Some Uncontroversial Historical Facts

At least as uncontroversial as any fact about ancient history can be

There really was a man named Jesus

  • "These independent accounts prove that in ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus, which was disputed for the first time and on inadequate grounds at the end of the 18th, during the 19th, and at the beginning of the 20th centuries."
    --Encyclopedia Britannica

The Old Testament was written long before Jesus was born

  • Therefore, if an Old Testament passage really does refer to Jesus, it must be a prophecy

  • We have fragments from the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament, dated between the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. for many of the Old Testament books

  • The Dead Sea Scrolls, dated between the 2nd century B.C. and the 1st century A.D., contain Hebrew fragments of all the Old Testament books except Esther

The earliest Biblical accounts of Jesus's life were written just a few decades after his death

  • Therefore, they would have circulated at a time when many eyewitnesses to Jesus's ministry were still alive and able to dispute inaccuracies

  • Jesus's crucifixion was probably on April 7, 30 A.D. or April 3, 33 A.D.

  • Paul's first letter to the Corinthians was written between 53 and 57 A.D. In it, he writes:
    For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve [apostles]. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep [i.e. died]. (1 Corinthians 15:3-6)
  • The Gospel of Mark is thought by most scholars to be the earliest Gospel (i.e. a book that documents Jesus's public ministry), dating before 70-73 A.D., or 40 years after Jesus's death

["Why I Am A Christian" contents]