Apologetics

Is there Evidence for Jesus outside the Bible?

by Steve Ray on September 16, 2020

Some people may think Jesus is a mythical figure like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Others think Jesus might be historical but only mentioned in the Bible is the only source of information on the existence of Jesus. They question whether Jesus really existed as a real historical figure. Is the Bible the only source that confirms the historical existence of Jesus?

Jesusat33AJesus was a historical person. He really lived in space and time. The Bible is a very reputable source of information about the historical Jesus who walked the paths of Israel. But even though the Bible is certainly adequate to affirm the existence of Jesus, there ARE other sources that confirm his historical existence.

My grandson Josh is a brilliant young man who asks a lot of perspicuous questions. When he was younger he asked how I knew Jesus was a real historical person. I have him copies of all the books listed below. I also wrote him this limerick,

Was there really a man named Jesus?
Or do the Catholics just try to tease us?
I went to the places,
Studied books for all traces,
And discovered he’s real which should please us.

A while later he said, “Thanks Papa, now I understand.”

Below are a list of books and websites that address this issue head-on. There is evidence of Jesus’ existence outside the Bible and these are books I have in my library that provide the evidence. No one has to doubt his historical existence, that is for sure. If you know of any other sources, please let me know in the Comments below.

Books about the Historical Evidence for Jesus

The Evidence for Jesus by R. T. France
The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ by Gary Habermas
Ancient Evidence for the Life of Jesus: Historical Records of His Death and Resurrection by Gary Habermas
Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence by Robert Van Voorst
The Evidence for Jesus by James Dunn

Internet Sources

Wikipedia has a pretty helpful source under the title Historicity of Jesus. It deals with early Christian sources outside the Bible but I would especially point out the subsection on Greco-Roman sources which provides a number of good quotations.

New Testament Documents: Are they Reliable? by F. F. Bruce. The complete book is on-line.

The above are mostly Protestant books though they are very good. If anyone knows other books or a good Catholic source, let me know. Good websites would be especially welcome.

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Can Relics and Sacramentals Relay the Power of God?

by Steve Ray on August 28, 2020

Some might claim that Catholic teaching on relics and Sacramentals is unbiblical. Really?

Check out these biblical passages:

“So extraordinary were the mighty deeds God accomplished at the hands of Paul that when face CLOTHS or aprons that touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them” (Acts 19:11-12).

“So they cast the dead man into the grave of Elisha, and everyone went off. But when the man came in contact with the BONES of Elisha, he came back to life and rose to his feet” (2 Kgs. 13:21).

“They even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his SHADOW might fall on any one of them. Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed” (Acts 5:15).

“When [Jesus] had said this, He spat on the ground, and made CLAY of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam ” (which is translated, Sent ). So he went away and washed and came back seeing” (John 9:6-7).

OIL – see James 5:14-15

WATER – see 2 Kings 5:14

SACRAMENTALISM (Quoted from Dave Armstrong’s “One Minute Apologist“)

Objection: Matter cannot convey grace. Sacramentalism and relics are unbiblical magic

The Bible teaches that grace and salvation come through the spirit (Jn. 6:63), not through “holy objects”

Initial reply : The Incarnation of Jesus “raised” matter, and His death on the cross was intensely physical. Protestants often speak of “the blood” (Rev. 5:9; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; Heb. 9:12; 1 Pet. 1:2; 1 Jn. 1:7), which is but one of many examples of sacramentalism.

Extensive reply 

 The New Testament is filled with many concrete examples or teachings about the “incarnational principle” and sacramentalism. Baptism confers regeneration (Acts 2:38, 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21 – cf. Mk. 16:16; Rom 6:3-4 -, 1 Cor. 6:11; Titus 3:5). Jesus’ garment (Matt. 9:20-22), saliva mixed with dirt (Jn. 9:5 ff.; Mk. 8:22-25), and water from the pool of Siloam (Jn. 9:7) all were used in healings. Anointing with oil for healing is also prescribed (Jas. 5:14). The Bible often calls for a laying on of hands for the purpose of ordination and commissioning (Acts 6:6) and in order to heal (Mk. 6:5; Lk. 13:13).

Catholics believe in seven sacraments: all of which are established on the basis of extensive biblical evidences: 1) The Eucharist: Lk. 22:19-20; Jn 6:53-58; 1 Cor. 11:23-30; 2) Baptism: Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38, 22:16; 3) Penance and Reconciliation: Matt. 16:19; Jn 20:23; 1 Cor. 5:3-5 with 2 Cor. 2:6-11; 4) Confirmation: Acts 8:14-17, 19:1-6; Eph. 1:13; 5) Anointing of the Sick: Mk. 6:13; Acts 9:17-18; Jas. 5:14-15; 6) Ordination: Mt. 18:18; 1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6; 7) Matrimony: Matt. 5:31-32, 19:1-9; Eph. 5:21-33.

Even relics (remnants of the bodies of saints and holy people, and related physical items), have (perhaps surprisingly) strong biblical support. Perhaps the most striking proof text is a story about the prophet Elisha:

2 Kings 13:20-21: So Eli’sha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. And as a man was being buried, lo, a marauding band was seen and the man was cast into the grave of Eli’sha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Eli’sha, he revived, and stood on his feet.

