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a·pol·o·get·ics (e-pòl´e-jèt¹îks) noun (used with a sing. verb)
1. The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

2. Formal argumentation in defense of something, such as a position or system.

 

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THE HISTORICAL JESUS
CURRENT CLAIMS


"Jesus...Who was he? What Bible scholars call historical Jesus research is one of the most exciting endeavors in modern biblical studies. And the debates are heating up like never before, much of it based on the new released Dead Sea Scrolls." So goes the ad in Bible Review, a magazine that "brings top-flight biblical scholarship to the layperson in literate, easily understood language - all gloriously illustrated with full-color pictures." "The Search For Jesus" - this valuable presentation of current scholarship is widely accessible. Highly recommended." - Library Journal. Ref. 1.

The above excerpts are taken from a letter from the editor of a magazine about Jesus and from the Bible Review magazine. The search goes on and on and on and on.

Jesus did not leave a vacuum regarding his historicity, nor did the writers of the Bible shroud the overwhelming evidence that men seek. Why are people searching, yet not finding? Why does there ever seem to be a question even after all the archeological digs and all of the searching into document after document? In another magazine there is a front-page picture of Jesus and the caption reads, "In Search of Jesus. Who was he? New appraisals of his life and its meaning."  Ref. 2. The article speaks of "Some scholars seek answers in history and redefine the meaning of his life and deeds." Five men (scholars, so-called) are interviewed in regard to their concepts about Jesus. The first man interviewed made what can be considered a profound observation, perhaps a prophetic one in regard to himself. If it were not so tragic, it would be hilarious. His statement is, "Jesus pointed to what he called God's domain. His disciples tended to stare at the pointing finger." That very statement, if true of the disciples, is doubly true of this writer. Robert Funk is the head of the controversial Jesus Seminar. He comments to his audiences a "different Jesus" than whom he preached in his early days as a preacher in rural Texas. He strips Jesus of what he calls centuries of church tradition. The historical Jesus of Nazareth, in Funk's view, was probably more akin to a Jewish Socrates - or perhaps a Lenny Bruce - than the Divine Son of God. He speaks of Jesus being entombed in scriptural prisons and needs to be set "free," as he sees the need to "reinvent Christianity." Ref. 3.

There are four other men in the article who portray the historical Jesus from the claim that this is not the real Jesus, but only a fragmentary hypothetical reconstruction of him," to rewriting the Biblical account about the life of Jesus into their own version. The thrust of these other men as they comment on what they have "learned" from their studies deny the Biblical account and re-construct a Jesus that is indeed a figment of their imagination. One is appalled. But, even though one can easily be appalled at what these secular writers say, one thing stands out loud and clear -- they all believe Jesus of Nazareth did exist and made claims. The very document they deny as being accurate and authentic is still relied upon to get some semblance of a man called Jesus.

A REFUTATION

The Biblical account of Jesus, rather than man's subjective ideas has to be the criterion upon which beliefs are based. The Biblical account is trustworthy, not man's fairy-tales. These liberal thinkers are seeking to define or redefine "what kind of Jesus is and is not possible." Funk seeks to "set Jesus free" from the "scriptural creedal prisons in which we have entombed him." They are saying this is the way it is or was or it doesn't really matter how it was or is. This kind of thinking is mere drivel showing no substance in the writers or commentators. Who is staring at the pointing finger of Jesus?

The historical Jesus is revealed in the New Testament documents clearly by those who are not blinded by their own self-deception. The ground of man's faith is the testimony of eyewitnesses, not some feeling or an existential experience. Therefore, God has made sure that man has abundant evidence from historical sources, which are adequate to prove that Jesus is the Son of God, and the Bible is the word of God. The historical reliability of the New Testament documents must be established before one can reason those historical evidences to a conclusion by a systematic argumentation, the conclusion being that Jesus is who he claimed to be and the Bible is the writing of God. Besides the New Testament, sufficient are the corroborators of what the eyewitnesses claimed.

Mara Bar-Serapion, writing some time after 73 A.D., to his imprisoned son, Serapion, pleaded with him to be wise by illustrating the folly of persecution such wise men as Socrates, Pythagoras and Christ (using the phrase "wise King" in reference to Christ.)

