Jesus Mythicism Refuted (Part 1)- Evaluating the Evidence from Non-Christian Ancient Historians

Anchor Podcast Audio Link (Originally Posted by Me on the S&S show) = https://anchor.fm/real-seeker-ministries/episodes/Jesus-Mythicism-Refuted-Part-1–Evaluating-the-Evidence-from-Non-Christian-Ancient-Historians-ea305c 

Note that this is a part of Premise #11 of my Argument, here in this context it serves as a Negative evidence against the truth of Christianity (Jesus probably didn’t exist means Christianity is probably false).  However, Jesus’ existence can also be advanced as a Positive claim of the Christian 

DALE’S POSITIVE CLAIM (FOR ENTIRE SERIES OVERALL): A “Minimal Historical Jesus” (MHJ) existed as a historical figure, whereby “MHJ” is defined by the following;  “MINIMALLY”, we can prove on a balance of probabilities that there lived an historical Jewish man (possibly named Jesus- optional requirement) who served as the foundational basis for at least some of the later and subsequent orthodox Christian beliefs and practices as outlined in the NT literature (of course realize this definition is a minimal one and can thus be expanded to include any non-contradictory additional details which can be established via the secular historical method or any other reliable method as well)”.

INTRODUCTION:
With Season 2 of Skeptics and Seekers getting ready to come back in the Fall, I (Dale the Christian), wanted to start a new solo series on the subject of Jesus Mythicism. Many of the skeptical listeners of S&S appear to be Jesus Mythicists and my skeptical co-host David Johnson himself is also a “Jesus Myther”. As such, I wanted to tackle the issue head on via a series on the topic, showing why the vast majority of ancient historians and scholars (secular, Christian or otherwise) all attest that there was in fact an historical Jesus figure.
The episodes will be posted on an ad hoc basis whenever I have the spare time given my busy schedule but wanted to spend some time to kick off the series with Part 1 now. In this episode, we will be evaluating the positive evidence for the existence of a “Minimal Historical Jesus” via looking at some of the extrabiblical non-Christian sources that mention him, specifically we will be looking at the non-Christian source category of evidence from ancient historians who mention Jesus; have a listen and find out how I make the claim that it is 77.63% Proven that a “MHJ” did in fact exist!

The ancient historians I evaluated include the following 4-5 sources;
a) After the 5 min Introduction, we get 2 sources for the price of 1, as we assess the Greek/Hellenistic ancient historians Thallus and Phelgon– starting around the 5 mins; 50 seconds mark and ending around the 37 mins; 20 seconds mark (Approx. 32 mins long).

Conclusion Reached: This line of evidence fails on a balance of probabilities to prove that a “Minimal Historical Jesus” did in fact exist (less than 50% proven).

b) Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus– the “greatest historian” of ancient Rome- starting at the 37 mins; 20 seconds mark and ending around the 1 hour; 53 mins; 20 seconds mark (Approx. 1 hour and 16 mins long).

Conclusion Reached: This line of evidence is successful on a balance of probabilities in proving that a “Minimal Historical Jesus” did in fact exist (59.05% PROVEN TRUE).

c) Roman historian Suetonius– starting around the 1 hour; 53 mins; 20 seconds mark and ending around the 2 hours; 8 mins; 50 seconds mark (Approx. 15-16 mins long).

Conclusion Reached: This line of evidence fails on a balance of probabilities to prove that a “Minimal Historical Jesus” did in fact exist (less than 50% proven).

d) Jewish historian Josephus- starting around the 2 hours; 8 mins; 50 seconds mark and ending around the 3 hours; 27 mins; 40 seconds mark (Approx. 1 hour 20 mins long). The remaining 13 mins of the Part 1 Podcast includes the overall closing synopsis and remarks.

Conclusion Reached: This line of evidence is successful on a balance of probabilities in proving that a “Minimal Historical Jesus” did in fact exist (70.65% PROVEN TRUE).

Recommended Sources (for further study):

0) Attachment– Updated and Corrected Math Number Values and Calculations for the Historical Evidence Evaluated in this Podcast.

