Did Jesus Exist?

St Joseph with the Infant Jesus, c.1620 - Guido Reni

By Rob Schwarzwalder Published on December 4, 2018

‘Tis the season for many things. Candy canes and Christmas trees. Family from afar and fires in the hearth. And headlines that question whether the subject of our celebration existed. “Did historical Jesus really exist?” The Washington Post asked a week before Christmas 2014.

Even unbelieving secular historians say “Yes.” New Testament historian Bart Ehrman identifies himself as “an agnostic with atheistic leanings.” He writes: “We know that Jesus did exist, as virtually every scholar of antiquity, of biblical studies, of classics, and of Christian origins in this country and, in fact, in the Western world agrees.” He is wrong on many other matters of history and faith, but he has the integrity to acknowledge the truth that Jesus was real..

Today’s Secular Historians

Why do secular historians say this? Because they have a resource universally recognized as having strong historic validity. What is that? Maybe not what you were expecting. It’s the four Gospel accounts of Jesus’s ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection.

I am completing my Ph.D. in history at the University of Aberdeen. I’ve learned to subject everything I read to scrutiny. Origins of the texts, independent confirmation of what the texts assert, claims and counter-claims, the background of the authors: these and other tests are essential to the historian’s task. An assertion must be as verifiable as possible to be accepted.

Using these tests, after a great deal of study not only of the New Testament documents but some of their fiercest critics, I will say with confidence that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are amazingly accurate documents. They report exact Roman customs and obscure Jewish traditions. They even get their accounts of the Galilean fishing industry right.

In a word, they add-up. They are good history. And, as such, we can believe their common claim that there was a Jew from Nazareth named Jesus who had a public ministry in the early first century. It can’t credibly be refuted.

Historical References Outside the New Testament

And those secular historians have even more evidence. The Roman senator Gaius Cornelius Tacitus, writing in about 116 A.D., refers to “Chrestus.” According to Tacitus, Christ had been executed by Pontius Pilate during the reign of the Roman emperor Tiberias. Tacitus even notes that Christ was from Judea.

The first century Roman general Josephus began his career as a Jewish priest. He later took the family name of the Roman emperor, Flavius, and wrote books titled, The Jewish War and Jewish Antiquities.

The former, written in about 75 A.D., was about Rome’s military conquest of Jerusalem. Amazingly, Josephus refers to the stoning of James the apostle by the Jewish High Priest Ananus. He says that Ananus called a meeting of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish ruling council), which voted to execute “the brother of Jesus-who-is-called-Messiah (Christus) … James by name, and some others.”

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About 20 years later, in Jewish Antiquities, he writes of “Jesus, a wise man … a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks … When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing among us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who in the first place came to love him did not give up their affection for him … And the tribe of Christians, so called after him, have still to this day not died out.”

So Who Was Jesus?

We know Jesus existed. But that’s not the real question. As the Cambridge University historian Simon Gathercole writes, “abundant historical references leave us with little reasonable doubt that Jesus lived and died. The more interesting question — which goes beyond history and objective fact — is whether Jesus died and lived.” 

The challenge for us is to answer the additional and much more earth-shaking claims of the New Testament. That Jesus was fully God and fully man. Completely sinless and fully righteous. The Savior who took the penalty for our sins on the cross. The Risen Lord who conquered sin, death, and the devil. The one, and only one, through whom we can find eternal life.

If the New Testament documents are good history, and they are, we can’t develop our own, imaginary Jesus. A nice but misunderstood teacher. A mystic with a misguided sense of mission. A Marxist-style political revolutionary. One of many “messiahs” of his day who promised the end of history but only found Roman execution.

Instead, we have to deal with Jesus as those who knew and wrote about him describe him. A skilled laborer who was born of a virgin. An itinerant rabbi who raised the dead. An atoning messiah who rose from the grave and ascended into heaven.

As he asked his own followers so many years ago, who do you say that he is?

‘Tis always the season to find out.

 

Resources for further study:

“Did Jesus Exists?” https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/jesus-historical-jesus/did-jesus-exist/#note13

Craig Blomberg, “A Closer Look: The Historical Reliability of the New Testament,” https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2012/february/closer-look-historical-reliability-of-new-testament.html

Bart Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth

 

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  • Stephen D

    When Jesus asked his followers “Who do you say I am?” he was indeed asking a question that has echoed down the ages and still challenges us today. But the answer has to go beyond the undisputed historical facts. Jesus challenges us to go deeper. Similarly each of us knows his or her own life story – date of birth, name of father, name of father, place of birth, education and so on. But to know who we really are takes more insight. Perhaps Jesus can help us with that?

  • jgmusgrove

    Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World
    by Josh McDowell, Sean McDowell is also a good resource for the layman.

    • Chubbs

      Good Book

  • Edward Bonderenka

    He still does. Always has.

    • kenneth20754

      And always will. Forever and ever and ever.

      • Edward Bonderenka

        Amen.

  • Kathy

    Can anyone explain why Joseph is often portrayed as an elderly man when Jesus was born, as in this painting?

    • LgVt

      This was one popular way to reconcile Mary’s perpetual virginity with how the Gospels on several occasions mention Jesus having brothers and sisters: that Joseph was a widower, with children from a previous marriage. It was first put forth in the apocryphal Gospel of James, and the argument was later picked up by Origen.

      (This is not the only way that the matter can be reconciled, and the Church has never definitively ruled on the question. I personally hold with the argument that the term “brother” was used more loosely, and that they were in fact cousins.)

