Historicity of Christ

Jesus and His Brother James

Recently, quite a stir was made over the archaeological find of an ancient ossuary discovered in Israel. This ossuary was a 20-inch long box which once held the bones of a dead man. Between the years 20 BC and 70 AD, it was a burial custom to place one’s bones in the ossuary for final burial after the flesh was fully decayed. This find was especially electrifying because of the inscription on its side. It read, "Ya’akov bar Yosef akhui deYeshua" which means "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus."
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Jesus and His Brother James

Article#: 754

SPECIAL NOTE:

According to CNN, a group of officials with Israel’s Antiquities Authority have discredited the authenticity of the "Jesus Box," as it’s commonly known, in contradiction of world renowned experts such as French archaeologist Andre Lemaire and American archaeologist Hershel Shanks. But according to the owner of the "James ossuary," Oded Golan, "I am certain that the committee is wrong regarding its conclusions." Golan had earlier stated that this committee had "preconceived notions." We assume he meant a mindset less than pro-Christ. Regardless, until further investigations, this message on GodSaidManSaid stands, albeit in protest. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely, The Team at GodSaidManSaid

Skeptics will continue to attempt to debunk the Holy Scriptures, but they will continue to fail. Because God’s Word is the definition of truth, all positions that contradict it will be false, also by definition. Jesus said in John 8:31-32:

31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Be free. Believe the truth. NOW FOR TODAY’S SUBJECT.

GOD SAID that Jesus Christ was His only begotten Son, born of the Virgin Mary. God also said that Jesus Christ ministered the Words of God to the world, that He was crucified to save sinners and that He resurrected from the dead and now sits on the right hand of the Father.

MAN SAID that there is not one shred of evidence that Jesus Christ ever lived and fulfilled those things.

Now THE RECORD:  This man was emphatic: He said that there wasn’t one shred of evidence proving the existence of Jesus Christ—not one shred. This man and those of his persuasion throw out their challenges, taking comfort that most have not had the time, or taken the time, to research and gather the information needed to refute their claims. It has been said that there is more recorded history that Jesus Christ lived and walked the face of this earth than there is that George Washington did, and that statement is obviously true.

History is replete with testimonies that certify the lives of the Lord Jesus Christ and those of His disciples and apostles. Most who challenge Christ’s existence do so with the hope that they are never proven wrong. When they are exposed to truth, they refuse to hear. Those who pretend to seek proof of the Lord’s existence in most cases can’t even define what constitutes proof. Webster defines proof: In law and logic, that degree of evidence which convinces the mind of the certainty of truth or fact, and produces belief. Proof is derived from personal knowledge, or from the testimony of others, or from conclusive reasoning. [End of quote] God gives commandment concerning proof via witnesses in Deuteronomy 19:15:

One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

Two or more credible witnesses can establish proof. By this proof standard, the existence of Jesus Christ is proven over and over again. The mighty men of God who penned His New Testament word did so at the risk of death and they testified of the glorious life of Jesus Christ. According to church tradition, most of the writers were put to death. They were men of highest principle. They were credible witnesses. The apostle Paul, who was also put to death for his witness for Jesus, wrote in I Corinthians 15:3-8:

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

Five hundred witnesses at one time.

The very fact that the Jews constructed a defense against the testimony of Jesus Christ is in itself a certification that He did live. Their official position was that Jesus Christ was a bastard and a sorcerer. It was necessary that Jesus be a fatherless child (a bastard). Isaiah 7:14 speaks prophetically of the miraculous virgin birth of the coming Messiah. It reads:

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

If Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary as the Scriptures attest, then the Jews crucified the Messiah. Therefore, we see their position that Jesus Christ was a bastard. Secondly, if Jesus Christ performed all the marvelous miracles ascribed to Him in the Scriptures as well as in ancient history, then He could only have been the Holy Prophet of God and the Messiah that He said He was and as the Bible declares. The Jews’ official position then is that Jesus Christ was a sorcerer or else they, the Jews, instigated the crucifixion of their Messiah. This is still the position of the unsaved Jews of today. They may have toned down the verbiage, but the result is the same. The Jewish defense against Jesus is a certification for the existence of the Christ. The following passage is from the ancient Jewish Babylonian Talmud. This is a piece of their historical record of the Lord Jesus Christ:

Jesus was hanged on Passover Eve. Forty days previously the herald had cried, "He is being led out for stoning, because he practiced sorcery and led Israel astray and enticed them into apostasy. Whosoever has anything to say in his defense, let him come and declare it." As nothing was brought forward in his defense, he was hanged on Passover Eve.

Of course the Lord Jesus was tried and crucified on the Passover. He is known in the Scriptures as "Christ our Passover" (I Corinthians 5:7).

