Jerry Johnston Interviews Brant Pitre on the Historicity of Christ25 August 2016
Jesus Christ. Fact or Fiction? Was Jesus Christ a historical person? He is the axis of Christianity. Every doctrine and our eternal salvation depends on the integrity of the historicity of Christ. Mythicists still claim Jesus Christ never existed. In Atlanta, I filmed with Dr. Brant Pitre, Professor of Sacred Scripture at Notre Dame Theological Seminary in New Orleans. Pitre specializes in ancient Judaism, the New Testament, and the validity of ancient sources. I asked Pitre his opinion of the mythicists who say we can not prove the historicity of Jesus Christ. He replied,
“My answer to them is if you think that we can’t prove the historicity of Jesus based on the evidence that we have in the four Gospels which are written in the First Century within the lifetime of his own disciples and which have the literary genre of not just biographies, but historical biographies. If you look, at the prologue and look at the conclusion of the Gospel John, they are most clearly parallel to ancient Greco Roman biographies of all kinds of figures such as the philosopher Demonax or Plutarch’s Life of the Caesars and what not. We have these ancient Greco Roman biographies. That’s the genre that the Gospels fall into and for any other ancient figure that we would have four biographies from within living memory of his contemporaries to deny that that figure even exists, is just to abandon the standard methods of historiography. And so, I along with many scholars, don’t take the mythicists position very seriously simply because it is just inconsistent with standard historical practice with regard to any number of ancient figures like Josephus or Julius Caesar or King Herod. To deny that Jesus exists when we have more evidence about him than we have about almost any other ancient figure from that period, it just frankly borders on irrational.”
Unquestionably, such an inquiry could confuse a Christian in the face of a questioning Atheist. With our goal of helping Christians give a defense of their faith (1 Peter 3.15), Cristie Jo and I are devoting our time to developing digital products and resources that will target all ages as they seek to strengthen their faith.