      • Edward Bonderenka

        If indeed it’s that important to “maintain ” her perpetual virginity.
        I don’t see why.

        • James Blazsik

          I guess the thing to ask, why isn’t it important to you? Luther, Calvin and Wesley all supported her perpetual virginity.

          • Edward Bonderenka

            Without my having to figure put why they did, can you tell me?
            I see no reason in scripture to believe that.

          • James Blazsik

            The early Church has always believed it. In the Protoevangelium of James, Mary was consecrated as a virgin.
            She was considered as the fulfillment of the Ark of the Covenant – she carried the Word of God.
            Mary is the Mother of God. Why would she not dedicate her life to her Lord with her full attention?

          • NewcastleB

            It’s only Catholicism that believes that marriage (a sacrament, no less, in the Catholic tradition) somehow would prevent anyone from dedicating their lives to the Lord with their full attention.

          • James Blazsik

            It is also a sacrament in the Orthodox Church. But your statement is untrue, With marriage as a sacrament, it makes it a means to show God’s love for the Church. Marriage expresses the Most Holy Trinity in a husband, wife and children.

          • NewcastleB

            And again this doesn’t address the point I was making. Yes, marriage expresses the Most Holy Trinity in a husband, wife and children. But why then would prevent anyone from dedicating their lives to the Lord with their full attention.

          • James Blazsik

            I don’t know what you are talking about.

          • NewcastleB

            You said that “Mary is the Mother of God. Why would she not dedicate her life to her Lord with her full attention?” Just how would her having children keep her from dedicate her life to her Lord with her full attention when in your words “marriage expresses the Most Holy Trinity in a husband, wife and children”.

          • James Blazsik

            You are not getting it. She gave herself fully to her God. Jesus is her Lord. She wouldn’t consider anything else. Jesus, Mary and Joseph perfectly express the Most Holy Trinity,

          • NewcastleB

            Yes, I get that’s Catholic theology but that’s not supported except in Catholic theology. It fits your narrative but doesn’t explain your narrative.

          • James Blazsik

            Catholic theology also gave you the Trinity, deity of Christ, Christ’s atonement for our sins, His resurrection and the canon of Scripture.

          • NewcastleB

            Really. So, the Trinity, Christ’s Atonement for our sins and his Resurrection wouldn’t be true except for Catholic theology. Wow. That’s quite an assertion.

          • James Blazsik

            The Catholic Church formulated the Trinity etc. 1,500 years before there was a Protestant church. Your understanding of God is Catholic.

          • Edward Bonderenka

            No, my understanding of God comes from Scripture.
            The Catholic Church devolved from Christianity.

          • James Blazsik

            You don’t know what you are talking about. The Catholic Church gave you Scripture.You need to study Church history.
            If you gave a Bible to 100 people you would have 100 interpretations.
            You said your understanding of God comes from Scripture. How do you know your interpretation is right?

          • Edward Bonderenka

            James, please don’t condescend.
            I mean no ill toward the Catholic Church.
            I was raised in it. I owe much of my formation to 12 years of nuns and brothers.
            I don’t even resent the priest coming on to me in the confessional. Stuff happens.
            The Catholic Church still teaches purgatory, praying to Mary, and indulgences among many other false doctrines.
            I ran your comments by the Bible Study I lead last night which includes my pastor, and also another friend who is Catholic.
            We don’t get the “perpetual virginity”.
            I asked you to explain the scriptural necessity of “perpetual virginity” (how this doctrine interacts with other doctrine) so that I might learn. You did not.
            Have a nice day.

          • you mean plenty of ill will, as the Church stands in the way of your pride.

            When you say you “mean no ill will,” you are hair saying this is a businesslike transaction.

            As Veberable Fulton Sheen said about you satanic lot: you believe lies about the Church because you think it will excuse your hatred of the Church, but ultimately your hatred is just there because you think it will help you ignore the Church.

            Mary is the Mother of God and she is the Archetype that we are to follow.

            Purgatory is for those within the Church (those outside of the Church cannot go to Heaven) who need to heal the damage caused by sin before they can enter Heaven. It is mentioned in the last 7 books of the Bible your heresy took out because there wa son way to scrub the references to the Church like they did to the books they edited wholesale.

            Indulgences are doing Spiritual or Corporal Works of Mercy or going thirst a Holy Door on a Jubilee year, or having a devotion to a Saint on their Feast Day.

            As far as the “Catholics” you use as some sort of minstrel act to confirm your biases, they are not Catholics.

            Mary is a Virgin because she is the perpetual vessel of God Himself: the Ark of the Covenant.

          • Edward Bonderenka

            Wow! That was enlightening.
            Have a day.

          • James Blazsik

            You were condescending – in your comment that the Catholic faith devolved from Christianity.
            The issue is that Protestantism has devolved from the faith. It came 1,500 years later.
            The question comes to authority. You will say that Scripture is your authority: But who interprets Scripture?
            How do you know your interpretation of Scripture is right?
            1 Tim 3:15 says that the Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth. He was speaking of the Catholic church.
            You believe in the Catholic definition of God. The Trinity is a Catholic doctrine.
            Scripture comes from the Catholic church. The basis of the faith comes from the Catholic church.
            Mary was a consecrated virgin before Gabriel spoke to her. She was able to keep her vow.
            She is the fulfillment of the ark of the covenant.
            Have a nice day.

          • No, it comes from your ego, and it is more of a total lack of understanding.

