At some point in ones scholastic life, he or she becomes curious regarding their own reading and writing ability. I have reached that point, and I was curious whether any of you academic types would like to take a look at one of my latest assignments (which has already been graded, and passed), and give me an honest evaluation of my writing ability. This is only a portion, and I did not include my Bibiliography/references cited (space limitations). 2. Outcome 3: Article “The Historical Jesus was Divine” 2.1 Introduction In regards to the story told by the Holy Bible, there arises a question of such profound importance, that every other reality that we know and speak of hinges upon the answer. That question simply stated is this, “Is Jesus God?” The answers to all other questions that we could ask, concerning our reality here on Earth, is dramatically affected by this first and most important question. For instance, if I ask the question “What is our purpose here”, the answer to that question is on the opposite sides of the philosophical spectrum, depending on the answer to the first question, “Is Jesus God”. If Jesus is truly divine, then the answer must be that our ultimate purpose is to serve and glorify Him. If Jesus was not divine, then our purpose here has nothing to do with Him at all, or going even further, perhaps we have no purpose at all, and we are just a cosmological accident. What then would we tell our children? If Jesus is truly God, we can point to His words in scripture when our child mistreats another child, and tell them that they should “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19). We can tell them that they are special and valuable (Luke 12:7), and there life has a purpose (Ephesians 1:11). Christianity becomes not just a vessel containing truths, but truth itself, by which all other aspects of reality; our actions, morals, etc. must be judged by, and brought into subjection to (Schaeffer 1981: 19-20). If however Jesus was just a man, then none of these scriptures are authoritative. There is no reason to accept them as truth, over the thousands of other so called wise men throughout history. In fact, why not take your lead from such men as Adolf Hitler, or Jeffrey Dahmer? Without there being some reason to listen to and obey the words of Jesus, there really are no objective criteria to live by: morality, right, wrong, good, and evil, these ideas become subjective, totally dependent upon the whims of the individual. So it is that we must examine the historical person of Jesus with utmost care. Before we do that, though, we must establish that He was, in actuality, an historical person. 2.2 Was Jesus a Real Person? Some go even further than to question the divinity of Jesus. Many people have made the claim that Jesus never even really existed, claiming that He was an assimilation of other myths, completely fabricated by individuals desiring to control the populace, to gain monetary reward, or some other nefarious purpose. So before we begin to investigate the deity of Christ, we must first establish that He was a real, historical individual. To do this, we will examine two bodies of evidence: secular historical documentation, and the Gospel accounts themselves. 2.2.1 Historical documentation Some of the most ardent detractors of the Christian faith have upheld a theory known in some circles as the “Legendary Hypothesis”. This is the assumption that Jesus Himself was not even a real person, but was instead a concoction of legends, dreamed up for any number of reasons; an amalgam possibly of other legends, such as Mithraism, Zoroastrianism, Greek mythology, etc. This idea has no basis in fact, though, and can easily be shown to be false, which is why most historians have abandoned it (Kennedy 1999:104). Speaking on this very subject, historian J. Gilchrist Lawson states emphatically: “The legendary or mythical theory of Christ’s existence is not held by anyone worthy of the name ‘scholar’. The historical evidences of Christ’s existence is so much greater than those in support of any other event in ancient history; no candid scholar could reject them without also renouncing his belief in every event recorded in ancient history” (Kennedy 1999:105). The reason for this is patently obvious; Jesus’ existence is not just recorded in the Bible, but in many ancient texts. Secular historians starting from the first centuries B.C.E., such as Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the younger, Epictetus, Lucian, Aristides, Galenus, Lampridius, DioCassius, Hinnerius, Libanius, Ammianus, Marcellinus and Eunepius, have all written of Christ as if He were an actual historical figure. Such historical attestation is overwhelming, and is of such a magnitude as to be unmatched by any other historical figure or event (Kennedy, et al). 2.2.2 The Gospels Although some might try to discount the Gospels narratives themselves, it must be noted that they do provide proof of Jesus’ existence. To overlook this would be a disservice to the pursuit of historical truth. Noting this, there are two ways in which the Gospels show themselves to be trustworthy historical accounts. The first is in there content; the gospels are not written in a fanciful way, such as one would expect from typical mythology. It is true that there are miraculous accounts in scripture, but they are told in a very down to earth, unembellished way. All one must do is compare the Christian writings in the gospels to other, legendary sources, to see a marked difference between the two. One is history, and one is fantasy (Criswell 1969:109). The other way the gospels show themselves to be accurate, is in their accurate portrayal of other historical events at the time. For instance, the tetrarch of Abilene, Lysanias, mentioned in chapter 3 of the Gospel of Luke, was once thought to be in error; yet later discoveries showed that not only did this tetrarch exist, but the timing matched biblical records exactly! Such historical details are not unique; they are all throughout the gospels, and to date all have been shown to be accurate (Little 1980:86-87). The gospels, then, are an important proof of the person of Christ in and of themselves. Christ was without a doubt an historical figure. But was Jesus divine? 2.3 Jesus: Divine, Liar or Crazy? Because some people deny that Jesus claimed deity for Himself, we must first look at the actual statements of Jesus regarding His own person. Such absurd statements (that is, that Jesus never claimed divinity) can easily be put to rest, and we can then move on to more evidentiary pursuits. 2.3.1 What Jesus Claimed It has been often and well stated that the only three options we have regarding who Christ actually was, is lunatic, liar, or God. Christ certainly leaves no possibility for wiggle room in what He actually said. He is therefore God, He was crazy and thought that He was God, or He was a lying con man. The ideas put forth by some, that He was just a “good moral example”, or a “teacher of wisdom” cannot be true, for He made many claims to deity. Let us look at just a few of those. First and foremost, we see Jesus clearly claiming deity in the Gospel of John, in part of a well known and well read story. In verses 8:56-58, we see Jesus make an astounding statement of divinity to the Jews: that Abraham knew of Him (Jesus) and was waiting for His coming. Considering the fact that Abraham had lived centuries before, this was a truly fantastic assertion! When the leaders of the mob pointed out the unbelievable outrageousness of such a claim, Jesus further asserted His deity, by stating His freedom from constraints of time, and alluding to God’s name in Exodus 3:14, by stating “"Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (ESV). Although some would like to discount this clear statement of godhood by Christ, any such argument is truly indefensible. Certainly the Jews understood Him to be claiming godhood: they attempted to stone Him for blasphemy (John 8:59)! In addition to this clear statement by Christ, we also see Him continue to identify Himself with God the Father. One such case occurs in John chapter 14. When Phillip asks to see the father, Jesus responds in this way: "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?” (Verse 9, ESV) What Jesus claimed is really undeniable; He claimed to be Christ, God in the flesh. Yet is their proof?