Did Yeshua bar Yehosef, the man later renamed ‘Jesus’ by his Greek and Roman followers, actually exist?
At one time I doubted it. I placed him in the same category as King Arthur, Hercules and Robin Hood, mythical characters only loosely based on real people. But now I’m sure he did, even though the historical evidence is slim.
The problem is, the New Testament texts and most of the so-called Gnostic Gospels were written by men who never met Yeshua and were intent on glorifying him. Indeed, they are the only documentary sources from his own century that place any great importance on him at all. From a historical perspective he was a marginal figure, barely worthy of a mention by the major chroniclers of the time.
Outside the gospels there are only four known references to him, and they don’t say very much. Only one, by Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian, referred to him personally. He described him as a healer from Galilee who attracted large crowds, told stories and was put to death because he made the authorities nervous.
Neither Josephus, Tacitus, Tranquillus nor Pliny considered Yeshua’s teachings worth a mention, and none refer to – let alone verify – the most extraordinary events described in the New Testament, the virgin birth, miracles, resurrection and ascension.
If these events really took place, don’t you think they would have done?
©David Lawrence Preston, 24.8.2016
Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @David_L_Preston
Balboa Press, 2015