This page is a response to the article "Did Jesus Christ Really Live?" by Marshall J. Gauvin (1881-1978). The full text can be found at this site:http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/marshall_gauvin/did_jesus_really_live.html
I am responding to this text per the request of a visitor.
Gauvin's text will be italicized. My responses will not be.
Scientific inquiry into the origins of Christianity begins to-day with the question: "Did Jesus Christ really live?" Was there a man named Jesus, who was called the Christ, living in Palestine nineteen centuries ago, of whose life and teachings we have a correct account in the New Testament? The orthodox idea that Christ was the son of God -- God himself in human form -- that he was the creator of the countless millions of glowing suns and wheeling worlds that strew the infinite expanse of the universe; that the forces of nature were the servants of his will and changed their courses at his command -- such an idea has been abandoned by every independent thinker in the world
In other words, "by everyone who believes exactly as I do"
- by every thinker who relies on reason and experience rather than mere faith --
With the exception of those whose reason and experience leads them to the conclusion that Jesus was who He claimed to be.
by every man of science who places the integrity of nature above the challenge of ancient religious tales.
Nature and religion are not opposing forces. Understanding religion is as much a challenge as understanding nature.
Not only has the divinity of Christ been given up, but his existence as a man is being more and more seriously questioned.
Only because His existence is so obvious, that almost 2000 years have to pass before questions of His existence can be taken seriously. Maybe in another 1000 years, people can start doubting the existence of Christopher Columbus. After all, the historical evidence for Christopher Columbus is actually weaker than that of Jesus.
Some of the ablest scholars of the world deny that he ever lived at all.
Yeah, people like Acharya S.
A commanding literature dealing with the inquiry, intense in its seriousness and profound and thorough in its research, is growing up in all countries, and spreading the conviction that Christ is a myth.
Actually, a very, very small percentage of books that deal with the historicity argue that He never existed. The majority of even non-Christian scholars believe that He existed at the very least.
The question is one of tremendous importance. For the Freethinker, as well as for the Christian, it is of the weightiest significance. The Christian religion has been and is a mighty fact in the world. For good or for ill, it has absorbed for many centuries the best energies of mankind. It has stayed the march of civilization,
Actually, it's been largely behind it.
and made martyrs of some of the noblest men and women of the race:
That it has. But keep in mind that far more people have been martyrd for being Christians than for not being Christians.
and it is to-day the greatest enemy of knowledge, of freedom, of social and industrial improvement, and of the genuine brotherhood of mankind.
Despite the fact that those civilizations that are primarily Christian have far more knowledge, freedom, social and industrial improvement, and genuine brotherhood, than those that are not. Compare the modern USA, which is about 90% Christian, to primarily non-Christian nations like Cuba, Iran and China.
The progressive forces of the world are at war with this Asiatic superstition, and this war will continue until the triumph of truth and freedom is complete.
I think that the side that "truth and freedom" is on isn't the one that Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, and Mao Tse Tung were on.
The question, "Did Jesus Christ Really Live?" goes to the very root of the conflict between reason and faith; and upon its determination depends, to some degree, the decision as to whether religion or humanity shall rule the world.
As if "religion" and "humanity" are mutually exclusive.
Whether Christ did, or did not live, has nothing at all to do with what the churches teach, or with what we believe, It is wholly a matter of evidence. It is a question of science. The question is -- what does history say? And that question must be settled in the court of historical criticism. If the thinking world is to hold to the position that Christ was a real character, there must be sufficient evidence to warrant that belief.
That's good, since we have more evidence for the existence of Jesus than we have for anyone who lived at His time or earlier.
If no evidence for his existence can be found; if history returns the verdict that his name is not inscribed upon her scroll, if it be found that his story was created by art and ingenuity, like the stories of fictitious heroes, he will have to take his place with the host of other demigods whose fancied lives and deeds make up the mythology of the world.
What, then, is the evidence that Jesus Christ lived in this world as a man? The authorities relied upon to prove the reality of Christ are the four Gospels of the New Testament -- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These Gospels, and these alone, tell the story of his life.
They're the earliest biographical texts, yes. But we have many other texts which confirm His existence, including historians Josephus and Tacitus. And we have much biographical information in non-Biblical church texts from the first few centuries of A.D.
