A Discipleship Test

A little test, for those of us who claim the title of Christian… Let us take a moment to evaluate how well we are following His commands, and discern if we are, in fact; Christians, or if we are just imposters and chaff which will be burned away. Following is a list of direct commands of Christ to all of his followers:

  1. “Follow me”
  2. “Repent, for the kingdom of God is near”
  3. “Let your light shine before others”
  4. “Rejoice, (when you are persecuted) and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven”
  5. “Before offering a gift to God, first be reconciled with your fellow”
  6. “If a body part causes you to sin, remove it”
  7. “Swear no oath – let a yes be yes and a no be no”
  8. “If someone slaps you on the cheek, turn the other cheek”
  9. “Go the extra mile”
  10. “Give to the person that asks from you, and do not turn away the one that wishes to borrow”
  11. “Love your enemies, pray for your persecutors”
  12. “Do not practice righteousness in front of others”
  13. “When you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites”
  14. “Forgive those that sin against you”
  15. “Don’t be somber in fasting, but joyous”
  16. “Don’t store up earthly treasures”
  17. “Do not worry about your life, clothes, food or tomorrow”
  18. “Do not judge others”
  19. “Tend to your sins before pointing out the sins of others”
  20. “Do to others what you would have them do to you”
  21. “Beware of false prophets”
  22. “Give mercy rather than sacrifice”
  23. “Freely you have received, freely give”
  24. “Acknowledge me before others”
  25. “Come to me, take my yoke”
  26. “Whoever has ears, hear”
  27. “Take courage, be not afraid”
  28. “Listen and understand”
  29. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees”
  30. “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me”
  31. “Get up, don’t be afraid”
  32. “Become like a child”
  33. “Do not despise children”
  34. “Forgive seventy times seven”
  35. “What God has joined together, let no man separate”
  36. “Do not murder, commit adultery, steal, or give false testimony”
  37. “Honour your father and mother, love your neighbour as yourself”
  38. “Sell your possessions and give to the poor”
  39. “Whoever wants to become great must be a servant”
  40. “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is Gods”
  41. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbour as yourself”
  42. “Do everything they tell you (teachers of the law). But do not do what they do”
  43. “Watch out that no one (those claiming my name) deceive you”
  44. “Keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come”
  45. “Keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour”
  46. “Whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do for me”
  47. “Ask in my name, and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find”
  48. “Be as shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves”
  49. Do not fear those who can kill the body, only He that can kill the soul”
  50. “This IS my body, this IS my blood. Do this in memory of me”
  51. “All who draw the sword will die by the sword”
  52. “Use well what you are given that you may receive an abundance”
  53. “When you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing”
  54. “When you pray, enter secretly into a closet”
  55. “When you fast… do not let it be known to man… but to the Father in secret”
  56. “Do not gather earthly treasures… lay up treasures for yourself in heaven”
  57. “Do not give what is holy to dogs, do not throw pearls to swine”
  58. “Enter the straight gate… straight is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and few are they who enter by it”
  59. “Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send laborers”
  60. “Whoever has ears, let him hear”
  61. “If your brother offends you, go to him alone, and tell him”
  62. “Beware of covetousness”
  63. “Feed my sheep”
  64. “Go and sin no more.”
  65. “My house shall be a house of prayer”
  66. “When you make a feast, invite the poor, the maimed and the lame”
  67. “You must be born again”
  68. “Do not insult others, calling them fools”
  69. “Pray for those who persecute you”
  70. “Be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect”
  71. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
  72. “Be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”
  73. “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”
  74. “Receive the Holy Ghost”
  75. “Do not blaspheme the Holy Ghost”

“For by their fruits, will they be known.” How many of you read this entire thing, and checked each one off as having been completed? “Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.” Lord, have mercy on me, the chief of all sinners… There is still so much work to do.

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy

Today, following an intense introspection and full examination of conscience, I went to see my Father, Confessor. He was kind enough to make a special time for me, as I was certain that this confession would not fit into a quick few moments prior to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I was correct! After sitting across from him and baring my soul – the most grievous and embarrassing of crimes against God, he assigned to me this chaplet as my penance. It was my very first time having said the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and I was surprised at how much it spoke to me as I went through the Rosary. Because of this, I am adding it to my own repertoire, and am posting the instructions here to encourage others who, like me, had never said it previously, to take it on as practice. May God in His great kindness and patience with sinful man, have mercy upon us all through the recitation of this chaplet.


Sign of the Cross (on the cross)

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Opening Prayers (on the first bead)

You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us. 

O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You! (Repeat three times) 

Our Father (bead 1 of 3)

Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, Amen.

Hail Mary (bead 2 of 3)

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.

The Apostles’ Creed (bead 3 of 3)

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

The Eternal Father (our Father bead)

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

10 Small Beads

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

The Eternal Father (our Father bead)

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

10 Small Beads

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

The Eternal Father (our Father bead)

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

10 Small Beads

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

The Eternal Father (our Father bead)

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

10 Small Beads

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

The Eternal Father (our Father bead)

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

10 Small Beads

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Holy God/Trisagion (Repeat three times)

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Closing Prayer

O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You! (Repeat three times) 

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.

On the Genealogy of Christ – A Study on the Human Roots of Christ

Of the four women mentioned in the genealogy other than Mary, none were of the seed of Abraham. Tamar was a daughter of the land (probably a descendant of Ham). Rahab was of Jericho probably a Canaanites. Ruth was a descendant of Lot.  Christ, therefore, did not descend from a pure Jewish stock, rather, This would, from the Christian perspective, make Him a truly universal Messiah!  Rahab was a harlot, and Tamar posed as one to get Judah (her father-in-law) to impregnate her. Bathsheba, mother of Solomon, was an adulteress. The women Tamar, Rahab and Ruth, and Bathsheba all bore their sons through unions that were “regular.” These “irregularities” prefigure the ultimate “irregularity” of the Messiah’s birth of a virgin mother.  There were other irregularities in this family tree also. Micaiah was the great-granddaughter of David, and Rehoboam was David’s grandson – making them cousins, and too close to be married by today’s standards. 

The first individual mentioned in the bloodline of Christ is Abraham.  The most common question that people reading the genealogy have is: why does the genealogy begin with Abraham and not with Adam?  Those not listed in the Gospel from Adam to Abraham are Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Arphaxad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, and Terah. Why are these generations skipped? Was the Messiah not promised to Adam in Genesis 3:15? One of the many possible answers is: It is Abraham with whom God made a covenant. The Covenant was fourfold: God would make Abraham’s descendants a great nation. God would bless Abraham materially and make his name great. God would protect Abraham by blessing those that blessed him and cursing those that opposed Abraham.  God would bless all the families of the earth through Abraham.  The culmination of this covenant was the coming of Christ to redeem mankind as promised, and all nations of the world were indeed blessed through Abraham as a result.

Abraham:  When God called Abram he was in a city in Babylonia, named Ur of the Chaldees. Abraham’s father, Terah according to Joshua 24:2, worshiped idols. Jewish tradition refers to Terah as an idol maker. Ur was an idolatrous city worshiping many different Gods such as the god of fire, moon, sun, and stars.  Abraham heard the voice of God. There is no hint that when God spoke to him that he questioned who God was. Further, he did not confuse the voice of God with the idols and false Gods that his father worshiped. He knew who was speaking to him.  

Isaac:  The firstborn of Sarah to Abraham.  He was the son who was to have been sacrificed to God by divine decree, but at the last moment, God sent an angel to spare him.  Isaac was, like his father, in the business of digging wells.  He married Rebekah and sired Jacob and Esau.