            There is no Christianity outside of the Church.

          • Yes, as they would be random heresay without the Eternal, Universal, Transcendent Church to back them up.

          • Kathy

            Well, that RC theology may explain the reason why many Muslims believe the Christian concept of the Trinity is God, Mary and Jesus, rather than the actual Trinity…God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I would say it’s pretty disturbing to realize that is what the Muslims see when Mary is revered so highly.

          • NewcastleB

            Well that’s a new one. But differing faiths always have misconceptions about each other. Heck, it’s bad enough listening to Catholics misstate Protestant theology and visa versa.

          • There is no protestant theology, you believe “personal interpretation” allows you to believe whatever you want.

          • It is supported by reality and good hard thinking, of which is not found outside of the Church.

            That you project your owninsecurities to cover for your thoughtless can strangely perverted, truly satanic desire for the Mother of God to be sexualized… that is both blasphemy and despair.

          • Kathy

            “marriage expresses the Most Holy Trinity in a husband, wife and children”. This statement is essentially conveying that God is the husband, Mary the wife and Jesus the child as it is comparing the Holy Trinity to an earthly marriage. This is a completely erroneous teaching of the RCC, possibly even downright heretical.

          • Because Virgin Mary is the Ark of the Covenant, the Bearer of Light, the Queen of Heaven and Earth, and most importantly the Mother of God.

            The Mother of God, not mother to some randos and God is like some wacky sitcom insert into an already existing family.

          • They don’t know either, therefore the scattershot approach.

          • Because both are full time jobs. Not to mention intercourse makes one dirtied, even in the proper context.

            The Levite Priests of the Old Covenant only had to work for one month a year. They had to spend an entire month before purifying themselves before they were allowed to act as priests.

          • It does, as Marriage is a full time vocation and one of complete servitude to your spouse.

            Religion life is a full time vocation and one of complete servitude to God.

            One cannot have two masters.

          • Because the Apostles, the adopted brothers of Christ, knew Mary and were her adopted children.

          • NewcastleB

            Yet, despite this (if it’s true as stated) I don’t believe any of the Protestant traditions that are associated with those men support the idea that Mary didn’t have children with Joseph. That she was a virgin before and after Christ’s birth, sure. After that It doesn’t seem very important.

          • James Blazsik

            There are 2 billion Christians in the world. Catholics make up 1.2 billion. The Orthodox (who also believes in Mary’s perpetual virginity) make up about 300,000,000 Christians. That 1.5 billion Christians that comes from the very beginning of the Church. There are other Churches like like the Coptics that was founded by St, Mark and various groups like the Chaldeans.
            In other words; Protestants take a minority position.

          • NewcastleB

            First, that is neither here nor there. This isn’t a worldwide referendum. It’s about whether the understanding of perpetual virginity is true. The Bible doesn’t support it as the unambiguous references to Mary’s children are clear. Nor does it address the issue I raised being the inconsistency of your claim with the beliefs of those denominations.

          • James Blazsik

            First, its about belief from the very beginning of the Church. Protestant denominations come much later.
            The Bible never states Mary had other children.
            The Bible never states that the brothers of the Lord are Her children.
            The greek word for brother is adelphos. It can mean brother, kinsmen, or members of the same nation.
            The Bible attributes Jesus’ brothers to another Mary. (Matthew 27:56 and Mark 15:40).
            Also, the Orthodox believe that Joseph is a widow and that the brothers of the Lord were his, from his prior marriage.
            Where are my numbers wrong?

          • NewcastleB

            “The Bible never states Mary had other children.”

            Matthew 12:46-47, “While He was still speaking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. And someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.”

            Matthew 13:55, “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?”

            Mark 6:2-3, “And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands? “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?”

            John 2:12, “After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother, and His brothers, and His disciples; and there they stayed a few days.”

          • James Blazsik

            You do realize you have proved my point. Not in one instance does it say they are Mary’s children but only the brothers of Jesus.
            Did you read the Scriptures I quoted? They specifically say that another Mary is their mom.

          • NewcastleB

            No. Actually they don’t.

            Matthew 27:56
            56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph,[a] and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

            That’s three women. (1)Mary Magdalene, (2) Mary the mother of James and Joseph and (3)the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

            Mark 15:40
            40 There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome.

            Three more women. They don’t specifically say that another Mary is their mom.

          • James Blazsik

            O my goodness. It says another Mary is the mother.
            Show one Scripture that says Mary had children or that the brothers of the Lord are specifically her children.

          • NewcastleB

            Copy, paste and explain just where it says that.

          • James Blazsik

            The point is – it doesnt say that. The brothers of the Lord are mentioned, but never the children of Mary.

          • NewcastleB

            The plain and ordinary interpretation of the above verses in the context that are written is that Christ had brothers and sisters. And brothers and sisters are brothers and sisters because they share the same parents. The same parents the verses name specifically.

          • James Blazsik

            But again, the Scripture I gave attributes them to another Mary.
            The point is, the perpetual virginity of Mary was part of the faith of the Church from the very beginning. A majority of the Church believes it.

          • Obvious to whom? your wishful thinking.

            you openly say it has no reason to support your claim, but you claim it does because you take your position without thought.

          • Technically Mary is your mother too, a side effect of being the Bearer of Light as well as Queen of Heaven and Earth.

          • The Apostles are the literal brothers of Christ: they were adopted by Christ.

            It is why Bishops (the successors of the Apostles) can grant the Graces of God as if they were Christ Himself.

