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Hinduism is the Religion followed by about 13.7 % of the world's population who are mainly concentrated in India. Hinduism is a very ancient religion that has developed from the Vedic culture brought by the Aryans nearly 4000 years ago. The official website of ISKCON has this to say regarding the dating of Vedic literature:-
"Scholarly views of the content and dating of Vedic literature "…….the general consensus of opinion dates the arrival of the Aryans from Central Europe at approximately 1500 BCE and the Vedas themselves at around 1500-1200 BCE. As Chaudhuri (1979) points out, there is very little evidence to support this particular date for the composition of the Vedas (nor any other date for that matter). Some scholars opt for even earlier dates; for example, Radhakrishnan and Moore (1957) suggest approximate dates of 2500 BCE for the arrival of Aryan culture and 1500 BC E for the composition of the Vedas. Recent discoveries of cities in the Indus Valley have led archaeologists to date Harappan culture at between 3000 and 1500 BCE, and Aryan culture after 1500 BCE (Tharpar, 1966). None of these dates are conclusive, however, and it is well known that the whole process of dating settlements and texts in early India is very difficult. As Tharpar (1966) states, the Painted-Grey Ware found on archaeological sites in the West is still only 'tentatively' associated with the Aryans. In addition, Judah comments:
"The dating of all early Hindu literature is subject to considerable controversy and must be considered tentative. For example, the four traditional Vedas ... represent material that was transmitted orally in archaic Sanskrit for centuries ... Since none of these compilations have manuscripts dating close to their time of origin, dating is risky, and one must depend largely on internal criticism such as changes in language, thought and locale. "Dating may be inconclusive but few scholars have felt happy to discuss Vedic literature and culture without it. (Dasgupta  and Chaudhuri  try not to speculate, although the latter certainly has opinions on the matter). "Moving on from the question of composition dates to the scope and content of the Vedas, we find less controversy. Vedic literature is generally considered to include all sruti , that is the four Samhitas, the Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads. All other Sanskrit religious texts are smrti (remembered not heard). This category includes the Vedanta Sutra , the 'Epics' (such as the Bhagavad-gita) and the Puranas. Most of the major concepts in Hinduism are detailed in what scholars define 'Vedic literature'- varna, ashrama, karma, samsara, moksha etc., although most of these appear in later compositions of literature (such as the Upanishads) rather than earlier scriptures. Some aspects of the Aryan culture can also be ascertained from these texts (Kunhan Raja, Altekar , Tharpar )." ---http://www.iskcon.com/icj/1_2/12knott.html The Mahabarat composed by Ved Vyas and the Ramayana composed by Balmiki are the two other important religious books that have had a profound influence on the Hindu psyche. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata have undergone many changes (additions) since the time they were composed and handed down as oral traditions and have attained more than twice their original size. In his book Righteous Rama (Oxford University Press, 1984), Brockington had made his first attempt to trace the evolution of the epic, subjecting it to linguistic and stylistic examination to find five distinct layers the text went through to establish Rama as the moral ideal of righteousness:
1. Orally transmitted c. 5th - 4th century BC -- all shloka stanzas of books 2-6, i.e. 37% of the text.
2. Orally transmitted c.3rd - 1st century BC-- all verses in longer metres in books 2-6 (4.27% of the text) and 54 sargas of book 2; 23 of book 3; 19 of book 4; 28 of book 5; 36 of book 6.
3. Written c.1st - c.3rd centuries AD--books 1 and 7 (24.57% of the text) and possibly parts of the end of book 6.
4. Written c.4th -- c.12th centuries AD--passages marked with (*) or Appendix I of the Critical Edition with good manuscript support.
5. Written c.12th century AD onwards--passages marked with (*) or Appendix I with poor manuscript support.
Hinduism is the Religion followed by about 13.7 % of the world's population who are mainly concentrated in India. Hinduism is a very ancient religion that has developed from the Vedic culture brought by the Aryans nearly 4000 years ago.
