I have been a Christian for my entire life. Lately, I have been in a low spot in faith, and have had some skepticism towards a few things in the bible. I do have faith in the bible, but I would like to see some extra-biblical historical, and or scientific evidence of things things that are accounted for in the bible.
closed as too broad by David Stratton♦, Mawia, Affable Geek, Narnian, Flimzy Nov 25 '13 at 15:36
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Consider doing a little googling, such as I did. In a couple minutes I came up with the following:
In short, there is a wealth of information out there that may serve to buttress your faith and give you the encouragement you need at this time. I wish you well. Don
Yes, I think I can help you with historical evidences to support Christianity. Jesus Christ prophesized the destruction of Jerusalem (which includes the temple of Jerusalem) in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21.
We also see Jesus Christ weeping over Jerusalem in Luke Chapter 19, because he foresaw the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
As we all know, the destruction of Jerusalem (which includes temple of Jerusalem historically known as Herod's temple) happened in 70 AD. This incident is recorded by Josephus in Jewish Wars (especially in Book Six of Jewish Wars), Tacitus in Histories (Book 5), Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History (Book 3), and Jewish History Document "Sepher Yosippon" (especially Chapter 87 - "Burning of the temple").
Luke 3 teaches that in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar--when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert."
Tiberius was a Roman Emperor who ruled from 14 AD to 37 AD. We read that Jesus was born during the time when Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar (31 BC - 14 AD) ruled (Luke 2:1-3).
In Acts 24, we see that Apostle Paul was taken to Felix who was Roman procurator of Judean Province from 52 AD to 58 AD. In Acts 25:27, Felix was succeeded by Festus who historically ruled Judean Province from 59 AD to 62 AD.
Josephus mentions about the death of James (brother of Jesus Christ in Galatians 1:18-1:19) by Young Ananus in Antiquities 20.9.1:
Antiquities of Jews 20.9.1:
"And now Caesar, upon hearing of the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus. ... But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king, desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus ... Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest."
Prophesies corroborated historically:
In the book of Ezekiel 26 we can see in astonishing detail how the city of Tyre was to be destroyed, how it would be torn down, and how its debris would be thrown into the sea. When Alexander the Great marched on that area, he used these rocks, the leftover rubble from the city of Tyre for the land bridge.
There are several prophecies concerning Christ in the books of Old Testament and it would take more than a few screens worth of space to list them all. Further, Jesus would have had no control over many of them such as His birthplace or time and type of birth. Second, the odds of one man accidentally fulfilling even a very few of these is miniscule.
Even this is a thought provoking findings from Taylor & Francis .
Stood the test of adverse times in the nascent stage:
Any belief system that is fake would not have survived the type of persecution that Christianity went through. All those disciples who were hiding like cowards were suddenly ready to die for Jesus. It would have been a lot easier for detractors of Christianity to make a point that all the writings that we have today on which the foundation of Christianity is based upon, were in fact all cooked up and doctored with the help of the political and reigning powers at that time. But the fact is, all the worldly forces were trying to wipe out nascent Christianity by persecution and destroying all their literature. All that we have today has passed through a most turbulent period and has survived under most cruel persecution. By the time Christians could live a serene living under a favourable reigning emperor, all present day Gospels were already in use , as independent books before they were canonised in this favourable time.
Defying human logic:
Jesus did numerous miracles when He walked on this earth. All these miracles are the manifestation of His ability to do “anything and everything”. There was nothing which was not able to do. Yet He stops short of overcoming those who killed Him. There can be no explanation for this except that that was how it was supposed to be- for a reason. By the way there is a strong non Biblical evidence for these miracles from Josephus as well as for Christianity here.
I am an Orthodox Christian (you may call me neophite, as I have only started seriously relating my life with teachings of Christ, attending to the church, praying and everything else just a year ago) and I was also very much interested in this topic. The answer I found for myself may be something more broad than what people already suggested.
