Christ and the Rich Young Ruler, by Heinrich Hofmann, 1889. Courtesy Wikipedia.
Even if Mark did indeed omit the account of Christ’s resurrection, virtually every book of the New Testament claims this fact. Omission is not disagreement, nor is it relevant to Mr. Sosa’s thesis.
Again, the article’s author is merely grasping at straws now. Among the people that discovered Jesus’ empty tomb, Mary Magdalene is mentioned in all four Gospels, and Mary the mother of James was mentioned in three of the four. Since these four accounts were written by four different authors, it’s reasonable to expect different attentions to details. But again, omission is not contradiction.
Poor debaters like to throw the dogs off their trail by claiming that their arguments are already “established,” irrefutable facts, regardless the number of holes. This paragraph could have easily been omitted, not that it would have saved the rest of the article’s downward spiral.
How many days after His resurrection did Jesus ascend into Heaven? Mr. Sosa is right that, on the surface at least, Luke and Mark claim that Jesus ascended the same day that He rose from the dead (their accounts are nearly identical; Matthew makes no mention of the ascension). But what the article fails to mention is that while the Book of Acts claims that Jesus ascended into Heaven after 40 days, it is widely believed that its author is Luke himself. If that is the case, then I would be more likely to believe that the seemingly rushed endings of the two Gospels were not meant to be taken as a literal timeline of events. This might warrant some more research.
In this paragraph, the author again states his opinion that the issues he has brought up are “problematic” to the existence of Jesus. I hope I have shown that that is not necessarily the case. The rest is a side-swipe at Jesus’ moral character and teaching, for which he only refers to a list of Jesus’ supposed self-contradictions, written by “a new convert to Islam.” Most of the items in this list are taken out of context and are easily explained, without any hand-waving or fudging of the text. If you have studied the Bible enough to reconcile God’s commandment to not kill, with His commands to destroy various nations in and around the land of Canaan, you would see right through this list. Perhaps that’s a topic for another post.
Unnecessary paragraph, strictly expressing the author’s opinion, without any further . Moving on....
Paragraphs 11 and 12
Dr. Erhman is an avowed agnostic, who is against organized religion, particularly the Big Three monotheistic ones, so he is naturally biased (as are Mr. Sosa and myself). Consider this: Ancient Babylon’s Hanging Gardens are considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, despite the lack of documentation on when and where they existed. Jesus has far more supporting evidence, from multiple authors, most of whom happen to be found in a collection of work that we call The Bible.
As I quoted at the beginning of my rebuttal, most scholars agree that there is more than enough evidence to prove that Jesus did indeed live and was crucified, in the timeframe described in the Bible. I have not researched the reliability of documents by Justin Martyr, but my reading into Tacitus' and Josephus’ accounts of the one called Jesus confirms that most experts agree that at least some measure of their writing concerning Jesus is genuine.
I will not attempt to read Dan Barker’s books, going under the assumption that if he indeed managed to prove that God and Jesus never existed, I would have read about it on Yahoo News.
I was taught in school to always end my persuasive essays with an excellent clinching paragraph. This is not it. Instead, we are presented with more opinion and a reference to an article about Jesus-like copy-cats, none of whom (1) fulfilled dozens of verifiable Old Testament prophecies and (2) influenced an entire globe for nearly two millennia... and still counting.
Like Mr. Sosa, there is so much more that I could write, but my rebuttal is already longer than the original article. If you need more of a convincer, please also see Wikipedia’s “Jesus of Nazareth” article. In the meantime, I will humbly allow the Apostle Paul to conclude my rebuttal and will continue to pray that the Lord will move the hearts of Chris Sosa and atheists/agnostics like him, as He did my own heart.
“Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice” (Philippians 1:15-18).