Have you ever been witnessing and someone makes the statement, “Jesus never claimed to be God.” They say that Jesus’ divinity is only a myth. The usual argument Christians make is that Jesus was either a liar or lunatic or He, in fact, was God. These three hypotheses are based on the assumption that Jesus really did claim to be God; however, suppose He did not make such a claim. Suppose this claim is a myth and it was the New Testament writers that claimed Jesus’ divinity.
The myth idea has really taken hold in the twentieth century and become a widespread intellectual reason for many to reject Christianity or even “Christians” to abandon their faith. We should be prepared to deflate this line of reasoning.
Why can’t the myth idea be true? If Christ is not a liar or lunatic, why can’t His claim of divinity be a myth? Buddha is thought to be a god but this myth was conceived many years after the historical Buddha who claimed only to be an enlightened man. The myth idea is not a simple or reasonable explanation for the data about Jesus.No book in history has been so attacked, cut up, reconstituted and stood on its head as the New Testament. Yet it still lives. If the same neutral, objective, scientific approach is used on the New Testament as other ancient texts, then the texts prove remarkably reliable.
- The state of the manuscripts is very good. We have ten times more manuscripts of the New Testament than the next most reliable ancient text, Iliad. We only have 50 copies of Iliad that date approximately 500 years after the original.
- If Jesus’ divinity was a myth invented by later Christian generations, then there must have been two or three generations between the original eyewitnesses of Jesus and the widespread belief in the new divinized Jesus. But we find no evidence at all of anyone opposing the so-called myth of Jesus’ divinity. In fact, no competent scholar denies the first-century dating of the New Testament well within one generation of the historical Jesus.
- If the “myth” idea of Jesus’ divinity was added later to an original human Jesus claim, then we should find some evidence of this early-humanized claim like we have for Buddha. But there is no external or internal evidence in Christian, anti-Christian, or non-Christian sources.
- The style of the Gospels is not the style of a myth; they are full of little details that are found only in eyewitness descriptions.
- It also makes sense that Jesus was tried and crucified for His claim to be God considering the Jews sensitivity to blasphemy. We see no evidence of any political ambitions on Jesus’ part to warrant capital punishment.
- Four Gospels were written by four different authors at four different times and likely for four different audiences and purposes. This allows us to crosscheck the facts and details with greater assurance than other ancient series of events.
- Who would invent the myth about a divine Jesus? Who would invent a practical joke in order to be persecuted, crucified, stoned or beheaded?
- Finally, myths were not something the first-century Jews or Christians were likely to believe. Unlike the pagans of their day, the Jews denied mythology in most areas of life.
And so, my fellow Christian (or searching agnostic), be encouraged! We have valid reasons to believe the claims of Jesus as historical facts. Now, go boldly proclaim the Gospel.
(Resource reference: Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Kreeft/Tacelli)