The current judicial exercise in ensuring a hard separation between religion and the federal or state governments has a fairly short history. It really dates to the last century when Justice Hugo Black resurrected a comment that Thomas Jefferson had made in reply to a letter from the Danbury Baptist Association. The Connecticut group had written to congratulate him upon his election to the Presidency in 1804. His use of the phrase â€œa wall of separationâ€ is its first occurrence in text in this land, and in its context it was used as part of his explanation as to why he had chosen not to call for a national day of fasting and thanksgiving as his two predecessors had done upon election. Justice Blackâ€™s appropriation of the remark was much more insidious.
On Sunday, March 23 the television show 60 Minutes a segment was aired concerning the “James the brother of Jesus” ossuary. Most scholars and experts have come to believe that the phrase “brother of Jesus” was forged on to the ossuary in an attempt to make this ossuary an important historical artifact. But the disturbing part of the segment was not that the inscription is a forgery. I believe most people have been aware of this for a couple of years. Rather, an expert was shown saying that the reason the ossuary would have been valuable was because we would have an extra-biblical source proving the existence of Jesus.
I am so tired of experts deceiving the public into thinking that the only evidence of the existence of Jesus is found in the Bible. There is not one reputable historian that doubts that there was a man named Jesus who lived in Palestine in the first century. The reason is because there are a number of extra-biblical sources declaring the existence of Jesus. Allow me to present two of these sources.
Tacitus, a first century Roman historian, wrote:
“But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero from the infamy of being believed to have ordered the conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished with the most exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also.” (Annals XV, 44)
Josephus, a Jewish historian in the first century, wrote:
“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise 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. When Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him. And the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day.” (Antiquities, XVIII, 33)
We do not need an inscription on an ossuary to know with certainty that Jesus did live in Palestine just as the Bible records.