Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth

Did Jesus Exist?

Did Jesus Exist?**

**Book Review**

Regardless of your stance on God or Christianity, this book is a must read for anyone interested in the facts about the historical evidence surrounding, “the man,” Jesus Christ. Bart Ehrman spends the first half of the book breaking down many of the misconceptions promoted by the “mythicists” camp, and then proceeds to build a solid foundation why historical sources (both biblical and secular) indicate a strong case for the existence of a literal Jewish man named Jesus, circa AD 30.

He carefully lays out the method scholars use to determine the validity of historical documents, and then explains why some can be trusted more than others. One of the things I like about Ehrman’s approach, is that he is an equal opportunity offender, and does not feel threatened by validating a biblical or Jewish position (much to the chagrin of atheist’s and agnostics) if he believes it to be true, but this two-edged sword is similarly painful for many Christians, because he brings up difficult questions about apparent inconsistencies in the Bible. The basic premise Ehrman closes the book with, is, yes, Jesus did exist, but no, he was not God.

I am sure he is aware of the vast hermeneutical differences amongst Judeo/Christian scholars, but he did not offer any indication of this disparity in his personal version of orthodox arguments and apologetics. This arrogant tone is not unusual for an Ehrman book, but if he had acknowledged multiple vantage points within the religious community, I would have given this book a five star review instead of a four since it is well written and backed up with facts addressing both the pro and con viewpoints.


Sometimes We Make Our Own Chains

Sometimes we are bound in chains of our own making.

Sometimes we are bound in chains of our own making.

Freedom of Religion is Based on Healthy Interpersonal Communication and the United States of America prides itself on this concept of freedom. Ironically it seems that more people are in bondage than ever before in the history of the country. Debt, substance abuse, greed, spiritual callous, and many other masters have enslaved Americans showing no quarter. Even before the colonies separated from the British, men like Roger Williams had a strong conviction that government and religion must have a wall between them. This wall was intended to protect the church from becoming corrupted by the government and visa-versa.

Another advocate for liberty sprang up in the twentieth century, Parker J. Palmer. He was an activist, educator, and leader for social change. I believe it is in his book, Leading from Within: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Lead he states, “Material realities … are not the fundamental factor in the movement of history. Consciousness is. Human awareness is. Thought is. Spirit is. Those are the deep sources of freedom and power with which oppressed people historically have been able to move immense boulders and create remarkable change.” Parker continues this thought, “consciousness precedes being, and consciousness can help deform, or reform, our world.” He seems to be saying self-awareness makes the difference in those bound and those who are free.

Paul the Apostle puts yet another unique spin developing this concept from looking past our own imprisonment toward that of others. After preaching (in bondage) what must have been a persuasive sermon before Festus and Agrippa he finishes, “I pray to God that not only you but also all who are listening to me today might become such as I am—except for these chains.” It appears that Paul’s openness and vulnerability may have been tugging at the heart of Agrippa that day. The most powerful imagery in this story is this, Paul is the only man in the room bound in chains, yet he clearly communicates that not only is he free, but he wishes they were as free as he was. Do we have the same opportunity to stand before this world in the bonds of debt, substance abuse, greed, and spiritual callous, along with many other masters and profess the same kind of liberty and freedom as Paul? What ever I am lacking in openness, I want to discover how to open those closed doors to my heart and then share the liberty with others.