his ascension into heaven, went forth into the provinces of the whole world proclaiming the true doctrine… They who still observe the righteousness enjoined by their preaching are called Christians.” Apology XIV-XV
JUSTIN MARTYR (~100 – 165 A.D.) Justin Martyr, possibly the most well-known early Christian apologist, was an educated pagan philosopher who converted to Christianity around 130 A.D. Though he risked losing his wealth, status, and life, Justin fearlessly spread Christianity throughout Asia Minor and Rome. Refusing to recant his testimony, he was led to his death via scourging and beheading in 165 A.D. Being an educated man, Justin weighed the evidence carefully before accepting his new faith and explains to the reader he made his decision only after careful consideration and research.
There is a village in Judea, thirty-five stadia from Jerusalem, where Jesus Christ was born, as you can see from the tax registers under Cyrenius, your first procurator in Judea… He was born of a virgin as a man, and was named Jesus, and was crucified, and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven… After He was crucified, all His acquaintances denied Him. But once He had risen from the dead and appeared to them and explained the prophecies which foretold all these things and ascended into heaven, the apostles believed. They received the power given to them by Jesus and went into the world preaching the Gospel.” First Apology, 34, 46, 50
“At the time of His birth, Magi from Arabia came and worshipped Him, coming first to Herod, who was then sovereign in your land… When they crucified Him, driving in the nails, they pierced His hands and feet. Those who crucified Him parted His garments among themselves, each casting lots… But you did not repent after you learned that He rose from the dead. Instead, you sent men into to the world to proclaim that a godless heresy had sprung from Jesus, a Galilean deceiver, whom was crucified and that His disciples stole His body from the tomb in order to deceive men by claiming He had risen from the dead and ascended into heaven.” Dialogue withTrypho, 77 97, 107-8
Examples of Extra-Biblical Resource Evidence for Justin:
  • Justin presents one of the earliest statements that specifically attest to Jesus’ historicity. Justin refers hisaudience to the Judean tax registers where they would find evidence of Jesus’ birth.
  • In the second quote above, Justin is refuting the rumors concerning a resurrection conspiracy and the
    accusation that Jesus was a Galilean deceiver. Justin’s awareness of the rumors concerning Jesus revealshis knowledge of extra-Biblical testimony.
  • Justin uses the healing ministry of Christians to attest to the very real power of ChristCountlesspossessed men throughout the land are being exorcised by many of our Christian men in the name ofJesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, continue to healrendering helpless and driving thedemons out of men, though they could not be cured by any other exorcists or those who used incantationsand drugs.” Second Apology VI
  • Justin makes a reference to The Acts of Pilate which was not a Biblical: “And that these things did happen,you can ascertain from the Acts of Pontius Pilate.” First Apology XXXV
HEGESIPPUS (110 A.D. – 180 A.D.) Hegesippus converted to Christianity from Judaism after extensively researching the Gospel story for himself. Instead of accepting the Gospel story at the word of others, he travelled extensively throughout Rome and Corinth in an effort to collect evidence of the early Christian claims. Hegesippus provides important testimony that the stories being passed around were not watered down, embellished, or fabricated.
“This man [James] was a true witness to both Jews and Greeks that Jesus is the Christ… The Corinthian church continued in the true doctrine until Primus became bishop. I mixed with them on my voyage to Rome and spent several days with the Corinthians, during which we were refreshed with the true doctrine. On arrival at Rome I pieced together the succession down to Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus, Anicetus being succeeded by Soter and he by Eleutherus. In ever line of bishops and in every city things accord with the preaching of the Law, the Prophets, and the Lord.” The History of the Church
Examples of Extra-Biblical Resource Evidence for Hegesippus:
  • Hegesippus describes the ministry and demise of James (Jesus’ brother) at the hands of the pharisees.These accounts were not mentioned in the New Testament.
  • Hegesippus fervently retraced the roots of the early church and states he did so in order to ensure thecirculating testimonies concerning Christ were genuine.
  • In his research, Hegesippus recounts the ministries of several witnesses (primarily church fathers) notincluded in the Bible.
  • Hegesippus documents the interrogation of Jesus’ grand-nephews by Domitian and records they lived intothe reign of Trojan.
  • Hegesippus documents the martyrdom of Bishop Symeon, (the son of Cleopas mentioned in Luke 24:18).He was believed to be either a relativedisciple, and/or contemporary of Jesus.
  • Hegesippus addresses heresies being spread by differing sects, implying he did not focus his researchsolely on Biblical teachings.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Historical Jesus

