Did Jesus Really Walk the Earth? Historians and Theologists Debate
Skeptics and believers present stunning facts that both support and deny the existence of Jesus.
While the theological aspects of Christianity and many stories in the Bible have been debated for centuries, both skeptics and believers alike have usually agreed that Jesus did, in fact, exist, regardless of whether or not he was actually resurrected. However, researcher Michael Paulkovich published an article entitled “The Fable of the Christ”, which boldly claimed that Jesus never existed. Many bible scholars have come out with rebuttals to Paulkovich’s claims, while other researchers have supported the article.
Paulkovich read and extensively studied 126 texts from around the time of Jesus’s life, none of which mentioned Jesus at all. These were prominent works on various important subjects, and Paulkovich reasoned in the article that since Jesus was the Son of God, he would have been mentioned in these texts. The article goes on to discuss how Jesus is a fictional figure, created to give Christians an iconic figure to worship in their religious practice. He also compares the story of Jesus to myths from a similar time period that feature miracle-performing sons born to virgin mothers. This idea is actually not a new one – others have proposed the idea that Jesus is a myth in the past.
Paulkovich discusses the possibility that Jesus was created to give early Christians emotional strength when they were being persecuted in the first and second centuries A.D. Bible scholar Joseph Atwill also claimed that the ancient Romans invented the idea of Jesus as propaganda to control their citizens during periods of civil unrest.
— Andrew G (@tiny_mooki) September 30, 2014
People can try to detest Jesus' existence all they want- but I've experienced God's healing and love and I refuse to try to live without Him
— Jonathan Wilson (@JdubInTheTub) September 2, 2015
Just read an article about the historical evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ and wow am I mind blown
— Noah Goodson (@TheBlazingKoala) September 1, 2015
While these articles make good points, there have also been many Bible scholars that were quick to refute these claims that Jesus did not exist.
Drs. Candida Moss and Joel Baden, both prominent Bible scholars and historians, wrote an article for The Daily Beast on the subject. The main rebuttal to the argument that Jesus did not exist is that the fact that he was not written about does not mean that he did not exist. After all, Christians were a small and persecuted group for a long time, and Jesus would have been unlikely to have been considered worthy of discussion at the time. Also, most of the texts that Paulkovich examined were written by people who focused on subjects that were irrelevant to Jesus’ work – they were doctors, philosophers, mathematicians, and poets, just to name a few. Even if they did consider Jesus to be important, he would not have been considered relevant to their work in particular. A few of the texts were even written before Jesus hypothetically existed, which would make them irrelevant.
Finally, Paulkovich does not take into account that many people did write about Jesus, but these works were later bundled into the New Testament precisely because of their subject matter.
All of these scholars make strong and interesting points, but ultimately, we will never know for sure who is right or wrong when it comes to religion. The truth about Jesus and Christianity continues to evade us as humans, and all we can do is continue to discuss and debate these issues.