Evidence that the disciples existed...

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Born_in_Crewe, Jan 6, 2009.

  1. Born_in_Crewe

    Born_in_Crewe
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    I'm 'debating' with an atheist who doesn't believe Jesus or the disciples existed. I know its silly but that is his argument, ''how do you know they existed''. So what are some good websites or evidence that show they existed.
     
  2. Jim1999

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    Dear Brother, When I witness to an atheist, I always argue from history, and the fact of Jesus death and burial.

    One book, written many years ago is: Who Moved The Stone by Frank Morison. An inexpensive paperback reprinted by Zondervan.

    It is the story of a London reporter who went to Palestine to disprove the Jesus of history. He not only came back to England a believer, but wrote this book to boot.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
    #2 Jim1999, Jan 6, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 6, 2009
  3. Martin

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    ==A quick review of ancient history and sources would do you much good. If you have time to do a deeper study I would recommend "The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence For The Life of Christ" by Dr. Gary Habermas. If you want a quicker, more surface leve study then I would point you to "The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus" by Dr. Gary Habermas and Michael Licona or "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel.

    If you are interested in more long term study I would recommend the following:

    "Jesus & the Rise of Early Christianity: A History of New Testament Times" by Paul Barnett

    "Christian Origins and the Question of God" volumes by N.T. Wright

    "New Testament History: A Narrative Account" by Dr. Ben Witherington
     
  4. Born_in_Crewe

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    Thanks for that. To be honest, this is a YouTube argument [with one of these atheists who spend their time looking up christian videos and writing negative comments] rather than a face-to-face one, and cyber arguments always seem to be more difficult than debates with friends and acquaintances. It's a pointless one really, because I think his mind is made up and he's not going to look into it.

    I could still do with an argument to post back when he next replies, other than ''most historians and scholars believe this''. The only thing I can think is that the New Testament documents date from 30 years after Jesus' death, and it probably wasn't invented by the Romans and its unlikely to have been the Jewish leaders as they are heavily criticised in the NT.
     
  5. Tom Butler

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    Flavious Joseph, a Jewish historian, wrote a major work called "Antiquities of the Jews."

    He was not a follower of Jesus.

    In Antiquities Volume 18.63-64, he wrote the following:

    Joseph was born in Jerusalem in 37 A.D. He completed Antiquities around 93 A. D.

    This work and several others are extant today.
     
  6. Tom Butler

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    A good question to ask is why million of believers would be willing to die for someone who never existed, or believe disciples who never existed.
     
  7. webdog

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    In all fairness, this could apply to muslims, too. The fact is nobody knowlingly dies for a lie, but they will die for that which they believe to be true.

    Does anybody know if any secular sources that speak of the martyrdom of the 11? I'm debating a former SBC pastor (MBTS grad)who is now an atheist on the cleveland browns board. His claim was that all of the disciples' deaths are recorded only in church literature, therefore it is biased.
     
  8. Amy.G

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    This is a letter written by Pliny the Younger regarding the punishment of Christians in the early church.
    It's not proof of the apostles, but it's very interesting regarding the existence of the church.
     
  9. Marcia

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  10. Marcia

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    Interesting that he's doubting the disciples and not Jesus (or is he doubting Jesus as well?). Maybe the links on extra-biblical sources for Jesus have gotten out there, so now the attack is on the disciples.

    I did find one link giving extra-biblical sources on the matyrdom of some of the disciples:
    http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/...ts/did_the_disciples_of_jesus_die_for_a_myth/
    ____Josephus wrote about the martydom of James, brother of Jesus and the head of the Jerusalem church, and a well-known public figure. in the Antiquities: ``Convening the judges of the Sanhedrin, he [Ananus, the high priest] brought before them a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, and certain others. He accused them of having transgressed the law, and condemned them to be stoned to death.’’

    ....CLEMENT OF ROME writing in 96AD, spoke of the execution of the disciple Peter_"Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labors; and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, he departed to the place of glory due to him.”
     
  11. Tom Butler

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    Point well taken, web.
     
  12. EdSutton

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    I only scanned the responses, so may have missed it, were it already mentioned.

    Uh- How about handing him a calender?

    You know, that little B.C./A.D. thing ???

    Ed
     
  13. JustChristian

    JustChristian
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    I like the argument presented in this article.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Is Jesus an historical fact?
    Can the Bible be trusted?
    http://www.missiontoamerica.com/history.html

    Our main source of information about Jesus is the New Testament in the Bible. Is the New Testament true? Is it an accurate historical record or a collection of religious myths? Do other historical records mention Jesus?

    Let's start with the first question: Is what the New Testament says about Jesus a true, accurate historical record?

    How do historians determine the accuracy of ancient documents and records?
    Historians look at:
    • How close, in time and geographically, were the writers of the documents to the original events?
    • How many early copies do we have, how close are the copies to the originals (in time)?
    • Do the documents have contradictions or factual inaccuracies?
    • Are the descriptions of locations, roads, structures and geographical features confirmed by archeology?

    We have copies of other ancient documents that are considered historically accurate. For example, Caesar wrote his history of the Gallic Wars between 50 and 60 BC. The earliest copies we have were made around the year 1000. We have ten copies from that time period. They are considered by historians to be accurate.

