Doubt. It’s a word charged with so many emotions, thoughts, concerns, and confusion. On the topic of Jesus Christ, evidence that argues for and against his existence, resurrection, and divine nature has been debated for centuries and in this age of doubt and reason, technological advancements, and monumental discoveries, questioning the Christ is dinner table talk.
Clay Jones, an apologetics (theological study to prove or defend Christianity) professor from Biola University says that there is compelling evidence that proves Jesus did and does exist. Karen E. Griffin, professor of Christian education and homiletics at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta agrees. They both spoke to Our Weekly about their research and proof that Jesus was and is real.
Our Weekly: Is Jesus real? How do you know?
Clay Jones: Yes. We know a lot of different ways. No serious scholar doubts that Jesus was a real person. It’s really interesting that people come to that conclusion, ever. The notion that Jesus never existed is really believed by those on the loony fringe.
Bert Ehrman, not a Christian, and historians of course have no difficulty what so ever speaking about belief in Jesus Christ’s resurrection since it’s a matter of public record, for it is a historical fact that some of Jesus’ followers came to believe that he had been raised from the dead soon after his execution.
OW: What proof do we have available that he is real?
CJ: We have, of course, the Gospels and the New Testament documents. I think that it’s important to point out that people want to dismiss these. The New Testament is a collection of 27 primary source documents and they tell us about the life of Jesus. There is no good or logical or historical reason to conclude that their testimony to Jesus really being alive isn’t true.
OW: Is the story of Jesus a recreation of ancient mythological stories of a resurrected God or king (like Mithra or Osirus aka Ausar)?
CJ: For a lot of people, it has become (a trend) that the Jesus story is just a re-warming of other religious myths that preceded it. That’s just not true. There are no close parallels to Jesus life in other religions that actually predate Christianity. If you study these other religions, you will find that after Jesus death and resurrection and the phenomenal success of Christianity, that some of these religions, which I admit, no doubt, started much earlier than Christianity that some of these religions began to modify their beliefs to copy Christianity.
Karen E. Griffin: There is syncretism in every religion. And we do know that Jesus comes from the tradition of Abraham and Moses, and we do believe that Moses lived there (Egypt) and was trained there as a priest and that it would be almost impossible for some of the concepts that were instilled in him and others of that time period for them not to bring some of those things up out of Egypt with them. I know about Osiris … all of those kinds of things of the ancient Egyptian religion. But the thing of it is, is that Jesus was a historical figure.
OW: Did he rise from the dead? How do you know?
CJ: We have many people, like (Gerd) Ludemann saying of course it’s certain: “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus had appeared to them as the risen Christ.”
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are historical eyewitness accounts of things people who said I saw this man named Jesus. I walked with him, I talked with him; these are historical accounts.
OW: What extra-biblical or non-biblical evidence do you have?
KG: To be honest, it is very difficult to find information on the historical Jesus. However, the only thing that we have that is extra-biblical go back to accounts from people. There is very little information. We have information that there was a Jesus spoken of from the accounts of Josephus, and extra-biblical information.
OW: Research has shown that the Bible has been composed of several stories similar, nearly identical to African mythology, however it is taught these are ancient Hebrew and Greek writings. When looking at Alexander “The Great” some say he stole Egyptian writings influencing Christianity. What is your response?
CJ: He lived a long time before Jesus. He didn’t have anything to do with Christianity. If we believe that with certainty there is a God, there is going to be some similarity between the religions, if there is a God and that he has really revealed himself. So for you to say a blanket question, you are going to have to take it case by case.