Jacob: Born pulling the ankle of his brother, Esau.  Later on in life, he tricked his father into bestowing the birthright upon him by wearing animal fur, after having purchased it from Esau for a bowl of soup.  Jacob had twelve sons and at least one daughter, by his two wives, Leah and Rachel, and by their female slaves Bilhah and Zilpah. He was renamed Israel by the angel after wrestling with the angel through the night.  Was at odds with his brother Esau throughout most of their life until he returned from working for Laban for twenty years.  At this time they were reconciled.  Later on, he journeyed to Egypt with his household due to famine and discovered that his son Joseph had not been slain, but had been elevated to viceroy in Egypt.  

Judah (Tamar):  Judah receives the blessing from his father, not because he is the firstborn, but because of the behaviour of his older brothers.  Reuben, the eldest, is skipped for his having had sexual relations with his father’s concubine.  Simeon and Levi were the next in line, but as a result of their violence and temperament, they too are skipped for the blessing.  As a result, Judah is blessed with “the scepter shall not depart from Judah” and is given kingship over his brothers.  Judah’s union with Tamar is a complicated one, in which she marries his eldest son Er, whom the Lord kills for his actions.  Then she is married to the next oldest, Onan, who refuses to provide offspring for his brother and spills his seed rather than impregnating her.  Shelah, his youngest is too young, so Judah advises her to wait.  When Shelah comes of age, Judah does not give him to her in marriage.  She then disguises as a prostitute and tricks Judah into having intercourse with her.  When she is found to be pregnant, he intends to kill her until she provides his staff to him and he realizes his sin.

Phares: Not much is mentioned other than he is a twin son of Zerah, through Judah and Tamar.

Esrom:  The older of the two sons of Perez.  He is mentioned in Chronicles as being among the youngest generation of the 70 Israelites to migrate to Egypt during the famine with Jacob. 

Aram: Aram is the son of Esrom and the father of Amminadab. No mention other than genealogies.

Aminadab: Born during the Israelite Exile in Egypt.  Married Aaron the priest’s daughter, Elisheva. Fathered Nasson, chief of the tribe of Judah.

Nasson:  Exodus records him as being at least twenty years of age during the Exodus from Egypt and the census taken in the wilderness.  He was appointed by Moses as the chief of the tribe of Judah.  Nasson died before the entry into the promised land.

Salmon (Rahab): Salmon married Rahab the harlot, who at the city of Jericho hid the two Israelite spies that Joshua had sent to scout out the city under a bundle of flax on her roof.  She later lowered them out her window, and as a sign to the attacking Israelites, agreed to hang a red cord out of her window so that her family would be spared.  She, like Tamar, is not from an Israelite stock, but was a Canaanite. 

Boaz (Ruth): A wealthy landowner that marries Ruth.  Ruth came to be seen by Boaz gleaning wheat in the fields with her mother in law Nomi.  She remained with her mother in law, though her husband had died.  Boaz, after marrying her, purchased the lands that Naomi had been forced to sell and placed them back within the hands of the “Elimelech” line.  He also dedicates his firstborn through Ruth as the offspring of Elimelech.

Obed: Obed is the Son of Boaz and the father of Jesse. No mention other than genealogies.

Jesse: Jesse meaning “God exists” or “God’s gift”, had eight sons and two daughters, but he is known to Bible History primarily because of his youngest son, the one who became King David. As such, Jesse was a key ancestor of Jesus Christ. Not much more is mentioned about him other than prophetic writings regarding his son David, and a root of Jesse from which the Messiah is to come.

David (Bathsheba): David son of Jesse, was the second king (after Saul) of the united kingdom of Israel. David is portrayed before his rise to the throne, as a humble shepherd tending sheep, and slaying any creature that dared to attack his flock. His rise to fame began when Israel faced the Philistines in the valley of Elah. None in Israel was brave enough to face the Philistine champion, Goliath. David, believing fully in the power of the Lord God of Israel, volunteered to fight the giant. Saul first tried to fit David with armour, but David refused, choosing to use only five smooth stones found in the stream, and a slingshot. After slaying the giant and removing his head, the Philistines fled. Over the next few years, David has an on and off relationship with Saul, at times fleeing him in fear for his life. Jonathan, Saul’s son, however; forms a close bond with David and aids him in knowing the ever-changing moods and intent of Saul. After both Saul and his son David are slain by the Philistines (Saul took his own life by falling on his own sword) David is anointed king by Samuel. David is also highly known in his dealings with Uriah the Hittite in order to take Uriah’s wife Bathsheba for himself. Davids sons Adonijah and Absalom rebel against him, in the end, dying or being slain, leaving Solomon as heir to the throne. The entire book of Psalms is, by tradition, attributed to David’s authorship.

Solomon: The son of David and final ruler of the United Kingdom of Israel which spit into Israel and Judah following his death. Solomon is most popularly known for his construction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Solomon was granted wisdom by God and is stated to be the wisest man ever. In one tale, he rightly judges the true mother of a surviving child between two women, one of whose child died. On his relationship with the queen of Sheba and his control of demons, there is much Talmudic lore, but there is no Biblical evidence for such. He is said to have had  Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, and an amazing number of horses and chariots.

Rehoboam: Rehoboam inherited a united kingdom of Israel which he ruled until the ten northern tribes of Israel rebelled and split away. The initial rebellion resulted from the fear of the people, that he would continue to tax them excessively just as Solomon had done to finance the construction of the Temple and of his Palace. Foolishly listening to his advisors and fearing to show weakness, he proclaimed to the people that he would tax the people ten times more than his father had. In the end, his kingdom (Judah) fell to the Egyptians with him being left as a tributary of the Egyptian kings.

Abijam: Abijam was the son  Micaiah, the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah, and the granddaughter of King David’s rebellious son Absalom. The biblical narrative has him going to extreme lengths in order to reunite the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Abijam successfully defeats Jeroboam, however is ultimately unsuccessful in reuniting the kingdom. 

Asa: Asa is best known for his insistence in the worship of the God of Israel, and the destruction of idols. He is credited with rebelling successfully against Egypt and liberating the kingdom of Judah. In his reign, the Bible specifically mentions there being “peace in the land”. Chastised by the prophet Hanani for relying on the kingdom of Syria rather than solely relying on the Divine, he threw the prophet into prison. In his thirty-ninth year of kingship, he contracted an incurable disease and died two years later.

Jehoshaphat: Son of Azubah, the wife of his father King Asa and daughter of Shilhi. He succeeded his father at the age of thirty-five, and reigned over the kingdom of Judah for twenty-five years. He spent the first five years of his reign fighting off the advances of the kingdom of Israel. He is credited for destroying idolatry (cult of Baal) and for rooting out sexual immorality from the kingdom. The final note in his kingly record is when the Moabites rallied to invade his kingdom. When they encamped at Ein Gedi, King Jehoshaphat and the entire kingdom took to prayer and fasting. The next day, the Moabite army was seen to be quarreling and fighting among themselves, eventually defeating themselves without any intervention from the army of Jehosaphat. 

Joram:  Joram succeeded his father at the age of thirty-two, ruling for only eight years. In order to ensure that his reign remained uncontested, he slew all of his brothers.  He forged an extremely shaky alliance with the kingdom of Israel by marrying Athaliah, the daughter of King Ahab. The Bible states that he abandoned the God of his fathers, and as punishment, the Lord sent a raid party consisting of Philistines, Arabs, and Ethiopians who despoiled the king’s palace, carrying off his entire family with the exception of his youngest son Jehoahaz.

