Why Didn’t Jesus Write Anything Down?


An interesting article was posted yesterday on The Daily Beast by historians Candida Moss and Joel Baden. In it, they take down an argument by author Michael Paulkovich from his recently published book, No Meek Messiah in which he attempts to present evidence that Jesus never existed. Moss and Baden summarize Paulkovich’s argument this way:

Paulkovich’s case rests on three main pillars. First, the discovery that no ancient writers from the first few centuries CE mention Jesus. Second, the assumption that most writers should have mentioned Jesus, since he was the Son of God and all that. Third, the keen observation that Jesus never wrote anything himself. Although an undeniably compelling trinity of argumentation, it is not without its logical problems.

For the most part, Moss and Baden deliver an excellent rebuttal of these claims. I found myself in total agreement with them, until I read this:

The pièce de résistance in Paulkovich’s argument is that Jesus himself never wrote anything about himself. Scholarly estimates place literacy in the ancient world at around 5 percent. It’s not surprising that a carpenter from Galilee didn’t have the education or resources to put stylus to papyrus. This is a question of education, not non-existence.

Many Christians may respond to this by saying, “Of course Jesus could read and write. He’s God!” After all, we have the Bible, which Christians believe with unanimity to be the written word of God.

This is a fine argument if you already believe Jesus is divine. For the uninitiated, however, a little more evidence may be required.

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Popular News Site Claims Jesus Never Existed

did jesus exist

An article titled 5 Reasons to Suspect that Jesus Never Existed was posted yesterday at Salon.com and was featured in the Yahoo news feed. The article itself does not contain anything groundbreaking to anyone who follows this debate, but it presents the most common objections.

Below are five reasons author Valerie Tarico gives, and how to answer them.

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Responding to “Spiritual but Not Religious” Christians

spiritual but not religious

Over the last several years I have encountered a fair number of Christians who claim they are “spiritual but not religious.” In other words, they do not identify with a particular Christian denomination, using the Bible alone to guide their faith. It’s an ideology that says religious institutions are outdated and unnecessary.

People may reach this conclusion for a multitude of reasons. Some are disillusioned by what they perceive to be corruption and hypocrisy in religious institutions. Others may feel like they are not being “fed.” Others yet may feel that these intuitions teach something contrary to their beliefs regarding political and social issues.

Whatever the reason may be, we must reach out to these people and take their concerns seriously.

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Responding to Critics of my Blog on Josephus

strange notions

At the website StrangeNotions.com, a blog post I had written about the Testimonium Flavianum (a mention of Jesus in the writings of the ancient Jewish historian, Jospehus) was re-posted there. It originally appeared on Catholic.com, and then later on my personal blog. In the comment section under the blog, several people there questioned the reliability of my post based on my credentials.

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Why the ‘Gospel of Barnabas’ is a Medieval Fake

gospel of barnabas

In a previous blog post (Islam and the Crucifixion) I mentioned a book called The Gospel of Barnabas and how some Muslim apologists have used it to defend the Islamic view of Jesus. I pointed out that this so-called “gospel” is fraught with anachronisms, and there is virtually no evidence for its existence prior to medieval times. Since the publication of that post, I have received several emails asking me to elaborate on the subject.

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