Now we know absolutely nothing of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, apart from what is said of them in the Gospels.
False. We know much about them from non-Biblical writings of the early church, and other NT writings.
Moreover, the Gospels themselves do not claim to have been written by these men. They are not called "The Gospel of Matthew," or "The Gospel of Mark," but "The Gospel According to Matthew," "The Gospel According to Mark," "The Gospel According to Luke," and "The Gospel According to John." No human being knows who wrote a single line in one of these Gospels.
True to some extent. They could have dictated. But the titles make it clear who was doing the dictation. I don't know why he doesn't think "according to" is an authorship credit.
No human being knows when they were written, or where.
We know generally when and where they were written, but not specifically. If we're going to toss out every historical text that we can't place to a specific time and place, then let's be consistent and throw out 99% of ancient history!
Biblical scholarship has established the fact that the Gospel of Mark is the oldest of the four.
Lately, some scholars have placed Matthew, and even John, before the Gospel of Mark. Personally, I'm not swayed by their arguments, and will concede that Mark was written first.
The chief reasons for this conclusion are that this Gospel is shorter, simpler, and more natural, than any of the other three. It is shown that the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were enlarged from the Gospel of Mark.
Not exactly true. While they certainly borrowed some from Mark, the majority of what is in Matthew and Luke is not in Mark While Matthew and Luke may well have read Mark's first, they also used different sources for their own Gospels. Mark's primary source was the Apostle Peter. Luke may have used Peter as one of several sources as well, but there's no evidence suggesting that Matthew used Peter at all. Matthew himself was a witness to the ministry and resurrection, and the evidence suggests he was his own source for most what he wrote (though he obviously had another source for his birth narratives).
The Gospel of Mark knows nothing of the virgin birth, of the Sermon on the Mount, of the Lord's prayer, or of other important facts of the supposed life of Christ. These features were added by Matthew and Luke.
Mark's, being shorter, would be expected to have less information. That hardly means that Mark was unaware of that information. If an article about President Bush fails to mention that he's the son of a former President, does that mean the author was unaware of this fact? No, it means he didn't feel it was worth mentioning at the time.
But the Gospel of Mark, as we have it, is not the original Mark. In the same way that the writers of Matthew and Luke copied and enlarged the Gospel of Mark, Mark copied and enlarged an earlier document which is called the "original Mark." This original source perished in the early age of the Church.
Then what's the evidence that it existed? "Original Mark" is completely theoretical, and hardly any scholars argue in its favor anymore. I see that Marshall Gauvin (the author of this text) died in 1978, so it's not unusual that he'd be promoting since-abandoned theories.
What it was, who wrote it, where it was written, nobody knows.
Though 100% of the evidence says that Mark wrote his gospel, and 0% says otherwise. If that leaves the authorship in doubt, then I guess we must be consistent and doubt the authorship of everything else.
The Gospel of John is admitted by Christian scholars to be an unhistorical document.
By which Christian scholars? John gives a lot of details that are quite historical. John wasn't writing it as a historian that way Luke was, but was writing it as a more personal thing, having been a first-hand witness to most of the events he describes. That hardly makes it "unhistorical", however.
They acknowledge that it is not a life of Christ, but an interpretation of him; that it gives us an idealized and spiritualized picture of what Christ is supposed to have been, and that it is largely composed of the speculations of Greek philosophy. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, which are called the "Synoptic Gospels," on the one hand, and the Gospel of John, on the other, stand at opposite extremes of thought. So complete is the difference between the teaching of the first three Gospels and that of the fourth, that every critic admits that if Jesus taught as the Synoptics relate, he could not possibly have taught as John declares.
Hardly. There is no contradiction between what John teaches and what the synoptics teach.
Indeed, in the first three Gospels and in the fourth, we meet with two entirely different Christs. Did I say two? It should be three; for, according to Mark, Christ was a man; according to Matthew and Luke, he was a demigod; while John insists that he was God himself.
Actually, all 4 agree that He was both God and man. Mark acknowledges that Jesus is God in Mark 2:7. John acknowledges that Jesus is a man in several places, such as John 1:30, 3:2 and others. Matthew and Luke acknowledge that Jesus was both man and that He was God. All four are in agreement on this point.
