It seems to me many points are already answered here, but here are some short takes.
Chapter 5 "Early Christianity- Is the Record Sound?, had some good argumentation that I could use some help with to see the 'other side of the coin'.
Not entirely honest argumentation, though, but I agree it is a good start for a rebuttal.
Here are the 'jist' of what it said; 1. Jesus WAS a historical figure as writers other than christians testify. Wether he DID THE THINGS the bible said he did, OR WAS who the bible said he was.......is the debate.
The primary debate, of course. That a historical person lived called Jesus is surely open to debate, but it is not in itself a remarkable claim. The problem is that once the mytholigical claims about Jesus are removed, very little is left. Even his birth stories are mythical.
2.The 4 Gospels all harmonize even though written by different writers.
Totally untrue. They are widely different, and contradictory on many key issues. Where the synotpics agree, they can be demonstrated to be collaborated.
3. The jewish TALMUD, though clashing with the gospels in that they argue in the Means by which Jesus performed miracles, do not DENY they happened.
Too late to have real historical value. Nothing indicates Talmud authors had any independent sources to Jesus; they just tried to turn around the claims Christians made about Jesus. It is naive to expect early superstitious writers to actually deny supernatural events among their enemies. In their world view, the world was full of good and evil spirits, so they attributed even the wildest claims about miracles to demons.
4. Celsus, a philosopher of the second century C.E., denied Jesus as divine in that his ORIGIN was of humble begginings....poor, humble, betrayed, suferred, being put to death. The argument is he believed Jesus existed.....but he used his personal opinion on how he VIEWED him.
No writing of Celsus is extrant. It is partially preserved through quotations in the rebuttal Against Celsus
by Origen. Celsus lived in the 2nd Cnetury, and had no independent sources about the historical Jesus excpet what Christians claimed.
5.Unlike mythical writings, the bible is built on people who REALLY existed, and PLACES that exist to this day.
The Bible also deals with many mythical places and people. It is not at all unusual for myths to be placed in a historical setting. That some
parts of the Bible is about real people and real events is no argument that other parts of it is true. The Bible is a quite arbitrary collection of stories in many genres, written over a long period. Some parts are historically quite reliable, others pure legend.
6. Luke 3:1,2 names 7 political and religious officials who actually lived in the time Jesus lived. "This can be verified by consulting history books" say's the article on P.67 (thought that was interesting!)
It would not at all be remarkable that a number of political rules contemporary with the author of Luke actually lived. It is not unsual for even pure fiction today to use the names of real historical characters, e.g. American presidents or people like Hitler or Churchill.
7. The writers freely admited their waeknesses. Would writers who are fabricating stories, speak so humbly?
Most writers admitted the weaknesses of their protagonists
, yes, but I see few examples of authors admitting their own mistakes, except as a rhetorical effect (e.g. Paul).
8. Last...the book also mentioed the THEME of the bible running throughout it's pages and say's in affect...."What are the chances of one theme weaving itself throughout the bible over that many years.
It is to be expected that the religious writings within one tradition has a similar set of ideas. But except in a very broad sense, the claim is flat-out wrong. For example, the afterlife, which is very crucial to the NT, is mentioned only in some few, late books of the OT, and outright denied in others. Most typical, modern religionists superimpose their own religious ideas onto the old texts. For example, there is nothing
in Genesis 2 & 3 of what modern Christians believe about the "fall of man". It is a myth about a God who lied to the humans to keep them ignorant, a snake telling the truth, and a God getting angry. That this snake was Satan, and that death come into the world through the "fall", is entirely a later construction that moderns often read into the text without realizing it. - Jan