Ozias: Ozias was the son of Amaziah, who was the son of Joash who was the son of Ahaziah, who was the son of Joram. It is unclear why the genealogy presented skips these three generations. He ascended to the throne at the age of eighteen and reigned for fifty-two years. The prophet Zechariah was active during his reign. The Bible states that during his reign, he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and infers that this is why he had the most prosperous reign after Solomon. In the end, though, his pride was his undoing when he entered the temple in order to burn incense on the altar of incense (a duty reserved to the priests of the line of Aaron). Azariah the High Priest and a few other priests opposed him in this move and an earthquake occurred with rays of light from the cracks in the earth shining on Ozias, casting leprosy upon him. After this, he dwelt in solitude until his death.

As a side note: This strange skipping of generations creates an anomaly the mentioned generations that existed in the listed genealogies, throwing off the count of fourteen generations, fourteen generations, and fourteen generations. The use of fourteen is speculated to be because fourteen is the numerical value of the Hebrew letters forming the name of David. In Hebrew numerology, this solidifies his place as a king. Furthermore, in the final grouping, there are only thirteen names. This may be because Matthew took a little poetic license here to force each grouping to appear as fourteen generations, or may be because the writer added Jesus as the fourteenth name. Some scholars suggest that Jesus who is called the Messiah doubles the final member of the chain.

Joatham: Joatham ascended to the throne at the age of twenty-five and reigned for sixteen years. He reigned for sixteen years until he was replaced with his son Achaz by the Syrian rulers of Judah. He is recorded to have waged war against  Rezin, king of the Arameans, and Pekah, king of Israel. The prophets Isaiah, Hosea, Amos, and Micah preached and prophesied during his reign. He is credited with rebuilding the temple walls, and with defeating the kingdom of the Ammonites.

Achatz: Achatz was placed on the throne of his father at the age of twenty by the Syrian rulers of Judah. He reigned for sixteen years. The Bible makes clear that he was wicked, and credits him with introducing idols and idolatrous cults to Judah. He even went so far as to erect an idol in the temple of the Lord. When he died at the age of thirty-six, he was deemed unworthy because of his wickedness, and he was not buried with his ancestors. 

Ezekias: Ezekias succeeded his wicked father at the age of twenty-five, and his first act was to instruct the priests and Levites to open and repair the doors of the Temple and to remove the defilements of the sanctuary. His mother was Abijah, who was the daughter of the high priest, Zechariah. His wife was Hephzibah, who was noted as being “God-fearing”. Ezekias is credited with abolishing idol worship throughout his kingdom and restoring worship of the God of Israel. He witnessed the Assyrian conquest of the kingdom of Israel, and himself refused to pay tribute to Sennacherib. As a result, Sennacherib marched also against Judah but failed to conquer the kingdom. Isaiah and Micah prophesied during his reign. Ezekias reigned over the kingdom of Judah for twenty-nine years. 

Mannases: Mannases was the only son of Ezekias and Hephzibah. He ascended the throne at the age of twelve and reigned over the kingdom of Judah for fifty-five years. He is said to have been wicked, undoing the religious reforms of his father and instituting pagan worship and idolatry. He was married to Meshullemeth, daughter of Harus of Jotbah. He reigned for fifty-five years, after which he was buried in the garden of Uzza rather than in the tombs of his ancestors. 

Ammon: Ammon followed in the footsteps of his father, encouraging and propagating idolatry, which led to a revolt culminating in his assassination at the hands of his own servants. The Bible states that Ammon “did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as did Manasseh his father. And he walked in all the way that his father walked in, and served the idols that his father served, and worshipped them.”He was married to Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. He ascended to the throne at the age of twenty-two and ruled for only two years. 

Josiah: Josiah ascended to the throne at the age of eight, and reigned over the kingdom of Judah for thirty-one years. Josias had four sons: Johanan and Eliakim with Zebidah the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah, and two more sons, Mattanyahu and Shallum with Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. Josias ordered his High Priest Hilkiah to use the tax money which had been collected over the years, in order to restore the temple. During these renovations, Hilkiah discovered the Book of the Law while clearing the treasure room of the Temple. Hilkiah then brought this scroll to Josias’ attention, who then ordered that it be read to the people in Jerusalem. Josias is credited with destroying the pagan objects related to the worship of Baal and Asherah and executing their priests. Josias was killed during a Babylonian invasion.

Jechonias: Jechonias ascended the throne at the age of eighteen, and reigned for only three years and ten days until he and all of the influential leaders of Judah were lead in exile to Babylon. Jechonias was released from prison “in the 37th year of the exile” when Evil-Merodach ascended to the throne of Babylon. Jeremiah cursed Jechonias stating that none of his descendants would ever sit on the throne of Israel. This is particularly interesting, as he is included in the lineage of Christ, who is said to be the Messiah and King, who will sit on the throne of His father David.

Salathiel: Though Salathiel never sat on the throne, Salathiel was regarded as the second Exilarch of Judah during the Babylonian captivity. His genealogy is not entirely clear and does not match up in the Matthew and Luke genealogical accounts.

Zerubbabel: Zerubbabel was assigned as the governor of the Persian Province of Judah, as he was next surviving in line for the throne of Jechonias. The Bible account assigns him as being a close associate of Jeshua son of Jehozadak. These two men are recorded as having led the Jewish refugees from exile back to Jerusalem and are stated to have begun reconstruction of the temple. He appears in the prophecies of both Haggai and Zechariah. “I will take you Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, my servant, and wear you like a signet ring; for it is you whom I have chosen. This is the word of the Lord of Hosts” and “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; (concerning the rebuilding of the temple) his hands shall also complete it.”. 

Abiud: Abiud is the son of Zerubbabel and the father of Eliakim. No mention other than genealogies.

Eliakim: Eliakim is the son of Abiud and the father of Azor. No mention other than genealogies.

Azor: Azor is the son of Eliakim and the father of Zadok. No mention other than genealogies.

Zadok: Zadok is the son of Azor and the father of Achim. No mention other than genealogies.

Achim: Achim is the son of Zadok and the father of Eliud. No mention other than genealogies.

Eliud: Eliud is the son of Achim and the father of Eleazar. No mention other than genealogies.

Eliazar: Eliazar is the son of Eliud and the father of Matthan. No mention other than genealogies.

Matthan: Matthan is the son of Eleazar and the father of Jacob. No mention other than genealogies.

Jacob: Jacob is the son of Matthan and the father of Joseph. No mention other than genealogies.

Joseph (Mary):  Joseph is stated as being a resident of Nazareth who travels to Bethlehem in compliance with the Roman census. At this time, Joseph was betrothed to Mary. The story of Mary here begins with the Angel Gabriel appearing to her and telling her that she shall conceive and bear a child who is the son of God. The Bible states that this annunciation occurred in the sixth month of her cousin Elizabeth’s (mother of John the Baptist) pregnancy. “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: (Though as a descendant of Jechonias, cursed by Jeremiah)  And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Prior to his journey, he learns of Mary’s pregnancy, and have had no relations with her, decides to quietly break off the engagement. However, an angel appears to him telling him not to fear to take Mary as his wife, stating that the child which is conceived within her is of the Holy Spirit. While in Bethlehem, Jesus is born in a manger, because “there was no room for them in the inn. After the birth of Jesus Joseph receives an angelic messenger in a dream telling him to take the child and to flee to Egypt. Not long thereafter, all male children up to the age of two in the region were ordered slain by Herod. Upon the death of Herod, Joseph returns to Nazareth. The Biblical narrative records this as fulfillment of the Old Testament words, “Out of Egypt I have called forth my son.”. Joseph is referred to in the Gospels as a Carpenter, Smith or Artisan. Joseph is mentioned beyond that only in the episode in which Jesus is left behind at the Temple, and the Gospels record “His parents” as looking for Him. The plural indicates that Joseph was at the time, present. We do know from Matthew, chapter one, that he was an excellent earthly example of integrity and righteousness, however, nothing else is presented in the Bible as to the personage of Joseph, or as to his demise.  