The official website of ISKCON has this to say regarding the dating of Vedic literature:-
"Scholarly views of the content and dating of Vedic literature
"…….the general consensus of opinion dates the arrival of the Aryans from Central Europe at approximately 1500 BCE and the Vedas themselves at around 1500-1200 BCE. As Chaudhuri (1979) points out, there is very little evidence to support this particular date for the composition of the Vedas (nor any other date for that matter). Some scholars opt for even earlier dates; for example, Radhakrishnan and Moore (1957) suggest approximate dates of 2500 BCE for the arrival of Aryan culture and 1500 BC E for the composition of the Vedas. Recent discoveries of cities in the Indus Valley have led archaeologists to date Harappan culture at between 3000 and 1500 BCE, and Aryan culture after 1500 BCE (Tharpar, 1966). None of these dates are conclusive, however, and it is well known that the whole process of dating settlements and texts in early India is very difficult. As Tharpar (1966) states, the Painted-Grey Ware found on archaeological sites in the West is still only 'tentatively' associated with the Aryans. In addition, Judah comments: "The dating of all early Hindu literature is subject to considerable controversy and must be considered tentative. For example, the four traditional Vedas ... represent material that was transmitted orally in archaic Sanskrit for centuries ... Since none of these compilations have manuscripts dating close to their time of origin, dating is risky, and one must depend largely on internal criticism such as changes in language, thought and locale.
"Dating may be inconclusive but few scholars have felt happy to discuss Vedic literature and culture without it. (Dasgupta  and Chaudhuri  try not to speculate, although the latter certainly has opinions on the matter).
"Moving on from the question of composition dates to the scope and content of the Vedas, we find less controversy. Vedic literature is generally considered to include all sruti , that is the four Samhitas, the Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads. All other Sanskrit religious texts are smrti (remembered not heard). This category includes the Vedanta Sutra , the 'Epics' (such as the Bhagavad-gita) and the Puranas. Most of the major concepts in Hinduism are detailed in what scholars define 'Vedic literature'- varna, ashrama, karma, samsara, moksha etc., although most of these appear in later compositions of literature (such as the Upanishads) rather than earlier scriptures. Some aspects of the Aryan culture can also be ascertained from these texts (Kunhan Raja, Altekar , Tharpar )." ---http://www.iskcon.com/icj/1_2/12knott.html
The Mahabarat composed by Ved Vyas and the Ramayana composed by Balmiki are the two other important religious books that have had a profound influence on the Hindu psyche. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata have undergone many changes (additions) since the time they were composed and handed down as oral traditions and have attained more than twice their original size. In his book Righteous Rama (Oxford University Press, 1984), Brockington had made his first attempt to trace the evolution of the epic, subjecting it to linguistic and stylistic examination to find five distinct layers the text went through to establish Rama as the moral ideal of righteousness:
Similarly, "Mahabharata was not written until approximately 200 BCE-CE 200."---http://www.iskcon.com/icj/1_2/12knott.html
However, there is very little external bibliographical or archaeological evidence to support the characters and events described in the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Most of the attempts at dating of events described in these books have been done from internal astronomical references of planetry and stellar positions contained in them and hence scholars have not taken these books seriously as historical references.
A Hindu website writes,"European scholars have maintained that the events described in the ancient Sanskrut texts are imaginary and subsequently, the Mahabharat derives to be a fictitious tale of a war fought between two rivalries………."