Examples of second-class relics (objects that came into contact with holy people) are also clearly found in passages about the prophet Elijah’s mantle, which parted the Jordan River (2 Kings 2:11-14), and Peter’s shadow (Acts 5:15-16) and Paul’s handkerchief (Acts 19:11-12), used by God to heal sick people and to cast out demons. If all of this is “magic,” then it is a sort of “magic” directly sanctioned by God Himself.

Objection 

Protestants can agree with some of this. What cannot be found in the Bible, however, is the excessive veneration of relics. This goes too far, and is idolatry. We can remember the deeds of great heroes of the faith (Acts 7; Hebrews 11) and thank God for them, but we shouldn’t get into worshiping bones or pieces of hair and so forth, or go on pilgrimages to “holy places.” That’s too much like paganism or heathenism and adds nothing to our spiritual life. All places are equally “holy.”

Reply to Objection 

If matter can indeed convey grace and blessing, according to the Bible, then we can give glory to God for what He has done with lowly matter by venerating (not worshiping) even now-inanimate objects. Protestants themselves would not, for example, think that the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem or the hill where He died on the cross or His tomb, from which He rose from the dead, are merely rocks and dirt like any other rocks and dirt. In their own way they do indeed venerate and honor them. If the physical location were so irrelevant, why visit it at all; why not simply ponder Jerusalem and Israel in their heads, in “spirit.”

Plenty of Protestants are also fascinated and intrigued by the Shroud of Turin, which is an extraordinary secondary relic related to our Lord Jesus. That is an object, too; a mere piece of cloth. But would any Christian treat it like any other cloth and tear it up for rags to dust with? Of course they would not, because it was connected with Jesus and has miraculous properties (like Elisha’s bones): a supernaturally produced image. Therefore it is highly regarded and revered. It all goes back to God and His great works, using matter. Sacramentalism and relics flow from the Incarnation: God Himself taking on flesh and matter and becoming man.

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) 

The death of Christ is the universal cause of man’s salvation: but a universal cause has to be applied to particular effects. Thus it was found necessary for certain remedies to be administered to men by way of bringing Christ’s death into proximate connection with them. Such remedies are the Sacraments of the Church.

And these remedies had to be administered with certain visible signs: — first, because God provides for man, as for other beings, according to his condition; and it is the condition of man’s nature to be led through sensible things to things spiritual and intelligible: secondly, because instruments must be proportioned to the prime cause; and the prime and universal cause of man’s salvation is the Word Incarnate: it was convenient therefore that the remedies, through which that universal cause reaches men, should resemble the cause in this, that divine power works invisibly through visible signs.

Hereby is excluded the error of certain heretics, who wish all visible sacramental signs swept away; and no wonder, for they take all visible things to be of their own nature evil, and the work of an evil author. These visible sacramental signs are the instruments of a God Incarnate and Crucified. (Summa Contra Gentiles, IV, 56: “Of the Need of Sacraments”)

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downloadThe scientific word is “microchimerism”. It is the transfer of cells from the baby’s body into the mother’s body and the transfer of cells of the mother’s body in the baby’s body. These cells of the baby remain in the mothers’ body after birth. Very interesting indeed when considering the relationship between Jesus and his mother Mary.

The microchimerism website says,

“Microchimerism is the harboring of small numbers of cells that originated in a genetically different individual.

  • During pregnancy some cells traffic from the mother to the fetus and from the fetus to the mother.
  • Surprisingly, a small number of the mother’s cells persist in her offspring, including into adult life.
  • And a small number of cells from prior pregnancies persist in mothers many years later.

It has only recently become apparent that naturally-acquired microchimerism is common in humans.” (http://www.microchimerism.org)

The new scientific discovery of microchimerism informs us that some of the cells of the God-Man Jesus remained in the body of Mary. At his gestation and after his birth, Jesus left microscopic bits of his own divine cellular being inside his mother. Was Mary then a tabernacle of the Divine? Yes, not only during the pregnancy but also forever after.

Smithsonian Magazine informs us, “This cellular invasion means that mothers carry unique genetic material from their children’s bodies, creating what biologists call a microchimera, named after the legendary beasts made of different animals. The phenomenon is widespread among mammals, and scientists have proposed a number of theories for how it affects the mother, from better wound healing to higher risk of cancer.”

download (1)We speak of Mary being the Ark of the New Covenant. The Ark of the Old Covenant in the Old Testament contained 1) the Word of God inscribed on stone, 2) an urn of manna, and 3) Aaron the High Priest’s rod that budded (Heb 9:4).

Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant and in her womb was 1) the Word of God inscribed on flesh, 2) the real bread which came down from heaven, and 3) the real and ultimate, eternal High Priest.

But science now informs us that Mary was the Ark of the Covenant that carried God Himself not only for nine months but for the remainder of her existence. Mary was — and indeed still is — the Ark of the New Covenant and the repository of the Divine.

