Friday, December 20, 2019

Corroborations Between The Gospels And Non-Christian Sources

"The pagan and Jewish sources agree with the Gospels and Paul on the date of Jesus' activities, their controversial nature, His miracles, His Messianic claims, and His death at the hands of both Roman and Jewish authorities. This is especially important in view of the fact that many today seek to deny that Jesus worked miracles, made a Messianic claim, or was put to death by Roman-Jewish cooperation. The historical sources which touch on the subject are all against them.

At first sight, the Talmud's charges against Jesus seem to differ from those of the Gospel accounts. Yet the Gospels mention an attempt at Jesus' trial to convict Him of offering to build the temple in three days, which could easily be understood as sorcery. According to the Gospels, Jesus was actually condemned for blasphemy, because He claimed to be the Messiah, the Son of God. This may indeed be the "apostasy" to which Jesus "enticed Israel," according to the Talmud. In Jewish usage, a phrase like "Son of God" would be a claim to deity, a blasphemous apostasy in the eyes of most Jews. Pliny's note that Jesus' followers worshiped Him as God, though written by a polytheist, is in line with this suggestion.

There is no non-Christian corroboration for Jesus' resurrection having actually occurred, but this is hardly surprising, as any believer in Jesus' resurrection would be considered a Christian. Of course, any source could report belief in Jesus' resurrection, and Josephus does. For a Roman, such as belief would mere be another Christian "superstition" (Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny). A Stoic like Mara would also reject bodily resurrection, and the Talmud has chosen to ignore it. In any case, we know from Justin's debate with Trypho (in the 130s),62 from the anti-Christian polemic of Celsus (ca. 180)63 and from the Talmud64 that the Jews were aware of the Christian Gospels, and from Matthew and Justin65 that they sought to explain away the Resurrection as a case of body-snatching by the disciples.

The one significant divergence of the non-Christian materials from the Gospels involves the manner of Jesus's death. The Talmud says Jesus was "hanged" and "stoned and hanged." The Gospels speak of crucifixion, along with Paul and all Christian literature. This is supported by Josephus (both versions) and less directly by Tacitus, who has Jesus put to death by a Roman method. Since the term "hanged" is used by the rabbis for crucifixion as well as for the traditional hanging up of the body after stoning to death,66 it is not unreasonable to suppose the Talmud gives a somewhat garbled account, perhaps based on the facts that Jesus had a religious trial and was "hanged," but supplying other details from traditional practices."

Evidence for Faith: Deciding the God Question, contributor Robert C. Newman, p. 293-294

1 comment:

  1. see my historical Jesus pages:


    My answer to Peter Kirdy on Talmud best evidence