Evidence for the Historical Jesus

A complete defense of the historical Jesus, new addition to my apologetics site. I see this was a ‘popular’ topic this year as Jimmy Akin and Trent Horn (finally we have a ‘Catholic’ William Lane Craig) have gotten into it with Richard Carrier ( strangenotions.com/four-reasons-to-believe-in-jesus/ ) who has his new book on the subject. You can look it up. I don’t have it but have seen plenty of Carrier’s ‘lectures’ on the topic and they are pretty ridiculous (in my opinion). So here is the best defense of the historical (and orthodox Catholic) Jesus online: Should be completely finished by Christmas. :slight_smile:

Evidence for the Historical Jesus

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I don’t post much in these forums anymore but was ‘very active’ in its early years (2004 - 2008 or so). My apologetics site is still up and running (going on 15+ years now) but this year I went with a cool domain name I’ve had, and hopefully it will remain forever.


This was something I had purchased for Dave Armstrong about 10+ years ago, and it used to forward to his blog, but I needed a domain other than my old one. So I switched to this. The old one ( www.philvaz.com ) still works as well so all those links are still good, but I prefer everyone link to the new domain. Thanks.

Trent Horn’s debate with Carrier is online as well, it was ‘fun’ but the cross-examine was a bit irritating as they both are fast talkers and interrupted each other constantly! :thumbsup:


Thanks Phil.

I’ll check out the links soon and get back to ya. Short on time the next few days.

Merry Christmas to you too!


I read it last night, very good. Another reason to believe in the historical Jesus, the Son of God is because God does not lie and God revealed his Word to us in the Scriptures, both to the Jews and later to the Gentiles and only God could have inspired the Scriptures, no mere man or group of men could have done it. The entire Revelation hangs together like a tight glove, from beginning to end. It commands belief because its unity undrelines its authority.


PhilVaz, omg! Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re in the presence of greatness.

The ground-breaking work that Phil, Mark Bonocore, Gary Michuta, Art Sippo and many others did in the early days set the standard for us all. If you ever have the feeling that you’re standing on the shoulders of giants, Phil is among them.

Phil, I’m happy to see you dropping in! I’ve enjoyed your material many, many times over the years, and I’m headed to your new site now.

Don’t be a stranger, man. We still need strong voices like yours here at CAF.

Thanks Phil. :thumbsup:

ALL FINISHED. :thumbsup:

Evidence for the Historical Jesus

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and all the rest!


Thank you for this!! :slight_smile: I updated the link for your blog on my own blog site.


I noticed that you have not quoted the historian Phlegon (80-140). His works do not survive, but he was quoted by both Julius Africanus and Origen.

Did you decide not to include him on your website because we do not have any direct material from him?


<< Did you decide not to include him on your website because we do not have any direct material from him? >>

Mainly I was following Van Voorst Jesus Outside the New Testament and summarizing his quotes and arguments. The quote is not mentioned in that book. Your ‘main’ extra-NT references for Jesus are those I cited. Van Voorst doesn’t do that one, he does: Thallos (which is a quote from Eusebius I believe), then the ones I have: Josephus, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Suetonius, Mara bar Serapion. Then he has some slightly later ones: Lucian (covered in J.P. Holding’s book), and Celsus.

If you read Bart Ehrman’s book on the subject Did Jesus Exist? he also talks about Gospel of Thomas and Gospel of Peter, but because they are rather ‘gnostic’ I skipped those too (and they aren’t in Jurgens, volume 1 either). Bart seems to almost put them on the ‘same level’ as the canonical Gospels talking about ‘seven independent’ Gospel sources for Jesus (Matt, Mark, Luke, John, Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Peter, and something called ‘Papyrus Egerton 2’ or the Egerton Gospel which I had not heard of),

Bart’s book is good (Richard Carrier had a ‘fit’ over Bart’s book, but only nit-picked a few things), but overly long, too much detail on the pagan sources, and somewhat repetitive in my opinion (but I like how he is on ‘our side’ of this). He could have trimmed 350 pages down to about 250 or 200 pages. My thing is much more ‘compact’ and just lists the best evidence and arguments in as few pages as I could (it runs to about 28 pages if you turn it into a PDF). I don’t cover any of the ‘mythicist’ so-called ‘arguments’ but Bart does a good job demolishing those from a ‘secular’ viewpoint. I actually recommend his book, his last chapters (expanded in his book How Jesus Became God) we would disagree with of course since he isn’t Catholic or not even Christian, but agnostic.


I just made an important edit to the article, from the book of Hebrews:

BF (Brian Flemming of “The God Who Wasn’t There” DVD): (shows on screen Hebrews 8:4, translated as) “If Jesus had been on earth, he would not even have been a priest.” (Hebrews 8:4)

The meaning is that Jesus is in heaven now as our ‘great High Priest’, he is not on earth now, etc. Literally: 'if He were on earth…" * “…he would not be a priest, for there are already priests [on earth] who offer the gifts…” (Heb 8:4). This implies Jesus was on earth before, but he is not now on earth. It does not mean Jesus never lived on earth or he never was on earth (See the context Hebrews 8:1-6, and other clear passages from Hebrews, etc)

“Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being. Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’ But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.” (Heb 8:1-6, NIV)

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity [or ‘took part in the same’] so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way [or ‘made like His brethren in all things’], in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Heb 2:14-18 NIV)

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth [or literally ‘in the days of His flesh’], he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.” (Heb 5:7-10 NIV)

The more literal NASB of Hebrews 8:4 has “Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law…” The teaching of Hebrews is Jesus is our great High Priest in heaven and that is only possible because of his one-time sacrifice of his body on earth (Heb 10:5,10, 14; 2:14-18; 5:7-10; cf. 1 Pet 2:24; 1 John 2:1-2; etc).

