History In The New Testament

Robert Ingersoll? What about secular historians?

THE HUMANIST'S CLAIM: Robert Ingersoll wondered why the first-century Jewish historian Josephus, “the best historian the Hebrews produced, said nothing about the life or death of Christ; nothing about the massacre of the infants by Herod; not one word about the wonderful star that visited the sky at the birth of Christ; nothing about the darkness that fell upon the world for several hours in the midst of day; and failed entirely to mention that hundreds of graves were opened, and that multitudes of Jews rose from the dead, and visited the Holy City?” Ingersoll also asked, “Is it not wonderful that no historian ever mentioned any of these prodigies?”

Ingersoll’s questions are even more forceful when one considers that there still exist at least some of the works of more than 60 historians or chroniclers who lived in the period from 10 C.E. to 100 CE Those writers were contemporaries of Jesus, if in fact he ever lived.

Fallacy of Arguing From Silence

What we have is still another person committing the fallacy of arguing from silence. Just because no one -- except the Biblical writers -- wrote about a historical event, does not mean it did not happen.

Humanists are intelligent people. They know that are argument from silence is no argument at all. Historical silence may be interesting to note, but it does not provide any proof at all. And besides, the historical record IS NOT silent. We have multiple accounts of these events from the gospel writers.

I've asked this question before, but in light of the humanists continuing to argue from silence, it needs to be asked again: Why is it that if just a single ancient historian, such as Julius Caesar in his Gallic Wars, for example, mentions an event... that event is assumed to have happened? But if the Bible records an event, even if it is recorded by several different writers in the Bible, there must also be an additional, outside record of that event. Otherwise, agnostics such as Robert Ingersoll conclude it did not happen. Why is that?

Because the Bible writers were biased? So is Julius Caesar in recording his victories in his Gallic Wars. He wants to make himself appear as perfect and great as possible. So is Josephus. He had to keep his Roman patrons happy. And it is VERY obvious that the humanist who wrote the web page I've been debunking is VERY biased. So why should you believe anything the humanist says?

Robert Ingersoll - Questions Answered

The previous page answered most of the questions raised by Robert Ingersoll. And although his entire argument from silence has no validity, we can look at two of the claims not covered on the previous page and find out if there is a reasonable explanation. Because his are arguments from silence, if true, there is no way they can be refuted. "Silence" means that nothing was recorded as being said about the questions he raises.

BTW, who was Robert Ingersoll? He was a a well-known orator in the 19th century, nicknamed "The Great Agnostic," he was a lawyer who dedicated his life to the defense of agnosticism.

The Bethlehem Star - Why is it that only the "wise men" noticed the star?

We don't know that they were the only ones to notices the star, which appears to likely have been the conjunction of planets (planets appearing to come close together in the sky). However, they were the only ones who noticed the star and took action in a way that was noteworthy and worthwhile recording (in the gospel record).

Who were the Magi (wise men)? It is thought they were Chaldeans, descendants of the Magi in Babylon in Daniel's day. Daniel was chief over the Magi and it is thought he taught them about the prophecies in scripture -- it would have been something they'd be very interested in learning. The prophecies Daniel taught them remained a part of their "database" so that when their decedents noticed the star, they made the connection with the prophecies and wanted to investigate... and so they went to Jerusalem, the center of Daniel's religion and the place that would most likely have information about the prophecies and the the prophesied king.

Everybody else probably noticed the star... "Wow! Cool. Look at that bright star." and then went about their normal business.

What About The Graves Opening And People Coming Out?

The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. - Matthew 27:52-53

The humanists claim that "hundreds" came out of the grave. But, that's not what scripture says. Scripture refers to "many." What number is that? We don't know what specific number Matthew would consider as many. It could be five, ten or twenty-five.

Matthew is the only place this is recorded. Why is that? Not many people have written about this. A good resource on this subject is an article and video on the CreationToday web site. Here is what they say:

Now why is Matthew the only one to talk about this event? Matthew clearly wrote his Gospel to Jewish readers. He repeatedly emphasized the fulfillment of Old Testament passages. In just the first two chapters of his book, he explains four events occurred “to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet(s)” (Matthew 1:22–23; 2:15, 17, 23). He knew his readers were very familiar with the Old Testament.

Matthew mentions it is that the Jews, with the exception of the Sadducees, believed that people would physically rise from the dead. They looked forward to a future resurrection, based on passages like Daniel 12:2

Clearly, first century Jews believed in bodily resurrection—they just thought it would happen at the end of time. For Matthew to describe an event where multiple people were raised in conjunction with Christ’s death, burial, and Resurrection would not be a distraction to his readers. They might be surprised by the timing of such an event, but they would not be appalled by the idea of people rising from the dead. They might view the event as a foretaste of what is to come and confirmation that Jesus was indeed who He claimed to be. Perhaps this is why so many priests eventually came to believe in Him (Acts 6:7).

If this is accurate, then why did the other Gospel writers fail to mention the event? I think the reason is that they were writing to audiences consisting largely of Gentiles in a Hellenized world. For the most part, the Greeks abhorred the idea of a bodily resurrection. So while these writers needed to stress Christ’s Resurrection, bringing up this event would be an unnecessary distraction for their readers.

Summary: So we see that the number of people who came out of the grave probably was not a number noticeable among the general population of Jerusalem, but would be noticeable among family and friends, as well as possibly some of the Jewish leaders. We also see that this was something that would only be of interest to the Jews.

Conclusion:

This is another argument from silence -- except for the Bible. That secular sources are silent proves nothing. We can speculate as to why these events are not recorded in secular sources, or it could be those those secular sources were lost over the past 2,000 years. But that is just speculation. The only thing we know is that we don't know why secular sources are silent. What we do have is what is related to us through the truth of scripture... a proven accurate source of historical information.

Next Accusation:

Finally, the previously discussed contradictions can be cited as examples of historical inaccuracies. In each instance where the Bible contains a contradiction about an alleged historical event, at least one of the accounts is wrong.

The Bible writers were poor historians, let alone conveyers of messages from an infallible God.

This is just a general statement that wraps up the historical section of the humanist's web page that accuses the Bible of being unreliable. Click here for our historical wrap-up...


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