We live in a postmodernist age. People, especially the younger generation, are able to hold onto contradictory notions without batting an eye. It’s a perfect era to be a skeptic who believes in nothing, but wants to take the fast track to being a pseudo-intellectual by attacking traditional worldviews and contributing nothing positive to the conversation except to say, “The burden of proof is on the believer!”
I’ve had hundreds of comments from young postmodernists in response to my Real Jesus DVD, which is posted on YouTube and my website. The following is one such conversation with a UFO enthusiast (who doesn’t think there is evidence that Jesus existed) named “Boyinthemachine.”
The conversation took an interesting turn when I insisted that 99.99 percent of scholars accept the fact that Jesus was a real historical figure.
Jay Rogers: “That Jesus is a historical figure is accepted by 99.99 percent of secular historians.”
“Where did you get that figure? Look, even I believe there most likely was a historical Jesus. The problem is that my belief is not based on the fact that Jesus’ historicity has been proven, but rather, based on the fact that there are countless cases of men deified after their death, such as various Caesars. Last, the Epistle of James is not a Gospel. It leads no proof to a historical Jesus.”Jay Rogers: “Can you name even five PhDs teaching history at the university level who claim Jesus never existed? If you can, I’ll revise my number to 99.98 percent. Also, what do you do about the eyewitness claims in the New Testament, especially those in the Gospel of John and 1 John?” Boyinthemachine:
“Why should I? The burden of proof is on those making the claim. “We don’t know who wrote the Gospel of John. The author was not an eyewitness, but like all the other Gospels, merely put to word oral stories, i.e. ‘The Gospel According To John.’ Most scholars believe the Gospel of John was written between 90-100 AD, with a small number of scholars suggesting earlier or later dates. Thus, like the other Gosples, John is very weak evidence for the historicity of Jesus.”Jay Rogers: “The New Testament actually has a very good pedigree. The Apostles who knew Jesus preached and wrote from 30 to 70 A.D. Then early bishops such as Ignatius, Clement, Polycarp and Papias (35 to 115 A.D.) received the books of the Apostles and wrote their own works quoting from most of the books of the New Testament. Later second century church fathers quoted from every New Testament book and named the authors. The earliest canonical list is from the second century. There is a continual unbroken witness to the authors of the New Testament in every generation up until the great Codices of the fourth century.” Boyinthemachine:
Jay Rogers: “Form critics and source critics act as scientists working from the null hypothesis. They ignore all documentary evidence and assume nothing from the beginning. They then are able to draw all kinds of conclusions. In the 1800s, the form critics had the Gospel of John written in the late second century. Then in the early 1900s a papyrus fragment of John was found that dated to about 115 A.D. One scrap of paper wiped out over 100 years of liberal conjecture! Assuming that this fragment was a copy of a copy, and since it was discovered in Egypt, the latest John could have been written was 95 A.D. The earliest would be the mid-first century.
“The Apostles were eyewitnesses, if Jesus existed. However, we don’t know who wrote the gospels. The assumption, by the Church, was that it was ‘Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John’ who wrote the Gospels. Most scholars do not accept this. Most scholars believe the gospels were written anonymously, from about 40 years after Jesus’ death to about 100 years after Jesus’ death. “It would be great if we had overwhelming evidence for the historicity of Jesus, but we just don’t have it.”
“Liberals will almost always assume the latest dates and an unknown author. The problem for them is that all extra-biblical documentary evidence from the first and second century onward points to definite authors. Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp and Papias wrote in the late first to early second century, but they were born and lived during the time when some disciples who had seen Jesus were still alive. We see no debate among them on who the authors of the New Testament were. Then almost all the NT manuscript fragments of the second century have titles and authors. You can actually go on-line and see the titles (called supercriptions and subscriptions) of manuscript fragments.
“Another interesting thing is that form the early second century, and maybe earlier, the books of the NT were bound into five codices, the four Gospels and Acts, Paul’s Epistles, the Pastorals, the General Epistles, Revelation. As in modern times, books had titles and authors. There is no reason to think that the authors did not assign their names to the original autographs. Then in the third century, Origen wrote that there were some doubts about Hebrews and Revelation because of stylistic differences in Paul and John’s other writings.
“In modern times, this skepticism was stretched to call every book into question. But it is very easy to see these liberals have an agenda. An unbiased researcher might doubt the traditional authorship of books like 2 Peter, Revelation, Hebrews and maybe 3 John, but there is no documentary evidence that these books were ever in dispute shortly after they were written. To the contrary, they are all quoted early. According to all models of textual criticism, they ought to be considered authentic and reliable.”