Atheist Anne Rice’s Surprising Discovery


Bestselling Author Anne Rice:

Noted for the painstaking research behind her historical fiction, an atheist of 36 years makes a surprising discovery when she turns her attention to the mystery of the historical Jesus

Excerpt from Author’s Note in Christ The Lord Out Of Egypt
©2006 Anne O’Brien Rice.  Used by permission.

anne_riceEvery novel I’ve ever written since 1974 involved historical research.  It’s been my delight that no matter how many supernatural elements were involved in the story, and no matter how imaginative the plot and characters, the background would be thoroughly historically accurate.  And over the years, I’ve become known for that accuracy.

If one of my novels is set in Venice in the eighteenth century, one can be certain that the details as to the opera, the dress, the milieu, the values of the people- all of this is correct.

Without ever planning it, I’ve moved slowly backwards in history, from the nineteenth century, where I felt at home in my first two novels, to the first century, where I sought the answers to enormous questions that became an obsession with me that simply couldn’t be ignored.

Ultimately, the figure of Jesus Christ was at the heart of this obsession. More generally, it was the birth of Christianity and the fall of the ancient world.  I wanted to know desperately what happened in the first century, and why people in general never talked about it.

Understand, I had experienced an old-fashioned, strict Roman Catholic childhood in the 1940’s and 1950’s, in an Irish American parish that would now be called a Catholic ghetto, where we attended daily Mass and Communion in an enormous and magnificently decorated church, which had been built by our forefathers, some with their own hands.

Classes were segregated, boys from girls.  We learned catechism and Bible history, and the lives of the saints.  Stained-glass windows, the Latin Mass, the detailed answers to complex questions on good and evil – theses things were imprinted on my soul forever, along with a great deal of church history that existed as a great chain of events triumphing over schism and reformation to culminate in the papacy of Pius XII.

 

Left The Church At 18

I left this church at age eighteen, because I stopped believing it was “the one true church established by Christ to give grace.” No personal event precipitated this loss of faith.  It happened on a secular college campus; there was intense sexual pressure; but more than that there was the world itself, without Catholicism, filled with good people and people who read books that were strictly speaking forbidden to me.

I wanted to read Kierkegaard, Sartre, and Camus.  I wanted to know why so many seemingly good people didn’t believe in any organized religion yet cared passionately about their behavior and the value of their lives.  As the rigid Catholic I was, I had no options for exploration. I broke with the Church.  And I broke with my belief in God.

When I married two years later, it was to a passionate atheist, Stan Rice, who not only didn’t believe in God, he felt he had had something akin to a vision which had given him a certainty that God didn’t exist.  He was one of the most honorable and conscience-driven people I ever knew.  For him and for me, our writing was our lives.

In 1974, I became a published writer. The novel reflected my guilt and my misery in being cut off from God and from salvation; my being lost in a world without light.  It was set in the nineteenth century, a context I’d researched heavily in trying to answer questions about New Orleans, where I was born and no longer lived.

After that, I wrote many novels without my being aware that they reflected my quest for meaning in a world without God.  As I said before, I was working my way backwards in history, answering questions for myself about whole historical developments—why certain revolutions happened, why Queen Elizabeth I was the way she was, who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays (this I never used in a novel), what the Italian Renaissance really was, and what the Black Death had been like before it.  And how feudalism had come about.

In the 1990’s, living in New Orleans again, living among adults who were churchgoers and believers, flexible Catholics of some sophistication, I no doubt imbibed some influence from them.

The Central Question of All Western History

But I also inevitably plunged into researching the first century because I wanted to know about Ancient Rome.  I had novels to write with Roman characters. Just maybe, I might discover something I’d wanted to know all my life and never had known:

How did Christianity actually “happen”? Why did Rome actually fall?  To me these were the ultimate questions and always had been.  They had to do with who we were today.

I remember in the 1960’s, being at a party in a lovely house in San Francisco, given in honor or a famous poet. A European scholar was there, I found myself alone with him, seated on a couch.  I asked him, “Why did Rome fall?” For the next two hours he explained it to me.

I couldn’t absorb most of what he said.  But I never forgot what I did understand—about all the grain for the city having to come from Egypt, and the land around the city being taken up with villas, and the crowds being fed the dole.

It was a wonderful evening, but I didn’t leave with a feeling that I had the true grasp of what had happened.

Catholic Church history had given me an awareness of our cultural heritage, although it was presented to me early and quite without context.  And I wanted to know the context, why things were the way they were.

When I was a little child, maybe eleven or younger, I was lying on my mother’s bed, reading or trying to read one of her books.  I read a sentence that said the Protestant Reformation split Europe culturally in half. I thought that was absurd and I asked her, was this true? She said it was. I never forgot that. All my life I wanted to know what that meant.

In 1993, I dug into this early period, and of course went earlier, into the history of Sumer and Babylon and the whole Middle East, and back to Egypt, which I’d studied in college, and I struggled with it all. I read specialized archaeological texts like detective novels searching for patterns, enthralled with the Gilgamesh story, and details such as the masonry tools which the ancient kings (statues) held in their hands.

I stumbled upon a mystery without a solution, a mystery so immense that I gave up trying to find an explanation because the whole mystery defied belief. The mystery was the survival of the Jews.

As I sat on the floor of my office surrounded by books about Sumer, Egypt, Rome, etc., and some skeptical material about Jesus that had come into my hands, I couldn’t understand how these people had endured as the great people who they were.

It was the mystery that drew me back to God. It set into motion the idea that there may in fact be God. And when that happened there grew in me for whatever reason an immense desire to return to the banquet table. In 1998 I went back to the Catholic Church.

But even then I had not closed in on the question of Jesus Christ and Christianity. I did read the Bible in a state of utter amazement at its variety, its poetry, its startling portraits of women, its inclusion of bizarre and often bloody and violent details.  When I was depressed, which was often, someone read the Bible to me, often literary translations of the New Testament—that is, translations by Richmond Lattimore that are wondrously literal and beautiful and revealing and that open the text anew.

In 2002 I put aside everything else and decided to focus entirely on answering the questions that had dogged me all my life.  The decision came in July of that year.  I had been reading the Bible constantly, reading parts of it out loud to my sister, and poring over the Old Testament, and I decided that I would give myself utterly to the task of trying to understand Jesus himself and how Christianity emerged.

“I was ready to do violence to my career…”

I wanted to write the life of Jesus Christ. I had known that years ago. But now I was ready. I was ready to do violence to my career. I wanted to write the book in the first person. Nothing else mattered.  I consecrated the book to Christ.

I consecrated myself and my work to Christ. I didn’t know exactly how I was going to do it.