Cornelius Tacitus, writing during the reign of Nero (50-68 A.D.) told how the Christians were made scapegoats for the Great Fire of 64 A.D. He speaks of Christus, their namesake, who suffered the extreme penalty during Tiberius' reign at the hand of Pontius Pilate. Tacitus was in a good position to learn of Christianity, being governor of Asia in 112 A.D.

Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Younger) governor of Bithynia often wrote the Emperor, Trajan, asking his imperial advice on how to deal with the sect of the Christians. He mentioned in one letter how they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang an anthem to Christ as God, and bound themselves by a solemn oath not to commit any wicked deed after which it was their custom to separate, and then to meet again to partake of food, but food of an ordinary and innocent kind."The innocence of the matter seemed to perplex the governor sufficient to write to the emperor about it.

Suetonius, an analyst and court official of the Imperial House of Hadrian, in about 120 A.D., wrote of his life to Claudius, from which is taken his most often quoted reference: "As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome. Acts 18:1-2 records this as Luke speaks of the same event. Over and over we have evidence, overwhelming evidence, when taken together, that Jesus existed, and that the scriptures record what other historical writing recorded as a fact.



continued...

The early Jewish sources corroborate others' writings: The Talmud (70-200 A.D.) contains many references to Christ.

Falvius Josephus (some time after 70 A.D.) records his observations about Jesus as the Messiah. F.F. Bruce Ref. 4. underlines the fact that many people wrote about the accounts that are again also in the Bible. New Testament writers, being contemporary with Jesus, in remarkable agreement, continue to stand the test of genuineness and historicity. Men would know nothing about the teachings of Christ outside the New Testament. The New Testament was written in the very generation in which the events took place. The acid test is that men lived during the writing of the New Testament who would have denied those writings if they were not true. Instead, the records corroborate each other.

Another source of information is from the Apostolic Fathers, a corpus of writings from about 90-160 A.D., by men who came after the Apostles, who either sat at the feet of the Apostles, having been taught by them directly, or at the feet of those who were.

The reliability of the New Testament far exceeds the reliability of other writings from the same period and is taken as reliable. The classical histories written from 48 B.C. to 100 A.D. are accepted with open arms, even with their gaps of several hundred years and their copies being very small. The classical histories are Caesar's "Gallic Wars," Roman History of Livy, "Histories" of Tacitus, "Annals" of Tacitus, History of Thucidides, and History of Herodotus. The New Testament codexes have a much smaller gap and we have over 5,000 copies, 4,995 more than the classical histories. What an impact that is on the unbiased mind! As F.F. Bruce states with tongue-in-cheek, "If the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt." Ref. 4.


THE OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE AND THE CONCLUSION

As we pursue the crux of the matter, the Biblical account proves Jesus is who he claimed to be, and Jesus proves the Biblical account to be accurate. Let us notice some points of interest:

1. Because the New Testament is truths worthy about Jesus' resurrection and the implications of that significant event in history, it can be successfully argued to the conclusion that he is indeed, the Son of God and the Bible has to be the word of Jehovah God, Creator of the Universe.

2. The resurrection is a sign of deity. The resurrection proves the Bible is inspired. If Jesus is the Son of God he cannot lie, he not only records truth through his writers as the Holy Spirit guides them, he also endorses the Old Testament. Notice Matthew 22:31-32 and Exodus 3:16. Regarding the resurrection of the dead, Jesus in Matthew quotes what God said in Exodus 3. Notice Matthew 24:37-39, where Jesus speaks of Noah as a real person and the flood as a real historical event as recorded in Genesis 6-9. Notice Acts 3 where the Apostle Peter quotes what Moses stated in Deuteronomy 18:15 regarding the coming of Christ. Notice Matthew 19:3-6 as Jesus quotes Genesis 2:24 in regard to marriage of man and woman.

3. Jesus not only proves the New Testament to be true but the Old Testament, as well, which predicted his coming. Because there are no bones today in that Jerusalem tomb where he once lay, we have the greatest hope of mankind the empty tomb proves one day our own tomb will also be empty. We will rise from the dead, the redeemed to eternal life and the unredeemed to eternal death or separation from God.

