As Easter is approaching, in the apologetics class that I teach / facilitate at my church, I’ve started a series on the resurrection. Yesterday we watched an excellent video. The speaker was Peter J. Williams. He was a fast (and engaging) speaker and dumped a lot of information on us. The video can be watched here:
Lecture – Dr Peter Williams – Things Which Ought To Be Better Known About The Resurrection Of Jesus
Here is the note-taking form and the discussion questions we used:
Non-Christian Accounts of how Christianity Began
(Dr. Peter J. Williams)
- Cornelius Tacitus from R_______ who was a R_______ H________ who lived 56 A.D – 120 A.D.
- Tacitus was writing about the f_________ in Rome (set by emperor Nero) about 64 A.D.
- How many times does the word Christian appear in the New Testament?
- Christians were being called Christians by outsiders as a term of derision.
- Tiberius was emperor from the year _______ to the year _________.
- Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea from the year ______ to ________.
- Tacitus talks about v________ n__________ of Christians being arrested.
- Knowing how f_____ and how f_________ Christianity has spread is some of the background knowledge that we need to use when we come to judge whether it would’ve been possible for the story of the resurrection to have been made up later.
Pliny the Younger
- Governor of Bithynia, which is Northwest T___________.
- He wrote this letter to the R___________ E____________ in 1___ ___ A.D.
- His argument is this: don’t kill everyone who’s been called a C____________, only kill those who persist stubbornly to call themselves C__________ once you thr________ t_______.
- Here are the 3 tests you apply to check that people aren’t Christians:
- They have to w____________ other gods.
- They need to make s____________ to these other gods.
- They need to c__________ C____________, which it is said that no true Christian can ever be compelled to do.
- This is a later stage than Tacitus (~68 A.D. vs. ~112 A.D.). Not only are Christians willing to call themselves Christians, but non-Christians are also identifying themselves as Christians!
- Christians only worship o_______ G________.
- Pliny the Younger describes a first c___________ (approx.. 92 A.D.) Christian meeting, according to people who have renounced the Christian faith.
- Josephus was a J_______ historian writing about what happened (~62 A.D.) in his home town when he was about 25 years old.
- Josephus mentions both J__________ and J____________.
- Josephus agrees with the New Testament that Jesus has a brother called J________ (Mark 6:3)
- Josephus reports that James was s_________ for belief in his half-brother J_________.
- Josephus reports that Jesus was called C_________.
Tacitus and Pliny tell us that people a long way away (in Rome and Bithynia) who are d____ for their b_____ and Josephus tells us that we also have people close to the events that are d___ for their b____.
Bias does not mean that something should not be c____________.
1 Corinthians was written approximately __ __ A.D.
Galatians was written approximately __ __ A.D.
The resurrection wasn’t a p______________ Christian belief, it was something that was really c______ and was there u_________.
- Why is it important to be able to speak about non-Christian accounts?
- Why does Peter J. Williams make a big deal about Tacitus saying that vast numbers of Christians were arrested?
- In Tacitus, believers were called Christians by outsiders (as a derogatory term), but in Pliny, believers called themselves Christians. Why is this significant?
- Why is it significant that Christians were singing to Christ as a god in 112 A.D.?
- In what ways do both Tacitus, Pliny and Josephus agree with the New Testament?