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Radio Free Mormon: 276: Proof Jesus Really Existed!

In honor of the Easter Season, RFM examines evidence that Jesus actually did exist!

This is one you won’t want to miss!


10 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 276: Proof Jesus Really Existed!”

  1. We know something else from Luke’s writing. The belief that Jesus was the resurrected Messiah transformed the disposition of Peter. For Peter went from being a coward unwilling to admit his association with Jesus to standing at the temple before the Priests and Romans and commiting the very offenses that got Jesus crucified.

    What changed Peter? What gave Peter confidence that he could speak in the name of Jesus and this pursuit would not be an immediate dead end? For if Jesus was dead and buried, certainly Peter would know it. Why would Peter claim Jesus was alive, and risk imminent arrest and conviction? I mean if you just saw the guy you wanted to be the Messiah killed, does it make any sense you would emulate what he did?

    But you do emulate the guy who was crucified and you end up launching one of the worlds great religions! What did Peter know that informed his actions? Well Luke has Peter telling us what he knows:

    “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.”


    Found this speech fascinating. When the 4 questions are answered which are all primary, everything else is secondary and answer themselves.

    Polygamy, blacks in the priesthood, church history, etc

    Could make a good programme in itself. Why only 4 primary? Why are all others secondary?

    As long as the Church is the Kingdom and Jesus the Saviour and God exists all other questions are secondary. Lol

  3. I think it’s better to see the clueless apostles trope as a continued theme in the Gospels, not as an artifact of one real event. It’s astounding how often they don’t understand.

  4. Wow, RFM, I really love what you do normally but with all do respect, this was an epic fail, IMO. Your conclusion that Jesus existed hinges on your belief that Luke was in possession of some sort of writing by one of the apostles. What’s the proof of that? The apostles were almost surely illiterate and therefore couldn’t have written anything about anybody about any subject. Please read the book by Richard Carrier, “On the Historicity of Jesus” subtitled “Why We Might Have Reason to Doubt”. He presents much greater evidence that Jesus most likely was a fictional character.

    1. I think the point RFM is making and this is just one example is that if Jesus was not historical, just a made up deity, why do we have all these odd passages in the New Testament, particularly ones that seem to clumsily retrofit prophesies. If he wasn’t a real person, they could write a seem less, non-contradictory narrative but what we get are numerous contradictions between Old & New Testament prophecies, contradictions between gospel accounts, and strange entries in the New Testament writings that seem to be “fixes.”

      This hints at the idea that there was a real person that the New Testament writings were based on but latter scribes and followers has to massage the different texts to fit a narrative.

      I don’t think RFM was presenting this one bit as THE proof he existed. He’s using it as one among many examples that HINT at Jesus being real because the original narratives seem to have been revised by later scribes (like Paul).

      If Jesus was just a fictional character, why did Luke write this odd passage about the disciples not understanding what Jesus was saying? And if only the apostles were there when he said this, how would a scribe who wasn’t there know what he said when the men who WERE there didn’t? How did this knowledge get passed on to Luke?

      It sounds like this event actually happened but that the original account may have had Jesus, like other Jewish messiahs of the time, telling his followers he’ll be King of Israel. Since he later got killed, Jesus obviously was wrong but you can’t have him being wrong, so Luke possibly made it sound like the apostles must have misunderstood what he said.

  5. Radio Free Mormon, as I think you know I am one of your biggest fans (and I have not one but two, T-Shirts to prove it), but this episode has a lot of problems. Have a seat this is going to be long, simply because I want to be thorough on a couple of key, but vital, points. So my apologies in advance, just know that this is NOT an attempt to Gish Gallop you into submission, I am simply trying to do proper due diligence here, nothing more.

    For a start, there is just no question that Jesus both scholarly consensus and the historical record discredit this assertion – and I’m talking about hostile, extra-biblical sources and scholars. Consider, for example, agnostic Bart Ehrmann: In a National Public Radio interview for his 2012 book, “Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth” he summarized the issue like this:

    ‘I wanted to approach this question as an historian to see whether that’s right or not,” Ehrman tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz.

    The answer is straightforward and widely accepted among scholars of all faiths, but Ehrman says there is a large contingent of people claiming that Jesus never did exist. These people are also known as mythicists.