There is not the smallest fragment of trustworthy evidence to show that any of the Gospels were in existence, in their present form, earlier than a hundred years after the time at which Christ is supposed to have died.
I think what he means is that we don't have copies that reliably date to less than a hundred years after Christ died, which is true, but no reasonable scholar would then conclude that they weren't in existence, in their present form, prior to that date. They would look at the internal evidence and manuscript support, which clearly support the Gospels being written towards the middle of the 1st century.
Christian scholars, having no reliable means by which to fix the date of their composition, assign them to as early an age as their calculations and their guesses will allow; but the dates thus arrived at are far removed from the age of Christ or his apostles. We are told that Mark was written some time after the year 70, Luke about 110,
Prior to 67 A.D. for both, actually, as I'll show you in a minute.
Matthew about 130,
It's ironic that he accuses Christian scholars of assigning their dates to as early as they can get away with (which isn't true) and then dates Matthew later than I've ever seen anyone date it. He's clearly trying to date all four Gospels as late as he can possibly get away with, and failing, since the internal evidence and manuscript support show them clearly being earlier than this.
Most historians date Matthew roughly the same as Luke. And while it's been debated (even I'm not completely convinced), some fragments of Matthew's Gospel have been dated to around 70 A.D.
and John not earlier than 140 A.D.
The evidence shows it was being taught from in 110 A.D., and the earliest fragments generally date to about 125 A.D. (though some scholars date these fragments anywhere from 100 A.D. to 150 A.D.)
Let me impress upon you that these dates are conjectural, and that they are made as early as possible.
Is he serious?
The first historical mention of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, was made by the Christian Father, St. Irenaeus, about the year 190 A.D.
False. Papias mentioned them around 125 A.D.
The only earlier mention of any of the Gospels was made by Theopholis of Antioch, who mentioned the Gospel of John in 180 A.D.
There is absolutely nothing to show that these Gospels -- the only sources of authority as to the existence of Christ
Other than Tacitus, Josephus, Acts, Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, etc....
-- were written until a hundred and fifty years after the events they pretend to describe.
It's very odd for anyone to attempt to date a manuscript based upon when the earliest surviving copy is from. If they use the same method for all historical documents, they'd have to assume that Josephus didn't write "Antiquities" until the 11th century, Tacitus didn't write "Annals" until the 9th century, and that Homer didn't write "The Iliad" until the 2nd century B.C. All of these texts' earliest copies date at least 500 years after they were written. On average, ancient texts go from about 1000 years from when they were written to earliest surviving copy. It's very unlikely that the copies we have from the late 2nd century were the very earliest copies. In fact, Gauvin admits later in his text that they weren't! He later refers to them as "copies of copies of copies", meaning their originals had to have been earlier.
The most reliable way to date ancient documents isn't by when the earliest copies show up (as Gauvin is attempting to do, which is not only inaccurate, but would be disastrous if applied to other texts) but they their internal evidence. Meaning, what do the texts themselves tell us about when they were written? For example, if I were to find a biography of Elvis and I see that it mentions no events after 1970, then the internal evidence would suggest the biography was written around 1970. Unfortunately, the internal evidence for the Gospels themselves is sketchy. The most recent event mentioned in any of them is the resurrection of Jesus which took place about 32 A.D. But since they're exclusively about Jesus, we wouldn't expect them to mention any events after 32 A.D. Thus it would be untrue to say "since the most recent events mentioned took place around 32 A.D., they must have been written about 32 A.D." However, the internal evidence for the book of Acts is quite strong. Acts is about the early church, with Paul as its pivotal figure. Paul was put to death in 67 A.D., and Acts does not mention this fact. It also does not mention the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem which happened in 70 A.D. There is no doubt that had either of these events occurred before the author wrote Acts, he would have mentioned them. In fact, Acts mentions no events after 62 A.D., making it likely written within 30 years of the time Jesus walked the Earth. We also know that the author of Acts also wrote the Gospel of Luke, and that Acts was the latter of the two texts. Therefore, we know that Luke was written prior to Acts, and thus was also written prior to 67 (probably even 62) A.D. And since Mark was written before Luke, Mark was also written before 67 A.D.