Please note that given my need to make a math correction on Josephus, I took the liberty to re-evaluate all my % value assessments to see if I came out roughly the same and as such you will notice some slight differences in the number values I assigned in the document compared to the audio but nothing substantive. The % values in the attached document are indeed my final values, see here = JESUS EXISTED- TOTAL MATH CALCULATION (PART 1) or here 

*** Just wanted to make a special mention to the following great sources on Mysticism (Pro-Historicity side) who have been kind enough to mention or refer people my S&S Show on their own websites 🙂 ***  

See;

i) Roger Pearse’s excellent article here = https://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/2017/02/22/words-words-words-a-response-to-richard-carrier-on-feldman-and-eusebius/comment-page-1/ 

ii) Tim O’Neill’s (an Atheist) great website with multiple sources on Mythicism here = https://historyforatheists.com/jesus-mythicism/ 

a) General Sources:
See a short 10 min Gary Habermas video to get the general claims of Christian apologists about the historical evidence for the existence of a historical Jesus(including from secular non-Christian sources) = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxvQePW6FsU . Also *HIGHLY RECOMMEND* a source by Dr. Paul Maier on the evidence for the Real historical Jesus (he has a humorous presentation style) = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAN3kQHTKWI (he covers all the evidence in 1 hour including Josephus, Suetonius and Tacitus and other historical evidences.

Also, check out- http://www.bede.org.uk/jesusindex.htm ; http://www.doxa.ws/Jesus_pages/HistJesus_index2.html ; http://www.tektonics.org/jesusexisthub.html ; https://www.jesusalwaysexisted.com/ ; finally, Atheist historian Dr. Dale Martin of Yale proves historical Jesus did probably exist (1 hour video) = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_dOhg-Fpu0 .
A Scholarly article = https://www.academia.edu/10779624/The_Historicity_of_Jesus (Be sure to check out the “Related Papers” section on the right hand side for other scholarly papers on Josephus and Jesus and other historicity of Jesus issues). Another source is an article by up and coming scholar who Carrier says does good work in general here = http://talesoftimesforgotten.com/2018/03/10/despite-what-the-internet-conspiracy-theorists-keep-telling-you-jesus-was-a-historical-figure/ (and see Carrier’s reply to this article here = https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/15563 ).  A good video source with all the non-Christian sources is here = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRwr9f5h1Qw (35 mins).

Skeptical/Mythicist Sources include = https://www.richardcarrier.info/jesus.html (in particular see the many replies he gives to historicist proponents of Jesus here = https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/5730 ). Bob Price’s (mythicist) main website with access to his blogs and publications on various subjects (including Mythicism) = https://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/ ; 2-part 1.5 hour video of Mythicists Richard Carrier, Bob Price and David Fitzgerald discussing Mythicism = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPZ39rqaIZ0 . Finally, multiple articles from skeptics and infidels on the Historicity of Jesus from = https://infidels.org/library/modern/theism/christianity/historicity.html .  Also, http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/ (Mythicist Kenneth Humphrey’s site).

b) Thallus and Phlegon Sources:
A Couple Pro-Historicist Sources- http://www.tektonics.org/jesusexist/thallus.php ; http://christianthinktank.com/jrthal.html (this source has good info about Julius Africanus and what we know of his background and reliability).

Mythicist/Skeptical sources- https://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/thallus.html ; Textual translations, quotes or versions of the texts here = https://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/jacoby.html ; and/or a more recent scholarly treatment here = https://www.academia.edu/2211991/Thallus_and_the_Darkness_at_Christ_s_Death (also check out some of the scholarly related article links called “Related Papers” section on the right hand side).

c) Cornelius Tacitus Sources:
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/tacitus.html = Works of Tacitus and General info about him.

Pro-History side sources- http://www.tektonics.org/jesusexist/tacitus.php ; http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/tacitus/index.htm (great source for information on the textual manuscript evidence we have of Tacitus’ writings) ; a good Unbelievable? debate between JP Holding (tectonics website guy) vs. radical Mythicist Ken Humphrey’s here = https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Episodes/2-May-2009-Did-Jesus-exist (Tacitus part of debate starts around the 30 min mark or so) ; Also bran new website on pro-side on Tacitus here = = https://www.jesusalwaysexisted.com/secular-references/the-testimony-of-tacitus and/or a series of 4 short 2-10 min videos on Tacitus here = https://www.jesusalwaysexisted.com/secular-references/videos-on-tacitus ; https://reformbaptist.com/2018/03/07/suetonius-and-tacitus-christians-or-chrestians/ ; https://historyforatheists.com/2017/09/jesus-mythicism-1-the-tacitus-reference-to-jesus/ .

Finally on the pro-History side, in the conclusion of the Podcast, I reference a dispute between atheist scholar Dr. Bart Ehrman (pro-history) vs. mythicist Dr. Richard Carrier on the Tacitus question, see Bart’s blog here = https://ehrmanblog.org/fuller-reply-to-richard-carrier/ – HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU GIVE THIS A READ!!!