"Ramayan precedes the Mahabharat by simple reason that the genealogies of the personalities in the Mahabharat can be traced back to those in the Ramayanic Era (Ikshwaku, Kuru) and not otherwise. Detailed genealogical connections of the characters in the Ramayanic Era to those in the Mahabharat Era are also known. Also, the Ramayan is known to have occurred in the Treta Yug(a), which antecedes Dwaapar period when the Mahabharat took place. However, the exact dating of the Rama's accomplishments has been unattempted and undecided as of today." Re: Antiquity and Continuity of Indian History (Part 4)-www.hindunet.org
Very often it is argued that if the Ramayana and Mahabharata are works of fiction how is it that such a large number of ardent followers of Hinduism continue to be influenced by these books over many centuries? Goebbel, who was incharge of the propaganda machinery in Hitler's reign, said that if a falsehood is repeated many times then at some stage the falsehood begins to be accepted as true. In the modern day, advertisers utilize this principle by repeatedly showing an advertisement many times to brainwash people into accepting the supposed properties of a particular product that they are trying to sell. Very much in the same way the Vedic and other literature was handed down from generation to generation orally and the characters and events gradually began to be accepted by an ever increasing number of people as universally true. But mere acceptance by a large number of people does not essentially make the characters and events true, and fictional stories can also influence and excite people. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was a fictitious novel written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, nevertheless it had such a profound influence on the American mind that it caused the American Civil War.
Very often the more ardent followers of Hinduism are stung by the remarks of international scholars who point out that the sanskrut literature are figments of imagination, and fight back by saying that the Bible is a work of fiction, too. However, they forget that many of the scholars are non-Christians and these scholars have also critically studied the Bible. So, let us find out what they have to say about the Bible.
Although Christianity originated about 2000 years ago, Christians now constitute about 33.7 % of the world's population. The Bible, as everyone knows, is the Holy book of the Christians. The first book to be printed by a press was the Bible in Latin. This was quickly followed by the Hebrew Old Testament in 1488 and the Greek New Testament in 1516. The Quran came from Mohammed. The Book of Mormon came from Joseph Smith. The Ramayana was composed by Balmiki. The Mahabharata was composed by Ved Vyas. But the Bible is unique among the many sacred books in the world. One person did not write it. Rather, the Bible is a compilation of the books of 40 different authors, located in Asia, Africa and Europe, over a 1600-year time span. The Bible consists of two major parts viz the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament includes the same 39 books that are used by the Jews in their Holy Book, the Torah in Hebrew. The main Old Testament translation that was used by the early Christians was in Greek. This version was called the Septuagint or LXX. (LXX is the Roman numeral for the number 70). The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Old Testament. It originated many years before Jesus. The Apocrypha books were officially included in the Bible at the Catholic Council of Trent (1545- 63). The official acceptance being in April 1546. The Apocrypha is the extra section in Catholic Bibles. The word Apocrypha comes from the Greek adjective that means 'hidden'. There are 14 books that make up the Apocrypha (15 If the book of Baruch is split into 2). Of these the Catholic Church accepts 11 of the 14 (12 of the 15)
|Book||Other names used for the book||When written|
|The Wisdom of Solomon||Book of Solomon||30 BC|
|1 Esdras||3 Edras||150-100 BC|
|1 Maccabees||110 BC|
|2 Maccabees||110-70 BC|
|Baruch||Baruch Chapters 1-5 1||50 BC|
|Letters of Jeremiah||Baruch Chapter 6||300-100 BC|
|2 Esdras||4 Esdras* (written in Aramaic)||100 AD|
|Additions to Ester||Ester 10:4-16:24||140-130 BC|
|Prayer of Azariah||Song of the 3 young men;Daniel 3:24-||200-30 BC|
|Susanna||Daniel 13||200-30 BC|
|Bel the Dragon||Daniel 14||100 BC|
|Prayer of Manasseh*||200-30 BC|
Only post Tenth Century manuscripts of the Old Testament were available till the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls refer to the many old manuscripts discovered in 1948-49 in Israel hidden in caves by the Jews during the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD. The Dead Sea Scrolls included most of the Old Testament and is dated to the time of Jesus. This is a difference of over a thousand years! But it is remarkable that the oldest copies are basically the same as what they are today.