          • It is a referendum on Truth, Absolute Truth. Of which the heresies have none whatsoever.

            The Church is indefectible and indivisible and eternal and immutable. That means without flaw, without contradiction, beyond time, and unchangeable.

            The Apostles who wrote the Bible knew Mary and knew exactly who and what she is.

          • Kathy

            Matthew 1:25 seems to indicate that they had relations sometime after the birth of Jesus.

          • NewcastleB

            Yes. “And knew her not” is certainly the common Biblical language for marital relations.

          • It is your dual attempt to excuse your shame over sexual sin and try to satanically make out the very Ark of the New and Eternal Covenenant as a mere woman.

          • NewcastleB

            I said nothing about a mere woman. That’s your spin. I was pointing out that Bible makes it clear thatvshe had other children. But since you mentioned it how do you explain this verse:

            Matt 1:25
            And he knew her not till she brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. (DRB)

          • prots regularly treat Mary as a mere woman and the Church as a mere institution, because your satanic kind tries to lay claim for your personal who both the Authority of the Church as well as the place Mary occupies in Heaven.

            It is hair political posturing on your part. your desire for Mary to be “active” in the bedroom, that I cannot explain what is wrong with you there outside of unresolved guilt.

            Knowing means Loving in archaic terms. There is no archaic terms for intercourse as that was rightfully treated as a purely mechanical thing subservient to 1) Marriage and 2) A loving marriage that could mean a loving household for children.

            The ancient Jews were a bit more self-controlled than you by a large margin.

          • NewcastleB

            The term “knowing”, when it refers to married couples in the Bible, is a direct reference to marital relations. And your interpretation simply doesn’t make sense. What, Joesph didn’t love Mary until after the birth of Jesus.

          • No, it is a reference to Love. As in God knew you before you were ever born. This is because God Loves things into existence.

            Not that kind of “love,” pervert.

            I find it amusing how you try to use the complexity of Greek, which is just as semantic as English, to cover up simple subversion.

          • NewcastleB

            The Greek is clear in its meaning. Your tortured interpretation is outside of any reasonable take. I quoted the verse from the Douay-Rheims edition. If love of the correct interpretation of ginosko in that context, why didn’t they use those words. You can try and twist around meaning of that verse to fit your theology all you like. It doesn’t really pass the giggle test.

            And BTW your personal insults and ad hominem attacks are simply childish and boring. It couldn’t be more obvious who is trying to cover up their inability to make a cogent argument. And that’s not to mention it’s you that is one in a thither about all things sexual. You would be well served to try and act more like an adult about all of this.

          • Clearly your understanding of it is not clear if those like you can try to twist it in the hopes of giving credence to your absurd, satanic ambition.

            you are poorly translating Greek into English. Greek that was written to describe Aramaic idioms and Real, Old Covenant Judaism. There is a reason why Bibles were translated into English, it is because It is so complex that fools without the proper intelligence will read things in that aren’t there. subversives and their demon masters like chaos as it serves their ends.

            Similarly, projection in the hopes of absolving yourself signals the presence of despair, a mortal sin. Not to mention the utter blasphemy of the position you are trying to shoehorn in here.

          • NewcastleB

            There is no place in the Bible where “ginosko” is used to mean love. Check your Concordance. I did. It’s used 222 times and nowhere is it interpreted to mean love. You’re out of your depth here and making claims that have no basis in fact or Biblical meaning or interpretation.

            Matt 1:25 assures us that Christs birth was a virgin birth by assuring us that Joseph didn’t “know” (in the Biblical sense) Mary before Christ’s birth. It also informs of that he did “know” her after his birth. Inserting the word “love” instead of know makes the passage nonsense. (And he loved her not till she brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.)

            You remind me of a certain political group who put their ideology over the obvious meanings of words. To them words don’t mean anything until they tell us what they mean. Seems you want to do the same thing but use your theology to dismiss the obvious meaning of words and make them mean what you want them to.

          • Knowing someone was a term ancient Jews used for Love. Greek people isn’t use it. Mary did not speak Greek when she was 14.

            Once more, projection will not save you. Nor will blaspheming like this make your sexual sin or pride go away.

          • NewcastleB

            More trying to sexualize what I said. Seems obvious if one of us has a hangup about sex it’s not me.

            And your “explanation” about know meaning love is nothing but a bald assertion without evidence that doesn’t solve the problem that you have made jibberish of a Bible verse with it.

          • Again, projection is ugly and sinful. I am not the one trying being all reason to claim Mary is not a perpetual, consecrated Virgin.

          • NewcastleB

            No, you are the one who can’t explain the plain meaning of the Bible that tells a different story. That’s quite the opposite of being “all reason”.

          • NewcastleB

            And just so I address your position directly you say:

            “No, it is a reference to Love. As in God knew you before you were ever born. This is because God Loves things into existence.”

            This is in error as well. God does not “Love(s) things into existence”. God speaks things into existence. Gen 1:2 And God said, “Let there be light,”. The “And God said,“ is repeated at least seven times in that chapter referring to his creative acts and how he performed them.

            So, your “As in God knew you before you were ever born.” is best understood as God “had knowledge of” you before you were ever born. (Yes, he loves us as well.)

          • Did you not reply to this already? I must have really got you down pat when I rightfully called out your strange hunger for the Virgin Mary to be “active” in the bedroom.

            What is wrong with you? Must be that you have used the term “love” for intercourse that you confuse them.

