Is Jesus Historical?

Jesus Is HistoricalTheology cannot spill over into history. This is the charge of New Testament critics and ancient historians who are convinced that the person who confronts us in the canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) is a fictional figment of the Church’s theological imagination. Few would go as far as the mythicist route of denying Jesus’ existence, for the sheer mountain of historical data pushes this group out to the radical fringe. Still, the claim of the sceptical consensus in historical Jesus studies is that there is, quite literally, an infinite gap between the “Jesus of history” (the man who two millennia ago lived in first century Palestine) and the “Christ of faith” (the God-man we encounter in the gospels, creeds, and hymns of the early Church). The “legendary hypothesis” proposes that the eyewitness oral traditions about Jesus were embellished by legendary material before being transcribed into sacred writ, leaving only clues as to what he actually did and said–stories and sayings that have to be mined out of the gospels’ legendary ore.

Last week at LifeCentre Church I had the privilege to talk shop on this issues. In “Jesus Is Historical”, I offered a Christian response to the sceptical legendary hypothesis. With its own letter from a sceptic, and drawing on some of the most up to date historical research on the status of the gospels, I offer some challenges to the notion that the gospels do not record eyewitness testimony.

Download the talk here: Jesus Is Historical

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