Jewish Sources

FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS (37 – 100 A.D.) Josephus was a first century pharisee and historian of both priestly and royal ancestry who provided important insight into first-century Judaism. Josephus was born only three years after the crucifixion of Jesus, making him a credible witness to the historicity of Jesus.

“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of
wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him. For he appeared to them alive again the third day. As the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribes of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day.”Antiquities XVIII, 3:2
Skeptic Interjection: Could this passage have been altered or interpolated by early Christian authors?Answer: Some think this passage is a complete interpolation while some believe the passage is authentic. However, the general consensus among scholars is that Josephus most likely made some sort of mention to Jesus but that the original text became distorted over time. 
1: The vocabulary found in the Testimonium is consistent with the vocabulary used in other passages in Antiquities. The phrase Now about this time is used at the beginning of this passage as well dozens of other passages. It’s also doubtful a Christian forger would have referred to Jesus as simply a wise man but then go on to assert claims of His divinity. Yet, Josephus uses this word to refer to many other notable (and purely human) figures. Josephus also uses the description of Jesus’ miracles as wonderful [astonishing, surprising]works. Lastly, Josephus refers to Christianity as atribe- just like he does many other times in reference to both major and minor sects.
2: Once the disputed words (printed in regular font in the above passage) are removed, Josephus’ thought process flows just as well. This lends credence to the possibility the passage wasn’t wholly interpolated but perhaps altered. When we omit the disputed words, the passage seems consistent with what an orthodox Jew would say concerning Jesus:

“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man,

for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of

such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He
drew over to him both many of the Jews and many
of the Gentiles. And when Pilate, at the suggestion
of the principal men among us, had condemned him
to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not
forsake him. And the tribes of Christians so named
from him are not extinct at this day.”
3: Greek and Arabic translations of the Testimonium contain disclaimers preceding the suspicious declarations such as “Jesus who was believed to be the Christ” and It has been reported that He appeared to them alive again on the third day.” If anything, this could lead to the speculation that Christian authors did not add to the text but edited it by deleting the disclaimers!
4: The earliest versions of Antiquities contain the passage as it is presented above. Objection: The
earliest surviving copy dates from 10th century A.D. (plenty of time from the publication of Antiquities 
to alter or interpolate the passage). Answer: This is true. We do not have an extant copy of Antiquities dating from before 10th century A.D. What we do have however, is several citations of this passage by other authors prior to the 10th century).
5: Many defenders of the Testimonium’s authenticity speculate that if it had been wholly interpolated by a Christian, they most likely would have inserted the passage next to the John the Baptist references. Though I understand their reasoning, I feel this argument is based on conjecture instead of evidence. The alleged Christian forger could have had just as much reason to insert this passage next to the John passage, the Pilate passage, or the James passage.
1: This passage seems to interrupt the continuity of Josephus’ thought process in the previous and subsequent verses. Answer: Interruptions are frequently found in Josephus’ works since he composed his histories during different sittings. Furthermore, Josephus was known to use the assistance of scribes during his writings which could easily resolve this issue.
2: The passage contains proclamations an orthodox Jew would not make such as Jesus being the Christ.

Answer: In other translations (Greek and Arabic) the suspicious statements contain disclaimers such as “Jesus who was believed to be the Christ” and It has been reported…” This presents the theory Josephus was recording the beliefs regarding Jesus and not necessarily his personal opinion (as a responsible historian should do).
3: Early Christian authors like Origen and Justin Martyr do not mention this passage in their writings.