            Love is to will the Good of the Other as other. God needs nothing from you or anything, so He created you only for the sake of your own wellbeing. Meaning God created you because He Loved you before He created you and wanted to create you out of that Love.

            Therefore God Loves things into existence. God can talk without creating things, so there is a prerequisite.

          • NewcastleB

            My post here had nothing to do with Mary in any way. This is another sad attempt so sexualize my comment and your childish behavior.

            You incorrectly stated that God “Loves things into existence”. That’s not true and your explanation doesn’t even address your error. Yes, God spoke things into existence because he is love and wished to share his love with his creation. But he didn’t “Love(s) things into existence”. That invalidates your argument regarding the meaning of “knew” in “God knew you before you were ever born.”

          • you have been desperately trying to blaspheme that Mary isn’t a Virgin.

            you even outright claimed that your evidence used for assertions is not clear, but that you didn’t care because it confirms your biases. At which point you immediately saw the absurdity and then tried to project your sophistry onto James here.

            That is pathetic on every level.

            you also did not address what I said. Let me repeat:

            Love is to will the Good of the Other as other. God needs nothing from you or anything, so He created you only for the sake of your own wellbeing. Meaning God created you because He Loved you before He created you and wanted to create you out of that Love.

            Therefore God Loves things into existence. God can talk without creating things, so there is a prerequisite.

            But to get to the heart of the matter here:

            What is wrong with you? Must be that you have used the term “love” for intercourse that you confuse them.

          • NewcastleB

            First of all I did confirm that Mary was a virgin both before and after giving birth to Christ.

            All you’re doing above though is repeating what you said earlier and I addressed that.

            “Yes, God spoke things into existence because he is love and wished to share his love with his creation. But he didn’t “Love(s) things into existence. That invalidates your argument regarding the meaning of “knew” in “God knew you before you were ever born.”

            And I never once “used the term “love” for intercourse” or inferred that in any way so I couldn’t have confused them. Love is word you are trying to convince us is the correct interpretation for the word “knew” which I’ve show is false.

          • Mary is the perpetual Morher of God, Ark of the Covenant, Bearer of Light, and Queen of Heaven and Earth.

            It wasn’t just for the year she was carrying Christ in her womb. Mary is and forever will be all she is, and therefore always was and always is in a spotless state of sinlessness.

            you are trying to use a Greek translation to say an ancient Jewish idiom in Aramaic did not exist.

            Why are you doing this? Because you desperately want Mary to not be a Virgin.

          • NewcastleB

            Again you’re misstating my position viv a vis May’s virginity and failing to address the issue. Your position that the Matt 1:25 verse is “an ancient Jewish idiom in Aramaic” is without merit. It was Matthew recording in Greek the facts as they surrounded the birth of Christ and Mary’s virginity. What? Are you trying to say that Matthew didn’t understand what was meant by those words and could or didn’t record them or the facts accurately. You throw around the word blasphemy a lot. Saying that Matthew didn’t record that facts as they were or couldn’t express them accuracy would, I think, fit well into the idea of blasphemy.

          • blasphemy is the suicidal denial of reality, especially ehen it relates to God and His Church; it is the third worst sin that cries to Heaven for vengeance.

            Scripture is just Prophets writing down their experiences with God in their own words. That they are written by God Hinself is just pro nonsense used to self-justify their “personal interpretation” cover of gnosticism.

            St Matthew is not incorrect, he just never expected someone would read a heretically translated version of his writing to self-justify a silly man who wants to deny Mary’s Virginity because he assumes that will make it easier for him to satanically wish to usurp her place. Maybe he could have written in a way someone 2000 years later with an agenda could not twist it.

            The word “until” as well as “brothers” which you base your entire blasphemy and projection upon, do not mean the same thing they do now.

            Brother was anyone close to you or born in your family tree near you. The term cousin did not exist until the Church invented it much later for preventing royal inbreeding. you openly recognize this, but then also openly admit you don’t care because the way you use it is convenient. That is sophistry.

            The term until was used to mean that it had not happened. It seems you imply that there is an implicit subtext in until that it happened immediately after the point “until” is mentioned. This may be a modern subtext in English, but not in the ancient world and not in Greek.

            Again, all of this to deny Mary’s Virginity.

          • NewcastleB

            So to make your point you go past just ignoring the plain meaning of the Bible to questioning the validity of the Bible as a whole, the integrity of Saints who wrote it and the divine inspiration of their writings by God himself. That’s quite a trifecta there Nigel. Well done.

          • There is no plain meaning in that verse to imply Mary is not a Virgin. As I said, you are reading modern subtext into Ancient Greek to serve a satanic heresy.

            The Bible has always been a library of Books written by Prophets. It is just one part of the Church as it has always been.

            The reason your heresy fixated on it is because a book cannot correct you when you misuse it. The Church that wrote the Books can, but not the Book itself.

          • NewcastleB

            “There is no plain meaning in that verse to imply Mary is not a Virgin.”

            Because “knowing someone in the Biblical sense” isn’t a part of our vernacular some 2000 years later. That came from the Bible to us not the other way around.

            And the Bible being “just one part of the Church” doesn’t explain how your interpretation turns a pretty straightforward Bible verse into nonsense.

            And I’m guilty of a heresy but questioning the validity of the Bible as a whole, the integrity of Saints who wrote it and the divine inspiration of their writings by God himself somehow doesn’t earn that title I guess. Sure it doesn’t Nigel. Whatever you want to tell yourself.