    The Roman historian Tacitus wrote his Annals of Imperial Rome in about 115 AD. We have one copy of the first six books in this series. It was copied in about 850 AD. Books 11 through 16 are available in a copy made about 1050 AD. Books 7 through 10 are lost. The Annals of Imperial Rome is considered by historians to be accurate.

    We have nine Greek manuscripts of first century historian Josephus' work titled, "The Jewish War." These copies were made in the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries. They are considered by historians to be accurate.

    Aristotle lived around 350 BC. The earliest copy of his epic poems comes from A.D.1100 -- over 1,400 years after his death. We have five early copies of Aristotle's works.

    We have eight copies, dated about 900 A.D., of the history of Thucydides. He lived in the mid-400's BC. Historians have long ago determined, based on these eight manuscripts created 1300 years after the original was written, that the history of Thucydides is accurate.

    Homer's Iliad, the bible of the ancient Greeks, composed in 800 BC has an impressive 650 ancient Greek copies available -- the earliest is from the second and third centuries AD - 1000 years after the original was written.

    So how does the New Testament compare with these universally accepted historical documents?

    We have over 22,000 early copies of ancient New Testament manuscripts! Some papyri manuscripts date to the first century, within a few decades of when the original was written. There are over 5,600 ancient Greek manuscripts. Over 9,000 Latin Vulgate manuscripts. And over 8,000 ancient manuscripts in Ethiopic, Slavic and Armenian. The earliest copies date so close to when the originals were written that the time difference is essentially non-existent.

    We have papyri copies containing portions of the Gospels, the book of Acts, Paul's letters and the book of Hebrews made in the first, second and third centuries. The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri date to about the year 200. The M. Martin Bodmer Papyri also date to about the year 200. The Saint John's Library Papyri -- containing a portion of the book of John -- was made in Egypt and dates to between the years 98 and 130 AD (The book of John was written in approximately 90 AD).

    Question One Summary
    Numbers of copies: No other ancient historical documents come even close to being available in such large numbers (the Iliad is second with 650 copies) as is the New Testament.

    Closeness to the originals in time: No other ancient historical documents are available in copies made so soon after the originals were written. (Most other documents are available only in copies made over 1000 years after the original.)

    Contradictions: Other than a few minor differences in the Old Testament that are attributed to "typos" - none of which are related to fundamental doctrines or beliefs, there are no contradictions.

    Archeology: Archeology has never contradicted anything in the Bible and has confirmed much of the Bible.

    The conclusion: based on the number of copies, and their closeness in time to the originals, the New Testament has ample support for its accuracy.
     
  14. TomMann

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    Sorry, but I tend to be a little cold on this. There is nothing you can do or say to convince the athiest of anything. Our calling is not to convince, our calling is to proclaim. What happens with that is the business of the Holy Spirit. The same word that is used to bring one to Christ is used to the condemnation of another.
     
  15. Marcia

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    But there is nothing wrong when a dialogue or discussion is going on in giving some evidence. God can use this, believe me. I commend born-in-crewe for his efforts.

    Paul reasoned with unbelievers - this statement is used many times in the NT.

    So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. Acts. 17:17
     
  16. mparkerfd20

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    I concur to some extent... I was a strong atheist for 6 years before God truly saved me. I had grown up in the church and knew just enough "religion" to be dangerous. I've since learned I knew NOTHING. But to the point you're making... during those years of my life I don't think anyone could have said or proven anything to me regardless of how "open" I said my mind was. It was as shut toward God as it could possibly be.

    I still to this day can not name you anything that any man did to convince me otherwise of my hardened state towards God. The Holy Spirit quickened me, truly opened my heart and mind to the gospel and Jesus Christ saved me! Nothing short of that worked. No effort of many convinced me. Every question I ever had was answered by the Holy Spirit and God continually amazes me by proving Himself o'er and o'er to me today. Glory be to God!!

    Since that time of my life, I am burdened heavily for those that are in that state of mind that I was once in myself. Truth be told, we are all in that state until we are regenerated and saved by the grace of God, just in different degrees or stages (not exactly sure how to word this). That is why I pray the more earnestly for a moving of the Holy Spirit when talking or communicating with the unregenerate today.

    While I know that nothing short of a moving of the Holy Spirit will convince a man of the gospel, I still carry around blame and guilt for my brother's current state of atheism. :tear: I encouraged him and laughed and made fun of Christians with him while I was an atheist. And now no matter how hard I try, I can't convince him of the truth of the gospel, only the Holy Spirit can do that, but that doesn't stop me from trying!

    ...I think that is the point of this entire thread. God uses us simple minded, broken, but revived, new creatures, saved by His Son's precious blood, as vessels of His will to seek and to save that which is lost. We are commanded to proclaim the gospel. There should be NO question as to what the will of God is for our lives. It is our sanctification (1 Thes. 4:3), but also that we should go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that He has commanded us. (Matthew 28:19-20). So since it's His Will and His command, I choose to obey at whatever the cost might be to my reputation, livelihood, or even sanity.
     
  17. Humblesmith

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    One of the most excellent sources for witnessing to non-believers is Gary Habermas' book The Historical Jesus. He quotes from many extra-biblical sources, showing how the secular evidence supports the New Testament accounts.

    Also great is a book by Colin Hemer, The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History. A bit expensive and hard to find, but it is THE standard for showing how the facts in Acts line up with history.
     

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