Mystery of “The Censor” of the Dark Ages

Who was “the Censor” of the Dark Ages? Why and how was information about Jesus of Nazareth censored? 

Much like the explosion of Internet today, invention of the Gutenberg press opened up the Dark Ages with a burst of information to the masses. Aside from playing a key role in triggering the Renaissance, the Gutenberg press was a game changer in another way.[1]   

Imagine – now religious information was readily available to anyone who could read.[2]That posed a threat to elite institutions who had held exclusive control over their religious message. In an effort to regain control, they resorted to censorship.

“The Censor” doesn’t have a true identity and remains mysterious. The term is used by religious scholars referring to the many perpetrators, known and mostly unknown, who performed the censorship.[3]  Encyclopaedia Judaica explains censorship of the Talmud began in the late 1500s such as with Sanhedrin 43a, 106a and 107b.[4]

Blame is largely attributed to the Roman Inquisition censorship of references deemed to be contradictory to the official teaching of Christianity. Printing press censorship extended to other written materials worthy of suppression. Home-to-home searches imposed indiscriminate burning of scrolls and books, pages being torn out, and blacked out text.[5] Some evidence points to Jewish censorship exposed in newer translations of the Babylonian Talmud and other Jewish writings.

Irrespective of who pulled the strings of “the Censor,” the once expunged content is now seen as being insightful to a deeper understanding of both Jewish and Christian teachings. At the forefront of the censored restoration is the publishing of the Soncino Babylonian Talmud.[6]

Soncino Editor Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein explained an attempt was made to reproduce a “clear and lucid” literal English translation of the Talmud. Missing content was restored either directly to the body of text or, albeit more obscurely, within the footnotes. The Rabbi Editor further added clarifying context in brackets.[7]

One previously censored folio in the Soncino translation is Sanhedrin 43a containing direct references to Yeshu, a Hebrew name for Jesus.[8] Some of the original text was restored only in footnotes:[9]

“…On the eve of the Passover Yeshu [34] was hanged …’”

“With Yeshu however it was different, for he was connected with the government [or royalty, i.e., influential].’”

“But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of Passover!”[35] 

“Yeshu” footnote #34 says the original Munich manuscript, the oldest complete Talmud copy in existence, actually included the words the Nasarean referring to his home town.[10] The original Munich Talmud manuscript thus said: “On the eve of the Passover Yeshu, the Nasarean, was hanged.” (The Munich manuscript made other references to “Jesus the Nazarene” changed to “R. Joshua b. Perahiah” in subsequent versions.)[11]

Rabbi Epstein clarified the phrase “he was connected with the government” by adding the bracketed words “[or royalty, i.e., influential].” Hebrew royalty only comes through the lineage of David.

Footnote #35 for “eve of the Passover” says a less than complete Florentine Talmud manuscript, 200 years older than the Munich Manuscript, includes the words “and the eve of Sabbath.”[12] Fully restored, the Talmud would read Yeshu “was hanged on the eve of Passover and the eve of the Sabbath!” With the Sabbath being a Saturday, it clarifies Jesus was hanged on the Friday of Passover.

Mishneh Torah formulates the 13 principals of the Jewish faith written by the revered medieval Rabbi Maimonides.[13] A heavy censorship focus was placed on the last two chapters called “Hilchos Melachim – the Laws Concerning Kings.”[14]

What was so controversial? An excerpt from the Sichos in English translation with a formerly censored portion restored in just a footnote:

Text body:  “If a king will arise from the House of David, who, like David his ancestor, delves deeply into the study of the Torah and engages in the mitzvos as prescribed by the Written Law and the Oral Law; if he will compel all of Israel to walk in [the way of the Torah] and repair the breaches [in its observance]; and if he will fight the wars of G-d; – we may, with assurance, consider him Mashiach.”

Footnoted restoration: (continuing…) “If he did not succeed to this degree or he was killed, he surely is not [the redeemer] promised by the Torah. [Rather,] he should be considered as all the other proper and legitimate kings of the Davidic dynasty who died.  G-d only caused him to arise in order to test the multitude. As it is written [Daniel 11:35], “Some of the wise men will stumble, to purge, to refine, and to clarify, until the appointed time, for it is yet to come.”