You see, after reading books and listening to lectures, I learned to understand that Bible is a collaboration of God and man, a Word of God recorded by man, for a purpose of teaching other men both about past facts of revelations from God, and about how to structure our own lives in the immediate "now". How every single person formed, edited, compiled and presented whatever he received in a revelation from God, or seen by his own eyes, is very much based on that exact person, his character, his intended readers, his culture...
What this means is that when we read something in the Bible (like, the moment of the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan river), we must not interpret it as a list of facts, a report from the scene, a newspaper article, a movie recitation, a photograph of sorts, but rather as an icon. Details matter not as much, but the meaning, the gist is ultimately what matters.
If we try to focus on the details, and take Bible as a scientific historical report of what happened, we will be piled in unconsistencies and divert our attention to the unimportant details. For example, we have conflicting reports from evangelists about how some obviously similar events happened and where did they happen. The event of a lady washing Jesus's legs with her hair - where and how did it happen? The event of miraculous fishing catch - when did it happen? Some key phrases are spoken by Jesus in different areas or different order in different gospels... Does this mean that one of the evangelists is wrong? If so, who is the scientifically and historically correct one, and who made a blunder? Did Jesus say "Blessed are the poor in spirit" or "Blessed are you who are poor"? Where did Jesus say it - on a mountain or on a field? What version of the Lord's Prayer is the "legit" one - by Luke or by Matthew? Who and in which order visited Jesus's tomb? And so on.
Also, we will keep on focusing on moments that are, honestly, not that important. Instead of trying to get the gist of things - learning what is God's will about our lives, learning to live better and cleaner life, learning to combat the temptation and sin, learning to pray and do good deeds and so on - we get carried away in discussions like "Why Genesis has two accounts of the creation of Earth that contradict each other", or wether or not Earth is 5k or 5m years old, or whether or not all Psalms were written by David or not, or wether or not Isaiah is a book by one or two different people - discussions that, while interesting, have little impact on our nowaday lives, on our immediate "now". Like Sherlock Holmes said, if something does not have a use to you, does not effect you, you'd better not care to even remember it. Sure, it may be good to argue about Creationism vs Evolution, but is that the mission that Jesus bestowed on his followers? How will it help me today not to judge my brother, or love my neighbour as myself? How will it help me to resist the temptation?
And does it really matter if, for instance, the incident with a huge number of pigs dying when posessed by the legion was a folk tale, integrated into the narrative to make it more vivid, or is a true story which happened exactly like that? Certain christian scholars, like Joachim Jeremias, consider it to be the former, but does the fact that the story did not happen exactly as written hurt the overall narrative in any way? When reading about this, are we to learn about what happened to a certain pig herd in a certain country a certain long time ago, or are we to learn about the way God acts, the way humans react, and the way God interacts with humans (rejecting Jesus after He cured their bretheren, and Jesus telling the cured man to stay and preach about what God did to him).
Finally, I came to a conclusion, that I need not base my faith on the historical authenticity of smaller details of the Bible narrative. Essentially, any religion is an intimate experience that you cannot really "prove" to anybody. God touched me, personally, and that I know for sure. And if I forget that, I am the one to blame - for I should treasure that and remember it. What is the difference between christianity and other religions for me then? Why, if I have no exact proof that bible is all so scientifically evident, while koran/whatever else is false, did I, as a programmer, a PhD, choose this faith and not others?
I've read Koran and other religious literature and books. It didn't resonate with me, it left unsanswered questions (not about historical authenticity but about my immediate life today, how to view it and how to act). Then I've read the Bible, and I see it applying to me. I see that I, as Paul describes it, do bad deeds which I do not want to, and am not doing good deeds which I want to. I see how I try to remove dust from the eye of my brother, while forgoing a log in my own. I see how I force someone to pay me the smallest debt they owe, after being forgiven by God (and other people) for much bigger tresspassings. I also see how sin follows from sin, and also how chosing not to sin turns out to be better for you "in the long run" even if initially, it is hard to force yourself away from something clearly wanted, attractive. I see that, however tempting, it is good not to "look at women with lust" or "not to commit adultery" or not to use foul language, and so on. I also see and know people who are way more "senior" christians than me, and I see "their light shining before them", for which I want to praise "the Father who is in Heaven". I feel how hard, but how rewarding, it is to sacrifice even a tiny bit of your own "something" for someone else, like feed the poor instead of spending money on your own pleasure. And so on.