Skeptical Mythicist side sources- Richard Carrier replies to the Reform Baptist source on Tacitus above = https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/14643 ; Carrier’s Tacitus page with all article on Tacitus (though there is only one article posted so far) = https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/category/tacitus ; https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/132 (this has the quote where Carrier backs up Christians in saying “procurator” title does not disprove historical authenticity ; 3 article source of back and forth between Carrier and a Historicist Eric Laupot = https://infidels.org/library/modern/eric_laupot/nazoreans.html , then Carrier replies to this article = https://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/laupot.html, then Eric rebuts Carrier back = https://infidels.org/library/modern/eric_laupot/re-carrier.htm .

d) Suetonius Sources:
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/suetonius.html = See Suetonius writing and general info about him.
http://christianthinktank.com/jesusref.html (General source referencing Suetonius and others) ; http://www.tektonics.org/jesusexist/suey.php . Also the same Pro source mentioned above on Tacitus and Mythicist Carrier’s reply : https://reformbaptist.com/2018/03/07/suetonius-and-tacitus-christians-or-chrestians/ (pro Suetonius talking about Christians not Chrestians slave revolt or something like Carrier says)- Carrier replies to this = https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/14643

e) Josephus Sources:
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/josephus.html = Access to his written works and General info about him, and links, etc. Also see a good neutral (though leans toward being a skeptical conclusion but is fair) see Peter Kirby summary of both Josephus passages summary of arguments for and against = http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/testimonium.html .

Pro Sources source = JP HOLDING NEW SITE ARTICLE ON JOSEPHUS = https://www.jesusalwaysexisted.com/secular-references/the-testimony-of-josephus & 7 short 2-10 min VIDEOS = https://www.jesusalwaysexisted.com/secular-references/videos-on-josephus ; http://www.tektonics.org/jesusexist/josephus.php & ALSO = http://www.bede.org.uk/Josephus.htm ; https://truthinmydays.com/the-testimony-of-josephus-powerful-evidence-for-the-truth-of-christianity-or-an-interpolated-fraud/#Argument_2_No_Church_Father_prior_to_Eusebius_Appealed_to_the_Testimonium_Flavianum (answers to various Mythicist objections) ; https://www.academia.edu/35501066/Josephus_on_Jesus ; https://www.academia.edu/33468117/Investigating_the_Existence_of_Jesus_of_Nazareth_using_Non-Christian_Sources ; https://www.academia.edu/3106799/The_Historicity_of_Jesus_of_Nazareth ; Paul Maier video around 30 min mark = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAN3kQHTKWI ; Dr. Robert Van Voorst = https://www.academia.edu/38305205/JESUS_OUTSIDE_THE_NEW_TESTAMENT . Dr. Chris Forbes video = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9J599VBEZI ; http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/josephus/josephus.htm ; http://www.ccel.org/ccel/josephus/complete.html ; http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/2011/05/nailed-ten-christian-myths-that-show.html (Refutes Mythicist David Fitzgerald) ; Good Critical Carrier Reviews = https://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/2017/02/22/words-words-words-a-response-to-richard-carrier-on-feldman-and-eusebius/ &

Skeptical sources =
https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/category/josephus & https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/7437 & https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/12085 (The article by Carrier called “End of Arabic Testimony”- refutes the Arabic manuscript by Schlomo Pine evidence) ; https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/12071 (the last source here mentions some of the updates that have happened in Josephus scholarship since 2008 onwards); ; Jefferey Jay Lowder evaluates AND REVIEWS Josh McDowell’s arguments for Jesus including the Josephus evidence see here = https://infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/jury/chap5.html ; https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/c812/d3cca71eb6e57692ed9c60f01b2862a71ead.pdf (40 pages pdf on Josephus manuscripts including assessing the Slavonic or Old Russian manuscript whole-sale interpolation evidence) ; https://www.academia.edu/10463098/Josephus_s_Testimonium_Flavianum_Examined_Linguistically_Greek_Analysis_Demonstrates_the_Passage_a_Forgery_In_Toto ; https://www.academia.edu/8139663/_Was_the_Hypothetical_Vorlage_of_the_Testimonium_Flavianum_a_Neutral_Text_Challenging_the_Common_Wisdom_on_Antiquitates_Judaicae_18.63-64_Journal_for_the_Study_of_Judaism_45_2014_326-365 .

*HIGHLY RECOMMEND:* http://gettingtothetruthofthings.blogspot.com/2015/10/a-response-to-richard-carriers-work-on.html (this is the critical review of Carrier by Colin Green about Origen and ben Damneus ideas, etc. that I mentioned was part of the lost recording, strongly shows Carrier’s fallacious reasoning in making his arguments against the Josephus’ James reference).

To be fair Carrier did reply to this critical review and thus we give him the final say, though I think you can assess for yourselves who has the more solid grasp on truth here and who is just desperately grasping at straws to dismiss the powerful evidence from Josephus here for the historical Jesus, see Carrier response blog here = https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/15203 .