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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

One Reason Why Jesus Cannot be Mythical

It is becoming more and more popular in certain atheist circles to claim that Jesus never existed. They claim that the story of the Messiah from Nazareth is simply a regurgitation of the myths of old, such as Osiris, Dionysius, or Mithras. But such claims, while superficially tempting are really impossible to manage if you study the details.

Historian Paul L. Maier shows just one way the charge of myth crumbles in his book In the Fullness of Time, and he takes scarcely more than a paragraph from his introduction to do it. He writes:
Instead of claiming a mythological founder, or one who materialized from the mists of the past in an appearance datable only to the nearest century or two, Christianity boldly asserts that Jesus' public ministry began (in association with that of John the Baptist) in
… the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, in the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas … (Luke 3:1, RSV)
No mythological heroes or cardboard characters here! This sixfold documentation involves personalities and places, all of which are well known and historical. In fact, we know even more about this collection of proper names from sources outside the New Testament. The author of 2 Peter expressed Christianity's "historical advantage" splendidly: "For we did not follow cleverly devised myths … but we had been eyewitnesses" (1:16). 1 (Emphasis in the original.)


1. Maier, Paul L. In the Fullness of Time: A Historian Looks at Christmas, Easter, and the Early Church. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1991. Print.

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