Monday, July 7, 2014

The Josephus Mirror Code is CRACKED

About a week ago, we received on our Ratio Christi at Germanna Facebook page a summary of a work by someone who embraces the claims made in the Zeitgeist movie. Apparently he has written his own work entitled, "The Josephus Mirror Code: How and Why the Romans Invented Christianity." 

Apparently the synopsis takes issue with the historicity of Christianity, Jesus and the Gospel records. What I would like to do is take on some of this writer's problematic assumptions over the next few posts. I won't give you the full quote of what he put on our wall. It was rather humorous, and disturbing at the same time. The disturbing fact of this is not because of any truthfulness of what he wrote. Rather it is the fact that anyone claiming to "do history" would even venture to write such a poor attempt to discredit historical Christianity.

The writer challenges Jesus' existence in history as well as the historical fact of the development of Christianity in the First Century. How does he do this?

He makes a faulty assumption based upon the Jewish and Roman historian stating (from his quote on the RC Germanna wall),

The New Testament documents have no contemporary historical evidence written by anyone (outside) those documents to prove Jesus Christ and his followers ever lived.  The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is said by (Church Tradition) not official history to have happened around 33AD. . . Why Josephus and all the 1st century historians neglect to mention Jesus Christ or any Christian person until 94AD, leaving a GLARING (61 year gap) of any written mentioning, makes the origins of Christianity appear extremely suspicious. please note - there were over 38 historians actively writing during the years of Jesus Christ and none of them wrote one word about him or any of his miracles or followers. 

This is a multi-angled "crack"at biblical authenticity and a committal of genetic fallacy, putting the credibility on later sources. It is clear that the writer has not honestly looked at history. How so? (Mind you that there will be more coming in the days ahead).

Are the New Testament Documents Suspect?

The writer states that the "New Testament documents have no contemporary historical evidence written by anyone outside those documents to prove that Jesus Christ and his followers ever lived."  Really?  There are several problems with this.

First off, his demands for outside contemporary sources to the New Testament to give it credibility. This is problematic for a few reasons. Let me use the example of being an eyewitness to a car accident.

Let's say that you and I are witness to the accident, but we are not the only ones. The police come and they ask for those who witnessed the accident to write a summary. The problem is not all of the witnesses come forward, but will do so when their conscience encourages them to come forward.

In our witness report, we understand that the investigating officer wants as much detail as possible. Where you were located, were you involved in any way, what you saw, who you believe to be "at fault," etc all will play a role in helping solve the "mystery" behind the accident. (Remember there are some who have not come forward. Also bear in mind that there are those who claim to be eyewitnesses but have some ulterior motive for getting involved.

It is up to the jury to find out when the one claiming to be an eyewitness whether what they are telling is the truth and when one claiming to be a witness actually turns out to be motivated by something that would cause them to fabricate the facts.

Critics, unlike this guy relying on bad material, used to argue  that there was no recorded census at the time mentioned in the Bible, that there was also no record of a governor in Syria named Quirinius, and no tradition of requiring people to return to their ancestral home for purposes of recording their numbers (these details are mentioned in Luke 2:1-3). But we now have archeological findings which have revealed  that the Romans regularly recorded the enrollment of taxpayers and that they held censuses every 14 years (beginning with Augustus Caesar). 

In addition to this, an inscription found in Antioch tells of Quirinius being governor of Syria around 7 B.C. (evidently he was governor twice!) But that’s not all. Archeology has proven the Biblical writers to be correct about hundreds of other details that were once questioned, like the existence of Lysanias (Luke 3:1), the existence of court called “the Pavement” (or “Gabbatha” as mentioned in John 19:13), the existence of Pontius Pilate, the details of Roman crucifixion, the existence of the city of Iconium (Acts 14:6) , the existence of the proconsul named Sergius Paulus (Acts 13), and the existence of a man named Gallio (Acts 18), to name just a few! Critics once thought the Biblical writers to be either mistaken or lying about these details until archeological finds in the last two centuries proved the Bible to be correct.

The Biblical Eyewitnesses Attest to Historical Reliability
Our critic tells us that we have no history for the life of Christ or the history of the Christian church. Oh really? 
Some would argue that the Biblical writers were not being truthful because they wanted to start a religious system and they would say anything needed to accomplish that goal. But the writer says that that the Romans started Christianity. More on that in a moment.
At any rate, his reasons do not measure up to the historicity of the real lives of the apostles and original eyewitnesses. Why would any of the disciples be motivated to tell an elaborate lie considering that each of them had nothing to gain from the lie itself? There was no money, sex, or power involved, so we have nothing conspiratorial. In fact, all of them died horrible deaths by martyrdom in the first century. What? Died for a self concocted conspiracy? Not quite.  
Take a look at the list and tell me if you would want to die like these men for a conspiracy or a lie.
Peter was crucified head down in Rome in 66AD; 
Andrew was bound to death in 74AD
James, son of Zebedee, was beheaded in Jerusalem by the sword (Acts 12:1-9).
John was banished to the Isle of Patmos in 96AD (Rev. 1- 9).
Phillip was crucified at Heirapole, Phryga in 52AD
Bartholomew was beaten, crucified, then beheaded in 52AD
Thomas was run through by a lance at Corehandal, East Indies in 52AD
Matthew was slain by the sword in the city of Ethiopia in about 60AD
James son of Alphaeus, was thrown from a pinnacle, then beaten to death in 60AD
Thaddeus was shot to death by arrows in 72AD
Simon was crucified in Persia in 74AD

These were the Twelve apostles that walked with and eye-witnessed Jesus' life, death and resurrection. For them to say that Jesus did not live is total absurdity. Their deaths in first century are recored in history. The writer of the Josephus Mirror Code is clearly relying on poor scholarship and/or dishonest sources.  
Conclusion: What About the Romans Starting Christianity?  
The subtitle of the book shows a lack of thinking on the part of the conspiracy writer. Looking at the subtitle, it is a poor conspiracy, "How and Why the Romans Invented Christianity."
Why would they want to start a religion that the government they were working for was trying to snuff out? Christians, because they would not bow to Caesar, were imprisoned or executed. Christians were even called "atheists" because of their not participating in worship of Emperor. 
Take for example, Cornelius Tacitus, one of the most reliable source historians of first-century Rome, wrote in his Annals a year-by-year account of events in the Roman Empire under the early Caesars. As careful of a historian that he was, Tacitus then explains who "the Christians" were: "Christus, the founder of the name, had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilatus" (15:44). He then goes on to report the horrors that were inflicted on the Christians in what became their first Roman persecution.
Then there was Tacitus. Let it be emphasized that he was not a Christian historian who despised Christians as a 
"disease," a term he uses later in the passage. Had Jesus never even existed, he would have been the first to expose that pathetic phantom on whom such cultists placed their trust. Were no other references to Jesus available, this passage alone would have been sufficient to establish his historicity. 

Why skeptics realize this and "Jesus Mythers" like the author I have no idea.  There are other historians proving this point, like Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, Pliny the Younger and others. But as I look more at the quote that was "dropped" on our RC Germanna wall, I may have more to say on this in the not too distant future.

Why do this? Someone once posted that I am putting myself in the same camp as those I am writing on. That is far from the truth. The problem is that there is some professor out there that believes the stuff in the Zeitgeist movies, and the material that Jesus is nothing more than a copy cat messiah.  The other side to this is that those who want to criticize us for writing, we are writing it for them. Doubts about the Christian come in all shapes and sizes, and some folks follow those doubts down the wrong trail. We write for those folks too.

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