The Web of Historicity

Most Jesus myther arguments are based upon phony standards that real historians don't use. They expect direct documentation like a birth certificate. They did not have birth cirtificates for rural Jewish pesants in the Gallalee so that is an unrealistic expectation. Using the lack of it as proof that Jesus didn't exist is silly. In the absense of such documentation there are two methods: (1)Demonstarting the historicity of the places and people around Jesus then infurring his existence. (2)Direct attestation by people who knew him or less directly by those who knew people who knew himm. I use both. This article,however, deals with the former. The approach taken is that everything around Jesus, thepeople and places is historical, It's a bog web and Jesusis at thecenter, Why would it be that this web of historicity has as it;s cemteran empty space? We know that the basic story of the manger and the virgin Mary and Jesus himself circlated in the first century. Early on Jewish Christians passedon these ideas and they can be traced to worship in mystic gratto's of Bethlehem.
For the purposes of worship, the Jewish-Chrsitians of Palestine availed themselves not only of the synagogues, but also developed their ritual in certain 'sacred and mystic grottoes' as reported by the ecclesiastical historian, Eusebius of Caesarea. In Their worship in this "Lord's house" in Bethlehem which was carried on until the fourth century, they celebrated two of three mysteries par excellence: Mary's Virginity and her bringing forth the Christ child; ...Hadrian profaned the site by planting a wood over the grotto, but this helped to maintain the tradition of the birthplace of Jesus."[1]


It could be that these grottos recalled the historical reality in bethlehem or the grotto of bethyleim was merely one of many that fit the image and thus began to taken for the historical site. Either way the biographical knwoeldge of Jesus early days date back to forst cemtiry and emmenate from Bethlehem.

Jesus was born in Betheliem but grew up in Nazerath. Skeptics sometimes claim that Nazareth was not inhabited at the time of Christ. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are a coupole of historical sorces proviimg Nazerath was inhabilted in first century.

Despite the Hellenization of the general region and the probability that Greek was known to many people it seems likely that Nazareth remained a conservative Jewish village. After the Jewish war with the Romans from AD 66-70 it was necessary to re-settle Jewish priests and their families. Such groups would only settle in unmixed towns, that is towns without Gentile inhabitants. According to an inscription discovered in 1962 in Caesarea Maritima the priests of the order of Elkalir made their home in Nazareth. This, by the way, is the sole known reference to Nazareth in antiquity, apart from written Christian sources...Some scholars had even believed that Nazareth was a fictitious invention of the early Christians; the inscription from Caesarea Maritima proves otherwise.[2]


The book of John gives us one example of a historical location i the Gospels.The pool of Bethseda (John 5:14) in Luke where the angle "troubled the waters" for healing, and Jesus healed the lame man and told him to take up his bed and walk, has been discovered beneath the Church of ST. Anne. There is a pool at the bottom of a flight of stairs and an ancient fresco with a picture of an angel troubling the waters. This find is also documented in Cornfeld's work Archaeology of The Bible,[3] where he supports the conclusions.Skeptics argue anyone can put historical placesin a fictinal sotry, Trite andthis ofitoself is not significant evedence. Butis an exampleofthemay historical dleets making up the web.

Luke's geographical Accuracy.