Even then I did not know what my character of Jesus would be like.

I had taken in a lot of fashionable notions about Jesus—that he’d been oversold, that the Gospels were “late” documents, that we really didn’t know anything about him, that violence and quarreling marked the movement of Christianity from its start. I’d acquired many books on Jesus, and the filled the shelves of my office.

But the true investigation began in July of 2002.

In August, I went to my beach apartment, to write the book. Such naiveté.  I had no idea I was entering a field of research where no one agreed on anything—whether we are talking about the size of Nazareth, the economic level of Jesus’ family, the Jewish attitudes of Galileans in general, the reason Jesus rose to fame, the reason he was executed, or why his followers went out into the world.

 

Vast Landscape of Jesus Scholarship

As to the size of the field, it was virtually without end. New Testament scholarship included books of every conceivable kind from skeptical books that sought to disprove Jesus had any real value to theology or an enduring church, to books that conscientiously met every objection of the skeptics with footnotes halfway up the page.

Bibliographies were endless. Disputes sometimes produced rancor.

And the primary source material for the first century was a matter of continuous controversy in which the Gospels were called secondary sources by some, and primary sources by others, and the history of Josephus and the works of Philo were subject to exhaustive examination and contentions as to their relevance or validity or whether they had any truth.

Then there was the question of the Rabbis.  Could the Mishnah, the Tosefta, and the Talmuds be trusted to give an accurate picture of the first century? Did they actually mention Jesus? And if not, so what, because they didn’t mention Herod, who built the Temple, either.

Oh, what lay in store.

But let me backtrack.  In 1999, I had received in the mail from my editor and longtime mentor a copy of Paula Fredriksen’s Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. I had read a substantial part of this book in which Fredriksen re-created beautifully the Jewish milieu in which the boy Jesus might have lived in Nazareth and in which he might have gone to the Temple for Passover along with his family.

Fredriksen made the point strongly that Jesus was a Jew. And that this had to be addressed when one wrote about him or thought about him, or so it seems to me.

Now six years later, I have produced a book which is obviously inspired by that scene which Fredriksen wrote, and I can only offer my humble thanks to her and acknowledge her influence.

Of course my beliefs are the polar opposite of Fredriksen’s as the book Christ the Lord reveals. But it was Fredriksen who steered me in the right direction as to exploring Jesus as a Jew, and there my serious research of him began.

 

Health Crisis

But to return to the year 2002. As I began my serious work, a call came from my husband.  He was experiencing the first symptoms of a brain tumor from which he died in less than four months.

We had been married for forty-one years. After my return to the Church, he had consented to marry me in the great old church of my childhood with a priest who was my cousin saying the words. This was a marvelous concession coming from a committed atheist.  But out of love for me, my husband did it.  Forty-one years. And he was gone.

Was I given the gift of purpose before this tragedy so that it would sustain me through it? I don’t know. I do know that during his last weeks, my husband when he was conscious became a saint. He expressed love for those around him, understanding of people he hadn’t understood before. He wanted gifts given to those who helped him in his illness.

Before that he had managed, though half paralyzed, to create three amazing paintings. I must not neglect to say that. Then after that period of love and understanding, he slowly lapsed into a coma, and he was gone.

He left more than three hundred paintings, all done in fifteen years, and many books of poetry, most published during the same period, and thousands of unpublished poems. His memorial gallery will soon move from new Orleans to Dallas, Texas, where he was born.

I went on with my quest right through his illness and his death. My books sustained me. I told him about what I was writing. He thought it was wonderful. He gave me glowing praise.

From that time on, December 2002 when he died, until 2005, I have studied the New Testament period, and I continue to study. I read constantly, night and day.

I have covered an enormous amount of skeptical criticism, violent arguments, and I have read voraciously in the primary sources of Philo and Josephus which I deeply enjoy.

 

Taking The Jesus Skeptics Seriously

Having started with the skeptical critics, those who take their cue from the earliest skeptical New Testament scholars of the Enlightenment, I expected to discover that their arguments would be frighteningly strong, and that Christianity was, at heart, a kind of fraud.  I’d have to end up compartmentalizing my mind with faith in one part of it, and truth in another.

And what would I write about my Jesus? I had no idea. But the prospects were interesting. Surely he was a liberal, married, had children, was a homosexual, and who knew what? But I must do my research before I wrote one word.

These skeptical scholars seemed so very sure of themselves. They built their books on certain assertions without even examining these assertions. How could they be wrong?

The Jewish scholars presented their case with such care. Certainly Jesus was simply and observant Jew or a Hasid who got crucified. End of story.

I read and I read and I read. Sometimes I thought I was walking through the valley of the shadow of Death, as I read. But I went on, ready to risk everything. I had to know who Jesus was—that is, if anyone knew, I had to know what that person knew.

Now, I couldn’t read the ancient languages, but as a scholar I can certainly follow the logic of an argument; I can check the footnotes, and the bibliographical references; I can go to the biblical text in English. I can check all the translations I have and I have every one of which I know from Wycliffe to Lamsa, including the New Annotated Oxford Bible and the old English King James which I love.

I have the old Catholic translation, and every literary translation I can find. I have offbeat translations scholars don’t mention, such as that by Barnstone and Schonfield. I acquired every single translation for the light it might shed on an obscure line.

Skeptical Arguments: Some of the Worst and Most Biased Scholarship

What gradually came clear to me was that many of the skeptical arguments—arguments that insisted most of the Gospels were suspect, for instance, or written too late to be eyewitness accounts—lacked coherence.  They were not elegant. Arguments about Jesus himself were full of conjecture. Some books were no more than assumptions piled upon assumptions. Absurd conclusions were reached on the basis of little or no data at all.

In sum, the whole case for the nondivine Jesus who stumbled into Jerusalem and somehow got crucified by nobody and had nothing to do with the founding of Christianity and would be horrified by it if hew knew about it—that the whole picture which has floated in the liberal circles I frequented as an atheist for thirty years—that case was not made. Not only was it not made. I discovered in this field some of the worst and most biased scholarship I’d ever read.

I saw almost no skeptical scholarship that was convincing, and the Gospels, shredded by critics, lost all intensity when reconstructed by various theorists. They were in no way compelling when treated as composites and records of later ”communities.”

Contempt for Jesus & the Sneer of Secularism

I was unconvinced by the wild postulations of those who claimed to be children of the Enlightenment. And I had also sensed something else. Many of these scholars, scholars who apparently devoted their life to New Testament scholarship, disliked Jesus Christ.  Some pitied him as a hopeless failure.  Others sneered at him, and some felt an outright contempt. This came between the lines of the books. This emerged in the personality of the texts.