Mary: Mary is scarcely mentioned in the gospels either, though more often than her husband. She occurs only twenty-one times in the New Testament. Luke’s gospel mentions Mary, identifying her by name twelve times in the infancy narrative. Matthew’s gospel mentions her by name five times, four being within the infancy narrative and only one “Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?” outside the infancy narrative. Mark’s gospel names her only once “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.” and mentions her as Jesus’ mother without naming her ”There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him.”. John’s gospel refers to her twice but never mentions her by name. Described as Jesus’ mother, she makes two appearances in John’s gospel. She is first seen at the wedding at Cana of Galilee. The second reference in John, mentions her standing near the cross of her son together with the “disciple whom Jesus loved. In the Book of Acts, Mary and the “brothers of Jesus” are mentioned in the company of the eleven who are gathered in the upper room following the ascension.

On the Historicity of Jesus

Why didn’t more contemporaries write about Jesus? Was Jesus truly a historical figure? Is the Bible reliable?

The following is a write up on the historicity of the Biblical narrative regarding Jesus Christ of Nazareth, using contemporary authors and historians of his era, as well as refuting the supposed silence of historians on his existence.

Christians in this day and age face a great deal of criticism from secular humanists, atheists, and others. One of the arguments that these people use to intimidate and harass Christians is to claim that Jesus didn’t really exist as a historical person. People have long tried to disprove Jesus’ very existence by stating a long list of people who were contemporaries of Jesus, that didn’t mention him in their writings. While this long list of names may seem impressive, once you look at this list closely, you find several problems. Some of these writers did indeed mention Jesus. Most by far, though, would have no reason to mention Jesus and also did not mention Christians, though they certainly existed in the time many of these writers lived, and many also make no mention of the Jews. Would you have me believe that there is no historical evidence that the Jews existed? There is however a great deal of independent evidence outside of the influence of the Christian community for the existence of Jesus, in the 1st Century. This includes archaeological evidence, historical testimony, and textual evidence, all of which point to the existence of the Anointed, in accordance with the standard Biblical timeline. First, we will address the criticisms. 

As far as the historians of the day were concerned, he was just a “blip” on the screen. Jesus did not address the Roman Senate, or write extensive Greek philosophical treatises; he never traveled outside of the regions of Palestine and was not a member of any known political party. It is only because Christians later made Jesus a “celebrity” that He became known. Sanders, comparing Jesus to Alexander, notes that the latter “so greatly altered the political situation in a large part of the world that the main outline of his public life is very well known indeed. Jesus had no effect on the social, political and economic circumstances in. The greater preponderance of evidence for Jesus is seen when we ask what he thought.”

Roman writers could hardly be expected to have foreseen the subsequent influence of Christianity on the Roman Empire and therefore to have carefully documented” Christian origins. How were they to know that this minor Nazarene prophet would cause such an uproar? Jesus was executed as a criminal, providing him with the ultimate marginality. This was one reason why historians would have ignored Jesus. He suffered the ultimate humiliation, both in the eyes of Jews (Deut. 21:23 – Anyone hung on a tree is cursed) and the Romans (He died the death of slaves and rebels.). On the other hand, Jesus was a minimal threat compared to other “Messiahs” of the time. Rome had to call out troops to quell the disturbances caused by the unnamed Egyptian referenced in the Book of Acts. In contrast, no troops were required to suppress Jesus’ followers.

To the Romans, the primary gatekeepers of written history at the time, Jesus during His own life would have been no different than thousands of other everyday criminals that were crucified — at least until his followers inspired a reason for depth investigation. Jesus marginalized himself by being occupied as an itinerant preacher. Of course, there was no Palestine News Network, and even if there had been one, there were no televisions to broadcast it. Jesus never used the established “news organs” of the day to spread His message. He traveled about the countryside, avoiding for the most part (and with the exception of Jerusalem) the major urban centers of the day. Jesus’ teachings did not always jive with and were sometimes offensive to, the established religious order of the day. It has been said that if Jesus appeared on the news today, it would be as a troublemaker. He certainly did not make many friends as a preacher. Jesus lived an offensive lifestyle and alienated many people. He associated with the despised and rejected: Tax collectors, prostitutes, and the band of fishermen He had as disciples. Jesus was a poor, rural person in a land run by wealthy urbanites. Yes, class discrimination was alive and well in the first century also.

People like to make lists of those contemporary persons who didn’t write about Jesus, but let’s examine the most commonly referred to, shall we?