          • No it came from the Church that wrote the Bible and whom the Bible is but one part of.

            What precisely is straightforward about that verse? No other Gospel mentions anything relating to that poor choice of words, and the Apostles who actually knew her and wrote the Bible knew she was a perpetual Virgin.

            It says they did not know eachother until Christ was born. In the sense of the time, that just means that they didn’t know eachother at all. Once more, you are reading subtext into a statement that isn’t there.

            Now here is the real question: why are you so desperate to imply the Virgin Mary isn’t a Virgin?

            Not only are you promoting heresy, you are blaspheming and projecting out of despair. I present the Bible as it is: a book. I present the passage as it is: too colloquial to its time and therefore open to subversion.

            God did not write the Bible, the first Bishops of the Church (the Apostles) wrote the Bible. The only reason you fixate on a book is because a book cannot talk back to you, the Church can and you resent that.

            But this brings me back to the point that you are willing to blaspheme and commit multiple mortal sins over and over just to defend an idea that is heresy. What do you get out of this?

            It is either shame over sexual sin or it is you trying to minimize the Virgin in the hopes it will let you usurp her place.

          • NewcastleB

            “In the sense of the time, that just means that they didn’t know each other at all.”

            But the verse says “And he knew her not till she brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”

            So, there is a change here from before Jesus’ birth when he didn’t know her, to after when he did. So your “that just means that they didn’t know each other at all.” is false no matter how you interpret “know”. And if your interpretation of know as love is true, then you’ve just said Joseph never loved Mary!

            “Apostles who actually knew her and wrote the Bible knew she was a perpetual Virgin.”

            No. The verse says or shows nothing like that And you can’t explain in any coherent term just what it would mean otherwise. You substitution of “love” for “know” creates an unintelligible mess and a verse that makes no sense.

          • Joseph wanted to run from Mary when he found out she was pregnant. Joseph was stopped by an angel and knew then that this was the Messiah. In the last 7 books of the Old Testament, it said the Messiah would come soon and it described the Church He would create.

            There was no way to remove the references to the Church and Purgatory in those books so your heresy just removed the books.

            I imagine Joseph treated his duty businesslike as the last son of King David’s bloodline would be tasked with. After Christ was born I think he truly fell in Love with Mary.

            That is what the passage states. Joseph might have been apprehensive of her until he saw Christ and knew she was something special and was happy to be her husband.

            It says he did Love her very much after so what’s the problem. Clearly he loved her much before if he risked so much to protect her while pregnant.

            I also am not talking about your random, disembodied verse. I am talking about the Apostles who knew Mary personally as they were all her adopted children, and maintained her Virginity through the indefectible Dogma of the Church.

          • NewcastleB

            Ok Nigel. We’re going around in circles here and you continue to throw in lots of unrelated stuff as well. (And I’ll ignore that you contradict yourself in this post.)

            As the saying goes “Good luck storming the castle.”

          • That you admit defeat tells me I already did storm the castle.

          • NewcastleB

            Whatever you want to tell yourself Nigel

      • Kathy

        Thanks for your reply. Was not anticipating starting the debate below with that question. Regarding Mary’s perpetual virginity, this verse from Matthew 1:25 seems to refute that notion: “but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.’

        • LgVt

          The word in Matt 1:25 translated as “until” does not carry the modern sense of a cessation or change in state. The same word is used, for example, in describing how “Michal the daughter of Saul had no children until the day of her death” (2 Sam 6:23), and how no one knew the location of Moses’ grave “until the present day” (Deut 34:6), and in neither of those cases was there a change after the “until.”

          The strongest argument for Mary’s perpetual virginity comes from Mary herself in Luke–when told that she would bear a son, she asked how this was possible, as she was a virgin. She raised her virginity as an obstacle in spite of the fact that she was engaged to be married; this suggests that, even though she would soon be Joseph’s wife, she expected that they would never have sex. This only makes sense if she was a consecrated virgin.

          • Kathy

            Of course, Mary was a virgin when she conceived through the Holy Spirit before she married Joseph. Any woman would question how it would be possible to become pregnant while remaining a virgin. I don’t see at all that because Mary was perplexed about it that she “expected that they would never have sex”. There was no reason after the birth of Jesus to remain a virgin. She was married at that time, why would they not want to consummate the marriage like any other couple?

          • LgVt

            The angel did not tell her that she would bear a son while remaining a virgin. All he told her was that she would bear a son. Mary was the one to bring up her virginity and ask how, in light of this, she could possibly have a son, and only afterward did the angel explain how she would conceive through the Holy Spirit.

            If Mary and Joseph were ever going to have sex, then she wouldn’t have had to ask that question, because the answer would have been obvious–Joseph would be the biological father, and the boy would be conceived in the normal fashion.

            She did have to ask that question, though, and the implications of that are clear.

          • Kathy

            Think I understand what you are implying, but as Edward below asks, why is it important that Mary maintain her perpetual virginity other than to elevate her disproportionately over all other humans that ever lived? Only Christ deserves that recognition. It’s as if women with children (a product of sexual relations as we all know) have been badly defiled because of it. I’m referring to married women here.

          • LgVt

            There are several parts to your argument here, and it would be difficult to give them all the attention they deserve within the confines of a combox. That said, I will try to address two of them in particular.

            First, the argument that we “elevate her disproportionately over all other humans that ever lived.” I do not deny that we elevate Mary in this fashion, with only Christ above her–we do, and we do so proudly.