“Jesus of Nazareth who aspired to be the Moshiach and was executed by the court was also spoken of in Daniel’s prophecies [Daniel 11:14], “The renegades among your people shall exalt themselves in an attempt to fulfill the vision, but they shall stumble.”[15]

Was “the Censor” of Christian origin because Maimonides said Jesus was a renegade, aspiring messiah (Moshiach) who stumbled?[16] Or was “the Censor” of Jewish origin because of references to Jesus of Nazareth, his royal Davidic dynasty lineage, and his execution by the court?[17]

Adding to the mystery, while most sources today still blame “the Christian censor,” most modern restorations by Jewish sources still obscurely relegate much of the uncensored text to the footnotes, if at all.[18]A fully restored translation of Mishneh Torah is presented in Chabad.org.[19]

“The Censor,” in the end, was unsuccessful in hiding certain common truths – Judaism’s agreement with the Gospels that Jesus of Nazareth was a legitimate royal descendant of King David who was condemned by a court to be executed and was hanged on the Friday of Passover. It is how and what happened next that separates Judaism and Christianity…

REFERENCES:

[1] Chase, Jeffrey S. “The Gutenberg Printing Press.” Duke University|Department of Computer Science.  n.d.  <http://www.cs.duke.edu/~chase/cps49s/press-summary.html>  
[2]  Whipps, Heather. “How Gutenberg Changed the World.”  2008. <https://www.livescience.com/2569-gutenberg-changed-world.html>   “The impact of the printing press.” Skwirk.com. n.d.  <http://www.skwirk.com/p-c_s-56_u-422_t-1108_c-4280/the-impact-of-the-printing-press/qld/the-impact-of-the-printing-press/renaissance-and-reformation/the-reformation>
[3] Valentine, Carol A. “Do Not Censor the Talmud, Please.” 2003.  Come and Hear. 2010. <http://come-and-hear.com/editor/censorship_1.html>  “Euphemism” and “Censorship of Hebrew Books.”  Jewish Encyclopedia.  2011. <http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/5906-euphemism> and <http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/4170-censorship-of-hebrew-books
[4]  “Jesus.” Encyclopaedia Judaica.  Pages 249-250.  Segal, Eliezer. A Page from the Babylonian Talmud.  “Mishnah” – “Redaction.” n.d.  <http://people.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/TalmudPage.html#Page>; “The Gemara (Talmud)” – “Redaction.”  <http://people.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/TalmudMap/Gemara.html#Redaction>   Soncino Babylonian Talmud.  Ed. Isidore Epstein based on the Wilna Romm Edition. 1935 – 1948.  <http://come-and-hear.com/tcontents.html>   The Babylonian Talmud. Rodkinson transalation.  Internet Sacred Text Archives. 2010.  <http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/talmud.htm>  “The Gemara (Talmud).” Valentine. “Do Not Censor the Talmud, Please.”  “Euphemism” and “Censorship of Hebrew Books.”  Jewish Encyclopedia.  2011.
[5] “Censorship of Hebrew Books.”  Jewish Encyclopedia.  2011.  Maimonides.  “The Law Concerning Moshiach.”  Ed. Yechezkal Shimon Gutfreund, “Publisher’s Forward.”  Valentine. “Do Not Censor the Talmud, Please – Returning to Ezra the Scribe.”  “Church Censorhip.” Jewish Virtual Library. 2008. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/censorship>
[6] Valentine. “Do Not Censor the Talmud, Please.” “Jesus.” Encyclopaedia Judaica.  Pages 249-250. Soncino Babylonian Talmud.  Ed. Epstein.
[7]  “Talmud.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. “Hebrew Manuscripts.” Jewish Virtual Library. 2008. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/hebrew-manuscripts>  Soncino Babylonian Talmud.  Ed. Epstein. “Method and Scope.” 
[8] Yassif, Eli. “The Jewish Jesus Story.” Tablet. 2017. <http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/220567/the-jewish-jesus-story>   KjaerHansen, Kai. “An Introduction to the Names Yehoshua/Joshua, Yeshua, Jesus and Yeshu.” 1992. Jews For Jesus. 2017. <https://jewsforjesus.org/answers/an-introduction-to-the-names-yehoshua-joshua-yeshua-jesus-and-yeshu>