What other woman has this relationship with God in the flesh? She is the beloved daughter of the Father, the chosen mother of the Son, and the chaste spouse of the Holy Spirit. What other woman has such a relationship with the Trinity?

And now that science has discovered microchimerism, we realize now that May is perpetually the tabernacle of the Divine. As a Protestant, I thought Mary was non-essential and not important. Catholics made too big a deal of Mary. Boy, was I wrong. I love being a Catholic!

For more info, check out an Elizabeth Scalia article, and Wikipedia.

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Atheist Thinks we should Sell Churches and give Money to the Poor

August 19, 2020

A friend just shared an objection his atheist friend had to the Catholic Church. It went like this: “My atheist friend told me one of the things she disliked about the church was that they had all these great big fancy churches in poor countries but still asked for money from the poor and why […]

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Are Verses Left Out of Modern Translations of the Bible?

August 16, 2020

Bible Verses Missing in Modern Translations? By Steve Ray       (PDF version here) There are a lot of people today that are what we call “King James only“ Christians. They believe that the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible is the only inspired version and that modern translations are modernist. One argument for […]

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“Dear Mr. Bible Guy, Thanks for Confronting my Son…”

August 15, 2020

Posted in National Catholic Register: Dear Mr. Bible Guy Who Tried to Convert My Son and His Friends: These kids don’t just know the Bible, the Catechism, and Church history. They know how to think. Excellent article written by Jennifer Fitz Dear Christian Bible Guy, I want to thank you for coming up to my son and […]

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Mary, Assumed into Heaven as the Queen

August 15, 2020

A while ago a man called in to say my argument for the Assumption of Mary including references from the Old Testament was wrong. I had quoted 1 Kings 2:19 where Solomon had raised his mother up to a throne on his right hand to reign as Queen of the Kingdom. The man arguing with me […]

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How Can Mary Be Sinless if She Rejoices in “God my Savior”?

August 14, 2020

A deacon wrote a question the other day about the sinlessness of Mary. Here is his question and my simple response in two parts. “Hello Steve!  I received a question this morning from a very wise and astute co-worker regarding our Blessed Mother. He is NOT Catholic. He asked, “Well!!  If the Blessed Virgin Mary was […]

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Questions I Answered on Catholic Answers Live: St. John & his Gospel

August 8, 2020

Great fun on Catholic Answers Live! St. John and his gospel may not sound that interesting but it was a lively and VERY interesting show. We started off:  1) Who wrote the gospel and what do we know about him? 2) Tell us about your books “St. John’s Gospel” and how you have gotten to […]

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Why Didn’t Jesus Condemn Homosexuality?

August 3, 2020

Steve’s extensive response to new questions in the ComBox below. For the newly revised and full article click here. IN RESPONSE TO MY BLOG JESUS IS NOT A HOMOPHOBE, ROD WROTE: Rod May 30, 2012 at 10:21 PM Steve, Your posting is remarkable! It is remarkable that, despite your attempts at convincing yourself that Jesus […]

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Was Jesus a Homosexual? Some say “Yes” and try to Prove it from the Bible!

August 2, 2020

After posting my blog entry “Jesus and Homosexuality” I received a correspondence from a Harry H. McCall, a self-proclaimed ex-reverend. He referred me to his blog “Debunking Christianity.” His post was entitled Jesus the Homosexual: Evidence From the Gospels. It is despicable to even say or suggest this of Our Lord but we need to […]

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Peter and the Primacy in Scripture and the Early Church Discussion

July 16, 2020

Had another great evening with William Albrecht and Michael Lofton on their popular and wide-ranging Reason & Theology show. It was a great time of discussion, challenge and digging deep into the issue of the primage of Peter and Rome in Scripture and the Church Fathers – East and West. Enjoy the lively discussion…. Throughout […]

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Mass with 2 Protestants and 1 Crucifix

July 14, 2020

A while ago we went to Mass with two Protestants.  As we walked in the door — there it was, as big as life — a CRUCIFIX with the Body of Our Lord hanging over the altar. I knew what the Protestants were thinking — I used to think the same — “CATHOLICS ARE WRONG, JESUS IS […]

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For Filipinos and All: Steve Ray Live Discussion of Mary, Saints & Statues

July 9, 2020

Here is the video on “Mary, the Saints & Statues.” Many sects and cults, denominations and heretical groups are enticing Catholics in the Philippines to leave the Catholic Church due to misleading and seductive accusations about Marian veneration, the Communion of Saints and statues. I will address these issues on a live Facebook event Sunday, […]

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Peter & the Primacy in the New Testament

June 30, 2020

St. Peter in the New Testament What Do We Know About Him? Peter is the big rugged fisherman who became the humble servant of the servants of God. Jesus chose him from among the Twelve to be the leader and the visible head of the Church. What do we know about Peter from the New […]

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Eucharist Interview with Steve Ray and Paul Sangreal

June 29, 2020

This is a recording of my interview with Paul Thies on the Eucharist. You can listen by clicking below. His website page for this talk is here. Questions discussed: 1.      As a convert to Catholicism, describe how you came to accept the Real Presence? 2.      What was instrumental in increasing your devotion to the Eucharist? 3.      What is […]

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