            I do, however, deny that this elevation is disproportionate. While Mary enjoys a variety of attributes that place her above all others, most notably her sinless nature, what they all have in common is that they naturally flow from her relation to Christ, and you can’t deny them to her without denying some truth about Christ Himself. Mary has been there all along, from the very first prophecy of the Messiah (Gen 3:15) to the prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:35) to the foot of the cross. You can’t pull her out of the picture, or even diminish her, without doing severe damage to the whole.

            Second, the matter of virginity vs. marriage. I want to be careful here, because there are longstanding misconceptions in this area. But nonetheless, the Bible is clear: Marriage is good, but virginity is better. Not everyone is called to forsake marriage–and for those who are not, trying to do so will only result in disaster!–but those who are thus called should do so, because by setting themselves aside, apart from the world, and forsaking the distractions of spouse and children, they are able to dedicate themselves wholly to God.

            (Mary alone had the best of both worlds, because her child was in fact God Himself, and thus dedicating herself to family and to God were one and the same–but note well, if she’d had other children, this advantage would have been lost…to say nothing of the dire consequences of pulling away from God after already dedicating herself, body and soul, entirely to Him.)

            As I warned earlier, this is often and easily misunderstood. Because marriage is a lesser good than virginity, some erroneously believe that this makes it an evil, a defilement. It is not. However, it is also an undeniable fact that those called to consecrated virginity have been called to a higher state in life. Jesus was a virgin, as was St. Paul, as was John the Baptist. Mary, Ever-Virgin, was no different.

          • Kathy

            Luke 11:27-28 ” As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” This would have been a perfect time for Jesus to announce that His mother must be revered above all other women. He didn’t even single her out as being more blessed than other believers.

            Mary sings in the beautiful magnificat “my spirit rejoices in God my Savior”. If she was born without sin, why would she need a savior like the rest of us? God chose her to participate in His redemption plan…she was certainly abundantly blessed to be granted that very special privilege.

            There are many verses in the gospels that speak of brothers of Jesus, one even distinguishes between brothers and disciples..some have said the disciples were the men considered his brothers. NewcastleB has listed some in this thread below. No need for me to reiterate here.

            Mary is certainly to be recognized and admired for being a vital part of God’s plan, but not worshiped for obeying Him. There are many in the Bible we could worship if that were the case. Even angels in Scripture admonish those that bow before them that only God deserves that.

          • LgVt

            And we are now down to issues with specific doctrines about Mary. As we have moved very far afield from your original inquiries–not to mention that the article “Did Jesus Exist?” is about to be bumped off the front page–this will be my last response in this thread.

            With regard to the passage in Luke, you see a negation where none exists. Rather, Jesus emphasizes the key reason Mary was chosen as His mother, in much the same fashion as the Holy Spirit through Elizabeth did, a little over 30 years earlier: “Blessed is she (you) who has believed that the Lord’s word to her would be fulfilled!” (Luke 1:45) Mary is not only His mother; she is His most devoted disciple, and in terms of her holiness, the latter is by far the more important of the two.

            (As long as I’m on the topic, this is also the major problem with your use of the verses cited by NewcastleB. You are treating “disciple” and “brother” as mutually exclusive propositions, when if anything, it’s the opposite–the distinction had to be made, not because His kinsmen weren’t His disciples, but rather because there were some disciples who weren’t related to Him! Beyond that, your examination of those verses must take into account Mary’s perpetual virginity, as established by the relevant passage in Luke–which I believe you conceded earlier in this exchange–and not instead handwave it away.)

            On the matter of Mary’s salvation, the answer to this is long-established: If someone has fallen into a pit and you pull them out, you have saved them from the pit. If you prevent someone from falling into that pit in the first place, you have also saved them from the pit. Every Christian experiences both kinds of salvation in our lives; indeed, whenever we recite the Our Father, we pray for both, asking not only that He forgive our trespasses (pulled out of the pit) but also that He will not allow us to be led into temptation (prevented from falling into the pit).

            Where Mary differs from us is that her salvation was exclusively of the latter kind–being prevented from ever falling into sin. But make no mistake: Mary was saved, she needed to be saved, and she was just as much in need of the Savior as the rest of us.

            You end your post by touching briefly on the matter of devotion to Mary. This ties in directly to the question of the Communion of Saints–and of seeking their intercession for us–which could easily spawn a hundred-post thread of its own. So as I take my leave of this thread, I’ll just leave you with this: If the prayer of a holy man has great power (James 5:16-18), and if there is no one holier than Mary, who could possibly be crazy enough not to ask her to pray for them?

          • Kathy

            You began our conversation with the perpetual virginity of Mary, which prompted me to give reasons that I believe refute that notion. Besides the Scripture I noted, I don’t understand the absolute need to venerate Mary and don’t recall anything in the Bible that even alludes to the idea that we should.

            The temple veil was torn when Christ died on the cross, a clear sign that we now have direct access to God and no longer need a priest or anyone else (Mary, saints) to intercede for us. We can now communicate with and pray directly to our Father.

            Yes, we could go on and on, getting away from the original point of Rob’s article. Doesn’t seem like I will convince you nor you me. (I attended the RCC for many years with my husband, so am very familiar with it.) Glad I refrained from asking why Jesus is blonde and fair-skinned in this and many other depictions of Him, considering He was a middle-eastern Jew. Wonder what the responses would have been. 🙂

            Thanks for a very civil conversation, LgVt.

      • There was no term for cousins until the Church invented it for the purpose of Royal genealogy. You are correct.