[9]   Soncino Babylonian Talmud.  Tractate Sanhedrin, Folio 43a.  “Who will emerge from Bethlehem.”  Teshuvas HaMinim.  2011.  Archived URL.  Archive.org. 2 Sept. 2012.  <http://web.archive.org/web/20120902023316/http://www.teshuvashaminim.com/michah51.html>
[10] Net.bible.org. Greek text – Matthew 2:23; 26:71; Mark 1:24; 14:67; 10:47; Luke 4:34; John 18:5.  Strong.  “Nazarenos <3478>  The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.  “Nazarean” and “Nazarene.”  Merriam-Webster. 2017 <http://www.merriam-webster.com>   “-an” suffix. Dictionary.com. 2017.  <http://www.dictionary.comSoncino Babylonian Talmud. Sanhedrin, Folio 43a, footnote #34.   Shachter, J. and Freedman, H.  “Sanhedrin.”  Soncino Babylonian Talmud. Ed. Epstein. “Introduction.” Soncino Babylonian Talmud. Abbreviation” ref. “MS.M”.&nbsp
[11] Soncino Babylonian Talmud. Sotah 47a, footnote #11, 27 & 28.
[12] “Babylonian Talmud.”  Word Digital Library | Library of Congress. 2017. <https://www.wdl.org/en/item/8910>  Pasternak, Nurit. “The Material Context of 15th-Century Hebrew Florentine Manuscripts.” 2013. Academia.edu. 2017. <https://www.academia.edu/4320985/The_Material_Context_of_15th-Century_Hebrew_Florentine_ManuscriptsSoncino Babylonian Talmud.  Sanhedrin 43a.  “Talmud.”  Jewish Encyclopedia.  2011.
[13] Rich, Tracey R.  “Jewish Beliefs.”  JewFAQ.org. n.d. <http://www.jewfaq.org/beliefs.htm>  Maimonides.  Mishneh Torah.  Trans. Eliyahu Touger.  “Moses Ben Maimon.” Jewish Encyclopedia.  2011.  Furst, Rachel. “The Mishneh Torah – Maimonides’ halakhic magnum opus.”  MyJewishLearning.com. 2010.  <http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-mishneh-torah/>   Seeskin, Kenneth. “Maimonides.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2006, revised 2017.  <https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/maimonides/>
[14] Schneerson, Menachem M.  From Exile to Redemption. Volume 2.  Chapter 4, “Studies in Rambam, Hilchos Melachim, Chapter 5, Chapter 11”, footnotes #551, #558, #559, #602, and Chapter 12.”  <http://www.sichos-in-english.org/books/from-exile-to-redemption-2/02.htm>  “Melachim uMilchamot – Chapter 11.” <http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1188356/jewish/Melachim-uMilchamot-Chapter-11.htm>  Maimonides. “The Law Concerning Moshiach.”  Footnote #5.  Kesser.org. n.d. <http://www.kesser.org/moshiach/rambam.html#SIE>  “Mishneh Torah.” MishnahTorah.com. n.d. <http://web.archive.org/web/20161105145530/http://www.mishnehtorah.com:80
[15] Maimonides.  “The Law Concerning Moshiach.” Sichos In English translation.
[16] Rich, Tracey R.  “Mashiach: The Messiah.” JewFAQ.org. n.d. <http://www.jewfaq.org/mashiach.htm>
[17] Shulman. “The Rambam on Isaiah 53.”  “Mishneh Torah.” MishnahTorah.com.  Maimonides.  “The Law Concerning Moshiach.” Kesser.org. “Publisher’s Forward.” Ed. Gutfreund, 
[18] Segal. A Page from the Babylonian Talmud. “Mishnah” – “Redaction” and “The Gemara (Talmud)” – “Redaction.”  Schneerson, From Exile to Redemption. Volume 2. Chapter 11,” footnote #559.  “Melachim uMilchamot – Chapter 11.” Maimonides.  “The Law Concerning Moshiach.” Kesser.org. Footnote #5.  Kesser.org.
[19]  Maimonides. Mishneh Torah. Chabad.org. 2017. <http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/682956/jewish/Mishneh-Torah.htm>  

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Cicero’s Prosecution of Crucifixion

Crucifixion is as closely associated with the image of Jesus of Nazareth as any other save perhaps the manger scene. Yet some question the reality of whether Rome executed Jesus by nailing him to a cross – if doubts about the Gospel accounts can be meaningfully established, it discredits the integrity of the Gospel’s claim that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.[i]

All four Gospels record that Jesus of Nazareth was scourged and killed by crucifixion. The location was Golgatha just outside the city of Jerusalem where passersby could see and mock him. Aside from that, the Gospels do not go into the gory details of the crucifixion for one very simple reason – it was not necessary.

