We were asked to provide proof for Jesus. Here is Jack’s reply to the question. (Later on we will add another one – because it is such an important question – but this is the basic summary)
Did Jesus Christ Exist?
By Jack Hanrahan–Shirley
“Jesus’s three-year period of monastic separation expired in September AD 36, following which physical relations with his wife were permitted once more in December…” – Bloodline of the Holy Grail: The Hidden Lineage of Jesus (p. 133)
The question of “Did Jesus Exist?” is an interesting one as it reveals many things, including how we understand the world around us and our own place in it.
Although as is often the case in modern times it is always easy to get your own ‘expert’ from the Internet to prove your own theory – there is little doubt that Jesus Christ walked the earth in the 1st Century A.D. and was crucified by the Romans during the governorship of Pontius Pilate. We have come a long way from when our only evidence of Jesus was to be found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John The amount of extra-Biblical evidence available to modern man, such as the account of Flavius Josephus, the Pilate Stone, and the account found from the Roman historian Tacitus, prove beyond reasonable doubt that the same Jesus chronicled in the Gospel accounts existed.
Fascinatingly, the Gospels themselves have passed every historical-critical test thrown at them in an attempt to disprove their historicity. For example, the Gospel of John was considered unhistorical for years because it mentions the Pool of Bethesda mentioned by John had not been discovered. Then in 1964 the Pool was discovered in archaeological excavations of the Crusader era Church of St. Anne. Furthermore, the Gospels are attested to in multiple and independent lines of transmission from the 1st and 2nd Centuries A.D. onwards. There was no single man or sinister reptilian cabal controlling what was and was not in the Gospels (unlike what Dan Brown would have you believe Constantine and the First Council of Nicaea). To still continue to doubt the historicity of Jesus and the Gospel accounts requires something…interesting.
Unfortunately, there are no shortage of interesting people who will push out books, such as the one I quoted above, that peddle all sorts of historical ideas and beliefs that make you really scratch your head. One of my favourite stories is that of the Priory of Sion founded by the Frenchman Pierre Plantard. Pierre claimed that the royal lineage of the Merovingian kings of France (which later became merged by others, such as Henry Lincoln, Michael Baigent, and Richard Leigh the authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, with that of Jesus Christ) was being secretly guarded by the secretive Priory of Sion that aimed to restore the French monarchy and put a Merovingian descendant on the throne of France. To cut a long story short it was discovered that the claims made by Pierre were false. However, the story doesn’t end there Plantard was caught up in a political scandal and his house was raided by French police. Whilst Plantard was not implicated by the raid the police found false documents including some proclaiming Plantard as the true king of France. Plantard was then forced to declare under oath that he had fabricated the Priory. He died in 2000. Although his denunciation of the Priory and subsequent death has not dimmed the faith of the ‘true believers’.
Although, reflecting on this seeming contradiction I think it bears out ever more what C. S. Lewis wrote in The Screwtape Letters (a fantastic read!) about the “Historical Jesus”:
“In the second place, all such constructions place the importance of their historical Jesus in some peculiar theory He is supposed to have promulgated… For the real presence of the Enemy, otherwise experienced by men in prayer and sacrament, we substitute a merely probable, remote, shadowy, and uncouth figure, one who spoke a strange language and died a long time ago”.
For many history itself is a construction that is entirely up for a well-timed power grab (and to be fair there is a half-truth buried in the heart of that mountain). Truth has ceased to matter (and not just recently!). Indeed, that is why people who I’ve talked to have told me straight to my face that they don’t care about the facts – it is their feelings about the facts of a particular historical event or phenomena which trump everything else.
In a way I can understand and, in a way, sympathise with those who seek to construct their own version of Jesus or simply dismiss him outright. They have, to use another Lewisian phrase, still “connected thinking with doing”. For to believe that Jesus was real means not only having to deal with the fact of his existence but the greater truth of his divinity that the Gospels display. Even non-believing people who accept the historicity of Jesus still construct a version of Jesus to where he bears their image. He is their own personal Jesus. He can be a Marxist or a Fascist, A Feminist, or an all-inclusive visionary who accepted everyone. In todays’ postmodern world everyone can have their own personal Jesus.
As a Christian I do believe in the Jesus who really existed in history – but he is not just the ‘purely’ historical Jesus of the judicious historians who spoke and died a long time ago. I believe in the real Jesus who is reigning from Heaven and has all power in Heaven and on Earth. Who will return to judge the living and the dead whose kingdom will never end. Amen.
Resources for those interested:
C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (one of the best works of satire I’ve had the pleasure of reading)
John Dickson, Is Jesus History? (gives greater detail regarding some of the information mentioned in this article)