I’d never come across this kind of emotion in any other field of research, at least not to this extent.  It was puzzling.

The people who go into Elizabethan studies don’t set out to prove that Queen Elizabeth I was a fool.  They don’t personally dislike her.  They don’t make snickering remarks about her, or spend their careers trying to pick apart her historical reputation.

They approach her in other ways. They don’t even apply this sort of dislike or suspicion or contempt to other Elizabethan figures. If they do, the person is usually not the focus of the study. Occasionally a scholar studies a villain, yes. But even then, the author generally ends up arguing for the good points of a villain or for his or her place in history, or for some mitigating circumstance, that redeems the study itself.

People studying disasters in history may be highly critical of the rulers or the milieu at the time, yes. But in general scholars don’t spend their lives in the company of historical figures whom they openly despise.

But there are New Testament scholars who detest and despise Jesus Christ. Of course, we all benefit from freedom in the academic community; we benefit from the enormous size of biblical studies today and the great range of contributions that are being made. I’m not arguing for censorship. But maybe I’m arguing for sensitivity—on the part of those who read these books. Maybe I’m arguing for a little wariness when it comes to the field in general. What looks like solid ground might not be solid ground at all.

 

The Gospels: Written Long After The Fact?

Another point bothered me a great deal.

All these skeptics insisted that the Gospels were late documents, that the prophecies in them had been written after the Fall of Jerusalem. But the more I read about the Fall of Jerusalem, the more I couldn’t understand this.

The Fall of Jerusalem was horrific, and involved an enormous and cataclysmic war, a war that went on and on for years in Palestine, followed by other revolts and persecutions, and punitive laws. As I read about this in the pages of S.G.F. Brandon, and in Josephus, I found myself amazed by the details of this appalling disaster in which the greatest Temple of the ancient world was forever destroyed.

I had never truly confronted these events before, never tried to comprehend them. And now I found it absolutely impossible that the Gospel writers could not have included the Fall of the Temple in their work had they written after it as critics insist.

It simply didn’t and doesn’t make sense.

These Gospel writers were in a Judeo-Christian cult. That’s what Christianity was. And the core story of Judaism has to do with redemption from Egypt, and redemption from Babylon. And before redemption from Babylon there was a Fall of Jerusalem in which the Jews were taken to Babylon. And here we have this horrible war.

Would Christian writers not have written about it had they seen it? Would they not have seen in the Fall of Jerusalem some echo of the Babylonian conquest? Of course they would have. They were writing for Jews and Gentiles.

The way the skeptics put this issue aside, they simply assumed the Gospels were late documents because of these prophecies in the Gospels. This does not begin to convince.

 

2000-Year Embarrassment

Before I leave this question of the Jewish War and the Fall of the Temple, let me make this suggestion. When Jewish and Christian scholars begin to take this war seriously, when they begin to really study what happened during the terrible years of the siege of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple, and the revolts that continued in Palestine right up through Bar Kokhba, when they focus upon the persecution of Christians in Palestine by Jews; upon the civil war in Rome in the ‘60s which Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., so well describes in his work Before Jerusalem Fell; as well as the persecution of Jews in the Diaspora during this period—in sum, when all of this dark era is brought into the light of examination—Bible studies will change.

Right now, scholars neglect or ignore the realities of this period. To some it seems a two-thousand-year-old embarrassment and I’m not sure I understand why.

But I am convinced that the key to understanding the Gospels is that they were written before all this ever happened. That’s why they were preserved without question though they contradicted one another. They came from a time that was, for later Christians, catastrophically lost forever.

 

Notable Jesus Scholars

As I continued my quest, I discovered a scholarship quite different from that of the skeptics—that of John A.T. Robinson, in The Priority of John. In reading his descriptions, which took seriously the words of the Gospel itself, I saw what was happening to Jesus in the text of John.

It was a turning point. I was able to enter the Fourth Gospel, and see Jesus alive and moving. And what eventually emerged for me from the Gospels was their unique coherence, their personalities—the inevitable stamp of individual authorship.

Of course John A.T. Robinson made the case for an early date for the Gospels far better that I ever could. He made it brilliantly in 1975, and he took to task the liberal scholars for their assumptions then in Redating the New Testament, but what he said is as true now as it was when he wrote those words.

After Robinson I made many great discoveries, among them Richard Bauckham who in The Gospels for All Christians soundly refutes the idea that isolated communities produced the Gospels and shows what is obvious, that they were written to be circulated and read by all.

The work of Martin Hengel is brilliant in clearing away assumptions, and his achievements are enormous, I continue to study him.

The scholar who has given me perhaps some of my most important insights and who continues to do so through his enormous output is N. T. Wright. N. T. Wright is one of the most brilliant writers I’ve ever read, and his generosity in embracing the skeptics and commenting on their arguments is an inspiration. His faith is immense, and his knowledge vast.

In his book The Resurrection of the Son of God, he answers solidly the question that has haunted me all my life. Christianity achieved what it did, according to N. T. Wright, because Jesus rose from the dead. It was the fact of the resurrection that sent the apostles out into the world with the force necessary to create Christianity. Nothing else would have done it but that.

Wright does a great deal more to put the entire question into historical perspective. How can I do justice to him here? I can only recommend him without reservation, and go on studying him.

Of course my quest is not over. There are thousands of pages of the above-mentioned scholars to be read and reread.

But I see now a great coherence to the life of Christ and the beginning of Christianity that eluded me before, and I see also the subtle transformation of the ancient world because of its economic stagnation and the assault upon it of the values of monotheism, Jewish values melded with Christian value, for which it was not perhaps prepared.

There are also theologians who must be studied, more of Teilhard de Chardin, and Rahner, and St. Augustine.

The Highest Task of the Modern Writer

Now somewhere during my journey through all of this, as I became disillusioned with the skeptics and with the flimsy evidence for their conclusions, I realized something about my book.

It was this. The challenge was to write about the Jesus of the Gospels, of course!

Anybody could write about a liberal Jesus, a married Jesus, a gay Jesus, a Jesus who was a rebel. The “Quest for the Historical Jesus” had become a joke because of all the many definitions it had ascribed to Jesus.

The true challenge was to take the Jesus of the Gospels, the Gospels which were becoming ever more coherent to me, the Gospels which appealed to me as elegant first-person witness, dictated to scribes no doubt, but definitely early, the Gospels produced before Jerusalem fell—to take the Jesus of the Gospels, and try to get inside him and imagine what he felt.