  • Josephus – Josephus was not a contemporary historian. He was born in the year 37 C.E., several years after Jesus’ alleged death. There is no way he could have known about Jesus from his own personal experience. At best, he could have recorded the activities of the new cult of Christianity, and what they said about their crucified leader. 
  • Seneca – this teacher of Nero’s wrote a number of personal epistles and other works. Seneca may have conceivably had reason to refer to Jesus. But considering his personal troubles with Nero, it is doubtful that he would have had the interest or the time to do any work on the subject, and none of the works he wrote would have had the occasion to include Jesus. “His Epistolae morales ad Lucilium are essays on ethics written for his friend Lucilius Junior, to whom he also addressed Quaestiones naturales, philosophical-rather than scientific-remarks about natural phenomena. The so-called Dialogi of Seneca include essays on anger, on divine providence, on Stoic impassivity, and on peace of soul. Other moral essays have also survived, notably De elementia, on the duty of a ruler to be merciful, and De beneficiis, on the award and reception of favors. The Apocolocyntosis is a satire on the apotheosis of Claudius. The most influential of his works, at least in so far as European literature is concerned, were his tragedies. It is generally agreed that his plays were written for recitation and not for stage performance. Nine plays, based on Greek models, are accepted as his-Hercules Furens, Medea, Troades, Phaedra, Agamemnon, Oedipus, Hercules Oetaeus, Phoenissae, and Thyestes. A tenth, Octavia, is now ascribed to a later imitator.”
  • Pliny the Elder – Pliny the Elder was a writer on science and morality issues; none of his writings would have had a reason to refer to Jesus.
  • Juvenal – this was a writer of satires. He is known chiefly for his 16 satires, which contain a vivid representation of life in Rome under the empire. They were probably written in the years between A.D. 100 and A.D. 128. The biting tone of his diatribes has seldom been equaled. From the stern point of view of the older Roman standards he powerfully denounces the lax and luxurious society, the brutal tyranny, the affectations and immorality of women, and the criminal excesses of Romans as he saw them, especially in his earlier years. We would no more expect a mention of Jesus here than we would expect in your average edition of MAD magazine.
  • Martial – this was a writer of poetry and satire also. How would Jesus find a place here?
  • Arrian – this guy lived in the second century, and wrote works concerned with Alexander the Great! That’s 300 years before Jesus, quite a stretch for a mention.
  • Petronius – this was a writer of a novel called the Satyricon. “Among the surviving fragments, the most complete and valuable section is the Cena Trimalchionis (Trimalchio’s Dinner), presenting a humorous episode of vulgar display on the part of a man whose great wealth is newly acquired.”
  • Dion Prusaeus – this guy was an orator, a specialist in speaking skills. Do books on public speaking today go off-topic to mention Jesus?
  • Paterculus — Authored an amateurish history of Rome. Paterculus was a retired army officer of Tiberius. He published in 30 A.D., just when Jesus was getting started in His ministry. Jesus never set foot in Rome, so it is hard to see where he would fit in Paterculus’ works.
  • Appian – a Roman historian of the second century who wrote a history of Roman conquests from the founding of Rome to Trajan; only about half of his books have survived fully intact. Again, Jesus didn’t lead any Roman armies, so where would he fit here?
  • Theon of Smyrna – a mathematician and astronomer who wrote a “handbook for philosophy students to show how prime numbers, geometrical numbers such as squares, progressions, music, and astronomy are interrelated.” No relation to anything to do with Jesus.
  • Persius – we have only a few lines from this fellow, who was a satirist who wrote six plays that we know of. Like the previous satirists, there is no reason for Jesus to be mentioned.
  • Plutarch – this fellow wrote a large number of essays and mini-biographies. He lived until around 120 AD and of all the people on this list other than Philo and Justus, would have been the likeliest to mention Jesus. However, in light of the considerations noted above, and the bigotry of Romans towards superstitious peoples like the Jews and Egyptians, it seems unlikely that Plutarch would have put Jesus in his roster of Greco-Roman heroes.
  • Justus
  • Apollonius – There were, at this time over a half dozen men with this name; it is not clear which one these list-makers refer to, so a comment is not possible. The closest match is a grammarian and linguist from the 2nd century.
  • Quintillian – this fellow was a writer on oratory and rhetoric. Again, where is there room for mentioning Jesus, in what was essentially a how-to manual of public speaking?
  • Lucanus – Seneca’s nephew, all we have by him is one poem and some books recording the civil war between Pompey and Caesar. Where should Jesus have been worked into it?
  • Epictetus – He wrote nothing — all his teachings were set down by a disciple. But all his stuff is self-help and advice material — no reason to mention Jesus.
  • Silius Italicus – a poet who wrote a big poem about the second Punic War. This was far from Jesus’ time.
  • Statius – a poet who wrote the Thebaid, about the Seven against Thebes, the Achilleid, a life of Achilles, and a collection of poems called the Silvae. I see no reason to mention Jesus.
  • Ptolemy – another astronomer and mathematician who lived in the second century. I might suppose some Skeptics want a mention of the Star of Bethlehem, but if as I suppose it was mostly a natural phenomenon interpreted by the magi astrologically, Ptolemy may have mentioned it, but would hardly have connected it to Jesus — even if he knew that connection Christians made, which he would have dismissed as superstitious nonsense; it would need to be shown that Ptolemy also had an interest in things like astrology and omens from other nations.
  • Hermogenes – the only person I have found by this name was a second-century Stoic painter whose material was addressed by Tertullian. He would hardly have cause to mention Jesus.
  • Valerius Maximus – wrote a book of anecdotes for orators around 30 AD. In other words, the ancient equivalent to one of those desktop Dilbert calendars. Where does Jesus belong in this?
  • Pompon Mela – Pomponius Mela was a Roman geographer from Spain and would have no reason to mention Jesus.
  • Quintius Curtius – this fellow wrote a history of Alexander the Great — again, where would Jesus fit into this?
  • Pausanias – a Greek traveler and geographer of the second century who wrote a ten-volume work called Descriptions of Greece. Jesus never set foot in Greece, so why would he be mentioned?
  • Valerius Flaccus – a poet of the first century who wrote a work called the Argonautica telling of Jason’s quest for the golden fleece. Does Jesus fit into this one? No.
  • Florus Lucius – Roman historian who was interested in dates prior to the birth of Christ. No help here.
  • Favorinus – a skeptical philosopher of the second century who wrote works of rhetoric. As with the other such works above, no reason to mention Jesus here.
  • Phaedrus – this fellow was an author of fables (like Aesop’s). He would no more mention Jesus than would the Grimm Brothers.
  • Damis – wrote the biography of Apollonius of Tyana — he lived in the second century and doesn’t mention Jesus, most likely because he has his own man to promote.
  • Aulus Gellius – a second-century lawyer who put together a collection of essays on law, antiquities, and various other subjects. No room for Jesus here.
  • Columella – this fellow wrote about agriculture and trees. Ditto.
  • Dio Chrysostom – an orator of the second century who wrote eighty orations on literary, political, and philosophical subjects. I see no room for a mention of Jesus here.
  • Lysias – the only person by this name that was ever historically mentioned lived c. 400-300 BC.
  • Appion of Alexandria — a second-century historian who wrote a history of Rome in 24 books. Again, Jesus had no part in Rome’s history, so why should he be mentioned here?

In almost all of the above-mentioned cases, the supposedly silent writers are either the sort who would not mention Jesus anyway (being writers of either fiction, poetry, or on mundane and practical matters like oratory and agriculture, or historians or writers of another time or place). The few leftover, like Plutarch or Tacitus, either did mention Jesus or else would be too bigoted to make the special diversion, unless (as with Tacitus) they had some corollary reason to look into the movement (Tacitus was trying to show Nero’s cruelty). David Dickens attributes much of this to the “Selection Bias”, meaning that if some contemporary of Christ had something authentic to say about Christ, the Christians collected it. Therefore, finding non-Christian sources about Christ would only be possible in so far as you find corruptions that were discarded (and plenty were) or sources that somehow Christians of that time “missed” but were still otherwise preserved to this day. He states that even at first glance, the chance of finding any such materials is mathematically zero. It seems unreasonable then to discredit the Christian claim on the basis that something that is (for all practical purposes) defined in such a way as it cannot exist, ought to exist to satisfy the prejudices of a people and culture far removed from the one being examined.

Now consider those that DID write about Jesus or about his followers in the years closely following his life and death:

  • Tacitus in his Annals (c.115 A.D.) mentions that Christ was crucified under Pontius Pilate and gives detailed descriptions of Nero’s persecutions – which are also alluded to in several places in the New Testament. 
  • The correspondence between Pliny the Younger and the Roman Emperor Trajan (98-117 A.D.) corroborates the New Testament history including the persecution of the Christians under Emperor Nero.
  • Pliny the Younger – Pliny was the governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor. Much of his correspondence has survived including a particular letter written circa AD 112 to the Roman emperor Trajan. This letter does not reference Christ directly, but it does establish several beliefs and practices of early Christians. This includes their loyalty to Christ even when it cost them their lives. Pliny’s letter states: “In the meantime, the method I have observed towards those who have been denounced to me as Christians is this: I interrogated them whether they were, in fact, Christians; if they confessed it, I repeated the question twice, adding the threat of capital punishment; if they still persevered, I ordered them to be executed. “…They affirmed, however, that the whole of their guilt, or their error, was that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to perform any wicked deed, never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to make it good; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food – but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.”
  • Cornelius Tacitus – Tacitus was a senator under Emperor Vespasian and later became governor of Asia. Around AD 116 in his work entitled Annals, he wrote of Emperor Nero and a fire which had swept Rome in AD 64: “Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome…”
  • Tranquillus Suetonius was a chief secretary to Emperor Hadrian writing around AD 120 in his work Life of Claudius: “Because the Jews at Rome caused continuous disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from the city.”
  • Lucian – The Greek satirist, wrote this rather scathing attack in The Death of Peregrine circa AD 170: “The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day – the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites and was crucified on that account… You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed upon them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.”
  • Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 43a includes: “On the eve of Passover they hanged Yeshu. And an announcer went out, in front of him, for forty days (saying): ‘He is going to be stoned because he practiced sorcery and enticed and led Israel astray. Anyone who knows anything in his favor, let him come and plead on his behalf.’ But, not having found anything in his favor, they hanged him on the eve of the Passover. “The facts in this passage are somewhat difficult to assimilate. Although Yeshu is referring to Jesus, the announcement that he was to be stoned (a lethal punishment) is followed by the statement that he was hanged (crucified). One possible explanation is that the Jewish leadership’s call for his stoning preceded his eventual arrest by at least those forty days. This would be consistent with Scripture’s accounts of his numerous near-stonings (John 10:31-33, 11:8 ). “Jesus’ death by crucifixion may have then just been a matter of Roman involvement in the affair. Perhaps it is more likely that his sudden crucifixion (which immediately followed his arrest and dubious midnight trial) was gladly allowed by the Jewish leaders to pre-empt the normal forty-day holding period for a condemned man. The leaders may have feared that, during this time, Jesus’ followers might have been able to organize his release or stir up an outcry against them.”
  • Thallus the Samaritan – One of the first Gentile writers who mentions Christ is Thallus, who wrote in A.D. 52. However, his writings have disappeared and we only know of them from fragments cited by other writers. One such writer is Julius Africanus, a Christian writer about A.D. 221. One very interesting passage relates to a comment from Thallus. Julius Africanus writes: “Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away this darkness as an eclipse of the sun -unreasonably, as it seems to me” (unreasonably, of course, because a solar eclipse could not take place at the time of the full moon, and it was the season of the Paschal full moon that Christ died).” Thus, from this reference, we see that the Gospel account of the darkness which fell upon the land during Christ’s crucifixion was well known and required a naturalistic explanation from those non-believers who witnessed it.
  • Phlegon – His Chronicles have been lost, but a small fragment of that work, which confirms the darkness upon the earth at the crucifixion, is also mentioned by Julius Africanus. After his (Africanus’) remarks about Thallus’ unreasonable opinion of the darkness, he quotes Phlegon that “during the time of Tiberius Caesar an eclipse of the sun occurred during the full moon.” Phlegon is also mentioned by Origen in Contra Celsum, Book 2, sections 14, 33, 59. Philopon [De. opif mund. 11 211 says: “And about this darkness … Phlegon recalls it in the Olyinpiads [the title of his history].” He says that “Phlegon mentioned the eclipse which took place during the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ, and no other [eclipse], it is clear that he did not know from his sources about any [similar] eclipse in previous times … and this is shown by the historical account itself of Tiberius Caesar.”
  • The Letter of Mara Bar Serapion is in the British Museum an interesting manuscript preserving the text of a letter written sometime later than A.D. 73. This letter was sent by a Syrian named Mara Bar-Serapion to his son Serapion. He compares the deaths of Socrates, Pythagoras, and Christ. “What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crimes. What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning Pythagoras? In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King? It was just after that that their kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise men: the Athenians died of hunger; the Samians were overwhelmed by the sea; the Jews, ruined and driven from their land, live in complete dispersion. But Socrates did not die for good; he lived on in the teaching of Plato. Pythagoras did not die for good; he lived on in the statue of Hera. Nor did the wise King die for good; He lived on in the teaching which He had given.”

And of course, the obvious Christian sources from the same era:

  • Clement (A.D. c. 30-100) the Bishop of Rome 
  • The writer of the Epistle of Barnabas (A.D. c. 70-130) 
  • Polycarp (A.D. 70-155) the Bishop of Smyrna, a student of the Apostle John 
  • Ignatius (A.D. 35-110) the Bishop of Antioch quotes from 16 New Testament books. 
  • Irenaeus (A.D. 130 -200) the second century Bishop of Lyons makes 1,819 references to New Testament scriptures. 
  • Tertullian (A.D. 160 -220) the second-century apologist quotes from the New Testament 7,258 times. 
  • Clement (A.D. 150 -215) the second century Bishop of Alexandria
  • The Didache, a late first-century catechism, quotes extensively from the New Testament. 

There are even a few less-known works which were written in the era in which Jesus lived, that are often overlooked:

  • Gundaphores – The Acts of Thomas is an early 3rd Century Gnostic text which survives to this day in both Greek and Syriac versions. Although it is not disputed that the Acts was originally written in Aramaic, the Syriac versions which now exist are believed to be translated from the Greek in the 5th Century and expunged of some of the more extreme Gnostic ideology contained in the Greek text. The Roman Catholic Church officially condemned the Acts of Thomas as heretical at the Council of Trent (16th Century). It focuses on celibacy, even in the context of marriage, and it’s use of allegory, rather than direct representation, clearly places its origins in the realm of Gnosticism. Like so many other Gnostic books, it was overlooked by the mainstream of Christian thought for many hundreds of years.
  • The Letter to Agbar – This letter is a letter that radio-carbon dating has placed in the early first century. The text of the letter varies. The less available variant, transcribed from the Doctrina Addaei, and printed in the Catholic Encyclopedia 1908, is: “Abgar Ouchama to Jesus, the Good Physician Who has appeared in the country of Jerusalem, greeting: “I have heard of Thee, and of Thy healing; that Thou dost not use medicines or roots, but by Thy word openest (the eyes) of the blind, makest the lame to walk, cleansest the lepers, makest the deaf to hear; how by Thy word (also) Thou healest (sick) spirits and those who are tormented with lunatic demons, and how, again, Thou raisest the dead to life. And, learning the wonders that Thou doest, it was borne in upon me that (of two things, one): either Thou hast come down from heaven, or else Thou art the Son of God, who bringest all these things to pass. Wherefore I write to Thee and pray that thou wilt come to me, who adore Thee, and heal all the ill that I suffer, according to the faith I have in Thee. I also learn that the Jews murmur against Thee, and persecute Thee, that they seek to crucify Thee and to destroy Thee. I possess but one small city, but it is beautiful and large enough for us two to live in peace.” The Doctrina then continues: When Jesus had received the letter, in the house of the high priest of the Jews, He said to Hannan†, the secretary, “Go thou, and say to thy master, who hath sent thee to Me: ‘Happy art thou who hast believed in Me, not having seen Me, for it is written of Me that those who shall see Me shall not believe in Me and that those who shall not see Me shall believe in Me. As to that which thou hast written, that I should come to thee, (behold) all that for which I was sent here below is finished, and I ascend again to My Father who sent Me, and when I shall have ascended to Him I will send thee one of My disciples, who shall heal all thy sufferings, and shall give (thee) health again, and shall convert all who are with thee unto life eternal. And thy city shall be blessed forever, and the enemy shall never overcome it.'” (†According to Eusebius, Jesus himself wrote the letter; nothing is mentioned of his having dictated it to Hannan.)
  • The Mandylion – The Mandylion is without question the most well-researched artifact in the history of the human race. It has been examined by literally thousands of scientists, undergone thousands of tests and scientific analyses of every imaginable kind, and yet nobody has been able to successfully disprove its reputation as the burial shroud of Jesus. Nobody even has a working scientific theory as to how it could have been created if, in fact, it is a forgery as many skeptics claim.
  • Tacitus on Jesus – The Roman historian and senator Tacitus referred to Christ, his execution by Pontius Pilate and the existence of early Christians in Rome in his final work, Annals (written ca. AD 116), book 15, chapter 44.