The New Testament consists of 27 books. The New Testament was officially accepted by the Council of Bishops in 397 AD at Carthage which recognised not just which books but the current order.
|Author||Book||Date Written||Earliest Copies||Time Gap||# of Copies|
|Homer||Iliad||800 B.C.||400 B.C.||400 yrs.||643|
|Herodotus||History||480-425 B.C.||A.D. 900||1,350 yrs.||8|
|Thucydides||History||460-400 B.C.||A.D. 900||1,300 yrs.||8|
|Plato||400 B.C.||A.D. 900||1,300 yrs.||7|
|Demosthenes||300 B.C.||A.D. 1100||1,400 yrs.||200|
|Caesar||Gallic Wars||100-44 B.C.||A.D. 900||1,000 yrs.||10|
|Tacitus||Annals||A.D. 100||A.D. 1100||1,000 yrs.||20|
|Pliny Secundus||Natural History||A.D. 61-113||A.D. 850||750 yrs||7|
|New Testament (portions)||A.D. 50-100||A.D.114||+50 yrs.||5366|
|(books)||A.D. 200.||100 yrs|
|(complete N.T.)||A.D. 325||225 yrs.|
From the above table it will be clear that the New Testament books were written between 30 to 70 years after the death of Jesus and the earliest manuscripts available date back to 114 AD. Thus a gap of only about 50 years exists between the date they were written and the earliest available manuscripts. This is in stark contrast to the Ramayana and Mahabharat where there is a gap of more than 2000 years between the date (unknown) of their composition and the date of the earliest available manuscripts.
Like any of the sacred books of any other religion the Bible was regarded as the Word of God and was blindly accepted by the Christians as true in every respect for nearly two thousand years. However, archaeological finds discovered in the 18th century established that the narration of many events in the Old Testament were not fictitious stories but were a record of true historical events. The breakthrough in archaeology came with the discovery of the Rosetta Stone. This is a compact basalt slab (114x72x28 cm) that was found in July 1799 in the small Egyptian village named Rosette (Raschid), which is located in the western delta of the Nile. The Rosetta Stone was found by French soldiers of Napolean who were rebuilding a fort in Egypt. Today the stone is kept at the British Museum in London.
The Rosetta Stone is a text written (carved) by a group of priests in Egypt to honour the Egyptian pharaoh in 196 B.C. It contains three inscriptions that represent a single text in three different variants of script, of a decree of the priests of Memphis in honour of the Egyptian pharaoh, Ptolemaios V. It lists all of the things that the pharaoh has done that are good for the priests and the people of Egypt. The text appears in the form of hieroglyphs (script of the official and religious texts), Demotic (everyday Egyptian script), and in Greek.
The Rosetta Stone is written in three scripts because when it was written, there were three scripts being used in Egypt. The first was hieroglyphic which was the script used for important or religious documents. The second was demotic which was the common script of Egypt. The third was Greek which was the language of the rulers of Egypt at that time. The Rosetta Stone was written in all three scripts so that the priests, government officials and rulers of Egypt could read what it said.
The Greek portion of the inscription could at once be read and provided the clue to the decipherment of the other two ancient Egyptian scripts. Sylvester de Sacy of France and J.D. Akerblad of Sweden succeeded in unraveling the demotic Egyptian by identifying the Greek personal names it contained, namely Ptolemy, Arsinoe and Berenike. Thomas Young of England then proceeded to identify the name Ptolemy in the heiroglyphic portion, where groups of characters enclosed in oval frames, called cartouches, had already been surmised to be royal names. From this point a Frenchman Jean-François Champollion (1790-1832) was able to decipher the heiroglyphics of the monument, show the true nature of of this script, make a dictionary, formulate a grammar and translate numerous Egyptian texts, from the year 1818 to 1832.
Champollion could read both Greek and coptic (language of the Christian descendants of the ancient Egyptians). He was able to figure out what the seven demotic signs in coptic were. By looking at how these signs were used in coptic he was able to work out what they stood for. Then he began tracing these demotic signs back to hieroglyphic signs. By working out what some hieroglyphs stood for, he could make educated guesses about what the other hieroglyphs stood for. Furthermore, with the aid of the Coptic language, he succeeded in realising the phonetic value of the hieroglyphs.This proved the fact that hieroglyphs do not have only symbolic meaning, but that they also served as a "spoken language".
