Fact Or Conjecture
In The Article 'Crucifixion'?

From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: <editor@us.britannica.com>
Subject: Fact or conjecture in the article "crucifixion"?
Date: Wednesday, August 16, 2000 3:50 AM

To the editors:
Encyclopædia Britannica:

In your article "crucifixion" the text says: "... and in about AD 32 Pontius Pilate had Jesus of Nazareth put to death by crucifixion."

Are there any contemporary writers or documents backing this claim? No. There are no contemporary records even of the existence of Jesus which predate the publication of the Gospels. Paul's undisputed writings (Romans; I & II Corinthians; Galatians) do not even place a time for Jesus's life except somewhere in the past, much less do they narrow his crucifixion to the time of Pilate. Only the Gospels which eventually became incorporated into the Christian Scripture attest to the existence of Jesus and to his crucifixion under Pilate. These Gospels are known to contain gross and deliberate misrepresentations of the laws, language, customs, geography, religious beliefs, and sense of decorum and dignity of the communities they allege to describe. The Gospels also contain numerous internal inconsistencies within and between one another. (They don't even agree as to whether Jesus was from Nazareth, a town which Encyclopædia Britannica says "is not mentioned in the Old Testament or rabbinic literature" [Nazareth] and which may not have existed until after Jesus is alleged to have lived.) This points toward the likelihood that the Gospels were written by Greeks at least 50 to 100 years after Jesus is alleged to live.

Thus, this article might better read: "... and the Christian religion teaches that in about AD 32 Pontius Pilate had Jesus of Nazareth put to death by crucifixion" or something similar. It is improper for a reference book to report as fact claims that are so easily shown to lack independent verification.

For a summary of the arguments regarding the lack of independent verification of the claims for Jesus's historicity, and especially the lack of independent verification of the claims that Jesus was crucified by Pilate, consult the works of British biblical scholar G. A. Wells.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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