“Tacitus (“Annales,” 54, 59) reports therefore without comment the fact that Jesus was crucified. For Romans no amplification was necessary.” JewishEncyclopedia.com

Just about anyone living in the Roman Empire, the primary audience of the Gospel authors, knew about crucifixion – and most likely from firsthand experience.[ii] The Jewish crowd at Pilate’s judgement knew about it calling out “crucify him!” Not even Roman historians Josephus, Tacitus or Suetonius found it necessary to explain crucifixion.[iii] But, there are a few exceptions…

– – – – –

Cicero is commonly regarded as the greatest orator in Roman history. A Senator and Consul, he lived about 100 years before Pontius Pilate was Procurator of Judea.[iv] A lesser known fact is that Cicero was a prosecutor, a Roman lawyer.

In Secondary Orations Against Verres, Cicero wrote about his prosecution of Verres.[v] The charge was the premeditated murder of a noble Roman citizen, one Publius Gavius, because of his public crusade for freedom and citizenship.

Scourging and crucifixion was the murder weapon – death by crucifixion. Cicero’s accusation of Verres in court described how humiliation, psychological and mental anguish were part of the excruciating, long lasting torment of the victim nailed to the cross, a fate reserved only for slaves at that time: [vi] 

“…according to their regular custom and usage, they had erected the cross behind the city in the Pompeian road…you chose that place in order that the man who said that he was a Roman citizen, might be able from his cross to behold Italy and to look towards his own home?… for the express purpose that the wretched man who was dying in agony and torture might see that the rights of liberty and of slavery were only separated by a very narrow strait, and that Italy might behold her son murdered by the most miserable and most painful punishment appropriate to slaves alone.

It is a crime to bind a Roman citizen; to scourge him is a wickedness; to put him to death is almost parricide. What shall I say of crucifying him? So guilty an action cannot by any possibility be adequately expressed by any name bad enough for it…that you exposed to that torture and nailed on that cross…He chose that monument of his wickedness and audacity to be in the sight of Italy, in the very vestibule of Sicily, within sight of all passersby as they sailed to and fro.”[vii]

Seneca the Younger, born in Spain virtually the same year as Jesus of Nazareth, was educated in Rome. He became a stoic philosopher, statesman and dramatist gaining acclaim as a writer of tragedies and essays.[viii]

With a penchant for including horror scenes in his tragedies, Seneca was familiar with the gruesome realities of crucifixion. In one “Dialogue,” he wrote to his embittered friend, Marcia, who had been grieving three years over her son’s death. Using a metaphor of crucifixion to describe the mental anguish of people of virtue striving to overcome their own self-imposed tribulations, he wrote:   

“Though they strive to release themselves from their crosses those crosses to which each one of you nails himself with his own hand – yet they, when brought to punishment, hang each upon a single gibbets [sic]; but these others who bring upon themselves their own punishment are stretched upon as many crosses as they had desires….”[ix]

Seneca’s letter suggests he expected Marcia to be familiar with the horrific analogy of crucifixion. A gibbet was a gallows-like structure used to hang dead, executed victims by chains or ropes for public display as compared to living victims of crucifixion who were stretched out and nailed to crosses.[x]  

By the time of Josephus, crucifixion was commonly used by Rome to punish such crimes as robbery and insurrection devolving to the point it became sport.[xi] Josephus made nine references to Roman crucifixions. In one, he wrote of acts by Procurator Florus and in another from his Roman eyewitness perspective to the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD:[xii]

“…they also caught many of the quiet people, and brought them before Florus, whom he first chastised with stripes, and then crucified…for Florus ventured then to do what no one had done before, that is, to have men of the equestrian order whipped and nailed to the cross before his tribunal…” [xiii]

“So the soldiers, out of the wrath and hatred they bore the Jews, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest, when their multitude was so great, that room was wanting for the crosses, and crosses wanting for the bodies”.[xiv]

One central theme to the historical depictions of Roman crucifixion – it was common knowledge that victims were nailed to the cross as an extreme torturous means to kill them. Are the accounts of the Gospels credible in saying that Roman crucifixion was used to kill Jesus?