Walter R. Cassels, the learned author of "Supernatural Religion," one of the greatest works ever written on the origins of Christianity, says: "After having exhausted the literature and the testimony bearing on the point, we have not found a single distinct trace of any of those Gospels during the first century and a half after the death of Christ."
False. He misquoted Cassels here (the actual text is here: http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/freethought/cassels/p2c10.htm, and the quote is near the bottom of the page). Cassels actually said "After having exhausted the literature and the testimony bearing on the point, we have not found a single distinct trace of any of those Gospels, with the exception of the third, during the first century and a half after the death of Jesus. (emphasis mine)" Cassels agrees that Luke was written prior to 140 A.D. And besides all of that, these late datings Cassels and Gauvin give have since been abandoned by all scholars. No serious scholar would dare to date any Gospel but (perhaps) John's outside of the first century.
How can Gospels which were not written until a hundred and fifty years after Christ is supposed to have died, and which do not rest on any trustworthy testimony, have the slightest value as evidence that he really lived?
Again, there's no reason to suppose they were written 150 years after they showed up. If we're to assume that, then let's be consistent and assume that Josephus wrote "Antiquities" almost 1000 years after he died, since that's when the earliest copies show up. And that Homer wrote "The Iliad" 500 years after he died, also when the earliest copies show up.
History must be founded upon genuine documents or on living proof. Were a man of to-day to attempt to write the life of a supposed character of a hundred and fifty years ago, without any historical documents upon which to base his narrative, his work would not be a history, it would be a romance. Not a single statement in it could be relied upon.
Again, there is no evidence that any of the Gospel writers were writing about someone who lived 150 years earlier than them. But this statement is contrary to the opinions of historians, anyways. For example, the biography of Alexander the Great that is generally considered the most reliable is Arrian's, which was writen around 250 A.D., over 550 years after Alexander's death, and there's no evidence that he had historical documents on which to base his narrative (he probably did - but since they no longer exist, Gauvin would have to, in order to be consistent with his arguments so far, assume they did not). Does Gauvin believe that Arrian's biography should not be considered a history, but a romance? What about other historical texts that are generally agreed by historians to be reliable despite having been written 150+ years after the events they describe, with no existing reference work between them?
Besides that, Gauvin admits that these copies of the Gospels that date to 150+ years after Jesus walked the Earth were "copies of copies of copies" and relied, at least somewhat, on the Gospel of Mark, which he agrees was written within 40 years of Jesus' death, meaning they did, per Gauvin's admission, have historical documents on which they were based.
Christ is supposed to have been a Jew, and his disciples are said to have been Jewish fishermen. His language, and the language of his followers must, therefore, have been Aramaic -- the popular language of Palestine in that age. But the Gospels are written in Greek -- every one of them.
One thing he fails to point out here is that only one of the four Gospel authors, John, was a Jewish fisherman. Matthew was a tax collector, not a fisherman. With Greek being the primary language of Rome in their day, they were probably both somewhat fluent in Greek. Luke was a physician, and Greek was his native tongue. Mark was a translator, and knew both Greek and Hebrew.
Nor were they translated from some other language. Every leading Christian scholar since Erasmus, four hundred years ago, has maintained that they were originally written in Greek.
Incorrect. The evidence strongly suggests that Matthew was originally written in Hebrew, then translated to Greek, and the early church fathers agree that this is so. Matthew's Gospel is full of "Aramaisms", phrases that show evidence of being originally Aramaic in origin.
This proves that they were not written by Christ's disciples, or by any of the early Christians.
How so? Greek was the most common language of Rome, so if they were trying to get the word spread of what they experienced, they would have made sure their texts were written for as wide of an audience as possible. The only author who was writing specifically for Hebrew-speaking people was Matthew, and his Gospel was originally written in Hebrew.
Foreign Gospels, written by unknown men, in a foreign tongue, several generations after the death of those who are supposed to have known the facts -- such is the evidence relied upon to prove that Jesus lived.
This same logic also proves that Josephus didn't write his histories. He was Jewish, yet wrote most, if not all, of his texts in Greek. It was the most common language for even Jewish people to write historical documents in, as it was a language understood by a greater number of people. So if we're applying this argument consistently, then we have to toss out practically all of the writings of Josephus!