Then there were the legends—the Apocrypha—including the tantalizing tales in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas describing a boy Jesus who could strike a child dead, bring another to life, turn clay birds into living creatures, and perform other miracles. I’d stumbled on them very early in my research, in multiple editions, and never forgotten them. And neither had the world. They were fanciful, some of them humorous, extreme to be sure, but they had lived on into the Middle Ages, and beyond. I couldn’t get these legends out of my mind.

Ultimately I chose to embrace this material, to enclose it within the canonical framework as best I could. I felt there was a deep truth in it, and I wanted to preserve that truth as it spoke to me. Of course that is an assumption. But I made it. And perhaps in assuming that Jesus did manifest supernatural powers at an early age I am somehow being true to the declaration of the Council of Chalcedon, that Jesus was God and Man at all times.

I am certainly trying to be true to Paul when he said that Our Lord emptied himself for us, in that my character has emptied himself of his Divine awareness in order to suffer as a human being.

This is a book I offer to all Christian—to the fundamentalists, to the Roman Catholics, to the most liberal Christians in the hope that my embrace of more conservative doctrines will have some coherence for them in the here and now of the book. I offer it to scholars in the hope that they will perhaps enjoy seeing the evidence of the research that’s gone into it, and of course I offer it to those whom I so greatly admire who have been my teachers though I’ve never met them and probably never will.

I offer this book to those who know nothing of Jesus Christ in the hope that you will see him in these pages in some form. I offer this novel with love to my readers who’ve followed me through one strange turn after another in the hope that Jesus will be as real to you as any other character I’ve ever launched into the world we share.

After all, is Christ Our Lord not the ultimate supernatural hero, the ultimate outsider, the ultimate immortal of them all?

As for my son, this novel is dedicated to him. That says it all.

 


My Journey from Atheism to Faith

When the novel Christ The Lord Out of Egypt was published in 2005, I had no idea that the Author’s Note, especially the story of my own personal return to faith, would prove of such interest to readers, and that I would receive so many questions about the various points that I raised about belief, about the gospels, and about the source materials of this book. It’s been suggested that I write a work entirely about my own journey to Christ and I am considering this. But for now I want to address some of the questions which are still coming from readers today.

I returned to faith in Christ, and to the Roman Catholic Church on December 6, 1998. It was after a long struggle of many years during which I went from being a committed atheist, grieving for a lost faith which I thought was gone forever, to realizing that I not only believed in Jesus Christ with my whole heart, but that I felt an overwhelming love for Him, and wanted to be united with Him both in private and in public through attendance at church.

The process for me had been gradual and somewhat intellectual. I’d lost faith in atheism. It no longer made sense. I wanted to affirm the presence of God because I felt it. Yet I was tormented by a multitude of theological questions and social issues that I couldn’t resolve. No matter how strongly I believed in God I still considered myself a conscientious humanist.

How, I asked myself, could I express the love for God that I felt by becoming a member of a community of believers when I didn’t know what I thought about the literal truth of Adam or Eve or Original Sin?

How could I join with fellow believers who thought my gay son was going to Hell? How could I become connected with Christians who held that there was no evidence for Darwinian evolution, or that women should not have control over their own bodies? How could I affirm my belief in a faith that was itself so characterized by argument and strife?

Well, what happened to me on that Sunday that I returned to faith was this: I received a glimpse into what I can only call the Infinite Mercy of God. It worked something like this. I realized that none of my theological or social questions really made any difference. I didn’t have to know the answers to these questions precisely because God did.

He was the God who made the Universe in which I existed. That meant he had made the Big Bang, He had made DNA, He had made the Black Holes in space, and the wind and the rains and the individual snowflakes that fall from the sky. He had done all that. So surely He could do virtually anything and He could solve virtually everything.

And how could I possibly know what He knew? And why should I remain apart from Him because I could not grasp all that He could grasp? What came over me then was an infinite trust, trust in His power and His love, I didn’t have to worry about the ultimate fate of my good atheistic friends, gay or straight, because He knew all about them, and He was holding them in His hands.

I didn’t have to quake alone in terror at the thought of those who die untimely deaths from illness, or the countless millions destroyed in the horrors of war. He knew all about them. He had always been holding them in His hands.

He and only He knew the full story of every person who’d ever lived or would live; He and He alone knew what person was given what choice, what chance, what opportunity, what amount of time, to come to Him and by what path.

That I couldn’t possibly know all was as clear to me as my awareness that He did.

 

Faith Does Not Negate Reason or Exploration

Now this was not totally understandable to me in words at that time. I couldn’t have explained it in this way then. But it is essentially what happened: faith became absolutely real to me; and its implications became real. I found myself in a realm in which the beauty I saw around me was intimately connected in every way with the justice, the wisdom, the mercy and the love of God.

Did this mean that I thought doctrine and principles didn’t matter? No. Did it mean I thought everything was relative? Certainly not. Did it mean I did not continue to ponder a multitude of ideas? God forbid. What it did mean was that I put myself in the hands of God entirely and that my faith would light the pages I read in the Book of Life from then on.

Now why did this happen to me? Why did this love and trust fill my heart at that particular moment in time? The honest answer is: I don’t know. Had I prayed for faith? Yes. Had I searched for it? Yes. But faith is a gift, and it was a gift I received on that day.

Over the next few years, my conviction and my awareness of God’s love deepened; and no matter what crisis or dilemma I confronted, that trust in the power of the Lord remained.

In the summer of 2002, as I’ve explained above, I consecrated my work to Christ, but I really didn’t make good on my promise to work only for Him until December of that year. From that time on, I have been committed to writing the life of Our Lord in fictional form.

At the time that I began this work, I had no idea that my life would be transformed by this task, that the anxiety I took for granted as part of life before 2002 would almost entirely disappear. In fact, had anyone told me this was going to happen, I wouldn’t have believed such a thing. But my life has been completely changed.

Now what happened in 2002 was this: I was praying, I was talking to the Lord, I was discussing my writing with Him, and what came over me was the awareness that if I believed in Him as completely as I said I did, I ought to write entirely for Him. Anything I could do ought to be for Him. I told Him so. I set out to put this into practice.

As I said, I didn’t succeed to full commitment until December of that year. But the day when I told the Lord I’d write for Him, and Him only, I now see as the most important single day of my entire life. Truly not the simplest things have been the same since. I am united in mind and body as never before. In fact it seems that every aspect of my life has been brought into a coherence that I’d never expected to see.

My early religious education, my long quest, my many experiences both dramatic and trivial, my losses, my developing writing skills, my research skills—all are united now in one single goal. There is a feeling in me at times that nothing, no matter how small, that I experienced has been lost. And of course I wonder if it isn’t this way with every human being; it’s just that most of us can’t see it most of the time.