    “It was a surprise to me to see how influential these mythicists are,” Ehrman says. “Historically, they’ve been significant and in the Soviet Union, in fact, the mythicist view was the dominant view, and even today, in some parts of the West – in parts of Scandinavia — it is a dominant view that Jesus never existed,” he says…

    In his book, Ehrman marshals all of the evidence proving the existence of Jesus, including the writings of the apostle Paul.”Paul knew Jesus’ brother, James, and he knew his closest disciple, Peter, and he tells us that he did,” Ehrman says. “If Jesus didn’t exist, you would think his brother would know about it, so I think Paul is probably pretty good evidence that Jesus at least existed,” he says.

    In [his book] Did Jesus Exist?, Ehrman builds a technical argument and shows that one of the reasons for knowing that Jesus existed is that if someone invented Jesus, they would not have created a messiah who was so easily overcome.

    “The Messiah was supposed to overthrow the enemies – and so if you’re going to make up a messiah, you’d make up a powerful messiah,” he says. “You wouldn’t make up somebody who was humiliated, tortured and the killed by the enemies.”‘
    (“Did Jesus Exist?’ A Historian Makes His Case”, All Things Considered, Radio Broadcast, April 1, 2012;

    Now that we have that settled, on to the actual content of this podcast…


    1. I found your case in this podcast fallacious because it ignores the evidence that we DO have and appeals to several arguments from silence as well as some other fallacies.

      For a start, to insist or demand that Luke has some type of unknown document is not only speculative but ignores both the cultural context – the period was dominated by oral testimony since so few could read or write – consider the Apostle Paul’s “footnoting by name” of the eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:3-11) – but Luke himself tells us that he was working off of both written and oral records at the very beginning of the book:

      Luke 1 (NRSVUE)
      1 Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 3 I, too, decided, as one having a grasp of everything from the start, to write a well-ordered account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may have a firm grasp of the words in which you have been instructed.

      Second, the appeal to this existent document ignores the extant body of evidence from hostile sources that explain the disparity between the Messiah that the Second Temple era Jews were expecting (Messiah ben David) and the one that they go (Messiah ben Yossef [Joseph]):

      “Jewish tradition speaks of two redeemers, each one called Mashiach. Both are involved in ushering in the Messianic era. They are Mashiach ben David and Mashiach ben Yossef.

      The term Mashiach unqualified always refers to Mashiach ben David (Mashiach the descendant of David) of the tribe of Judah. He is the actual (final) redeemer who shall rule in the Messianic age. All that was said in our text relates to him.

      Mashiach ben Yossef (Mashiach the descendant of Joseph) of the tribe of Ephraim (son of Joseph), is also referred to as Mashiach ben Ephrayim, Mashiach the descendant of Ephraim. He will come first, before the final redeemer, and later will serve as his viceroy.

      The essential task of Mashiach ben Yossef is to act as precursor to Mashiach ben David: he will prepare the world for the coming of the final redeemer. Different sources attribute to him different functions, some even charging him with tasks traditionally associated with Mashiach ben David (such as the ingathering of the exiles, the rebuilding of the Bet Hamikdash, and so forth).

      The principal and final function ascribed to Mashiach ben Yossef is of political and military nature. He shall wage war against the forces of evil that oppress Israel. More specifically, he will do battle against Edom, the descendants of Esau. Edom is the comprehensive designation of the enemies of Israel, and it will be crushed through the progeny of Joseph. Thus it was prophesied of old, “The House of Jacob will be a fire and the House of Joseph a flame, and the House of Esau for stubble..” (Obadiah 1:18): “the progeny of Esau shall be delivered only into the hands of the progeny of Joseph.”

      This ultimate confrontation between Joseph and Esau is alluded already in the very birth of Joseph when his mother Rachel exclaimed, “G‑d has taken away my disgrace” (Genesis 30:23): with prophetic vision she foresaw that an “anointed savior” will descend from Joseph and that he will remove the disgrace of Israel. In this context she called his name “Yossef, saying ‘yossef Hashem – may G‑d add to me ben acher (lit., another son), i.e., ben acharono shel olam – one who will be at the end of the world’s time,’ from which it follows that ‘meshu’ach milchamah – one anointed for battle’ will descend from Joseph.”

