A potsherd, or pottery shard, containing a written message in Hebrew. Potsherds with writing are also called ostracons.
Another argument, popular with anti-Christian authors, is that Jesus was very likely an illiterate peasant. If Jesus was illiterate, they assert, then the New Testament accounts of him referring to scripture and generally stumping the Jewish Pharisees in debates are suspect, and not to be trusted. This argument is most recently articulated by Reza Aslan in his book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.
Aslan argues that the vast majority of people in Jesus’ world—about 98%–were illiterate. In his mind, so was Jesus. When one digs below the surface, however, it becomes evident that Aslan is likely mistaken. Continue reading
Roman relief of the deity, Mithras, slaying a bull. This sculpture is in the Louvre in Paris.
A popular argument used by some to discredit Christianity is that the story of Jesus is simply a compilation or retelling of earlier “god man” or “dying and rising god” myths taken from pagan religions at the time. People making this argument typically offer a long and very compelling list of similarities that seem to make their case unassailable. To someone who has never heard this argument, or its counters, it can sound convincing that Christianity is just a fairy tale that is copied from other fairy tales. Continue reading
The Codex Sinaiticus, a handwritten Greek manuscript written in the middle of the fourth century. It is the earliest existing complete copy of the New Testament.
“Don’t you know that the New Testament is full of errors? Over the years, scribes made copy after copy, and introduced so many alterations, errors, and variations that today we can’t even be sure what the original texts said! In fact, scholars have shown that the surviving manuscripts have around 400,000 variations. That’s a horrible number, especially considering that the entire New Testament only has about 138,000 words!” Continue reading