From these writers, we know the following about the man, Jesus:

  •  Jesus was a wise man and was called the Christ or Messiah – Josephus
  •  Jesus gained many disciples from many nations – Josephus 
  •  He healed blind and lame people in Bethsaida and Bethany – Julian the Apostate
  •  He was accused of practicing sorcery and leading Israel astray – the Talmud 
  •  Under Herod, and during the reign of Tiberius, Pontius Pilate condemned Christ to die – Tacitus 
  •  Christ was crucified on the eve of Passover – the Talmud 
  •  His crucifixion was accompanied by three hours of unexplained darkness – Thallus 
  •  Christ’s disciples, “reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive” – Josephus 
  •  His disciples took to the habit of meeting on a fixed day of the week and took their name “Christians” from him – Pliny 
  •  They gave worship to Christ “as to a god” – Pliny
  •  They bound themselves over to abstaining from wicked deeds, fraud, theft, adultery, and lying – Pliny 
  •  Christians held a contempt for death and were known for a voluntary self-devotion – Lucian 
  •  Christians believed themselves all brothers from the moment of their conversion – Lucian 
  •  Christians lived after Christ’s laws – Lucian 
  •  Christians were willingly tortured and even executed for their refusal to deny their belief in the resurrection and deity of Jesus Christ – Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny, Lucian

My challenge to Skeptics: Show me why each of these writers who were “silent on the matter” should have mentioned Jesus, as well as why hundreds of thousands of persons went happily to their martyrdom (a fact corroborated by Roman historians) for the love of the man Jesus, if they, his contemporaries, knew him not to have existed?

Now, let us consider, what is; perhaps, the most looked to source for the personhood of Jesus. The Bible.

  • New Testament – As of this moment, the oldest New Testament ever found was written in the Ge’ez language, probably translated from Aramaic in the beginning of the 2nd Century, not more than 100 years after Jesus’ death on the cross at Golgotha mentioned by Tacitus. Such a large corpus of literature, written across such a large portion of land with portions having been found from that era in Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew, Ge’ez, Coptic, and many others, all saying (with the exception of a few words from translation) the same exact thing about the same exact person…

The Enlightenment was a time of great change in Europe. As people got more and more access to information and ideas they began to question whether or not the stories being told them were real. Many Europeans, like so many rebellious teenagers, decided that rather than having faith in what previous generations had known before them, they would live by their own ideas and jump to their own conclusions about what was true and what we’re merely fanciful myths. This, of course, meant calling the Biblical narrative into question. Since that time many generations of European scholars and the Eurocentric colonials who have succeeded them have pointed to the lack of evidence that existed in their age and claimed that the absence of evidence was evidence of absence.  Of course it later turned out that there was no lack of evidence for the Bible stories or for the existence of Jesus as a historical person, and that the Enlightenment scholars and liberals who came after them were, as in so much else, intentionally misconstruing the information they gained in order to wage political war against the Church. In our own time, these political movements have too much invested in their current ideologies to change them en masse. Instead, we must focus on educating individual souls by changing the narrative in which Christianity is understood and discussed in the wider pop-culture.

Christianity is the only religion whose Holy Scriptures are historically real. The Bhagavad Gita is not a true story about anything historical and doesn’t even pretend to be. Instead, it is a story about mythical gods and their lives in another world… The Quran is not a history book, and no Islamic scholar claims that it is. Some people claim erroneously that Christianity is merely a tool for manipulating the masses, and has no real historical backing; that the stories in the Bible are not true, and that the Biblical books themselves are made up, pious mythology and fairy tales. However, an even cursory examination of the Biblical archaeology proves this not to be the case. In fact, the Bible, more than any other book in human history, has preserved a series of historical snapshots that have proven to be invaluable tools for understanding our very real human legacy, validated every step of the way through archaeology and independent studies.

Science really is on the Bible’s side when it comes to confirming history. The “Age of Reason” was actually an age of disbelief, where it was thought that ‘reasonable’ people believed only in those things that they could ‘prove’, and that everything else was therefore lying. The false concept of Evolutionary biology taught that human beings, like all other species, were ‘evolving’ away from a past in which they were less intelligent, less able; and therefore the farther back in history one went, the less knowledgeable people could be, since evolution only moves forward. This meant that the “most advanced” men were those who lived in the here and now – and since the Bible was written a long-long-time ago, it must have been written by people who were less evolved, and therefore had nothing to offer in the way of ‘truth’ or ‘science’ or ‘reality’… In this way, it was thought, Evolution ran counter to religion, and both science and religion stood diabolically opposed. Nothing could be farther from the truth however, as the very real science of Biblical archaeology was to progress. Now all of the old ideas from the “Age of Reason” are gone, many disproved, by the very science that sought to prove them. But the Bible remains, just as powerful a force for history and truth as before the secularists took up trying to disprove it. Maybe more now, since we have the ability to verify it’s historical truths.