        The Apostles are also all literal brothers of Christ, as the Apostles were all adopted as brothers by Christ.

    • A Jewish tradition of the day was that a man was established in his profession on his 30th birthday. When he was betrothed to Mary Joseph was already established as a carpenter. He was, therefore, at least in his 30’s, if not even older. Remember, in that day, marriages were arranged by parents, not chosen by children, and no parent would have sent off their young girl to some guy that might or might not establish a means to support her.

      As to the claims made by others in this thread, recall that it was Jesus’ responsibility to arrange for the care of His mother (“Woman, behold your son!” And to John: “Behold your mother!”). It was not that of His brothers. He was, therefore, the eldest of them, not the youngest.

      • Kathy

        That makes sense other than the fact that Mary was thought to have been a young teenager (possibly just 13), and if Joseph were in his 30’s or older, he would have been old enough to be her father. That would be more than frowned upon today.

        Yes, as NewcastleB stated below, there are many references in Matthew to Jesus having brothers. Some have questioned if Jesus had brothers, why did he ask John to care for his mother? The answer may be that he was the only one at the cross, hence the most trustworthy of all the apostles and the brothers of Jesus.

        • Jesus’ brothers were not (yet) believers, but were among those who mocked Him (think about that: they had God in flesh IN THEIR HOUSE for more than 20 years, and failed to recognize Him for who He is). They believed after He rose, but not at the point of the cross.

          Yes, such a temporally imbalanced marriage WOULD be shocking today, but God does not adhere to human norms. He adheres, rather, to His own Word.

          Would that we would, moreso, as well!

          • Kathy

            Yes, one example of Jesus’ brothers not believing before He rose is in Mark 3:20-21. An example of Jesus seemingly not giving Mary the elevated status so often attributed to her is in Luke 11:27-28.

            Yes again, God does not adhere to human norms. We really can only speculate on their exact ages and when and how they died, since nothing is mentioned in Scripture concerning those matters. May be an indication they are not important to know after all.

      • Christ is God and the Apostles are the adopted brothers of God.

        • Jim

          Drinking again, Nigel?

          • No argument again, Jim?

          • Jim

            I don’t argue with fools or cast pearls before swine.

          • Or it is because you have no argument.

          • Jim

            I think we settled who has no argument every time we meet. Goodbye, foolish swine.

          • Yes, you.

    • Jim

      At the end of Jesus’ ministry, we find that while Mary is present and accounted for, after the incident at the temple, Joseph disappears from the narrative. The assumption is that Joseph has passed on and thus, he was probably older than Mary by a number of years.

      • Kathy

        Yes, I’ve heard that explanation, but was thinking he could have died of disease rather than old age. It is interesting that he disappeared from the narrative, as you said. Mary disappeared after being mentioned along with the apostles in the book of Acts. No mention of what eventually happened to her either.

        • Jim

          There lies the problem. Any argument from silence is by definition weak. Joseph could have still been alive and just had nothing to do with Jesus because, like his brothers, he thought Jesus insane.

          • Kathy

            Good point, could be. Don’t think we will ever know exactly what happened to him, unless an ancient manuscript or the like is discovered in the future.

        • jgmusgrove

          I have visited, and Catholic pilgrims visit a house, a Catholic and Muslim shrine located on Mt. Koressos near Kusadasi in Turkey, based on the belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was taken to this stone house by Saint John and lived there for the remainder of her earthly life. The Basilica of Saint John is nearby.

          • Kathy

            That’s interesting, never heard that. I do agree with Jim, though “Any argument from silence is by definition weak.” It certainly could be true, but just sounds like a “belief”. It’s not something we really need to know, it’s just curiousity, at least in my view.

    • kenneth20754

      See what you did? Bad Kathy! Bad, bad! 😉

      • Kathy

        Guilty as charged!

  • Bezukhov

    Did Jesus exist? Most likely. Was He born of a Virgin; did He Walk on Water; did He Rise from the Dead? Doubt it!!!!

    • Why? Because all the gets in the way of your capital sin of pride must be false?

      Begin first by doubting yourself.

    • kenneth20754

      Can you then explain the empty tomb?

      • Bezukhov

        Somebody took the corpse. Guards? They were bribed.

        • kenneth20754

          I gather you haven’t read or investigated the matter much on your own. Those are stock objections, long since refuted. Check out J. Warner Wallace’s website.

        • Jim

          Doesn’t work. Christianity lives or dies on the empty tomb. Even if the guards were bribed, the Jewish leadership wanted Christianity snuffed out. Why did they not produce a body? Saying the body was stolen doesn’t work either since the disciples were running scared of being the next ones on a cross. Eventually 10 of the apostles die in defense if their faith which would mean they all died for a lie. Not one came forward to save his own skin by admitting the theft. It just doesn’t add up. And, to further destroy your argument, what do they have to gain? No one in Israel is looking for a Messiah who was cursed biblically by hanging on a tree. And how do you perpetrate such a hoax in the very city where it happened? And how do a rag tag group of fishermen and a tax collector overpower a trained group of soldiers,especially if Pilate’s comment means he will gave them a detachment of Roman soldiers?
          I’m afraid your theft theory is made of Swiss cheese. Too many holes.

  • Kathy

    I see this reasonable dialogue among sensible people has gone off the rails and turned into a joke with the arrival of NIGELTEAPOT. We would do well to ignore him and continue with sharing logical views on these topics.

    • Edward Bonderenka

      Amen.

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