June 30, 2016

That seemed reasonable. Even the usually skeptical Ian Wilson, citing pre-Christian remains found in 1955 under the Church of the Annunciation in present-day Nazareth, has managed to concede, "Such findings suggest that Nazareth may have existed in Jesus' time, but there is no doubt that it must have been a very small and insignificant place."

So insignificant that Nathanael's musings in John's gospel now make more sense: "Nazareth!" he said. "Can anything good come from there?"

***
As Australian archaeologist Clifford Wilson said: "Those who know the facts now recognize that the New Testament must be accepted as a remarkably accurate source book."

On top of that, the New Testament is further corroborated by ancient historical sources from outside the Bible. "We have better historical documentation for Jesus than for the founder of any other ancient religion," Dr. Edwin Yamauchi told me during my visit to Miami University of Ohio.

Yamauchi, who earned his doctorate in Mediterranean studies from Brandeis University, is the author of The Scriptures and Archaeology and The World of the First Christians. When I asked him what we would be able to conclude about Jesus purely by relying on ancient non-Christian sources, he replied:

"We would know that first, Jesus was a Jewish teacher; second, many people believed that he performed healings and exorcisms; third, some people believed he was the Messiah; fourth, he was rejected by the Jewish leaders; fifth, he was crucified under Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius; sixth, despite his shameful death, his followers, who believed that he was still alive, spread beyond Palestine so that there were multitudes of them in Rome by AD 64; and seventh, all kinds of people from the cities and countryside-men and women, slave and free-worshiped him as God."

One expert documented thirty-nine ancient historical sources that corroborate more than one hundred facts concerning Jesus' life, teachings, crucifixion, and resurrection. Seven secular sources and several early creeds concern the deity of Jesus, a doctrine "definitely present in the earliest church," according to Dr. Gary Habermas, author of The Historical Jesus.

Finally, my questions about whether the New Testament has been reliably transmitted through the centuries to the present time were answered by Dr. Bruce Metzger, professor emeritus of Princeton Theological Seminary. He told me that there is an unprecedented number of New Testament manuscripts and that they can be dated extremely close to the original writings. The modern New Testament is 99.5 percent free of textual discrepancies, with no major Christian doctrines in doubt. Further, the criteria used by the early church to determine which books should be considered authoritative have ensured that we possess the very best records about Jesus.

Those records are unambiguous in declaring that the child in the manger was the Son of God.

That seemed reasonable. Even the usually skeptical Ian Wilson, citing pre-Christian remains found in 1955 under the Church of the Annunciation in present-day Nazareth, has managed to concede, "Such findings suggest that Nazareth may have existed in Jesus' time, but there is no doubt that it must have been a very small and insignificant place."

So insignificant that Nathanael's musings in John's gospel now make more sense: "Nazareth!" he said. "Can anything good come from there?"

***
As Australian archaeologist Clifford Wilson said: "Those who know the facts now recognize that the New Testament must be accepted as a remarkably accurate source book."

On top of that, the New Testament is further corroborated by ancient historical sources from outside the Bible. "We have better historical documentation for Jesus than for the founder of any other ancient religion," Dr. Edwin Yamauchi told me during my visit to Miami University of Ohio.

Yamauchi, who earned his doctorate in Mediterranean studies from Brandeis University, is the author of The Scriptures and Archaeology and The World of the First Christians. When I asked him what we would be able to conclude about Jesus purely by relying on ancient non-Christian sources, he replied:

"We would know that first, Jesus was a Jewish teacher; second, many people believed that he performed healings and exorcisms; third, some people believed he was the Messiah; fourth, he was rejected by the Jewish leaders; fifth, he was crucified under Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius; sixth, despite his shameful death, his followers, who believed that he was still alive, spread beyond Palestine so that there were multitudes of them in Rome by AD 64; and seventh, all kinds of people from the cities and countryside-men and women, slave and free-worshiped him as God."

One expert documented thirty-nine ancient historical sources that corroborate more than one hundred facts concerning Jesus' life, teachings, crucifixion, and resurrection. Seven secular sources and several early creeds concern the deity of Jesus, a doctrine "definitely present in the earliest church," according to Dr. Gary Habermas, author of The Historical Jesus.

Finally, my questions about whether the New Testament has been reliably transmitted through the centuries to the present time were answered by Dr. Bruce Metzger, professor emeritus of Princeton Theological Seminary. He told me that there is an unprecedented number of New Testament manuscripts and that they can be dated extremely close to the original writings. The modern New Testament is 99.5 percent free of textual discrepancies, with no major Christian doctrines in doubt. Further, the criteria used by the early church to determine which books should be considered authoritative have ensured that we possess the very best records about Jesus.

Those records are unambiguous in declaring that the child in the manger was the Son of God.