Debate: The Evidence for Jesus from the Talmud – Wrap-Up Comments

I summarized Joe Hinman's argument from the external evidence of the Talmud this way:1. There are MANY references to Jesus in the Talmud that were censored but that were preserved in some texts. 2. There are A FEW references to Jesus in the Talmud that were not censored. 3. ALL of the references to Jesus in the Talmud speak of Jesus in a way that assumes or implies that Jesus was a flesh‐and‐blood historical figure. 4. IF (1), (2), and (3) are true, THEN the external evidence from the Talm … [Read more...]

My Debate with Dr. Frank Turek

Last night I had the privilege of debating the question, "What Best Explains Reality? Naturalism or Theism?", at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas before an estimated crowd of approximately 900 people. Although the breakdown of Christians and atheists was probably 898:2, I truly felt like the audience was respectful. In fact, after the debate, several Christians came up to me and said some version of, "I think you were very brave to defend atheism in Topeka." I explained that I didn't feel … [Read more...]

Debate: External Evidence for Jesus – Wrapping up the Debate

Josh McDowell and various life events have distracted me from the debate with Joe Hinman about the external evidence for the existence of Jesus. (Sorry for the delay, Joe.)I wrote an introductory post about the debate:Introduction to the DebateHinman presented five arguments for the existence of Jesus based on external (non-biblical) evidence:Arguments 1 Through 4 (Talmud, Papias, Polycarp, Josephus)Argument 5 (Web of Historicity)I criticized the five arguments, typically … [Read more...]

Debate: External Evidence for Jesus – Parts 5B and 5C

Joe Hinman's fifth argument for the existence of Jesus based on external evidence is presented in two sections of his post on the Web of Historicity:5B. Big Web of Historicity5C. Jesus Myth Theory Cannot Account for the WebThe fifth argument for the existence of Jesus can be summarized in terms of a single premise:1.There is a web of historicity.Therefore:2. It is probable that Jesus of Nazareth was a flesh-and-blood historical person.Given this very simple summary, … [Read more...]

Debate: External Evidence for Jesus – Part 5A: Various Points

Some of Hinman's discussions about his five principles of historical investigation provide needed clarification of a principle, and some of his discussions fail to provide clarification of the relevant principle.  But even when Hinman fails to clarify one of his general principles of historical investigation, he often makes some significant or interesting points.  I will examine many of those specific points in this post.Hinman's discussion about (P1) fails to clarify what that principle m … [Read more...]

Debate: External Evidence for Jesus – Part 5A: Five Principles

Joe Hinman's fifth argument for the existence of Jesus is presented in three sections:5A. Historical Methods5B. Big Web of Historicity5C. Jesus Myth Theory Cannot Account for the WebI will comment on, and raise objections to, points in each of these three sections, but this post will only cover part of the section on "Historical Methods".  Specifically, I will cover the five high-level principles of historical investigation proposed by Hinman in his discussion of "Historical … [Read more...]

Debate: External Evidence for Jesus – Part 4

QUESTION 1: What is Hinman's Central Claim about Josephus?There are two famous passages in a book by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus that appear to refer to Jesus.  Joe Hinman wants to focus on the "brother passage", the passage in Antiquities that mentions a person named "James" and refers to him as "the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ". (Antiquities 20,200).After a brief introductory paragraph, Hinman quotes the "brother passage"But the younger Ananus who, as we said, re … [Read more...]

Debate: External Evidence for Jesus – Post on Part 4 Coming Soon

I have been working on understanding and evaluating Joe Hinman's fourth argument for the existence of Jesus, and I believe my post on this subject will be ready to publish later this week.  This argument is based on alleged references to Jesus found in a book by the Jewish historian Josephus, particularly the "brother passage", where a person named "James" is referred to as "the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ". … [Read more...]