Answer: Not sure what the motive is behind this objection because Origen does reference the other passage by Josephus yet critics claim the reference is “too late” to be reliable. But, for argument’s sake if we assume this passage did exist in the form most scholars believe it did, the early church fathers might not have felt the need to refer to it. The [original?] passage serves as evidence for the historicity of Jesus- a topic not hotly debated at this point as the burden of proof revolved around His divinityObjection: Origen attests to the historicity of John the Baptist in his work Contra Celsus when it wasn’t even being debated. He could have cited this passage too. Answer: In Origen’s Contra Celsus the divinity of Jesus was being debated- not his existence. Though Josephus allegedly admits to Jesus performing miracles, he does not state how. It would have made no sense for Origen to cite the Testimonium since it doesn’t either dispute or confirm Celsus’ claims. Furthermore, even if the original Antiquities still existed in Josephus’ own handwriting, critics would say he either drew his information from Christian sources or was to late to be considered reliable!
4: Josephus’ Jewish Wars also contains this passage so it must be a forgery. Answer: This is false- the
Testimonium is not found in the Jewish Wars. To the contrary- Skeptics criticize that the Testimonium is
not found in The Wars but should have been!
5: Josephus should have written more regarding Jesus if the passage was genuine. Answer: What topic or how much an author writes about a topic is their prerogative. Also, since Josephus believed Jesus was just another messianic pretender and false prophet, it would have made little sense for Josephus to have written volumes concerning His life and actions. It would be similar to a modern a Christian author exhaustively recording the life of Jim Jones or David Koresh. Josephus most likely held Jesus in the same regard and felt he warranted little mention.
“So [Ananus] assembled a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as lawbreakers, he delivered them over to be stoned.” Antiquities XX 9:1
Skeptic Interjection: Is it possible this passage was interpolated by early Christians? Answer: It must be noted that no copy of Antiquities has ever surfaced without the above text quoted as it is above. Critics are suspicious of the so-called Christ statement yet this reference (rather than the Christ) shows

Josephus was not condoning the belief but simply documenting it. Also, this passage concerns the actions of the priest Ananus- Jesus and James were not even the primary focus of this verse! Lastly, this passage is cited in other early works which attests to its authenticity.
Even if we dismiss the disputed words in Josephus’ Testimonium, we still see he testifies to a number of things in the above two passages:
  • Jesus lived in the first century
  • He performed wonderful works (miracles)
  • Some believed Jesus to be the Christ
  • He was a teacher
  • He had many followers
  • He was tried by Pilate
  • He was crucified
  • He was the founder of Christianity
  • James was the brother of Jesus
THE BABYLONIAN TALMUD The Babylonian Talmud is an ancient record of Jewish history, laws, and rabbinic teachings compiled throughout the centuries. Though it does not accept the divinity of Jesus, it confirms the belief He was hanged (an idiom for crucifixion) on the eve of the Passover.
“On the eve of the Passover Yeshu (Jesus) [Some texts: Yeshu/Jesus the Nazarene] was hanged [crucified]. Forty days before the execution, a herald went forth and cried, ‘He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.’ But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of the Passover.”
Skeptic Interjection: How can we know the Talmud is documenting Jesus’ existence and not only stating the rumor surrounding a myth?Answer: In the above excerpt the Talmud mentions Jesus’ ability to perform miracles but tries to dismiss it as sorcery. If the writers were simply refuting myth, they would most likely have dismissed the tale as a rumor- not assign alternative theories to defend their position.
Skeptic Interjection: How can we know this passage is a reference to Jesus and not another individual with the name Yeshu?Answer: Though it is possible this passage could refer to another individual, we know Jesus was killed during the Passover, we know He was crucified (a Jewish idiom for hanged), we know He was accused of practicing sorcery by the pharisees (for His miracles), and He was ultimately arrested for the sin of blasphemy (enticing Israel to apostasy). Furthermore, there are other translations which read Yeshu the Nazarene which give us even more reason to believe this passage pertains to Jesus.