“Jesus was real because he was mentioned by the second-century satirist and rhetorician, Lucian of Samosata” – debunking arguments for a historical Jesus – Part 6

lucian

Biblical scholars that view history through a theological lens will often reference the writings of Lucian as proof that Jesus physically existed.  But this one is quickly debunked on the same grounds that the other references fall into.

The work of his that is mentioned as a source for Jesus is entitled The Passing of Peregrinus or The Death of Peregrinus”.  Per Wikipedia, the main talking points are below:

In his satirical letter The Passing of Peregrinus (Περὶ τῆς Περεγρίνου Τελευτῆς), Lucian describes the death of the controversial Cynic philosopher Peregrinus Proteus,[47] who had publicly immolated himself on a pyre at the Olympic Games of 165 AD.[47] The letter is historically significant because it preserves one of the earliest pagan evaluations of Christianity.[118] In the letter, one of Lucian’s characters delivers a speech ridiculing Christians for their perceived credulity and ignorance,[119] but he also affords them some level of respect on account of their morality.[119] The speaker in the letter also refers to Jesus, describing him as a “crucified Sophist” who had lived in Palestine just over a century prior and had taught that his followers would attain immortality.[119] In the letter Against the Ignorant Book Collector, Lucian ridicules the common practice whereby Near Easterners collect massive libraries of Greek texts for the sake of appearing “cultured”, but without actually reading any of them.[120][121]

The problems with Lucian are the following:

  1. He wrote over 120 years after Jesus would have died.
  2. Lucian wasn’t an eyewitness to anything because he wasn’t born until 90 years after Jesus would have died.
  3. His only sources were Christians and the Gospels, which are extremely unreliable from a historical perspective.
  4. Lucian, therefore, cannot corroborate the Gospels; he is not an independent source.

Up next, Stoic Philosopher, Mara Bar Serapion.

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