How will knowing that someone found Noah's ark, or came up with a theory to explain the Flood, or found pharaoh's charriot remains in the Red Sea, help me now? Or how will it hurt me to know that a certain sequence of events in bible is historically wrong, certain miracle or event may as well be a folk tale and not a historical fact?
I'm not at all discrading any historical validity to the bible.
It is important that Jesus, both God and man, did walk the Earth, that he was concieved without a human father, that he was preaching the coming of Kingdom of God, that he was crucified, that his body did disappear from his tomb, that he did appear in a resurrected state to his apostles. If they (historians, scientists, idk) find out a scientific way to prove that crucifiction did not happen, or resurrection did not happen, or that Jesus was a simple human - for exmaple, find remains of Jesus of Nasareth, or like, study the genetic material found in the Shroud of Turin and prove that Jesus had a human father, or something of sorts - then we will have a reason to be worrying about wether bible is a fairy tale or not... Except they won't prove it, because there's just no undebateable way of doing so. Really, how will you, scientifically, prove that there were no crucifiction or no resurrection?
And so, historical validity of the events in the Bible will forever remain a matter of dispute. And up to every single person to believe or not. Those willing to believe will find ways to back their claim. Those willing to disbelieve will find ways to back theirs.
I, personally find the multiple causes of martyrdom and the way Christianity began to spread and ended up being a world religion to be extremely convincing. The apostles (uneducated people, most of them) just could not come up with a religion so complex and out-of-this-word, and both them and people they converted just could not have the willpower to stand up to such cruel executions and prosecutions, if God would not be with them. Even if you take the moment right after Jesus's death - he was taken, judged and found guilty, all his follower scattered, hidden in their habitats, fearing to come out lest they be prosecuted and executed as well. Every one of them a coward, even Peter. What could have happened to change them so drastically, to preach with such force, such power, as we read in the Acts? Also, who in their mind will create a religion that sets the plank SO HIGH, basically, which makes your life very "uncomfortable", because you have to strive to be as Holy as you can never truly become, and never be able to rest and bask in your achivements?
Others will argue. They will find explanations - madness of individual preachers, falsification of individual evidence to turn the whole picture, other personal motives, and so on. They will find counter arguments to my argument.s Thing is - they cannot prove I am wrong and I cannot prove they are wrong, so there's a limited usefullness to even indulge in the argument.
Bottom line is:
If you are "low on faith", take your time to settle aside your common activities, find some time in your life to spare, and pray to God. Honestly, sincerely, in any words you want to choose. There's even a verse for that in the Bible, if you like - Mark 9:24 (“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”). And wait for answer, patiently and paying attention. If you can muster another moment of spare time, pray again - don't fret or be discouraged if you don't get "immediate results", because being persistent and relentless in your prayer is a recurring motive in the gospels (Luke 11:5-10, Mathew 7:7 and other places).
You could probably substitute for that by reading literature by intelligent scholars that will convince you how Bible is so historically true, how every mismatch has a complelling answer, couple that with multiple real-world evidence and so on and so forth... But to my opinion, and to my (although limited, as I said above) experience, this is not really a Christian way of doing things. Because Jesus taught us (including by his own example) how praying is important, and how everything we really need, God will give to us, if we ask. So if you need to be reinforced in your faith - ask God and make effort to listen. It can be revealed to you in any imaginable and unimaginable way - but you will find out the answer, and when you do, you will feel that it is from God, and it is true.
I wish you best. Sorry for quite a long post.
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