- Myth #1: The "historical Jesus" is different from the Jesus of the Bible
- Myth #2: The New Testament was written 100 years after Jesus
- Myth #3: There was no virgin birth and Jesus was not born in Bethlehem
- Myth #4: Jesus did not claim to be God
- Myth #5: The Gospels contradict one another and contain fiction
- Myth #6: The Miracles of the New Testament were invented
- Myth #7: Jesus never really rose from the dead
- The Real Jesus - Part One
- The Real Jesus - Part Two
- The Real Jesus - Part Three
- A New Comprehensive Approach to the Gospels
- Countering Bible Contradictions
On June 26, 2000, ABC television aired The Search for Jesus, a two hour-long special hosted by Peter Jennings. The program took viewers to Israel and interviewed locals, Christian pastors, clergymen and laymen, but Jennings focused mainly on seven experts in the field of researching the historical Jesus.
Four out of seven experts interviewed by Jennings hailed from the Jesus Seminar, a group of scholars who make it their life cause to disprove the divinity of Jesus. The other three “experts” interviewed in the program were also skeptics.
There were a few voices of genuine faith in the Jesus of the Bible. But most of the so-called experts were liberal theologians, that is, those who do not believe the Bible to be the inspired and inerrant Word of God. Absent from the program were the great number of well-known and credible historians who have a deep, committed faith in the inerrancy of scripture and the deity of Jesus Christ.
Liberal Theology: The so-called “Higher Criticism”
The Search for Jesus relied almost solely on a school of thought called liberal theology or the Historical Critical Method. At the end of the 19th century, a school of liberal theologians arose in Germany. They were called the higher critics. Their proclaimed goal was to isolate the “historical Jesus” from the “God-man” who has been worshipped and adored by the Church for two millennia.
The divinity of Jesus Christ was presumed to be a myth. His many miraculous works were deemed to be legend. The circumstances of His life, His teachings and works were brought into doubt. The effect of these apostates has grown to the current day as they have stripped layer upon layer from the Jesus of the Bible, until they now have a common man.
The claims of the higher critics are nothing new. In the first and second centuries, early Christians had to deal with ridicule and abuse from Jewish rabbis and intellectual skepticism from Greek scholars and philosophers.
Throughout the early centuries, bold apologists for the Christian faith, such as Irenaeus, Tertullian and Justin Martyr, wrote volumes of practical wisdom defending the Gospel from the attacks of pagan critics. Succeeding centuries gave the Church many other brilliant experts in apologetics. But once Christianity had taken hold of the western world, a new breed of skeptics arose out of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.
“Voltaire, the noted French infidel who died in 1778, said that in one hundred years from his time, Christianity would be swept from existence and passed into history. But what has happened? Voltaire has passed into history, while the circulation of the Bible continues to increase in almost all parts of the world, carrying blessing wherever it goes” (Sidney Collett, All About the Bible).
“Only 50 years after Voltaire’s death, the Geneva Bible Society used his press and house to produce stacks of Bibles” (Geisler and Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible) a great irony of history!
The early American patriot, Thomas Paine, published Age of Reason, a popular book ridiculing Christianity. Although Paine was a Deist and not an atheist, he popularized the theory that the books of the Bible, especially the Gospels, were full of contradictions. This view continues to be popular among scholars even to this day.
In the 1800s, rationalists such as Hermann Samuel Reimarus and David Strauss published sensational works denying the supernatural miracles of the Bible. The philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, who coined the phrase, “God is dead,” is said to have lost his faith around the time he was reading Strauss’s Life of Jesus Critically Examined.
The Jesus Seminar: Liberal Theology Repackaged
Most recently there was the Jesus Seminar, a council of liberal theologians who meet twice a year in an attempt to debunk the accuracy of the Gospels. Many of their “discoveries” are simply repeats of what the liberal theologians of the 19th century said. Strangely, these opinions are rigidly held even though 20th century archaeology and textual criticism has refuted many of their claims.
The Jesus Seminar’s attempt to debunk the Gospels as invented history is not based on a thorough examination of the Bible’s manuscripts. Unbiased examinations reveal ample evidence that the Gospel accounts are, in fact, historically accurate. But these “experts” are undaunted by facts. Even today, the skeptics continue to spread the error of a “historical Jesus.”
Archaeological Evidence for the Validity of the Bible
Liberal scholars up until the time of the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls in 1947 assigned a later date to many books of the Old Testament. They rejected the early date of books that accurately predicted the coming of the Messiah, because so many of the prophecies were fulfilled to the letter.
Since liberals rejected the supernatural in scripture, they presumed there must have been a later date to the writings that accurately described the life of Jesus.
For instance, the second half of Isaiah was deemed to contain forgeries by second century Christians because it contains so many prophecies accurately fulfilled by Jesus’ life and mission.
Then one of the main pillars of liberal theology fell in 1947 with the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls including a complete Isaiah scroll.
In his prime time special, Peter Jennings does note that Qumran exists.
[Caves of Qumran]
With the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls, we now have an Old Testament in complete form that existed at least 150 years before Christ. All of the books of the Hebrew Bible except Esther are represented in the Dead Sea Scroll collection. Jennings fails to mention this in his documentary.
Jennings fails to mention that the Dead Sea scrolls give us evidence that the Hebrew Bible has been virtually unchanged over thousands of years, including the famous Isaiah scroll that contains many remarkable prophecies about Jesus the Messiah.
[Photo of the Isaiah scroll on display]
For many years, the Higher Critics held that the Bible both the Old Testament and the New Testament had been altered and changed over the years. Therefore, the critics tried to eliminate the myths and discover the historical Jesus.
“The Search for Jesus” rejects or ignores all of the archaeological evidence that supports the claims of the Bible. Throughout the special, Jennings ignores the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament that were fulfilled by Jesus. He also neglects to examine the overwhelming evidence that the New Testament has come down to us in virtually unaltered form.