Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Case for Christ

A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus
by Lee Strobel

Lee Strobel, an atheist and a lawyer, set out to disprove Christianity after his wife became a Christian. He put Christianity on trial interrogating renowned scholars in various fields. Here are some excerpts adapted from his book, The Case for Christ.

Are the biographies of Jesus true
The four gospel writers (the writers of the biographies of Jesus) were eyewitnesses to what they wrote about. They lived in an oral culture so scriptures and teachings were memorized extensively. Even though they wrote their accounts 20 to 30 years after the crucifixion, they give historical dates which are correct and they are consistent with, though not identical to each other. In comparison, the two earliest biographies of Alexander the Great were written by Arrian and Plutarch more than four hundred years after Alexander’s death in 323 B.C., yet historians consider them to be generally trustworthy.

What about the copies of copies of the four gospels? 
The gospels have an unprecedented multiplicity of copies compared with other ancient writings. The more copies you have that agree with each other, especially if they come from different geographical areas, the more you can cross check them to figure out what the original document was like. In addition to Greek manuscripts we also have translations of the gospels into other languages at a relatively early time – into Latin, Syriac and Coptic…In all there are about 24,000 manuscripts in existence. 

How does the age of gospel texts compare with other ancient books?
The quantity of New Testament material is overwhelming in comparison with other works of antiquity. Homer wrote the Iliad, which was the bible of the Greeks, in 800 B.C. There are less than 650 manuscripts of the Illiad today all from the second and third century A.D. or later. In the case of other ancient texts five to ten centuries elapsed between the original and the earliest surviving copy. In contrast we have copies of the New Testament gospels beginning within a couple of generations from the writing of the originals.

What about copying errors? 
No book is without errors. (See Faithnotes blog Proofreading Scripture). The errors in the bible manuscripts are minor such as misspelling of words or putting the words in a different sequence without changing the meaning. There is no variation in the major doctrines of the church. 

Is there credible evidence for Jesus outside his biographies? 
One expert documented 39 ancient 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.

Did Jesus and Jesus alone match the identity of the Messiah? 
Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, prophets foretold the coming of the Messiah who would redeem God’s people. Dozens of Old Testament prophecies rule out impostors and validate the authentic Messiah. Jesus, and only Jesus, throughout history, matches this prophetic fingerprint.

Here are examples of prophecy about Jesus written 700 years before he was born!

Isaiah 7:7 “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Immanuel means “God with us.”)
Isaiah wrote this 700 years before Jesus was born to the virgin Mary!

Micah 5:2 “You, Bethlehem, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, from ancient times.”

Micah wrote this 700 years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem! Also, Matthew, the Jewish gospel writer cites this verse in Matthew 2:6!

Isaiah 53:1-12 contains many prophecies of the messiah that match Jesus whom the Jewish people did not recognize although he came as their Messiah.

1Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth
By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.[b]
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,[g]
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,[h]
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

If you still have doubts about Jesus read in the Bible the gospel accounts of him, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Also there is much more evidence in The Case for Christ.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem of a virgin, lived a sinless life, claimed to be God, healed the sick, performed miracles, taught that God is Love and lived as a servant. He was an innocent lamb taken to the slaughter without a word. He died on a Roman cross and rose again the third day. Many eyewitnesses verify his many appearances after his resurrection. He met many times with his disciples during that time and forty days later they watched as he rose to heaven to be seated with God in heaven. He lives today! His righteousness covers our sins so we can be adopted as children by the one True and Holy God.

Blessings, Dottie

P. S. Lee Strobel became a Christian after he failed to disprove the biblical evidence that Jesus is the one true God.

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