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Does anyone have an apologetic response to this website?

https://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/biblianazar/esp_biblianazar_40.htm

Basically, here the author claims that Constantine gathered up all the manuscripts and burned all but a select group, and had Eusebius amalgamate the "'legendary tales of all the religious doctrines of the world together as one', using the standard god-myths from the presbyters' manuscripts as his exemplars" based on ideas behind Caesar, Krishna, Mithra, Horus and Zeus.

UPDATE:

Please note that related to the above my friend says that you can't even prove that Jesus existed, was crucified and rose again from the dead, so I mentioned the work of Josephus. His retort is that the works of Josephus have been corrupted. Does anyone know, is this true or not?

When I search this site I don't find any information on the historical accuracy of Josephus (see How do Christian theologians view and/or use Jewish commentators?).

2

The OP appears to ask about two things. One is biblical manuscript veracity and about historical sources regarding the existence of Christ. This answer is about the latter.

There are a number of sources that attest to Christ Jesus as an historical figure. The Old Testament, of course, prophesies of a Messiah, but who? In the New Testament, we know of Him as Jesus Christ. Are there non Scriptural sources that know of Jesus? We will look at four (Clement of Rome about 95 CE, Tacitus about 116 CE, Josephus about 95 CE, Pliny the Younger about 112 CE) who answer in the affirmative.

To be sure, these references are not without controversy, but they are satisfactorily addressed and clarified. Thus, there is no doubt that a man called Jesus Christ walked the earth and was witnessed about.

CLEMENT OF ROME

While Clement is a Christian, he is also a very early non-canonical witness to Christ Jesus.

The Church of God which sojourns at Rome, to the Church of God sojourning at Corinth, to them that are called and sanctified by the will of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, from Almighty God through Jesus Christ, be multiplied. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ii.ii.i.html

TERTULLIAN

With Tertullian writing about 210 CE, we will back into the earlier witness of Tacitus who also wrote about Jesus Christ.

Chapter XXI. But having asserted that our religion is supported by the writings of the Jews, the oldest which exist, though it is generally known, and we fully admit that it dates from a comparatively recent period—no further back indeed than the reign of Tiberius— http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf03.iv.iii.xxi.html

Do we accept this account of Tiberias from Tacitus?

Reign of Tiberius 9/18/14-3/16/37 AD The Senate convened on 18 September, to validate Tiberius's position as Princeps and, as it had done with Augustus before, extend the powers of the position to him.[40] These proceedings are fully accounted by Tacitus.[41] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiberius http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0078%3Abook%3D1%3Achapter%3D10

As such, we also have Tacitus’ accounts of Christ.

TACITUS

Tacitus wrote the Annals about 116 CE. From this, we find the reference to Christians (or Chrestians) and Christ.

Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0078%3Abook%3D15%3Achapter%3D44

JOSEPHUS

Josephus also wrote about 95 CE about Christ, His brother James, and Christians in Antiquities 20.9.1 and 18.3.3.

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, Antiquities, 20.9.1 http://www.ccel.org/ccel/josephus/complete.ii.xxi.ix.html

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross,541 those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day;542 as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/josephus/complete.ii.xix.iii.html

PLINY THE YOUNGER

He writes to the Emperor Trajan about 112 CE regarding Christ and Christians.

They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/pliny.html

CONCLUSION

In sum, it is only the uninformed and misguided who do not believe there was a man called Jesus Christ who walked the earth and had followers after his death (and resurrection) that were called Christians. Historic references to Christ may be found from foe and friend. The real dispute is not whether Jesus Christ lived or even if He was crucified or had followers, but whether He rose from the dead.

For further references https://probe.org/ancient-evidence-for-jesus-from-non-christian-sources-2/#text10 http://www.josephus.org/testimonium.htm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus http://earlychristianwritings.com/testimonium.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ

  • It might be also helpful to trace the history of people in Jesus time to prove that Jesus really existed. The first check point is Pontious Pilate. There is archeological evidence discovered an artefact " Pilate stone" on Wikipedia, and St Ignatius and Policarp who were both friends and disciples of St John the Apostle, and Ireneus who is a disciple of Policarp all this information in Wikipedia. – Bindi Livingstone Oct 19 '17 at 23:00
  • You are correct. There are other very early Christians (from about 90 CE to 160 CE) who witnessed as to the fact that Christ Jesus was also an historical figure who walked the earth, died, and was resurrected. These include Clement of Rome, Polycarp of Smyrna, Ignatius, Papias, Mathetes, and others. As you mention, we know at least Polycarp was discipled by John the Apostle and Philip the Apostle. Some believe that Polycarp was the person to whom the letter to Smyrna in Revelation was written. – SLM Oct 20 '17 at 16:02
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As regards the OP first question about biblical manuscripts, we need to distinguish between Constantine asking for copies of Scripture, rather than compiling Scripture.

The link in the OP asserts the latter (bold mine).

It was British-born Flavius Constantinus (Constantine, originally Custennyn or Custennin) (272-337) who authorized the compilation of the writings now called the New Testament.

Whereas the truth is that the letter from Constantine to Eusebius merely requests copies of Scripture (bold mine).

I have thought it expedient to instruct your Prudence to order fifty copies of the sacred Scriptures, the provision and use of which you know to be most needful for the instruction of the Church, to be written on prepared parchment in a legible manner, and in a convenient, portable form, by professional transcribers thoroughly practiced in their art http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf201.iv.vi.iv.xxxvi.html

In other words, Constantine was asking for something that was already known and complete made as such totally apart from him.