REFERENCES:

[i] “Jesus did not die on cross, says scholar.” The Telegraph. n.d. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/7849852/Jesus-did-not-die-on-cross-says-scholar.html rel=”nofollow” rel=”nofollow”> Warren, Meredith J.C.  “Was Jesus Really Nailed to the Cross?”  The Conversation.  2016.  <https://theconversation.com/was-jesus-really-nailed-to-the-cross-56321 rel=”nofollow”>   Perales, Ginger. “Was Jesus Nailed or Tied to the Cross?”  2016.  <http://www.newhistorian.com/jesus-nailed-tied-cross/6161 rel=”nofollow”>
[ii] Josephus, Flavius.  Wars of the Jews.  Book IV, Chapter V. <http://books.google.com/books?id=e0dAAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
[iii] Tacitus, Gaius Cornelius.  The Annals. Ed. Church, Alfred John and Brodribb, William Jackson. <http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.02.0078> Perseus Digital Library. Ed. Crane, Gregory R.  Tufts University. n.d. Word search “crucified” <http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/searchresults?page=4&q=crucified>
[iv]  Linder, Douglas O. “The Trial of Gaius (or Caius) Verres.”  2008.  <http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/Verres/verresaccount.html
[v] Cicero, Marcus Tullius. “The Fifth Book of the Second Pleading in the Prosecution against Verres.” Ed. Crane, Gregory R.  Perseus Digital Library. <http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0018%3Atext%3DVer.%3Aactio%3D2%3Abook%3D5
[vi] Greenough, James. B.; Kittredge, George; eds.   Select Orations and Letters of Cicero.  1902.  Introduction I.  Life of Cicero. VII. “From the Murder of Caesar to the Death of Cicero.”   <http://books.google.com/books?id=ANoNAAAAYAAJ&pg=PR1#v=onepage&q&f=false>   Quintilian, Marcus Fabius.  Quintilian’s Institutes of Oratory.  1856.  Book 8, Chapter 4.   Rhetoric and Composition.  2011. .<http://rhetoric.eserver.org/quintilian/index.html>   “Crucifixion.” JewishEncyclopedia.com < http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/4782-crucifixion >
[vii] Cicero, Marcus Tullius. “The Fifth Book of the Second Pleading in the Prosecution against Verres.” Ed. Crane, Gregory R.  Perseus Digital Library. <http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0018%3Atext%3DVer.%3Aactio%3D2%3Abook%3D5>  
[viii] “Seneca.”  Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Ed. Zalta, Edward N.  2015. <https://plato.stanford.edu>  Mastin, Luke. “Ancient Rome – Seneca the Younger.” 2009.  Classical Literature. <http://www.ancient-literature.com/rome_seneca.html>
[ix] Seneca, Lucius Annaeus.  “De Consolatione Ad Marciam+.”  “To Marcia on Consolation.”    Moral Essays.  Trans. John W. Basore.  1928-1935.   “Seneca’s Essays Volume II.”  Book VI.  Pages xx 1-3.  The Stoic Legacy to the Renaissance.  2004.  <http://www.stoics.com/seneca_essays_book_2.html#%E2%80%98MARCIAM1>    Seneca, Lucius Annaeus.  “De Vita Beata+.”  “To Gallio On The Happy Life.”  Moral Essays.  Trans. John W. Basore.   1928-1935.  “Seneca’s Essays Volume II.”  Book VII.  The Stoic Legacy to the Renaissance.  2004.  <http://www.stoics.com/seneca_essays_book_2.html#%E2%80%98BEATA1
[x] “gibbet.”  The Free Dictionary by Farlex.  2017.  <http://www.thefreedictionary.com/dictionary.htm>  “gibbet.”  Merriam-Webster.com. 2017 <http://www.merriam-webster.com>
[xi] “Crucifixion.” JewishEncyclopedia.com.
[xii] “FLORUS, GESSIUS (or, incorrectly, Cestius).” JewishEncyclopedia.com. <http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/6200-florus-gessius
[xiii] Josephus, Flavius.  Wars of the Jews.  Book II, Chapter XIV. <http://books.google.com/books?id=e0dAAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false>
[xiv] Josephus.  Wars. Book V, Chapter XI.

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What Do Muslims, Jews & Atheists Have in Common With Jesus?

What if two of the world’s major religions and at least some atheists, each opponents of Christianity, all agreed on a common fact about Jesus of Nazareth? When opposing forces agree on a fact, it becomes the strongest form of evidence.

Scriptural literature of both Islam and Judaism acknowledge the historical life of Jesus. Yet, his teachings strike such an acrimonious cord with both religions, severe tensions continue millennia later. Surely if either religion could prove that Jesus never existed, both would certainly do it.

Their avowed antagonism towards the founder of Christianity and his teachings provides a completely different validation perspective of the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth that stands apart from both secular sources and Christian Gospel sources.

