Eyewitness to Jesus
Eyewitness to Jesus
A Historical Essay
"May Mary, Seat of Wisdom, be a sure haven for all who devote their lives to the search for wisdom. May their journey into wisdom, sure and final goal of all true knowing, be freed of every hindrance by the intercession of the one who, in giving birth to the Truth and treasuring it in her heart, has shared it forever with all the world." (Pope John Paul II , Fides et Ratio, No. 108)
THE HISTORICAL AUTHENTICITY OF SACRED SCRIPTURE
"But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name,
he will teach you all things and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you."
“Holy Mother Church has firmly and with absolute constancy held, and continues to hold, that the four Gospels just named, whose historical character the Church unhesitatingly asserts, faithfully hand on what Jesus Christ, while living among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation until the day He was taken up into heaven (see Acts 1:1). (Pope Paul VI, Dei Verbum, No. 19, November 18, 1965)
During the years 1893 to 1901, an Anglican
Chaplain by the name of Charles Huleatt conducted his tour of duty as Chaplain
of the Luxor Hotel and hospital in
Chaplain Huleatt spent much of his free time in
Huelatt mailed his find to the
Enter German papyrologist Carsten Thiede, who,
around 1990, was searching for ancient papyrus at
Thiede used archeological findings from the
I. Massada: 73 A.D.
The first finds that Thiede used were the remnants of Jewish scrolls found from the Roman siege of Massada in 73 A.D. He found that the Greek inscriptions on these scroll fragments dated the Gospel Papyrus at least as old as the time of the destruction of Massada.
II. Essene Community: 68 A.D.
From there, Thiede proceeded to the ancient ruins
of the Essenes, a Judaic community living at
Archeological findings from caves at this location include numerous well-preserved leather scrolls that have become known as The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in 1947. The scrolls were preserved in large sealed clay jars. The characters on the Gospel Papyrus matched the Greek letters on the Old Testament scrolls at Qumran, dating them as least as old as 68 A.D.; the year assigned by Hebrew antiquity as the year that the Romans ended the existence of the Essene community.
In cave #7 at
If the Essenes had not left Jerusalem to found their own community, their scrolls would have been destroyed by the Romans in 73 A.D. when they destroyed and burned Jerusalem and the center of Jewish religious life, Solomon's Temple. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were slaughtered as they visited the city during religious celebrations.
The multiplicity of scrolls found at Qumran dated at 68 A.D. suggest that a significant number of them were written many years before 68 A.D., as it would have taken years to produce the number of scrolls found. The same can be said about "the Mark fragments". This would have reasonably placed many of the scrolls, including the "Mark fragments" as very possibly being written from 50 to 60 A.D.
III. Banias: 62 A.D.
The Gospels note the city of
IV. Rome: 58 A.D.
The "Mark fragments" were found at
V. The Calendar and the Eyewitness Window
The calendar used for Thiede's dates puts the death of Jesus Christ at 30 A.D. Most Bible calendars date Jesus' birth at 3 or 4 B.C. The 3 to 4 year off-set in the life span of Jesus (1 A.D. to 33 A.D.) is due to calculations that will not be disputed. Bible scholars place a span of 40 years, from 30 to 70 A.D., as to when eyewitnesses to the Resurrected Jesus would have had to have been alive.
After His Resurrection, the Gospels state that Jesus appeared many times to the eleven apostles over a period of many days. He last appeared to them at the His Ascension in the book of Acts. St. Paul wrote from Greece around 60 A.D. From his letter to the Corinthians he writes:
"And that he was buried, and
that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the
twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom
the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that he appeared to James, then to all
the apostles. Last of all, as to one
born abnormally, he appeared to me.
VI. St. John
In addition to St. Paul's above statement, another well-accepted fact is that St. John the Evangelist, the very young beloved apostle, lived to a very old age; some accounts saying that he was over 100 years old when he died in exile on the Greek island of Patmos. Also well-accepted is that he wrote the Book of Revelations (Apocalypse) while he was in exile. This apostle, who was present at the Crucifixion and most certainly spoke with Jesus after His Resurrection, must have written the Gospel of John at a reasonable time after the Ascension of Jesus. It is utterly unreasonable to say that this man who wrote the Apocalypse never put quill to papyrus to write his own account of Christ's public life---when he had over 70 years in which to do so.
The unavoidable conclusion to this dissertation is that eyewitnesses to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ wrote the Gospels to fulfill the command given to them by the Lord, Himself:
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." (Mt28:19-20)
(Reference: Eyewitness to Jesus, TLC Video, © Double Exposure Ltd. Productions, www.thevideocompany.com 1-888-846-8555)
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