If one starts an argument a plumb off center to begin with, the remainder is hardly worth reading, let alone responding to.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifty_Bibles_of_Constantine

0

OK, I've found via this link When did people start to deny Jesus as a historical person?

The following page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_myth_theory

But it does not confirm if the writings of Josephus we have are accurate. That said, I did find the following portion helpful:

Lack of support for mythicism[edit] According to New Testament scholar Bart D. Ehrman, most people who study the historical period of Jesus believe that he did exist and do not write in support of the Christ myth theory.[339]

Maurice Casey, theologian and scholar of New Testament and early Christianity, stated that the belief among professors that Jesus existed is generally completely certain. According to Casey, the view that Jesus did not exist is "the view of extremists", "demonstrably false" and "professional scholars generally regard it as having been settled in serious scholarship long ago".[340]

In his 1977 book Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels, classical historian and popular author Michael Grant concluded that "modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory".[341] In support of this, Grant quoted Roderic Dunkerley's 1957 opinion that the Christ myth theory has "again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars".[342] At the same time, he also quoted Otto Betz's 1968 opinion that in recent years "no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus — or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary".[343] In the same book, he also wrote:

If we apply to the New Testament, as we should, the same sort of criteria as we should apply to other ancient writings containing historical material, we can no more reject Jesus' existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned.[179]

Graeme Clarke, Emeritus Professor of Classical Ancient History and Archaeology at Australian National University[344] has stated: "Frankly, I know of no ancient historian or biblical historian who would have a twinge of doubt about the existence of a Jesus Christ — the documentary evidence is simply overwhelming".[345]

R. Joseph Hoffmann, who had created the Jesus Project, which included both mythicists and historicists to investigate the historicity of Jesus, wrote that an adherent to the Christ myth theory asked to set up a separate section of the project for those committed to the theory. Hoffmann felt that to be committed to mythicism signaled a lack of necessary skepticism and he noted that most members of the project did not reach the mythicist conclusion.[346]

UPDATE:

Also, I recently watched this video:

Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQmodO2quW0&feature=youtu.be (removed)

See instead https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oN2EKL7E2Vg

by J. Warner Wallace (see also http://coldcasechristianity.com/)

Applied his ability to analyze circumstantial evidence for cold cases (10 or more years old) to test the truth of the New Testament.

49:17 Cornelius Tacitus 49:34 Mara Bar-Serapion (Syrian Philosopher 70AD) 50:09 Phlegon (80-140AD, quoted by Origen)

Here is how you build a case: -Present? -Verified? -Accurate? -Biased?

Verified: If you used only non-Christian/Pagan sources, here is what you would know about Jesus: -Jesus lived -Jesus was crucified -Earthquake and darkness -Jesus was called Christ -Jesus lived in Judea -Crucified under Pontius Pilate -Followers were persecuted -Jesus was teh "Wise King" -Jews had a hand in His death -Jesus foresaw the future -Rose after death -Showed His injuries

Corroborating Witnesses:

  • Ignatuis: Bishop of Antioch. 7 letters survive: quoting or alluding to 7-16 NT books, including Matthew, John, and Luke and several of Paul's letters.
  • Papias: Bishop of Hierapolis. Wrote about the 4 Gospels.
  • Polycarp: Bishop of Smyrna. 1 letter survives, quoting or alluding to 14-16 NT books, including Matthew, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 1 Peter and 1 John
  • Irenaeus: Bishop of Lugdunum, and he wrote as an apologist. He identified 24 New Testament books as Scripture including Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Phillippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, and Revelation. The New Testament books were not canonized at Laodicea, they were merely confirmed at Laodicea. They had been used 2 centuries earlier by Irenaeus.
  • Hippolytus: The First Anti-Pipe, and he identified 24 New Testament books as Scripture including Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Phillippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, and Revelation.

Accurate: “Our manuscript evidence is embarrassingly rich. We’ve got thousands of copies—over 24 000 copies of manuscripts that we compare to each other. Some of these manuscripts are within 60 years of the events. There were believers, disciples of Luke, who were writing about what Luke wrote, including Ignatius and Polycarp. With Josephus we’ve got 120 copies, none within 1100 years oft he event. No disciples confirming his content.”

Biased: Bias comes down to motive. Why would anybody lie? There are only three reasons: 1) Money/Greed 2) Sexual Lust 3) Pursuit of Power

The above are the three things that motivate anyone to do what they shouldn’t be doing.

  • Peter was crucified head down in Rome in 66 AD
  • Andrew was bound to death in 74 AD
  • James, son of Zebedee, was beheaded in Jerusalem (Acts 12:1-9)
  • John was banished to the Isle of Patmos in 96 AD (Rev. 1-9)
  • Phillip was crucified at Heirapole, Phryga in 52 AD
  • Bartholomew was beaten, crucified, then beheaded in 52 AD
  • Thomas was run through by a lance at Corehandal, East Indies in 52 AD
  • Matthew was slain by the sword in the city of Ethiopia in 60 AD
  • James son of Alphaeus, was beaten to death in 60 AD
  • Thaddeus was shot to death by arrows in 72 AD
  • Simon was crucified in Persia in 74 AD

All died without financial success, the vast majority died alone, all were persecuted for their position.

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