But while the Gospels were written several generations too late to be of authority, the original documents, such as they were, were not preserved. The Gospels that were written in the second century no longer exist.
So has the original of EVERY text from the 1st century and earlier. If Gauvin would use this to disregard the New Testament writings, then he'd have to be fair and dismiss all of the ancient histories.
They have been lost or destroyed. The oldest Gospels that we have are supposed to be copies of copies of copies that were made from those Gospels.
So the earliest texts we have from 150 years after the crucifixon were copies of copies of copies? That pretty much admits that they weren't actually written 150 years after the crucifixion, doesn't it?
We do not know who made these copies; we do not know when they were made; nor do we know whether they were honestly made. Between the earliest Gospels and the oldest existing manuscripts of the New Testament, there is a blank gulf of three hundred years.
Yet the "earliest Gospels" and their copies in the "oldest existing manuscripts of the New Testament" are exactly the same, so clearly nothing happened to them during this "blank gulf of three hundred years".
It is, therefore, impossible to say what the original Gospels contained.
Again, this is an argument that, if applied consistently, would disprove all ancient historical writings. Most of Josephus' writings date far more than 150 years (over 1000 in many cases) after their writing, yet would any reasonable historian say that is impossible to say what Josephus' original writings contained? Any reasonable historian would laugh at the idea.
So why is this idea laughable? Essentially, if, as he theorizes, people were making changes as they were copying them, then we would end up with thousands of wildly different Gospels, unless we suppose that only one person was doing all of the copying. But with all of these different copies from all of these different times and from all of these different locations (about 24,000 ancient copies of different NT writings), they are 99.5% in agreement on specific wording (any differences are mostly things like changing "Jesus Christ" to "Christ Jesus" and minor stuff like that), and 100% in agreement on all doctrinal points. This is, by far, the best manuscript support we have for any ancient documents. It's completely off the charts. We could more easily dismiss Josephus, Tacitus, and every other historical writing than we could dismiss the NT writings.
There were many Gospels in circulation in the early centuries, and a large number of them were forgeries. Among these were the "Gospel of Paul," the Gospel of Bartholomew," the "Gospel of Judas Iscariot," the "Gospel of the Egyptians," the "Gospel or Recollections of Peter," the "Oracles or Sayings of Christ," and scores of other pious productions, a collection of which may still be read in "The Apocryphal New Testament." Obscure men wrote Gospels and attached the names of prominent Christian characters to them, to give them the appearance of importance. Works were forged in the names of the apostles, and even in the name of Christ. The greatest Christian teachers taught that it was a virtue to deceive and lie for the glory of the faith. Dean Milman, the standard Christian historian, says: "Pious fraud was admitted and avowed." The Rev. Dr. Giles writes: "There can be no doubt that great numbers of books were then written with no other view than to deceive." Professor Robertson Smith says: "There was an enormous floating mass of spurious literature created to suit party views." The early church was flooded with spurious religious writings. From this mass of literature, our Gospels were selected by priests and called the inspired word of God. Were these Gospels also forged? There is no certainty that they were not.
And there's zero evidence that they were, unlike with the gnostic texts Gauvin mentions here.
But let me ask: If Christ was an historical character, why was it necessary to forge documents to prove his existence? Did anybody ever think of forging documents to prove the existence of any person who was really known to have lived? The early Christian forgeries are a tremendous testimony to the weakness of the Christian cause.
Notice the loaded question here. Does he really think that the purpose of the forged texts was to "prove his existence"? No, Jesus' existence wasn't in doubt at the time, and wouldn't be for another fifteen centuries. They weren't trying to "prove his existence" any more than whoever made up the story about George Washington chopping down the cherry tree was trying to "prove George Washington's existence." The forgers were, instead, trying to push their cause by pretending that Jesus was behind it. Unlike the Gospel authors, these people didn't know Jesus personally.
Spurious or genuine, let us see what the Gospels can tell us about the life of Jesus. Matthew and Luke give us the story of his genealogy. How do they agree? Matthew says there were forty-one generations from Abraham to Jesus. Luke says there were fifty-six. Yet both pretend to give the genealogy of Joseph, and both count the generations!