      The immediate results of this war will be disastrous: Mashiach ben Yossef will be killed. This is described in the prophecy of Zechariah, who says of this tragedy that “they shall mourn him as one mourns for an only child.” (Zechariah 12:10). His death will be followed by a period of great calamities. These new tribulations shall be the final test for Israel, and shortly thereafter Mashiach ben David shall come, avenge his death, resurrect him, and inaugurate the Messianic era of everlasting peace and bliss.

      This, in brief, is the general perception of the “second Mashiach,” the descendant of Joseph through the tribe of Ephraim.

      Quite significantly, R. Saadiah Gaon (one of the few to elaborate on the role of Mashiach ben Yossef) notes that this sequence is not definite but contingent! Mashiach ben Yossef will not have to appear before Mashiach ben David, nor will the activities attributed to him or his death have to occur. All depends on the spiritual condition of the Jewish people at the time the redemption is to take place:

      ‘The essential function of Mashiach ben Yossef is to prepare Israel for the final redemption, to put them into the proper condition in order to clear the way for Mashiach ben David to come. Of that ultimate redemption it is said, that if Israel repent (return to G‑d) they shall be redeemed immediately (even before the predetermined date for Mashiach’s coming). If they will not repent and thus become dependent on the final date, “the Holy One, blessed be He, will set up a ruler over them, whose decrees shall be as cruel as Haman’s, thus causing Israel to repent, and thereby bringing them back to the right path.” In other words, if Israel shall return to G‑d on their own and make themselves worthy of the redemption, there is no need for the trials and tribulations associated with the above account of events related to Mashiach ben Yossef. Mashiach ben David will come directly and redeem us.'”
      (J. Immanuel Schochet, “Mashiach ben Yossef”, Chabad website; )

      So the disparity between the disciple’s expectations – the advent of Messiah ben David had come to overthrow the Romans, re-establish the throne of David, and usher in the Messianic age – and the reality that Christ’s first advent was that of “The Suffering Messiah” of Isaiah 53, that is, Messiah ben Joesph. After all, hadn’t this just happened right in front of their eyes?

      Matthew 21 (NIV)
      8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

      “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
      “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
      “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

      10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
      11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

      That disparity was the source of the disciples’ confusion and bewilderment, not that Jesus was claiming to be Messiah ben David. Evidence of this is hidden in plain view throughout the gospels up and especially this passage which occurs after the resurrection and, logically, when the prophecies of Messiah ben Joseph had been fulfilled and it was time for the arrival of Messiah ben David (which we see prophesied in the Book of Revelation):

      Acts 1 (NRSVUE)
      6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.

      So there’s no need to speculate about unknown mystery documents or contrive conspiracy theories about how the New Testament authors wove some new backdated narrative to cover up the fact that Jesus had failed to live up to the dominant expectation that Messiah ben David was due to arrive any time now and they got Messiah ben Joseph instead. That was all that was happening here.

      In closing, I want to thank you again for all your hard work, your wonderful podcast, and your even more wonderful sense of humor (BTW, as a fellow child of the 1960s and 70s I get ALL of your references, dude!). Keep keepin’, RFM. Or should I say, “Keep on truckin’, bro!”?

      Thanks again.

      1. And I have another glaring typo in my second post as well:

        “Second, the appeal to this existent document ignores the extant body of evidence from hostile sources…”

        SHOULD SAY…

        “Second, the appeal to this non-existent document ignores the extant body of evidence from hostile sources…”

        The non-existent document, of course, is the hypothetical document that RFM refers to in his presentation that there is no evidence for except conjecture and speculation. It’s the RFM version of the “Q source” document (see ) that theologically liberal (or even atheist) New Testament scholars have proposed but can produce no verifiable evidence for other than text comparison between the four gospels that we do actually have.

        I would politely suggest that extant evidence trumps speculation that has no evidence. After all, if that’s our methodology with Mormon and Christian Apologists then why isn’t it with other Apologists – such as the litany of Agnostic/Atheist Apologists that are so prevalent in the Ex-Mormon community – as well?

        Just something to think about, I suppose…

    2. Stupid typo in my first post that I can’t fix:

      “For a start, there is just no question that Jesus both scholarly consensus and the historical record discredit this assertion…”


      “For a start, there is just no question that Jesus existed. As the claim that he didn’t? Well, both scholarly consensus and the historical record discredit this assertion…”

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