The other most significant discovery was the Behistun inscription. This famous monument was the key to the languages of Assyria and Babylonia. It consists of a large relief panel containing numerous columns of inscription, which was boldly carved on the face of a mountain about 500 feet above the surrounding plain of Karmanshah on the old caravan route from Babylon to Ecbatana. The three languages in which it was inscribed were all written in cuneiform characters, consisting of old Persian, Elamite and Akkadian. The third language, the Akkadian, was the wedge-shaped language of ancient Assyria and Baylonia, in which thousands of clay tablets discovered in the Tigris-Euphrates region are inscribed.
The Jews were in constant touch with various civilizations such as the Assyrians, Persians, Egyptians, Greeks and the Romans and hence the characters and events recorded by them in the Old Testament ought to be reflected in the records of these civilizations. With the insight gained by a study of the Rosetta Stone and the Behistun inscription, Egyption heiroglyphics and Assyrian cuneiform writing, found in tablets and inscriptions discovered at various sites, were read, and historical evidence relating to many events in the Old Testament was gathered.
|Mari Tablets||Over 20,000 cuneiform tablets, which date back to Abraham's time period, explain many of the patriarchal traditions of Genesis.|
|Ebla Tablets||Over 20,000 tablets, many containing law similar to the Deuteronomy law code. The previously thought fictitious five cities of the plain in Genesis 14 (Sodom, Gomorrah,Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar) are identified.|
|Nuzi Tablets||They detail customs of the 14th and 15th century parallel to the patriarchal accounts such as maids producing children for barren wives.|
|Black Stele||Proved that writing and written laws existed three centuries before the Mosaic laws.|
|Temple Walls of Karnak,Egypt||Signifies a 10th century BC reference to Abraham.|
|Laws of Eshnunna|
(ca. 1950 BC)
(ca. 1860 BC)
Laws of Hammurabi
(ca. 1700 BC)
|Show that the law codes of the Pentateuch were not too sophisticated for that period.|
|Ras Shamra Tablets||Provide information on Hebrew poetry.|
|Lachish Letters||Describe Nebuchadnezzar's invasion of Judah and give insight into the time of Jeremiah.|
|Gedaliah Seal References||Gedaliah is spoken of in 2 Kings 5:22.|
|Cyrus Cylinder||Authenticates the Biblical description of Cyrus' decree to allow the Jews to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem (see 2 Chronicles 36:23;Ezra 1:2-4).|
|Moabite Stone||Gives information about Omri, the sixth king of Israel.|
|Black Obelisk of ShalmaneserIII||Illustrates how Jehu, king of Israel, had to submit to the Assyrian king.|
|Taylor Prism||Contains an Assyrian text which detail Sennacherib's attack on Jerusalem during the time of Hezekiah, king of Israel.|
While the Old Testament traces the history of the Jewish people the New Testament depicts the life and times of Jesus and His followers. The New Testament contains the four books, known as the gospels, depicting the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ written by Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, the Acts of the Apostles written by Luke and the correspondence of the early Christian leaders. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus described in the New Testament are not fictitious events but are true historical facts that have been confirmed by many ancient Christian as well as non-Christian historians who have also written about Jesus.
Cornelius Tacitus (A.D. 55-120), a Roman historian of first-century Rome, "is considered one of the most accurate historians of the ancient world." An excerpt from Tacitus tells us that Nero "inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class...called Christians. ...Christus [Christ], from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus...."
Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian (A.D. 38-100+), wrote about Jesus in his Jewish Antiquities. From Josephus, we learn that Jesus was a wise man who did surprising feats, taught many, won over followers from among Jews and Greeks, was believed to be the Messiah, was accused by the Jewish leaders, was condemned to be crucified by Pilate, and was considered to be resurrected.
Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, and Thallus also wrote about Christian worship and persecution that is concurrent with New Testament accounts.
Even the Jewish Talmud, not a favourable source regarding Jesus, concurs about the major events of his life. From the Talmud we learn that Jesus was conceived out of wedlock (virgin birth), gathered disciples, made blasphemous claims about himself (claimed to be the Son of God), and worked miracles, but these miracles are attributed by the Talmud to sorcery and not to God.
This is remarkable information considering that most ancient historians focused on political and military leaders. Yet ancient Jews, Greeks and Romans (who themselves were not ardent followers of Jesus) substantiate the major events that are presented in the four Gospels.
In contrast, only the Quran reports that Jesus did not die on the cross. Prophet Mohammed was not a contemporary of Christ nor was he associated with His disciples or apostles. The Quran was given by Prophet Mohammed six centuries after the death of Jesus Christ. Moreover, there is no other evidence to support his claim. On the contrary the life, crucifiction and death of Jesus Christ are facts confirmed by numerous independent secular historians.
Regarding Jesus of Nazareth, there are multiple biographies reporting similar facts about his life. The four New Testament books called Gospels give lengthy details of Jesus' life. Two of the books were written by men who knew Jesus personally and traveled with him for over three years (Matthew and John); the other two books were written by close associates of Jesus' apostles (Mark and Luke).
Each of the four authors recorded very in-depth narratives of Jesus' life, with great similarity in their reports. As would be expected from various writers covering the life of a real person, there is agreement in the particulars, but also uniqueness and variations in the presentations. And each biography is presented without sensationalism or flowery creativity, but in a newspaper matter of fact reporting style. The Gospels give specific geographical names and cultural details that have been confirmed by historians and archaeologists.
Thus the integrity and value of the Bible as a historical document is beyond dispute. No other sacred book has been subjected to the strictest and the most thorough examination demanded by archaeologists and historians and has proved in its major part to be a true historical account of events and has captivated the minds of educated people throughout the world.
Many people ask that when the Christians believe in Jesus Christ whose life, death and resurrection are described in the New Testament then why do they also include the Old Testament, a part taken from the Jewish Holy Book, in the Bible? The answer to this is that a thorough reading of the Bible will reveal that there is a common thread running through the entire Old Testament and the New Testament. In fact the Old Testament lays the foundation on which the New Testament rests. The Old Testament is the revelation of God to mankind through the prophets. God affirmed through Moses that God was one and unlike anything on earth. Thus monotheism was established amidst a sea of polytheist religions that surrounded the Jews, and worship of images of God or idols was abolished. Throughout the Old Testament we find prophecies that God has promised to send a messiah or deliverer. The Jews who were ardent believers in the word of God spoken through the prophets were well aware of these prophecies, particularly those of Isaiah and Daniel, and there was an air of expectancy of the coming of the promised Messiah during the time of Jesus Christ. King Herod the Great (37 BC- 4 BC) ordered the killing of all male children below the age of 2 years to eliminate the expected Messiah who he feared would challenge his crown. His successor King Herod Tetrarch imprisoned John the Baptist and beheaded him because many people thought that he was the Messiah. Even Jesus Christ himself was caught and charged of being the Messiah and accused of claiming to be a king and inciting rebellion against the Roman Emperor. Even till that time the Messiah was thought to be a person who would come with a sword and physically overthrow the shackles of the Roman Empire and establish a Jewish State. However, Pontius Pilate (26 AD - 37 AD), the Roman Procurator of Judea did not find Jesus to be a threat to the Roman Empire because Jesus claimed that he was a king but his kingdom was not of this world. Pontius Pilate was inclined to release him but the Jews, particularly the Priests whom Jesus had many a time criticised openly, demanded his death. Pontius Pilate bowed to their wishes and ordered Jesus to be crucified. With typical Roman arrogant sense of humour Pontius Pilate ordered that a placard be nailed to his cross with the inscription "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews".
