Was Jesus a real historical figure?
Lynn Cohick on why we can be confident that Jesus existed.
John Dickson talks to Lynn Cohick, Associate Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, about the reasons we can be confident of Jesus’ historical existence.
This is a short segment from a longer interview. To watch the full interview, click here.
JOHN DICKSON: How are you confident at all that the figure of Jesus lived in history?
LYNN COHICK: Well that is a question easy to answer; the answer is he did live. People who have no connection at all with Christianity but are just interested in the history of this time will admit that the evidence that Jesus existed is overwhelming. Not using the gospels or any Christian material at all, but you can turn to Jewish sources of the first century – Josephus for example in his Antiquities Chapter 18 mentions Jesus. Now the text there may be elaborated on by later Christian scribes but most Josephus scholars will say there is a significant amount of that material that flows, it sounds like Josephus. He knew Jesus existed. Then you turn to Roman historians of the first and second century and they mention people who are following this fellow Acrestus who lived at the time of Tiberius and who was executed at that time – those are details that fit so carefully the biography that’s mentioned in the gospels about who Jesus is.
JOHN DICKSON: But some will say these were just interpolated, that someone stuck those paragraphs into Tacitus or Josephus.
LYNN COHICK: Well there’s no reason to stick it into Tacitus, there’d be no benefit to that, and there’d be no reason to put that in. I mean, the church did preserve Josephus, but this text of Josephus flows in the overall argument, so I think that would be stretching and straining credulity. I mean, that’s a vast conspiracy.