Nope. Luke was giving Mary's genealogy, while Matthew was giving Joseph's.
Nor is this all. The Evangelists disagree on all but two names between David and Christ. These worthless genealogies show how much the New Testament writers knew about the ancestors of their hero.
Again, these were two different genealogies. The "two names" in common were different people who happened to share common names.
If Jesus lived, he must have been born. When was he born? Matthew says he was born when Herod was King of Judea. Luke says he was born when Cyrenius was Governor of Syria. He could not have been born during the administration of these tow rulers for Herod died in the year 4 B.C., and Cyrenius, who, in Roman history is Quirinius, did not become Governor of Syria until ten years later. Herod and Quirinius are separated by the whole reign of Archelaus, Herod's son. Between Matthew and Luke, there is, therefore, a contradiction of at least ten years, as to the time of Christ's birth.
Again using out-of-date sources. Quirinius Varus ruled from 6 B.C. to 4 B.C. and then again from 2 B.C. to 1 B.C. I think they're confusing Quirinius Varus with someone else, but it's clearly Quirinius Varus that Luke was talking about. Jesus was born in 4 B.C., during Quirinius Varus' first reign.
The fact is that the early Christians had absolutely no knowledge as to when Christ was born. The Encyclopaedia Britannica says: "Christians count one hundred and thirty-three contrary opinions of different authorities concerning the year the Messiah appeared on earth." Think of it -- one hundred and thirty-three different years, each one of which is held to be the year in which Christ came into the world. What magnificent certainty!
I doubt this claim is true, that the Encyclopedia Britannica said any such thing. While the exact year is unknown, it's universally agreed to be between 5 B.C. and 1 A.D, with 4 B.C. being most commonly accepted.
Towards the close of the eighteenth century, Antonmaria Lupi, a learned Jesuit, wrote a work to show that the nativity of Christ has been assigned to every month in the year, at one time or another.
Yes, it's true that we don't know when Jesus was born. But if we're going to call this evidence that He never existed, then let's apply this argument consistently and say that Julius Caesar, Aristotle, and Christopher Columbus never existed, since we don't know their birth dates, either.
Where was Christ born? According to the Gospels, he was habitually called "Jesus of Nazareth." The New Testament writers have endeavored to leave the impression that Nazareth of Galilee was his home town. The Synoptic Gospels represent that thirty years of his life were spent there. Notwithstanding this, Matthew declares that he was born in Bethlehem in fulfillment of a prophecy in the Book of Micah.
Saying you were raised in one place doesn't mean you weren't born in another. If it does, I must not exist, since I was born in Wisconsin but raised in Michigan.
But the prophecy of Micah has nothing whatever to do with Jesus; it prophesies the coming of a military leader, not a divine teacher. Matthew's application of this prophecy to Christ strengthens the suspicion that his Gospel is not history, but romance.
False. Jesus was the only one who ever could be claimed to have fulfilled the Micah prophecy.
Luke has it that his birth occurred at Bethlehem, whither his mother had gone with her husband, to make the enrollment called for by Augustus Caesar. Of the general census mentioned by Luke, nothing is known in Roman history. But suppose such a census was taken. The Roman custom, when an enrollment was made, was that every man was to report at his place of residence. The head of the family alone made report. In no case was his wife, or any dependent, required to be with him. In the face of this established custom, Luke declares that Joseph left his home in Nazareth and crossed two provinces to go Bethlehem for the enrollment; and not only this, but that he had to be accompanied by his wife, Mary, who was on the very eve of becoming a mother. This surely is not history, but fable.
No one is saying Mary "had" to go with him. But is it unreasonable to suppose she would have gone instead of staying by herself? What woman would rather be alone than with her husband when she gave birth?
The story that Christ was born at Bethlehem was a necessary part of the program which made him the Messiah, and the descendant of King David. The Messiah had to be born in Bethlehem, the city of David; and by what Renan calls a roundabout way, his birth was made to take place there. The story of his birth in the royal city is plainly fictitious.
It could only be called "plainly fictitious" if it were impossible for Jesus to be born in Bethlehem. Why would this be impossible?