The Jewish Historian Flavius Josephus (A.D. 38-100+) records: "About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing amongst us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvellous things about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared." (Antiq 18.63-64).
What were the prophecies contained in the Old Testament referred to by the Jewish Historian Josephus and believed by the Jews?
Seven hundred years before Jesus was born, the Book of Isaiah (found in the Old Testament) prophesied the coming of the Messiah. Jesus not only fulfilled these prophecies, but also fulfilled over 300 other specific statements about the Messiah found throughout the Old Testament. Below is just a sampling of what we find in the Book of Isaiah when compared with the New Testament...
|Old Testament prophecy||New Testament fulfillment|
|born of a virgin|
"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel [God with us]."(Isaiah 7:14)
|"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph...did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus."(Matthew 1:18,24,25)|
|ministry of miracles|
"Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert."(Isaiah 35:5,6)
|Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.'" (Matthew 11:4,5)|
|died for humanity's sins|
"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:5,6)
|"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."(John 10:11)|
Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them,"We are going up to Jerusalem, and every thing that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again." (Luke 18:31-33)
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, "Hail, king of the Jews!" And they struck him in the face.(John 19:1-3) They took Jesus therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified Him... (John 19:17-18)
Jesus' comments on Old Testament prophecies about himself:
- "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the scriptures that testify about me." (John 5:39)
- "If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me." (John 5:46)
- Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again ." (Luke 18:31-33)
After he rose from the dead...
-- He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27)
-- He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things." (Luke 24:44-48)
Thus the Old Testament is the revelation of God to the Jews through the Prophets wherein God promises to send a Messiah or Son of God to deliver all mankind and the New Testament is the fulfilment of God's promise through Jesus Christ. The Old Testament and the New Testament are, therefore, inseparable parts of the Bible, which contains not only historical truth but also spiritual truth of immense value for mankind. Because Jesus was a real person of amazing wisdom and power who claimed to be the Son of God, and he is the only person to have come back from the dead to prove that there is life beyond death. All other great men including Rama, Krishna, Buddha and Mohammed lived and died, and whatever they may have said about life after death were mere surmises because they never came back from the dead to tell us about life beyond death. Only Jesus lived with his disciples for forty days after his resurrection from the dead, and, before he finally departed from them, he directed them to tell the entire world the good news about eternal life that can be gained by following him.
Jesus says (to Martha),"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me though he may die shall live. And he who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (John ch.11:v.25,26).
Again Jesus says,"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned." (John ch.14:v.1-6).
Jesus says,"All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and He to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matt. ch.11:v.27-30).
Jesus was not merely a Holy man who existed in the pages of history, but He was the one and only true incarnation of God that we come across in history, and He dares to say, " Most assuredly I say to you, before Abraham was I AM." John ch.9:v.58.
You might ask, what about all those who have been following any other religion? The answer is that while any religion can give you some idea of God it would never be perfect because that religion has been created by man with his limited understanding. Religion created by false prophets would suffer from misconceptions that would result in ill effects such as idol worship, human sacrifice, sati, discrimination (caste system), dowry etc.
But how can we recognize false religions? Jesus warns,
Moreover, while any religion can help us, perhaps, to lead a good life in this world it can not guarantee eternal life after death. The concepts of karma and rebirth were the creation of the mind of the Sages. None of the Sages came back to life after death to affirm the theory of karma and rebirth. Jesus knew God fully, because He was God, and He demonstrated by His own resurrection from the dead that He alone could grant life beyond death. Jesus asks, "What doth it profit a man if he gains the whole world but suffers the loss of his soul?" Mark Ch.8:v.36. Surely, eternal life is infinitely more precious than anything else in the world. So, you can be with Jesus, a true historical figure, and stand the chance of gaining eternal life through Him, or, you can continue with your present mythical beliefs, practises and rituals, and lose your soul, forever.