_ _ _ _ _

Writing of the Quran was finished in 632 AD and has served as the scriptural foundation for Muslims over the 1500 years since. It may come as a surprise to many that the Quran recognizes Jesus as a historical figure. It makes reference to him in 28 separate verses including 22 that reference “Jesus, Son of Mary,” such as this verse: [i]

“Behold! the angels said: “O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah.”[ii]

To be clear, the Quran does not say that Jesus is the Son of God, only that he is the “son of Mary.” The Quran does teach that Jesus was a prophet mentioned in the same company with Noah, Abraham, Ismael, Isaac, Jacob and Moses.[iii] To be a prophet, Jesus had to have lived just as did these other great prophets.

Connections between Judaism and Jesus or Yeshua are like a magnet – inseparable but with polar opposites that forever repel each other. The existence of Jesus of Nazareth, who was himself a Jew, cannot be denied by Judaism where he is treated as very real person in its history reference materials. The Jewish Encyclopedia, Volume 9, published in 1912, republished online as JewishisEncyclopedia.com makes many references to the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, specifically commenting about the accuracy of the Gospel of Luke:

“The whole picture of John the Baptist and of Jesus as bearers of good tidings to the poor has the stamp of greater truthfulness.”[iv]

In its biography of “Jesus of Nazareth,” JewishEncyclopedia.com sets the date of his birth at “around 2 BC” and his death in the year “3789 (March or April, 29 AD)”.[v] The Jewish Virtual Library fixes the date for the death of Jesus by crucifixion between 27 and 36 AD.[vi] Encyclopedia Judaica goes further saying matter-of-factly that the four New Testament Gospels themselves are reliable, historical records of an actual historical Jesus:[vii]

“The Gospels are records about the life of Jesus. John’s Gospel is more a treatise reflecting the theology of its author than a biography of Jesus, but Matthew, Mark, and Luke present a reasonably faithful picture of Jesus as a Jew of his time… The Jesus portrayed in these three Gospels is, therefore, the historical Jesus.”

Now throw into the mix a group that is antagonistic towards all religions – atheists. Self-described atheist blogger, Tim O’Neill, specializes in historical reviews and atheism. With a Master of Arts degree in Medieval Literature from the University of Tasmania, he is a member of both the Australian Atheist Foundation and the Australian Skeptics. In his 2-part webpage article “An Atheist Examines the Evidence for Jesus,” he decimates the theories of a mythic origin of Jesus. For example, O’Neill says that a false idea of a mythical crucified Messiah creates so many problems needed to support the myth, it makes the myth idea is so unrealistic it could only mean the Bible account is true:[viii]

“It’s hard to see why anyone would invent the idea of a crucified Messiah and create these problems.And given that there was no precedent for a crucified Messiah, it’s almost impossible to see this idea evolving out of earlier Jewish traditions. The most logical explanation is that it’s in the story, despite its vast awkwardness, because it happened.”

Islam, Judaism and at least some atheists have one thing in common with Christianity – they affirm that Jesus of Nazareth was a true historical figure. The center of the open debate asks, instead, who exactly was Jesus of Nazareth…just a Jewish preacher who stirred up trouble, or a prophet of God, or the Son of God? The starting point is accepting that Jesus did, in fact, walk this Earth.

What do you think?

REFERENCES:

[i] Quran.  Trans. Abdullah Yusuf Ali. n.d. <http://search-the-quran.com>  “The Descriptive Titles of Jesus in the Quran (part 1 of 2): “The Messiah” and “a Miracle.”’ IslamReligion.com. 2014.  <http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/230
[ii] Quran.  Ale-‘Imran 3:45-51.  Trans. Abdullah Yusuf Ali.
[iii] Al-Ahzab: 33:7.  Al-Baqara 2:136.  An-Nisa 4:163, 171.  Aal-e-Imran 3:84. Al-Maeda 5:75.
[iv]  “The New Testament.”  Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com>  
[v] “Jesus of Nazareth.”  Jewish Encyclopedia.  2011.  “Flavius Josephus.” Encyclopædia Britannica.  2014. 
[vi] “Crucifixion.”  Jewish Virtual Library. 2014. American-Israel Cooperative Enterprise.  <https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org>
[vii] “Jesus.” Encyclopaedia Judaica. Page 246
[viii] O’Neill, Tim. “An Atheist Historian Examines the Evidence for Jesus (Part 2 of 2).  StrangeNotions.com. <http://www.strangenotions.com/an-atheist-historian-examines-the-evidence-for-jesus-part-2-of-2/> Last accessed 22 Jan. 2017.