Luke offers many importat hisotircal points. Look hiimselfis deemed a fine historian. Harnack and others attest to Luke's accuracy in terms of the ship wreck on Malta, the flavor and historicity of the cities he speaks of the, the time period and all other verifiable elements of this nature. "Sir William Ramsay who devoted many fruitful years to the Archaeology of Asia Minor testifies to Luke's intimate and accurate acquaintance and the Greek East at the time with which his writings deal."[4]. Ramsay began as a Tubingen liberal, believing Luke to be a second century production with no validity. By the end of his life he was so persuaded of the truth and validity of Luke that he gave up scholarship and became an Evangelist and apologist using arguments based upon the discoveries he had made.[5]. It cannot be claimed that he was not an "objective" scholar, as he is one of the grates of the field. Dr. Henry J. Cadbury delivered the Lowell lectures in 1953 and produced a work on the Book of Acts in which he hailed Luke as a first rate historian [6]. ,,...,3) Luke's Social Accuity. Neil thinks that one of the most impressive aspects of Luke as an historian is that he always gets the titles right. Many of the titles of local officials which Luke provides us with were not validated until modern times. "The writer of Acts knew the correct titles and used them with varying precision. In the words of Ramsey: 'the officials with whom Paul and his companions were brought into contact are those who would be there. Every person is found just where he ought to be; proconsuls in senatorial provinces, asiarchs in Ephesus, strategoi in Philippi, politarchs in Thessolonica, magicians and soothsayers everywhere.' The Most remarkable of these titles is Politarch the ruler of the city used in Acts 17:6...previously this word had been completely unknown except for this passage in Acts. It has now been found in 19 inscriptions dating from he second century..." (Stephen Neil, The Interpretation of the New Testament:1861-1961, London: Oxford University press, 1964, p.143).Neil argues that titles are the hardest things to get right, modern French writers never get English titles right, and this is something that would easily and surely betray an anachronism (147)Historians of the modern day judge Luke a superb historian. (This makes him a better historian than Tacitus, and if Tacitus getting the title of Pilate wrong is an argument against his veracity, than surely getting them right must mean something) Skeptics argue that the Apostles could have made up the stories of the Gospel despite the fact that they contain historical information. One, on an internet discussion board, even went so far as to compare the Gospels with Ernest Hemingway novels which have fictional plots set in historical settings. Of course Hemingway lived in the places he wrote about. It would be absurd to think of Luke trooping around ancient Palestine just to be abel to add a few verifiable touches to his account, especially in the days before anyone knew about archaeology. When we consider how many forgeries form this era have no historical evidence, or betray themselves with anachronisms, this argument seems to lack substance. ,,,C. Peter's House "The house was built in the first century, it became a center of religious activity [in Capernium] already in the second half of the first century Jewish-Chrsitians (or Mimin..as they were called) were numerous and lived continuously in Capernium and kept this tradition alive [the site for the house of Peter--which is mentioned in Mark; their graffiti on the plaster wall of the place of worship testify to their faith in Jesus, the Lord, the Most High, the good, and to their veneration of Peter." (Cornfeld p. 288). The house was taken over by Gentile Christians in the 5th century, and then build a splendid basilica. Now of course the skeptic will say "O, they just chose any old spot and said it was the right place for the pilgrims in the middle ages." But Pilgrims did troop to the Holy land as early as the fifth century, however, as Corfeld shows, most of these sites were already old by the fourth century. The tomb, Peter's house, The Bethlehem Grotto, Mary's house in Nazareth, and many other such sites, were already venerated as far back as the first century. While there is no definitive proof that these sites are the actual locations, the evidence is stronger than it seems at first glance. ,,,D. The empty tomb Archaeology cannot yet identify with certainty the tomb of Christ, but here is strong evidence supporting the Church of the Holy Sepulcher as the original site. The site does date back to the fourth century when it was shown to Constantine. Bruce attests to the evidential support.(New Testament Documents) . More important confirmation comes from Gaalyah Cornfeld in Archaeology of The Bible Book By Book. Cornfeld tells us that from early times Christians reverenced the site, but it was desecrated when the Romans put up a statue of one of their gods. Jewish-Christians could no longer worship at the site for that reason, but they continued the knowledge of it until the time of Constantine when they were able to point him to it as the original site of the resurrection. Constantine put up a basilica over the original shrine, the Anastasis. Excavations by V. Corbo found a gold ring with the representation of the dome of the original shrine Anastasis. This indicates that this site was venerated by Christians in ancient times as the site of the resurrection. (and there is an empty tomb under neither it). (See Archaeology of The Bible: Book by Book, New York: Harper and Row, 1976, 271-2). Bahat, Dan 1986 "Does the Holy Sepulcher Church Mark the Burial of Jesus?" Biblical Archaeology Review 22.3 (May/June):26-45. "The fact that it had indeed been a cemetery, and that this memory of Jesus' tomb survived despite Hadrian's burial of it with his enclosure fill, speaks to the authenticity of the site. Moreover, the fact that the Christian community in Jerusalem was never dispersed during this period, and that its succession of bishops was never interrupted supports the accuracy of the preserved memory that Jesus had been crucified and buried here." (Bahat 1986:37.) All of these studies have a very high probability and while none can be proven conclusively, the evidence is very strong that they were all venerated early on

Notes


[1]Gaalyah Cornfeld, Archaeology of The Bible Book by Book, New York: Harper and Row, 1976,p.2779-280.

[2]Paul Barnett[BSNT], Behind the Scenes of the New Testament, IVP:1990, p.42. I have a whole page on this subject, Nazerath was inhabilited, see this link:http://religiousapriorijesus-bible.blogspot.com/2010/05/nazareth-was-inhabited-in-time-of.html

[3]Cornfeld, Op cit. [4]F.F.Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are they Reliable?,Nashville:Eerdmans 1994,90. [5]Ibid [6]Ibid

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