4. The argument then and now that the crucifixion was only a hoax perpetrated by a misguided man in such books as the "Passover Plot" by Hugh Schoenfied, onto a gullible group, leads to the reasoning of that position by asking who would have stolen the body, the disciples of Christ, his enemies or grave robbers? The guards at the tomb would have prevented Jesus' disciples from taking the body of Jesus, the guards were bribed by the Chief Priests to say his disciples came by night and stole him away while they were asleep. The enemies would not have, because they wanted to be sure the body was still in the tomb after the third day so they could prove Jesus was a liar and he did not arise on the third day as he predicted he would. They just knew they could say "gottcha" and the whole ordeal (as they thought of it) of Christianity would be a laughing stock in all the empire. The disciples could not have opened and emptied the tomb. The guards would have also stopped grave robbers. Besides, there were no valuables (except the spices in the folds of the grave clothes), to be stolen.

Jesus, the Son of God, has left adequate evidence of the authenticity of the Bible. He has left ample evidence in the objective eyewitness testimony that He is indeed the Messiah, the risen Savior of the world. Today's unbeliever is produced by his subjectivism. Jesus, the Son, continues to point to the Father. How sad that the subjectivism of the unbeliever continues to cause him to stare at the pointing finger.


1 Bible Review, February, 1996 issue, pg. 43
2 U.S. News & World Report, April 8, 1996 issue, pg. 47
3 Jeffery L. Sheler, "In Search of Jesus," Ibid, 488-49
4 Bruce, F.F., The New Testament Documents, pg. 15

 

 

Author: Roseann Ekman,  roseann@intellisys.net


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THE BIBLE RECORD IS TRUE.
IT AGREES WITH ARCHEOLOGY.


Written In Stone: Archeology & The Bible by Charles Colson

Walking past a newsstand this week, your eye may be caught by a dramatic painting of Adam and Eve on the cover of U.S. News and World Report.  Alongside the two figures, the title of the cover story asks, "Is the Bible True?"

Flip open the magazine and you'll find that the answer is a confident "yes!"  U.S. News has summarized exciting new archeological evidence that confirms the historicity of the Bible. For example, a few years ago, a group of archeologists found an Assyrian stone tablet in Northern Israel dating from the ninth century B.C.  The Aramaic inscription listed Assyria's foes. Included in the list were the words "king of Israel" and "house of David."

The significance of these findings is that they toppled years of archeological skepticism. Many archeologists have long questioned the historical accuracy of the Bible, maintaining that there was no such person as King David. They pointed to the lack of any reference outside the Bible to David in the archeological remains from Assyria, Egypt, or Babylon. They argued that David's name, a Semitic word meaning "beloved," was evidence that biblical writers created a legendary king to create a glorious past for Israel. But now archeology has given proof that King David was an historical figure after all--exactly as the Bible teaches.

This latest discovery isn't the first time the evidence has confounded the skeptics. For instance, Kenneth Kitchen, an Egyptologist at the University of London, told U.S. News that documents recently discovered in Syria confirm the amount of money Joseph's brothers received when they sold him into slavery. According to the book of Genesis, it was twenty silver shekels. In later centuries, the price typically paid for slaves in Israel was ninety to one hundred shekels.   If the biblical account was made up later, as skeptics have argued, then the authors would have picked a sum much closer to the going rate at the time.

 



continued...


Archeological discoveries also help document the veracity of Testament texts. For example, scholars have long doubted gospel accounts of Jesus' burial. They maintained that the Romans simply tossed crucified bodies into a common grave or left them to be scavenged by wild animals. But archeologists recently discovered the remains of a crucified man, a contemporary of Jesus, buried in a family grave.

These remains suggest that the Romans did allow for the kind of burial described in the gospels. Why are secular scholars constantly being refuted? 

The answer is that they approach scripture from a naturalistic perspective that discounts any document that speaks of the SUPERnatural.  Since the Bible records miracles as though they really happened, the Bible is simply discounted out of hand.  Scripture is reduced to stories that merely illustrate theological points, while containing little that is historically accurate.

But, as the U.S. News article illustrates, this distinction is crumbling under the weight of empirical evidence. The latest archeological news is an exciting reminder that Christians have nothing to fear from scientific inquiry.  In fact, we welcome it.

The next time you hear Christianity characterized as an ancient legend, be prepared to describe the exciting evidence unearthed by archaeology. To answer the question on the cover of U.S. News--yes, the Bible is really true.