There is much more I can say about my journey to conversion but I think this gives the emotional picture which is lacking above.

Finally, allow me to say this about the crafting of a novel about Our Lord.

As Christians, I feel most of us in the creative community must seek to be more than scribes. If Diarmaid MacColloch is right in his immense history, The Reformation, we had plenty of Christian scribes on the eve of that enormous and painful upheaval.

But it was the printing press that enabled the great thinkers of that time, both Reformer and Catholic, to transform our “assumptions about knowledge and originality of thought.” I suggest now that we must seize the revolutionary media of our age in the way that those earlier Christian and Catholics seized the printed book. We must truly use the realistic novel, the television drama, and the motion picture to tell the Christian story anew.

It is our obligation to tell that story over and over and to use the best means that we have.

In that spirit this novel was written—with the hope of exploring and celebrating the mystery of the Hypostatic Union as well as the mystery of the Incarnation—in a wholly fresh way.

But we, O Lord, behold we are Thy little flock; possess us as Thine, stretch thy wings over us, and let us fly under them. Be thou our glory.

-St. Augustine


Anne O’Brien Rice
July 12, 2006

Go here to learn more about Anne’s book “Christ The Lord Out Of Egypt”


Anne Rice recommends the following books and scholarly works on the question of Jesus:

On the Historical Jesus and the Gospels:

David Alan Black’s simple and straightforward Why Four Gospels
Jean Carmignac’s The Birth of the Synoptic Gospels
The First Edition of the New Testament by David Trobisch
Craig S. Keener’s truly magnificent A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew
Redating Matthew, Mark and Luke by John Wenham
I’m also profoundly grateful for the writings of Fr. Benedict Groeschel CFR, J. Augustine Di Noia OP, Gerald O’Collins SJ, and the works of the great theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar
Larry Hurtado’s Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity
Craig L. Blomberg’s The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel

On apocryphal writings and artistic representations of Jesus in the early church:

The Apocryphal Jesus: Legends of the Early Church by J. K. Elliot
Art & the Christian Apocrypha by David R. Cartlidge and J. Keith Elliot
The Apocryphal Gospels of Mary in Anglo-Saxon England by Mary Clayton
The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Theatre
Judgment to Passion: Devotion to Christ and the Virgin Mary 800-1200 by Rachel Fulton
The Golden Legend, published as Legenda Sanctorum in 1260

1-Page Summary: What We Know About Jesus and the Resurrection

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Book excerpt ©2006 Anne O’Brien Rice.  Used by permission.  Other material ©2006-2010 Perry S. Marshall

486 Responses to “Atheist Anne Rice’s Surprising Discovery”

  1. Excerpts:–

    “God” refers to the uncreated Creator of all spiritualities and temporalities, Who is the Author and Finisher of all things, Alpha and Omega of all beings, Beginning and Ending of all ages. The true God that is fully God is The One Who is the embodiment, not only of love but also of holiness, not only of kindness but also of righteousness. The true God is He who has the full power as Sovereign Ruler and Judge to punish and pardon, to redeem and condemn, to bless and curse, as He deems necessary in His sublime wisdom. This is understandably why God undertook to make humans with similar attributes of freedom of choice but the responsibility to bear the consequences of their choices under God’s sovereign rule. This is why God also delegated humanity with similar governmental capacity in this world, under God’s sovereign rule.

    Today, some cowardly spiritists (superstitious mystics but not inspired spirituals), and childish philosophers (or “foolosophers”?), motivated by rebellious delinquency, perplexity and futile thoughtlessness, have wishfully speculated and are indeed advocating a false god, who should have power only to love and bless but lack the power and sovereignty to punish and curse. However such a god is not consistent with nature and realities of human experience as well as disagrees with prophetic inspiration and revelation found in the Scripture. Some even wishfully think that there is nothing like a supernatural, moral and sovereign God, yet they paradoxically claim to be super-beings through evolution; and while some strive to be supernatural through mysticism, others either strive to be super-intelligentsias through science or be super-powers through politics. Spiritualism, science and society without a sovereign God is entirely absurd.

    MAKING SENSE OF EVIL
    Evil was not created by God; it was innovated by responsibly free creatures (Satan and Humanity). Some ancient religions had tried to resolve the problem of evil by dualism (the idea that creation is shared between two equal gods of Good and of Evil). Modern philosophers imagining that evil damages the proof of the good and powerful God revealed in the Scripture, proffer a phony god that could have made a creation where evil is impossible. Others frustrated by the challenges, either deny the reality of the good God or deny the reality of evil. However, these superstitious beliefs, revisionist speculations and reactionary postulations are so unrealistic and shallow that they are self disannulling. This shows how perplexed, naïve and despondent the wisdom of man, unaided by God’s Spirit, could become when engaged with sublime matters (Ps 14:1; 1Cor 1:20; 3:19). However, great minds always appreciate the validity of the revealed faith.

    Max Planck (1858-1947) the Father of quantum science said:
    “Man needs science in order to know, religion in order to act.”

    And Albert Einstein (1879-1955) the Father of science of relativity said:
    “Science without religion is blind, religion without science is lame.”

    Superstition is groping in the dark (Act 17:26-30), speculation is guess-work, unbelief is futile foolishness (Ps 14:1; Rom 1:18-22), but scriptural revelation is sure truth being prophetically inspired. God is Spirit, moral and sensible. He created nature sensible and to be mastered through science, a sociable world to be ordered by morality, a spiritual man to be sustained through faith and revelation. A full man is one who is spiritual, moral and scientific, in the image of God. To ignore the spiritual is foolishness, to ignore the moral is wickedness, and to ignore the scientific is nonsense. Courage and wisdom to make sense of all these is the way forward, not denial of these out of despair.

    The truth is that God is NOT only all-good and all-powerful (as some philosophers limit themselves to think), He is ALSO all-wise and all-sovereign, Holy and Love, and working out His purpose in creation, providence and redemption. Each of these attributes must take the others into cognizance. That is why, for instance, the all-powerful God cannot lie (Tit 1:2).

  2. I was very disapointed in this article. I saw no “surprising discovery” that would suggest a reason for going from an atheistic position to a position of belief in God, much less Jesus. Nor did I see in this discourse a set of pursuasive arguments that would logically lead one to either one or the other of these two positions. All that I saw was a lot of biographical discussion

    I long for a legitimate reason for believing, not a bunch of personal testimonials like those one encounters in Church. Do any of you people that have these beliefs base them on anything other than “faith”?

    • Carlos Jordan says:

      David Dutcher, You say:

      “I long for a legitimate reason for believing, not a bunch of personal testimonials like those one encounters in Church. Do any of you people that have these beliefs base them on anything other than “faith”?’

