Every year on Easter weekend, many gather to take the time to celebrate Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. Whether through corporate worship, Bible study or the observance of Lent, many activities during this season help people get a better understanding of the significance of the Savior's life, death and resurrection.
To this day, however, there are many non-believers who question the authenticity of Christ and demand proof of His existence. Now, leading Biblical apologist and author Alex McFarland reveals just how the Bible provides proof of Christ's life compared to other historical figures.
An author, speaker, and Focus on the Family contributor, McFarland is the current Director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University in South Carolina. He also previously served as the President of the Southern Evangelical Seminary for five years until 2011. He also served as the Director of Teen Apologetics at James Dobson's Focus on the Family. He recently spoke to CBN News to discuss the ways people can discover proof of Christ's life compared to other historical figures through the Bible.
McFarland explained that there are four kinds of testimony required by historians to prove the existence of a historical person. These are eyewitness testimonies, multiple testimonies, early testimonies, and hostile testimony. According to the biblical apologist, eyewitness testimonies and early testimonies can be found in the Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, all of which were written by men who either knew Jesus personally or collected facts from eyewitnesses such as Mary, the mother of Jesus. He also noted that Paul's epistles were written by a man who personally encountered Jesus Christ after His resurrection.
"We have got the Gospels coming to us less than 10 years after the cross," McFarland, who also leads the nationwide ministry Truth for a New Generation, explained. He argued that the authenticity of the 643 ancient copies of Homer's Iliad is never questioned by historians, "but from the time of the writing to the copies we have: it was more than 500 years. In fact, around 900 years."
The Biblical apologist argues that the annals of Caesar, which were distributed in the dozens, whose early copies were retrieved by historians were from "nearly a millennia, a thousand years [ago]." McFarland compared this to the Biblical accounts of the Savior, pointing out, "The core of Jesus' identity, message, credentials was in circulation regularly within eight weeks after the cross."
With new technology improving the way historians conduct research, there's more proof of Christ's life compared to other historical figures. History reported that aside from the Bible, the first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus is believed to be the "best source of information about first-century Palestine" (modern-day Israel). Josephus also mentioned Jesus twice in his massive 20-volume history of the Jewish people, titled "Jewish Antiquities" that was written in 93 A.D. Josephus was a wealthy, well-connected aristocrat and military leader who wrote accounts of how the early church began and knew people who personally knew Jesus, which testimonies fall under McFarland's "eyewitness testimonies" category.
According to History, University of North Carolina religious studies professor Bart D. Ehrman believes that while texts from non-Christian sources may not shed much light into Jesus' life, it is still "useful for realizing that Jesus was known by historians who had reason to look into the matter. No one thought [H]e was made up."