From:   breakpoint@lists.netcentral.net (BreakPoint by Charles Colson)
BreakPoint Commentary #91027 - 10/27/1999


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Neanderthal DNA tells a genetic tale

Findings argue against theories about interbreeding with modern humans

March 28, 2000 —  DNA extracted from a 29,000-year-old bone has cast doubt on the idea that squat, heavy-browed Neanderthals contributed to the genetic heritage of modern humans, scientists say. “Though they co-existed, we can’t find any evidence of genetic material being passed from Neanderthals to modern humans,” said William Goodwin, one of the researchers.

MSNBC’s Alan Boyle, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this
report.

Also: The findings are being published in Thursday’s issue of the journal
Nature.

 

By JEFF DONN
Associated Press Writer
    DNA extracted from a 29,000-year-old bone has cast doubt on the theory that modern humans evolved in part from squat, heavy-browed Neanderthals, researchers say.
    Researchers compared DNA from a Neanderthal skeleton found in Russia to an older sample tested in 1997. While the two Neanderthal samples turned out to be just 3.5 percent different from one another, they were roughly 7 percent different from DNA in modern
humans. Scientists consider that to be a substantial gap.
    ``It all points away from the Neanderthal,'' said one of the researchers, William Goodwin, a molecular biologist at the Human Identification Center in Glasgow, Scotland.
    The findings are being published in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.
    The researchers challenge the theory that modern humans evolved at least partly from Neanderthals, which some believe mated in large numbers with modern Europeans before disappearing 25,00 0
years ago.
    If that had happened, some argue, today's Europeans would show stronger genetic similarities to Neanderthals than other humans do.
Yet the latest DNA analysis shows Neanderthal DNA to be no closer
to Europeans than to other modern humans.
    Neanderthals were burly, primitive creatures with a prominent brow, thick jaw and short, powerful limbs. Originating in Africa, they appeared in Europe and Asia perhaps 100,000 years ago or longer.
    The 29,000-year-old Neanderthal DNA, which was recovered from a rib bone in a baby's skeleton found in Russia's Caucasus Mountains, was in better condition than the roughly 40,000-year-old Neanderthal DNA from Germany analyzed in 1997, the researchers said.
     The research team from Scotland, Sweden, Russia and the United States reassembled more than 2 percent of the later Neanderthal DNA from a tiny cellular structure known as the mitochondria.
  
    Molecular biologist Matthias Hoss, an expert in ancient remains now working at the Swiss Institute for Cancer Research, said the research appears to support the theory that Neanderthals were an evolutionary dead end.
    ``This adds quite a lot of confidence that the Neanderthal
didn't contribute to modern populations,'' he said.
    The study does support an opposing theory known as
``out-of-Africa,'' the research team said. This theory says modern humans descended from the true Homo sapiens, who originated in Africa and came to replace other early humans worldwide without great mixing. Homo sapiens would have arrived in Europe perhaps 30,000 to 40,000 years ago, scientists believe.
    However, some experts question the researchers' broader
conclusions, saying mitochondrial DNA may evolve faster than the researchers assume.
    ``Maybe 40,000 years ago, everybody's mitochondrial DNA is very different from humans of today,'' said Fred H. Smith, an
anthropologist at Northern Illinois University.
    Milford Wolpoff, a University of Michigan anthropologist who studies early human fossils, said fossils suggest an evolutionary link between Neanderthals and modern humans. He said late Neanderthal fossils seem to be evolving toward modern humans in some ways, as they develop chins and lose their low, sloping foreheads.

 

MSNBC’s Alan Boyle, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
       

WEI does not copy copywrited material knowingly.

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THE GENEALOGY OF JESUS...SHOWING HIS RIGHT TO DAVID'S THRONE AS KING

Many people who try to prove the Bible incorrect and/or uninspired use the differences in the genealogies of Christ in Luke and Matthew as "proof." Many of us who believe that the Bible is inspired and inerrant do not know how to refute them.

There is a genealogy of Christ, both in words and in diagrammatic form (write Fred for a copy.)

 

that defines quite well the differences and their significance.

I suggest each of those interested in the subject check and download the data.

fredupta@knology.net

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