      David, the living reality of the ‘personal testimonials’ of literally hundreds of millions across every know ethnic group and race of people, over the last 2000 years, beginning with the utterly transformed lives, of the Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, (Circa 33-100 AD) right through to this very day, with continued millions of souls in Africa, the Middle East, China, Russia, South America and many other countries, daily, coming into a ‘personal’ relationship, with the resurrected, ascended Lord of Glory, Jesus Christ, and the absolutly amazing transformation, from WITHIN, as promised by Him, Jesus, however subjective it may be, simply cannot be ignored or brushed aside, as no other religion offers this, this is why Muslims, yes, Muslims, Hindu’s et al, are finding in the ‘person’ of Christ, NOT religion, ritual and ceremony, what they NEVER found in any other religious system; as Christianity is its purest and most simple forms, IS a RELATIONSHIP with Almight God, through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

      Our FAITH, is not some blind faith, no, not at all, for it is founded on sound historic facts and evidence, the kind that would and has stood the test of ‘Legal’ evidence in a court of law, hence the ‘Faith’ that we hold to and believe in is grounded in Truth.

      Down through the ages people have asked the same question that Pilate asked Jesus! ‘What is truth.”‘ What exactly is it?

      While being questioned by Pilate, Jesus said, “I have come into this world that I should bear witness to the TRUTH. Everyone who is of the truth, hears My voice.” (John 18: 37b, 38a) emphasis added.

      The Christian faith, as well as its rivals, essentially contain claims about reality, which are either True or False, moreover, competing ‘truth claims’ especially those at the core of competing world views, often have different consequences for life. As C.S. Lewis put it:

      “We are now getting to the point at which different beliefs about the universe lead to different behavior. Religion involves a series of starements about facts, which must either be true or false. If they are true, one set of conclusions will follow about the right sailing of the human fleet; if they are false, quite a different set.”

      This notion of truth employed in Lewis’ statement is called the ‘correspondence theory of truth’ roughly, the idea that truth is a matter of a proposition (belief, thought, statement, representation) corresponding to reality; therefore, truth obtains when reality is the way a propostion represents it to be.

      Laws of Logic.

      The following three fundamental laws of logic, are themselves absolute truth, and are universal, regardless of culture, race, class, or ethnicity.

      1) The Law of Identity
      2) The Law of Non-Contradiction
      3) The Law of Excluded Middle.

      Assesing ‘World views’ bears out the utterly fundamental grounding of logic for thinking critically, objectively, coherently, about truth and competing truth claims. These logical laws point us toward truth.

      Reason is Necessary for Revelation to be Coherent.

      Without the ‘laws of logic’ no rational thought would be possible. To reject these basic logical laws, one would have to utilize these very laws to reject them, thereby refuting one’s own argument. As G.K. Chesterton writes:

      “The man who begins to think without proper first principles goes mad; he begins to think at the wrong end.”

      Or, as Gordon Clark says:

      “Anyone who disparages or belittles logic must use logic in his attack, thus undercutting his own argument.”

      The Historic Judeo/Christian Worldview.

      This worldview essentially contains claims about reality, which are either true or false. Therefore, any worldview, must be subjected to, and must sustain (3) test in order to be considered valid.

      1) Logical Consistency
      2) Empirical Adequacy
      3) Experiential Relevancy

      The only religious worldview, across comparative difficulties, premised on warranted credible facts, evidence, truth, that meet and sustain all three of these test, is the Historic Judeo/Christian worldview.

      Secondly, and intricately connected to the above creteria for validity, every system must also demonstrate and deal with the following questions:

      1) Origin
      2) Meaning
      3) Morality
      4) Destiny

      Again, the theistic Cjristian worldview, is the ONLY one that convincingly demonstrate and sustain, to, the above questions,unparalleled with any other religious worldview.

      This is just scratching the surface of the Historic Christian Worldview. The only ancient document, that gives us the Origin, Meaning, Morality, and ultimate Destiny of mankind, beyond anything that mankind could EVER have dreamed or imagined, is the Bible, Almighty God’s Divinely Inspired Word; which has NEVER proved to be wrong in any of its over, 6000 predictive/prophetic declarations, throughout the course of history.

      The structure of justification/warrant, in defending any propositional ‘Truth Claim’ IS coherence; coherence IS our sole creterion for TRUTH.

      Coherence is found throughout God’s Word, the Bible, from beginning, Genesis, to the end, the book of Revelation.

      I can personally, along with vast multitudes of believers in Jesus Christ, testify, that exactly what He declared and promised, would happen from ‘within’ our hearts, minds, souls, when, we ‘repent’ and by FAITH, receive and accept Him, as our personal Savior and Lord, there are NO words, that can adequately describe this utterly amazing transformation of knowing HIM as your Savior and Lord, a peace that cannot be had, without KNOWING Him!

    • The problem is that your sense of reasonable legitimacy is both unreasonable and illegitimate.You need to learn to reason legitimately first before you can see reason objectivity, otherwise you remain subjective and lost. It’s mainly your duty to seek God and find Him not sit one place lazily with the excuse that you are waiting for some new legitimate reason from someone. Here is the Apostles on such matters:

      Rom 1:16-22 GNB
      (16) I have complete confidence in the gospel; it is God’s power to save all who believe, first the Jews and also the Gentiles.
      (17) For the gospel reveals how God puts people right with himself: it is through faith from beginning to end. As the scripture says, “The person who is put right with God through faith shall live.”
      (18) God’s anger is revealed from heaven against all the sin and evil of the people whose evil ways prevent the truth from being known.
      (19) God punishes them, because what can be known about God is plain to them, for God himself made it plain.
      (20) Ever since God created the world, his invisible qualities, both his eternal power and his divine nature, have been clearly seen; they are perceived in the things that God has made. So those people have no excuse at all!
      (21) They know God, but they do not give him the honor that belongs to him, nor do they thank him. Instead, their thoughts have become complete nonsense, and their empty minds are filled with darkness.
      (22) They say they are wise, but they are fools;

  3. tony bryant says:

    Where was your god in the Warsaw ghetto, and the Nazi concentration camps?
    Where was your god when Haiti was hit with the earthquake; and the hurricane; and the floods; and the cholera; and the civil unrest?
    Religion is nothing other than myth and superstition. It hardens hearts and enslaves minds.

    • Carlos Jordan says:

      Mr. Bryant, Our God Almighty, was the same place He was when His Son, our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, was hanging on Clavary’s cross, bearing the absolute burden and penalty for ALL our SINS, suffering untold pain and ‘temporary’ seperation from His Father, because of US, humanity.

