Martin’s radical conclusions are unfounded, but he nonetheless bases still other claims upon them. Contending the possibility that the earliest Gospel was not written “until the beginning of the second century,” he concludes that these books were “not written by eyewitnesses.”^51 Yet he fails to establish any of these claims.
A last area that Martin investigates is whether sources outside the New Testament provide viable data concerning the historicity of Jesus. But here, once again, Martin’s research exhibits several flaws.
Concerning Josephus’ major reference to Jesus,^52 Martin thinks there is “almost uniform agreement that this passage is spurious.”^53 While he is, of course, entitled to his opinion about the current state of scholarship, the endnote is curious. Martin lists five scholars who apparently support his view, while accusing Habermas of holding a dissenting position without being aware of those who oppose him.
Yet, upon closer inspection, at least two of the remaining five scholars cited by Martin actually oppose Martin’s position! While F.F. Bruce explains in the page cited by Martin that words were added to Josephus’ text, the reader who continues will discover that Bruce favors the view that this is an authentic reference to Jesus that records several key facts, including Jesus’ crucifixion at the hands of Pontius Pilate.^54 Further, Martin seems to miss the fact that John Drane not only disagrees with his thesis, but Drane adds that “most scholars have no doubts about the authenticity” of the majority of the passage.^55 Thus, with three of six scholars listed by Martin himself disagreeing with him, and Drane saying that mostothers also object, it is difficult to understand how Martin’s note corroborates his additional conclusion that “this passage is almost universally acknowledged by scholars to be a later Christian interpolation.”^56
50 See J.B. Lightfoot, transl. and ed., The Apostolic Fathers(Grand Rapids: Baker, 1971), p.31.
51 Martin, Case Against Christianity, pp. 44–45.
53 Martin, Case Against Christianity, p. 48.
54 F.F. Bruce, Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), pp. 37–41.
55 Drane, Introducing New Testament, p. 138. Incidently, after a detailed look at the issue in question, Charlesworth concludes that we can now be sure that Josephus didwrite about Jesus in the major reference in his Antiquities(Jesus Within Judaism, p. 96).
56 Martin, Case Against Christianity, p. 85. Later, he calls Josephus’ text a “clearly forged passage” (p. 91).
Citing what some call the “Negative Evidence Principle,” Martin seeks to discount the testimony of several extrabiblical sources for Jesus. But one of the conditions for this principle is that “all the available evidence used to support the view that p is true is shown to be inadequate.”^57 Yet, Martin has not shown this to be the case, especially with Josephus. Questions arise with regard to his treatment of several other non-New Testament sources, as well.^58
Therefore, Martin is far from proving his declaration that pagan writers present “no reliable evidence that supports the historicity of Jesus.” It simply does not follow that “we are justified in disbelieving that Jesus existed.”^59