A skeptic asks: “The Bible makes a lot of claims about Jesus' miraculous feats. But if all these amazing things really did happen, why didn't reputable contemporary historians write about them? You'd think that phenomenon like a great darkness at Noon (crucifixion), or bright stars moving across the sky toward Bethlehem (Christmas), would have been reported by other historians. Yet we only have the biased claims of Christ's supporters.”
The reporting of the events around the life and death of Jesus are just about what you would expect in the first century, given that Jesus' following was so small during his lifetime, that He lived in such a remote corner of the Roman Empire, and given the state of astronomy at that time.
Despite these limitations, Josephus (the first century Jewish historian), and Tacitus (an early second century Roman historian) make significant reference to Him. And actually, the very thing that you call for does exist. The mid-first century Roman historian Thallus makes reference to the darkness of the sun at the time of the crucifixion as he tries to refute the apostles’ claim. He argues that the crucifixion had, by chance, taken place during a solar eclipse.
Your position discounts the experience and witness of those who were “biased”—presumably referring to the New Testament writers, biased because they believed in Jesus. But who was unbiased? Can we count on those who rejected Jesus to have been unbiased? Why? Those closest to the events had high stakes in trying to protect their power base. The reports of Jesus' followers [actually] gain a certain authority because of their willingness to die for their witness to the resurrection.
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Author: Richard B. Keyes. Text supplied by AIIA Institute.
Richard Keyes is Director of L'Abri MA, a residential study center in Southborough, Massachusetts. L'Abri was founded in Switzerland by the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer in 1955. Mr. Keyes is also and author and lecturer. Since 1997 he has served as an AIIA Resource Associate (worldviews).
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