      Of course, I don’t expect your feble, atheistic/humanistic mind to understand nor grasp this!

      So it be!

      • tony bryant says:

        Carlos,I thought that Jesus was god, added to the holy ghost and the father. A neat trick, to be all three and man also. I had also thought in my feble (sic) mind that Jesus was crucified at Cavary, not Clavary.
        It still does not answer the questions, what did the Jews or the Haitians do to deserve their fate?

        • Carlos Jordan says:

          Tony, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Prov. 1:7).

          To those who believe, perceive, understand, no explanation is necessary; to those who DON’T believe, perceive, nor understand no explanation is possible!

          BTW, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt.” ( Psa. 14: 1a)

    • Tony your perplexity and inability to understand how and why of evil in the face of the sovereign and wise God, rather exposes the weakness of your mind. What you need is mind build-up. This link may help if you are willing:

      http://www.scribd.com/doc/16048699/THE-CHALLENGES-OF-EVIL-AND-THE-IMPERFECT-WORLD

  4. tony bryant says:

    Carlos, I followed the link, and it has not altered my opinion. My mind is open, but not so open that my brains fall out.
    I expect that you are a fundamentalist and believe that the universe was formed in the last 10,000 years, rather than 14.6 billion. In any case you will believe that God made man in His image, therefore God must be sinful.You will say that sin comes from Satan, but if God made the universe and all that is in it, He must have made Satan also.
    He sent the Flood because of the evil in the world, but that did not stop sin. In the Garden of Eden, sin arrived within a few days. This God is fallible, so perhaps man made God in his (man’s) own image.
    The way I see it is this: God, Satan, Heaven, and Hell do not exist, and Jesus is not returning- ever.

  5. J.D. Bush says:

    It seems to me that faith implies letting go of dogma and belief, not blindly clinging to them. For anyone seriously interested in a deep exploration of reality just as it is, unbound by human notions, I humbly suggest the following book: “Back to THE TRUTH-5000 years of ADVAITA.

    • Anish says:

      Yes People started serching for truth before 5000 years.
      U know the prayer who lived 5000 yr

      asato ma sadgamaya
      tamaso ma jyotirgamaya
      mrtyorma amrtam gamaya

      That means

      Lead me from the ignorance to the truth.
      Lead me from darkness to light.
      Lead me from death to immortality.

      (Brhadaranyaka Upanishad — I.iii.28)

      The answer is here

      JOHN 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

      JOHN 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

  6. Palackal Jacob says:

    Do you believe \jesus christ is son of God and He came to this world as man although He was not man as we ; believe He is the God head?

  7. It’s a truism that people believe what they want to believe. If you want to KNOW something, why not ask the only one who truly knows: God? It is the message of Jesus who said “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find….(Matt 7:7). Faith can lead people to justify whatever they were raised to believe. So in order to test one’s faith, every believer must subject it to a brutal examination of the evidence and the arguments. There is no other way.

  8. Bernard Hall says:

    Pootna Spotty says:
    February 4, 2011 at 7:15 am
    “It’s a truism that people believe what they want to believe. If you want to KNOW something, why not ask the only one who truly knows: God? It is the message of Jesus who said “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find….(Matt 7:7). Faith can lead people to justify whatever they were raised to believe. So in order to test one’s faith, every believer must subject it to a brutal examination of the evidence and the arguments. There is no other way.”
    The problem is with the dynamics of belief itself. Our beliefs tend to filter out the evidence that contradicts them, and focus on the evidence that supports them. But as the 201h century Philosopher Alan Watts said “But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.”
    Beliefs are a poor substitute for the Truth.

  9. larry young says:

    i quote commited to write about the life of christ in fictional form says it all . Once the catholic church indocternates a young person there mind it is warped forever. you say you went back you couldnt escape your past.you never really left. if you seriously want to cronical the life of christ why dont you join the jeasus seminar it is dedicated to serious study, you can rub sholders with critical scholars larry young

  10. Jimmy Anderson says:

    It seems clear that God our souvereign creater whom I beleive exist does not hear our cries nor sees what is happening or maybe it takes a long time for our prayers or cries to reach him.
    For Eve was innocent and vulnerable and so the serpent took the form of a man and tempted eve. Where was God at the time if he sees all and knows all?

    secondly Where was god when the same Angels whom he put in charge to watch over humans found the daughters of man beautiful and so took to themselves wife as they choose.
    This act was forbidden by God, yet God was not there to stop it until Giants were born to these unions.
    I am pretty sure that God does not enjoy allowing these sort of things to happen, thus he would have stopped it right from the start. Wouldn’t you if you were GOD??
    By the way this is found in Genesis

  11. Jim Hibbitts says:

    I, also left the “Church (organization)”. I am not and have never been a Catholic, even though I am married to a Roman Catholic. Long before I met my present wife (of 20+ years) I became very disillusioned with all Protestant churches. My father was a Free Will Baptist Minister and Pastor and I truly think that he believed every word that he spoke from the pulpit. Due to some circumstances that I won’t bore you with, after high school I had a lot of free time to read and study the Bible. I invested a lot of money in Bible Dictionaries and Bible Commentaries and studied first the Old Testament and then moved on to the New Testament. It became very clear to me that much of what is taught in Sunday School and preached from the pulpit is pure conjecture and has little (if any) Bible Basis. I tried several different Church organizations (fundamental, pentecostal, liberal, etc.) and found them all to be lacking in real Spiritual enlightenment. For the past thirty plus (30 +) years (I am now 76 years old and retired), I have spent most of my spare time digging deeper into the actual truths about God and His teachings. All Catholic and non-catholic organizations have became little more than social clubs for their exclusive (and contributing) members, instead of the “Hospital for sick souls”, regardless of their social or economic status.
    I am very surprised that it took Ms. Price ten (10) years to realize just how out of touch (with God) the Catholics and most Protestants are, in their teachings and ritualistic worship services.

  12. Gary Estes says:

    Having studied Theology for many years, the more I study the more I draw the same conclusion, Biblical figures suffered numereous mental disorders.
    Recently I have studied embryology and am convinced a zygote isn’t a fully functioning human.
    Christianity has a foundation built on Jesus being conceived out of wed lock and the birth is very weak on chronilogical order, they claim his parents were married at his birth. Seems to be a mystery shrouted in deceit.
    I believe personally if a person wants to believe in a God, they are free to believe or not.
    The church has done some good things for society but it lacks leadership to effect change on a paramount scale.

  13. Gary Estes says:

    Nicely written article. It appears you are greatly influenced by your past. Your account is a classic example of stories I have heard before. I see all your supporting evidence for your decision is based on religious bias. An independent objective opinion would be something I have seen before.