His home was Nazareth. He was called "Jesus of Nazareth"; and there he is said to have lived until the closing years of his life. Now comes the question -- Was there a city of Nazareth in that age? The Encyclopaedia Biblica, a work written by theologians, the greatest biblical reference work in the English language, says: "We cannot perhaps venture to assert positively that there was a city of Nazareth in Jesus' time." No certainty that there was a city of Nazareth!
It must be an old copy. We now know that Nazareth was occupied since the 7th century B.C. and even experienced a ‘refounding' in the 2nd century B.C.
Not only are the supposed facts of the life of Christ imaginary, but the city of his birth and youth and manhood existed, so far as we know, only on the map of mythology. What amazing evidence to prove the reality of a Divine man! Absolute ignorance as to his ancestry; nothing whatever known of the time of his birth, and even the existence of the city where he is said to have been born, a matter of grave question!
Only one of those, the time of His birth, is unknown. But even if all of these were true, it's the same with many historical figures. Let's just be consistent and dismiss them all, shall we?
After his birth, Christ, as it were, vanishes out of existence, and with the exception of a single incident recorded in Luke, we hear absolutely nothing of him until he has reached the age of thirty years.
False. Luke records His going to Jerusalem as an infant and being blessed by Simeon (the incident Gauvin is referring to), but Matthew also mentions the visit from the wise men and the threat from King Herod (occurring when Jesus was over a year old).
The account of his being found discussing with the doctors in the Temple at Jerusalem when he was but twelve years old, is told by Luke alone. The other Gospels are utterly ignorant of this discussion; and, this single incident excepted, the four Gospels maintain an unbroken silence with regard to thirty years of the life of their hero. What is the meaning of this silence? If the writers of the Gospels knew the facts of the life of Christ, why is it that they tell us absolutely nothing of thirty years of that life?
Because they didn't meet Him until his he was thirty, perhaps?
What historical character can be named whose life for thirty years is an absolute blank to the world?
Many. Right off the top of my head, I know that we know very little of Pontius Pilate's life before his encounter with Jesus. I know that Aristotle's life prior to meeting Plato is as much a blank as Jesus'. And nothing is known of the Roman Emperor Claudius before his adulthood. There are many others with similar gulfs in their histories.
If Christ was the incarnation of God, if he was the greatest teacher the world has known, if he came to cave (sic) mankind from everlasting pain -- was there nothing worth remembering in the first thirty years of his existence among men? The fact is that the Evangelists knew nothing of the life of Jesus, before his ministry; and they refrained from inventing a childhood, youth and early manhood for him because it was not necessary to their purpose.
They answer their own question here, and do it very well. The Gospel writers knew very little of Jesus' life before His ministry, since they only got to know Him during His ministry. This very much supports the fact that the Gospel authors, and most of their sources, were people who actually knew Jesus. If He was unknown to them and they were just making stuff up, why wouldn't they have made up details about His early life? The fact that they wrote so little about the times before they got to know Him very much supports the fact that they DID know Him, and weren't making stuff up. This is one of the best arguments for the reliability of the witness of the Gospels!
Luke, however, deviated from the rule of silence long enough to write the Temple incident.
"Rule of silence". I like that!
The story of the discussion with the doctors in the Temple is proved to be mythical by all the circumstances that surround it. The statement that his mother and father left Jerusalem, believing that he was with them; that they went a day's journey before discovering that he was not in their company;
They were traveling with a large family group, not just the three of them. They likely thought Jesus was with another relative.
and that after searching for three days, they found him in the Temple asking and answering questions of the learned Doctors, involves a series of tremendous improbabilities. Add to this the fact that the incident stands alone in Luke, surrounded by a period of silence covering thirty years; add further that none of the other writers have said a word of the child Jesus discussing with the scholars of their nation;
Since none of the authors were witnesses to the event, it's not unusual that only one wrote about it. Luke was the only Gospel author who used Mary (the mother of Jesus) as a source, thus he's the only one who logically would have mentioned it.
and add again the unlikelihood that a child would appear before serious-minded men in the role of an intellectual champion and the fabulous character of the story becomes perfectly clear.
It's only unlikely if we're assuming that Jesus was just a normal child.