The old Jewish sacrificial system (which was a copy and shadow) is done away with and fulfilled in the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross. “Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, ‘Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, but a body You have prepared for Me…’ …By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb 10:5,10 NASB).

In Catholic theology, this single sacrifice is renewed or re-presented (made present) every time the priest says Mass and offers Eucharist, which is the body and blood of Christ (1 Cor 10:16ff; 11:23ff; Matt 26:26ff; Luke 22:19ff). Hebrews is quite clear that Jesus Christ like us had flesh and blood, shared in our humanity, was made fully human in every way, lived on earth ‘in the flesh’, etc.

Evidence for the Historical Jesus


To me this quest is silly one. I mean it’s purpose is to mythologize Jesus, the 2nd person of the Trinity, so as to undermine the over all belief that God exists. It is the result of poor scholarship that ignores certain facts and preys upon the ignorant who are awed by anyone appearing to have scholarly knowledge and authority. It was a compromise sort of, between all out atheism and minimalistic Christians who have compromised much of what they are supposed to believe. It made Jesus seem acceptable for a certain type of agnostic minded individual, but also keeps Him at a distance. In it’s worst form, it attempts to totally disprove there was even a man named Jesus who was spiritual leader who had an influence on the Jews of his day.

God bless those who attempt to reign in this wild horsey. Too much for me. I basically dismissed most of the approach years ago with the knowledge I have of history and the effect of Christianity on Western Civilization. Maybe as I grow in knowledge of this particular type of apologetic and the “scholarship” involved, I’ll be able to better defend the Church’s position. I simply haven’t got enough working knowledge of historical stuff in my head at this point to do so.

I guess I could say I know Jesus existed and that He influenced the history of His days, and in fact saved the whole world!


I just took a cursory look through, and I didn’t see this, but maybe I just missed it. In his book, Jesus of Nazareth, Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem to the Resurrection, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI says that the strongest evidence in his mind for the truth of the Resurrection (and thus for a historical Jesus) was the widespread shift among the Christian Jews of the observation of the Sabbath from Saturday to that of the Lord’s Day, Sunday, given that Sabbath was an incredibly central part of the Jewish culture.

Just something to consider adding to your website. Of course, the book notates source documents that provide evidence for early observation of the Lord’s Day. I’d have to look that up if you needed it.

<< … was the widespread shift among the Christian Jews of the observation of the Sabbath from Saturday to that of the Lord’s Day, Sunday, given that Sabbath was an incredibly central part of the Jewish culture. >>

Ah ha thanks. Yes, it is mentioned briefly as one of the historical facts that all historians, whether Christian or not, agree with, and what can be derived treating the New Testament as an ‘ancient document’ (not necessarily inspired nor inerrant):

There are a minimum number of historical facts agreed upon by practically all critical scholars, and these facts are considered to be knowable history (Habermas, The Historical Jesus, page 158f)

– Jesus died by crucifixion;
– he was buried;
– his death caused the disciples to despair and lose hope, believing that his life had ended;
– many scholars hold the tomb in which Jesus was buried was discovered empty just a few days later;
– the disciples had ‘experiences’ which they believed were literal appearances of the risen Jesus;
– because of these experiences the disciples were transformed from doubters who were afraid to identify with Jesus to bold proclaimers of his death and resurrection;
– this message was the center of preaching in the early Christian church;
– it was especially proclaimed in Jerusalem, where Jesus died and was buried shortly before;
– as a result of this preaching the church was born and grew;
with Sunday becoming the primary day of worship;
– James, the brother of Jesus, who had been a skeptic, was converted to the faith when he also saw the resurrected Jesus;
– a few years later, Paul was converted by an experience which he believed to be an appearance of the risen Jesus…

On my site also is an article proving the Friday (Crucifixion) to Sunday (Resurrection) chronology as well…


I just heard Habermas interviewed from the Dec. 23, 2014 Coast to Coast radio show. An entertaining interview. Something was pleasantly odd hearing such favorable arguments for Christ, and even serious discussion of the Shroud of Turin, on a secular radio show. He also referenced Craig Keener’s book on NT and modern miracles, and I see you referenced him in your article also. :o

Interesting about Coast to Coast, yeah I’ve listened to that program off and on for years, going back to Art Bell on late night AM radio. Been a fan of Talk Radio since the 1980s.

I really like that Habermas book on The Historical Jesus, especially the early chapter responding to G.A. Wells and others. He is very thorough, summarizing his case well, with tons of relevant NT texts. Much in my article is taken from Habermas. The book is not just on the historical Jesus since he covers the resurrection which he specializes in.

He also covers the Shroud of Turin in that book and is a ‘fan’ of that relic, arguing it could be authentic. I have an article on my site on that subject…

The Shroud of Turin: Its History and Authenticity


Thanks for your awesome site!!! The audio collection is great!!!

Thank you for posting this.

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