Scholars Debate Evidence for Jesus’ Existence

Scholars Debate Evidence for Jesus’ Existence

A CNN original series that premiered its second season this week, “Finding Jesus,” uses scientific and archaeological research to investigate the historical truth of Jesus.

The show is part of a larger debate between scholars and authors. Some say that Jesus never existed or that he was a “teaching story.”

"If I said to you that there was no real Good Samaritan, I don't think anyone would be outraged," said Timothy Freke, author of The Jesus Mysteries: Was the ‘Original Jesus’ a Pagan God? "It's a teaching story,” Freke continued. What we're saying is that the Jesus story is an allegory. It's a parable of the spiritual journey."

But biblical scholars, such as Bart. D. Ehrman, author of Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, say those that deny the existence of Jesus are “Internet kooks.”

"There are people out there who don't think the Holocaust happened, there wasn't a lone JFK assassin and Obama wasn't born in the U.S.," Ehrman says. "Among them are people who don't think Jesus existed."

While those who deny Jesus’ existence point to parallels between Jesus’ story and other pagan stories in ancient history and no other credible sources outside the Bible saying Jesus existed, biblical scholars say those parallels are actually not comparable at all to Jesus.

For example, he says there is no proof that the ancient Osiris figure, which Freke has said had a life that paralleled Jesus, was crucified and rose again.

"He doesn't know much about ancient history," Ehrman says of Freke. "He's not a scholar. All he knows is what he's read in other conspiracy books."


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Publication date: March 6, 2017