  • The Ebla Tablet – Well, the discovery of the Ebla archive in northern Syria in the 1970′s has confirmed that the Biblical writings concerning the Patriarchs are viable. During the excavations of the palace in 1975, the excavators found a large library (in a royal archive room), filled with tablets dating from 2400 -2300 BC. Nearly 15,000 tablets and fragments were found, but when joined together they account for about 2,500 tablets. These tablets demonstrate that personal and location titles in the Patriarchal accounts are genuine. For years, critics said that the name ‘Canaan’ was used incorrectly in the early chapters of the Bible; that the term was never used at this time in history, proving that it was a late insertion and that the earliest books were not written in the times that are described. But in the Ebla tablets, the word “Canaan” does appear, contrary to the critics’ claim. The tablets proved that the term was actually used in ancient Syria during the time in which the Old Testament was written. In addition, critics also claimed that the word ‘Tehom’ (‘the deep’ in Genesis 1:2) was a late addition demonstrating the late writing of the creation story. But ‘Tehom’ was part of the vocabulary at Ebla as well, in use some 800 years before Moses! In fact, there is a creation record in the Ebla Tablets that is remarkably similar to the Genesis account! In addition, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (once thought to be pure fiction) are also identified in the Ebla tablets, as well as the city of Haran. This latter city is described in Genesis as the city of Abram’s father, Terah. Prior to this discovery, ‘scholars’ doubted the presence of the ancient city. The Ebla discovery bolstered the Biblical account and it did this in several ways. First, it confirmed the locations of several ancient cities that had long been doubted. In addition to this, however, it confirmed the use of several terms and names hat had also been doubted. And finally, it confirmed that ancient people living in the city of Ebla, (only 150 miles from Haran) were eloquent and conscientious historians and authors. Critics had argued that ancient people of this time were NOT capable of intricate and detailed record-keeping, but the Ebla Tablets prove otherwise. It is well within reason to believe that Abraham recorded detailed accounts of his life and his family and that these records were used later by Moses to write the account we presently have in the Book of Genesis.
  • NebuSakim Tablet – Nebu-Sakim, was thought to be “mythical”, until in July 2007, when Professor Michael Jursa of the University of Vienna discovered the name of Nebu-Sakim (נְב֞וּ סְכִ֣ים) written in cuneiform on an Assyrian tablet during the tenth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II (i.e. 595 B.C.), which confirmed the delivery of 0.75kg of gold to a Babylonian temple, thus providing independent proof that this Biblical character really lived and was, in fact, the “chief eunuch” of Nebuchadnezzar II who Jeremiah 39:3 says was with him at his successful Siege of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.
  • King Sargon – Although the name of Sargon only occurs once in the Bible, at Isaiah 20:1, there are a number of other references referring to him. (Burrows) Up until the mid 19th Century, no corroborating evidence had been found to confirm his existence, and some critics and historians doubted ever really lived. (Free) But archeology once again proved the Biblical account to be true when in 1843, the palace of Sargon was found during an archaeological dig at Khorsabad, a ruin about 16 kilometers north of Nineveh. (Wood) A find which now represents the greatest Akkadian art of all time. Not only was King Sargon real as Isaiah claims, but his palace was found exactly where the Bible described it, his capture of Ashdod, and the correct title of Sargon’s military commander on a giant stone prism, which archeologists discovered in 1847, which dates back to the 8th century BC reading in part: Property of Sargon, King of Assyria, conqueror of Samaria and of the entire country of Israel (Bit-Hu-um-ria) who despoiled Ashdod and Shinuthi, who caught the Greeks (who live on islands) in the sea, like fish, exterminated Kasku, all Tabali and Cilicia, who chased away Midas the king of Mushku, who defeated Musur in Rapihu, who declared Hamno, king of Gaza, as booty, who subdued the seven kings of the country of YAH, a district on Cypris (Ia-ad-na-na), who dwell (on an island) in the sea, at a distance of seven-days journey…(Pritchard)
  • Belshazzar – According to chapters 5 and 8 of the book of Daniel, Belshazzar was the son and regent of King Nabonidus. Daniel was often criticized for being what detractors said was its less-than-accurate portrayal of history. This is because of the ancient historians who wrote on the subject (Herodotus, Berosus, Abydenus, Ptolemy, Josephus, and Theodoret), all say that the last king of Babylon was Nabonidus, who was a son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar rather than Belshazzar. However in 1854 the British archaeologist John George Taylor Nabonidus discovered four identical cylinders at the base of a Ziggurat in Ur in (Beaulieu), which recorded the life of King Nabonidus, who served as regent of his father Nabonidus. The cylinder reads in part: May it be that I, Nabonidus, king of Babylon, never fail you. And may my firstborn, Belshazzar, worship you with all his heart. (Cylinder iii 3:31)
  • City of David – The historical existence of the City of David was doubted by many scholars, but the remains of the City of David were uncovered in the Givati Parking Lot within Jerusalem’s oldest neighborhood, which is coincidentally also named the “City of David”. The discovery was announced by the Israeli Antiquities Authority in late November 2013.
  • Roman Era Dies – Israeli archaeologists have uncovered three rare, Roman-era fabrics believed to have been dyed using murex snail extracts in unique colors mentioned in the Bible. Israel Antiquities Authority researchers say they have identified three pieces of cloth dyed in colors considered the most valued at the time, including special shades of blue, purple and crimson-scarlet — colors cited in scripture.
  • Tacitus on Jesus – The Roman historian and senator Tacitus referred to Christ, his execution by Pontius Pilate and the existence of early Christians in Rome in his final work, Annals (written ca. AD 116), book 15, chapter 44.
  • The Census – The first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke indicate the birth of Jesus took place at the time of the census: In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. (Luke 2:1–7—NRSV) The passage describes how Jesus’ parents, Joseph and Mary, travel from their home in Nazareth, in Galilee, to Bethlehem, where Jesus is born. This explains how Jesus, a Galilean, could have been born in Bethlehem in Judea, the city of King David. However, this passage has long been considered problematic by Biblical scholars, since it places the birth of Jesus around the time of the census in 6/7 The Jewish historian Josephus agrees with the account of the Census of Quirinius  found in the Gospel of Luke, that an enrollment of the Roman provinces of Syria and Judaea for tax purposes was undertaken in the year 6/7 A.D., during the reign of Caesar Augustus (27 BCE – CE 14). (Source: Vermes)
  • The Resurrection Narrative – The fact that neutron emissions are the first plausible explanation for how the face got on the Shroud, indicates the validity of the Resurrection narrative. There are two possibilities for how a directed neutron beam could have come to have been applied to the cloth… (1.) The Biblical narrative of the Resurrection is real history; or (2.) Someone with access to such technology traveled back through time in a time machine in order to create the proof of the Resurrection to make it look “real” for future generations… Which is more realistic?
  • Saint Thomas – Nothing proves the necessity of the historical existence of Jesus more than His disciple, Saint Thomas, who was martyred in what is now Tamil Nadu in 64 A.D, only thirty-two years after the Resurrection; but whose missionary work in that short period of time spanned most of Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. The fact that Saint Thomas visited China is now no longer in dispute. He is also known to have traveled to India, where he founded eight churches, all. If Thomas were not the disciple of Jesus, then his visits to these places would not have a real or lasting significance, and certainly not the significance that it now has. If he had been instead, a traveling salesman, there would not now be mountains named after him in Korea, wells named after him in Japan, and Chinese imperial annals extolling his great influence within the imperial court of that august nation.

There is no other holy book, regarded by another religion, extant on the Earth today, which offers historical proofs of what it says. This overarching “reality” and “truth” are utterly unique to the Judeo-Christian faith. The Popul Vue of the Mayans does not offer any historical information at all but does offer a nifty explanation of why humans can eat animals. The Bhagavad Gita tells many fabulous tales of mythological things that occur in “heavens” and in other “realms” but offers nothing whatsoever as far as the history of Earth or civilization. The stories of the Quran have historical evidence, only where they agree with the Bible in matters of historicity – and Islam forbids textual criticism of the Quran, which by definition limits the ability to study its historicity. This is because Muslims believe that the Quran was dictated directly to Muhammad by Allah, and then recited (Aramaic “Qurin” means “to recite”) to his disciples who later wrote it down. Taking the historical evidence which does exist, in context, one can see that it is more likely than not that Jesus was alive on the Earth and was a real person. The fact that we’re still talking about Him makes Him the most important religious figure in history.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Aside from the sources mentioned along with the historians and historical personalities previously discussed, below are articles, videos, and books which were referred to for this compilation:

Paul-Alain Beaulieu, Legal and Administrative Texts from the Reign of Nabonidus, Yale University Press, 2000, ISBN: 9780300057706

Boniface, The Belshazzar Problem, Unam Sanctam Catholicam, retrieved on February 23rd, 2014 from http://www.unamsanctamcatholicam.com/history/historical-apologetics/79-history/402-the-belshazzar-problem.html

Millar Burrows, The Dead Sea Scrolls, Random House Value Publishing, 1988, ISBN 0517625350

Joseph P. Free, Archaeology and Bible History, Zondervan, Revised edition, 1992 ISBN 0310479614

Megan Gannon, Discovery of City of David ruins fills gap in Jerusalem history, published December 3rd, 2013, 11:29 and retrieved on February 18th, 2014 from: http://www.nbcnews.com/science/discovery-city-david-ruins-fills-gap-jerusalem-history-2D11687560

John D. Morris, 2007. Biblical Myths? Acts & Facts, Institute for Creation Research, 36 (9):14, retrieved on February 18th, 2014 from http://www.icr.org/articles/view/3464/303/

James Pritchard, The Ancient Near East – An Anthology of Texts and Pictures, Princeton University Press 1958.

Bryant Wood, The Old Testament Has Been Archaeologically Verified, pleaseconvinceme.com, retrieved on February 18th, 2014 from: http://pleaseconvinceme.com/2012/the-old-testament-has-been-archaeologically-verified/

Geza Vermes, Emil Schürer, Fergus Millar (editors), The history of the Jewish people in the age of Jesus Christ Vol I, Continuum, 1973.

Hamza Yusuf, Signs of the Last Day, Dar al Islam Teacher’s Institute, Abiquiu, New Mexico, retrieved on May 1st, 2014 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=in5kC5qFjm4&feature=youtu.be

Annals (written ca. AD 116), book 15, chapter 44. (P.E. Easterling, E. J. Kenney (general editors), The Cambridge History of Latin Literature, page 892 (Cambridge University Press, 1982, reprinted 1996). ISBN 0-521-21043-7) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ

Scientists discover Roman era dies, retrieved from: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/12/31/archaeologists-make-incredibly-rare-find-with-roots-in-the-bible/

Proof of the historicity of Biblical figures, retrieved from: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/50-people-in-the-bible-confirmed-archaeologically/

CREDITS

Contributions from friends are VERY appreciated and help to make this complete work possible.

1. David Dickens (Detailing the “Selection Bias” in light of Christian history.)