Recently, quite a stir was made over the archaeological find of an ancient ossuary discovered in Israel. This ossuary was a 20-inch long box which once held the bones of a dead man. Between the years 20 BC and 70 AD, it was a burial custom to place one’s bones in the ossuary for final burial after the flesh was fully decayed. This find was especially electrifying because of the inscription on its side. It read, "Ya’akov bar Yosef akhui deYeshua" which means "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." These following excerpts were found in an AP article dated October 22, 2002:

A burial box that was recently discovered in Israel and dates to the first century could be the oldest archaeological link to Jesus Christ, according to a French scholar whose findings were published Monday. An inscription in the Aramaic language—"James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus"—appears on an empty ossuary, a limestone burial box for bones. Andre Lemaire said it’s "very probable" the writing refers to Jesus of Nazareth. He dates the ossuary to A.D. 63, just three decades after the crucifixion. Lemaire, a specialist in ancient inscriptions at France’s Practical School of Higher Studies, published his findings in the November-December issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

The Rev. Joseph Fitzmyer, a Bible professor at Catholic University who studied photos of the box, agrees with Lemaire that the writing style "fits perfectly" with other first century examples. The joint appearance of these three famous names is "striking," he said. "But the big problem is, you have to show me the Jesus in this text is the Jesus of Nazareth, and nobody can show that," Fitzmyer said.

Lemaire addresses Fitzmyer’s concern further in the article:

All three names were commonplace, but Lemaire estimates only 20 Jameses in Jerusalem during that era would have had a father named Joseph and a brother named Jesus. Moreover, naming the brother as well as the father on an ossuary was "very unusual," Lemaire wrote. There’s only one other known example in Aramaic. Thus, this particular Jesus must have had some unusual role or fame—and Jesus of Nazareth certainly qualified, Lemaire concluded.

Lemaire dated the ossuary at 63 AD. History shows James, the brother of Jesus, being stoned to death in 62 AD.

One of the world’s greatest historians was a man whose birth name was Joseph ben Matthias, later to be called Flavius Josephus. He was one of a priestly family through his mother and also of the Davidic line. He functioned as a Jewish priest, a general of the Israeli army in one of its revolts against Rome, and as a rebel prisoner, where he remained until Vespasian became emperor. When Vespasian was named Emperor of Rome, Josephus was released from prison and he accompanied the new emperor to Alexandria. Two years prior to his release from prison, when Vespasian was a Roman general and the family of the Caesars ruled Rome, the priest Josephus prophesied that Vespasian would one day become Emperor of Rome. That prophesy was quite astounding for at least two reasons: First, no emperor had yet been created out of Rome. Second, no one could have predicted that Nero would bring the rule of the family of the Caesars to an end with his suicide. It appears that this prophesy gave Josephus favor with the new emperor while the Jews viewed him as a traitor. Josephus was engaged by the Romans to write a history of the Jews.

The life of Josephus compares, in some ways, very much to that of the Old Testament prophet-priest Jeremiah. In Jeremiah’s day, the Jews were being besieged by the Babylonian hordes under King Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah was classified as a traitor; more than once, the Jewish leaders tried to destroy him because he told the Jewish people to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah said this was judgement brought by God because of their rebellion against His commandments. This parallel between Jeremiah and Josephus is obvious when you consider that later Josephus returned to Jerusalem with Titus, the son of the emperor, when the Jewish wars resumed. Josephus went around the walls of Jerusalem pleading with his Jewish brethren to surrender to the Romans. They refused and Josephus watched the utter destruction of Jerusalem, the great temple, and its people. This terrible judgement was prophesied by the Lord Jesus Christ. Luke 19:41-44:

41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,

42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.

43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,

44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee: and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another: because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

And then again in Luke 21:5-6:

5 And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,

6 As for these things which ye behold, the days will come in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

In Book XX, chapter IX of the histories of this man Josephus, the following excerpt is found concerning James the brother of Jesus:

Now the report goes, that this elder Ananus proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons, who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and he had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests; but this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who were very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority.] Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of the judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or some of his companions;] and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned:

In an ancient writing from about 330 AD, the following excerpt was found:

Now James was so wonderful a person, and was so celebrated by all others for righteousness, that the judicious Jews thought this to have been the occasion of that siege of Jerusalem, which came on presently after his martyrdom; and that it befell them for no other reason than that impious fact they were guilty of against him. Josephus, therefore, did not refuse to attest thereto in writing, by the words following: "These miseries befell the Jews by way of revenge for James the Just, who was the brother of Jesus that was called Christ, on account that they had slain him who was a most righteous person."

The historical record of the Lord Jesus Christ and of His disciples and apostles is monumental. Only the foolish would deny it.

GOD SAID that Jesus Christ was His only begotten Son, born of the Virgin Mary. God also said that Jesus Christ ministered the Words of God to the world, that He was crucified to save sinners and that He resurrected from the dead and now sits on the right hand of the Father.

MAN SAID that there is not one shred of evidence that Jesus Christ ever lived and fulfilled those things.

Now you have THE RECORD.



References:

King James Bible

House, H.W., Chronological & Background Charts of the New Testament, Zondervan Publishing House

Josephus, F., Complete Works, Kregel Publications

Morris, J.D., "Has Archaeological Evidence For Jesus Been Discovered?," Institute For Creation Research, December 2002

"Ossuary Tales," Archaeology News, January/February 2003

Ostling, R.N., "Find May Be Archaeological Wonder," AP, October 22, 2002

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