New Testament scholar and author Robert Hutchinson writes in a new book that recent archaeological discoveries and biblical scholarship prove not only Jesus' existence but that biblical accounts of his life and death are more accurate than secular scholars have led people to believe.
While atheist and secular scholars have over the last century progressed the idea that there is no proof that Jesus existed or that He was and acted exactly how He was depicted in the New Testament, Hutchinson highlights in his recent book, Searching for Jesus, various archaeological finds and research from the past few years that disprove the theories progressed by secular "mythicists."
The discoveries that Hutchinson mentions in his book, he says, disprove theories by scholars such as Bart Ehrman and Robert Schweitzer, who in the early 1900s theorized that Jesus was nothing more that an apocalyptic prophet.
"There was incredible discoveries that were being made in New Testament studies that were just revolutionary," Hutchinson, a scholar who has spent years in Israel studying the New Testament, told The Christian Post in an interview. "I found that nobody was talking about this in the media. They were still repeating theories about Jesus and the gospels that are a century old — the idea that Jesus was a deluded fanatic, an apocalyptic prophet who thought the world was going to end in his lifetime."
One of the main arguments furthered by secular scholars is that there is no proof that Jesus or anyone else mentioned in the New Testament actually existed. However, Hutchinson wrote that discoveries of ossuaires (burial boxes) in 1990 and in 2002 make that argument moot.
In 1990, construction workers uncovered the ossuary of the high priest Caiaphas. After analyzation, Hutchinson said that almost all archaeologists accept the Caiaphas ossuary as authentic.
It is also believed by some scholars that an ossuary discovered in 2002 is the burial box of James the Just, who many Christians believe is either the half-brother or cousin of Jesus.
Although some New Testament scholars, such as Ben Witherington and Hershel Shanks, believe the James ossuary is authentic, others are not completely sold on its authenticity.
However, Hutchinson argues that the discovery of the Caiaphas ossuary and the potential authenticity of the James ossuary is enough to quell the secular claim that there is no proof that anyone mentioned in the New Testament existed.
"They are discovering archaeological proof, if it is authentic, then it is the first archaeological proof for Jesus. That's just really, really exciting that they are coming up with the burial boxes of people mentioned in the New Testament," Hutchinson said.
"A lot of what the people say in the claim that Jesus doesn't exist is that there is no archaeological proof for any of these people," Hutchinson added. "They said the same thing about Pontius Pilate, that there is no archaeological proof of him but in 1961 they uncovered an inscription in Caesarea, which proved that Pilate existed."
Also in the book, Hutchinson touched on excavations in Israel that occurred in 2009 that led to other key archaeological finds that disprove other arguments used by scholars to theorize that Jesus never existed.
Some scholars have argued that Jesus can't be real because the town of Nazareth didn't actually exist when the Romans ruled in the first century.
"In 2008, [Rene Salm] actually wrote a book, something called The Myth of Nazareth: The Invented Town of Jesus, that said that 'we know that the Wizard of Oz didn't exist because there never was the Land of Oz, so too we know Jesus of Nazareth didn't exist because there was never a Nazareth,'" Hutchinson explained. "In 2009, they uncovered a stone house in Nazareth. I have seen it myself."
"Evidence has a way of popping up at the most inconvenient time. And the very next year, they were digging up the foundation of a new evangelism center in Nazareth, a few hundred yards from the basilica there, and sure enough, they uncover the foundation of a first century stone house that dates back to the time of the Romans, and they are sure that this was a first century stone house," Hutchinson continued. "That proves that Nazareth was settled in the time of the Romans. That kind of knocks out one of the primary arguments that the atheist crusaders have used."
Also in 2009, a first century synagogue was discovered a few miles south of Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee in the town of Magdala, the hometown of Mary Magdalene, that is believed to be a synagogue where Jesus once preached.
"For a long time, they used to say that the synagogue didn't exist until years later after the fall of Rome," Hutchinson said. "We now know that isn't true because we have uncovered synagogues and one of the earliest ones they have discovered in 2009 on the Sea of Galilee."
While the New Testament teaches Christians that Jesus was crucified for their sins, taken off the cross, buried in a tomb and rose again three days later, many naysayers like Ehrman argue that could not have happened because the Romans always left their crucified prisoners on the crosses to rot after they died as a way of intimidating others to follow the law.
Hutchinson explained that such an argument is invalid because the Roman authorities in Jerusalem honored the request of Jewish families to take their loved ones off the cross for a proper burial.
Hutchinson also noted that the only archaeological proof of first century Roman crucifixion that has been discovered is the skeleton of a crucified man who was found in a burial chamber with a piece of wood still nailed to his ankle bone.
"We have evidence that the Romans did grant permission to bury people who were crucified to accommodate Jewish sensibilities, especially about the sabbath and the upcoming Passover," Hutchinson asserted. "That is why many top scholars reject this notion that Jesus was left on the cross. That is important because that is what the gospel says."