  14. Gary Estes says:

    Deepak Chopra, MD gives the best objective study on the Jesus life, I have seen. “God And Buddha a dialogue” with Deepak Chopra and Robert Thurman. They separate fiction from reality for me.

  15. Gary Estes says:

    In response to a statement about John 8:12 and John 14:6; why would a person place validity in these 2 isolated statements?
    He was made to believe he enjoyed a unique relationship to God who has no gender but Jesus claims to have been fathered by God?
    These are two recorded delusional statements, Jesus claims to be “life”, whatever he ment by that.

    • Carlos Jordan says:

      Mr. Estes,

      Sadly, you are a ‘natural’ man, (de psuechikos anthropos), will not, does not, and cannot, fathom, grasp, nor understand the things of the Spirit of God; why not? Because there are foolisness to you; hence your utter inability, spiritually to understand the Word of God, and statements made by Jesus Christ, i.e., John 8:12; 14:6, and other such passages in the Bible.

      However, the ‘spiritual’ man, (de pneumatikos anthropos) understands, knows, the things of the Spirit of God; and this spiritual perception, knowledge, understanding can only come from above, re the ‘New Birth’ IN, THROUGH, and BY Jesus Christ, the reality of which IS experienced by the LIFE* that is, the spiritual quality of Life, that only Jesus can impart to those who, accept and receive Him by Faith, not blind faith, by reasonbable, objective, faith, grounded in historical facts, confimed by the living, breathing, reality of multitudes over 2000 years of historic veracity, over every know group of ethnic people, across the face of the earth, THAT, the Lord Jesus Christ, IS a Resurrected, Living, Person, the Son of God, the only Saviour of mankind!

  16. Gary Estes says:

    Jesus only could have meant; he is a way of life style not the only way to fulfillment , he is truthful (?) ,and he is another way, not necessarily better way to God. The Apostle Paul embellished Jesus’ character.

    • Carlos Jordan says:

      No, the Lord Jesus Christ, Incarnate Diety, spoke the absolute Truth:

      “I AM the WAY, and the TRUTH, and the LIFE” (John 14:6a)( Ego eimi he hodos kai he aletheia kai he zoe). Either of these statements IS profound enough to stagger any one, but here all three together overwhelm Thomas. Jesus had just caled Himself “The life” to Martha (11:25) and “the door” to the Pharisees (10:7) and “the light of the world” (8:12). He spoke “the way of God in truth” ( Mark. 12:14). He IS the way to God and the ONLY way ( verse 6), the living, eternal personification of truth, the centre of LIFE. “Except by Me” (v.6b) (ei me di emou) (Word Pictures in The New Testament, Vo, V, p.250) emphasis added.

      Because He, Jesus Christ, IS the incarnate Son of God (Jn. 1:1; 14, 18) these pronouncements are absolutely true.

      One either chooses to believe, and those of us who have, have a living witness and testimony, to the reality of His transforming POWER over our hearts and lives, as DID His disciples who saw, felt, touched Him, personally, and wrote in the Gospels, letters, as EYEWITNESS accounts to Him.

      The structure of ‘justification’ credible warranted truth, facts and evidence, in defending any propositional ‘truth claim’ is coherence, coherence is our sole criteria for truth.

      We have, warranted, credible truth, in the Gospel narrative accounts of the Life, ministry, crucifixion, (death) and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, one either believes, or not, the choice is ours!

    • Carlos Jordan says:

      Further,the Historical approach to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is,as Wilbur Smith says:

      “The meaning of the resurrection is a theological matter, but the FACT of the resurrection is a historical matter, the nature of the rsurrected body of Jesus may be a mystery, but the FACT that the body disappeared from the Tomb is a matter to be decided upon by historical evidence” ( EVIDENCE that DEMANDS a Verdict, Historical Evidences for the Christian faith, 52/192, p.187) emphasis added.

      Speaking of the forensic nature of the New testament narratives, Bernard Ramm says:

      “In Acts 1, Luke tells us that Jesus showed Himself ALIVE by manny infallibke proofs (en pollois tekmeriois) an expression indicating the strongest type of legal evidence.” (52/192. Ibid., p.187)

      The Testimony of History and Law.

      When an event takes place in history and there is enough peope alive who were EYEWITNESSES of it, or had participated in the event, and when the information is published, one is able to verify the validity of an historical event (circumstantial evidence).

      Ambrose Fleming asserts there is nothing in the Gospels that would cause a man of science to have problems with the miracles contained therein, and concludes with a challenge to intellectual honesty, asserting that if such a “…study is pursued with what eminent lawyers have called a willing mind, it will engender a deep assurance that the Christian Church is NOT founded on fictions, or nourished on delusions, or as St, Peter calls them, ‘cunningly devised fables, but on historical and actual events, which, however strange they may be, are indded the greatest events which have ever happened in the history of the world.” (60/427/428. Ibid., p.190).

      Another example may be taken from a letter written by Sir. Edward Clark, K.C. to Rev. E.L. Macassey: “As a lawyer I have made prolonged study of the evidences for the events of Easter Day (the resurrection). To me the evidence is conclusive, and over and over again in the High Court I have secured the verdict on evidence not nearly as compelling. Inference follows on evidence, and a truthful witness is always artless and disdains efect.”

      “The Gospel evidence for the resurrection is of this class, and as a pawyer I accept it unresearvedly as the testimony of truthful men to the facts they were able to substantiate.” (Ibid., p.190)

      John Singleton Copley, better known as Lord Lyndhurst (1772-1863) recognized as one of the greatest legal minds in British history, when Challenor Lyndhurst died, a document was found in his desk, among his private papers, giving an extended account of his own Christian faith, he wrote:

      “I know pretty well what evidence is, and I tell you, such evidence for the Resurrection has never broken down yet. The Evidence points unmistakably to the fact that on the third day, Jesus rose.”

      This was the conclusion to which the former Chief Justice of England, Lord Darling came: “In its favor as living truth, there exist such overwhelming evidence, positive, negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a virdict that the resurrection story is true.” (Ibid., p. 194).

      This is just sratching the surface of the vast amount of writings, over the centuries from brilliant minds, in Law, legal evidences, from historians, and other relevant disciplins, collectively asserting the validity of the Gospel account narratives, plus extra Biblical sources cementing the FACT of the Resurrection of the Lord Jes Christ.

      ‘Facts are stubborn things, and only the stubborn refuse to accept them” – Dr. Martin Luther King.

      • Gary Estes says:

        The resurrection event of Jesus is historical and unfortunately had no eyewitnesses.
        Jesus was a natural man,God,and spirit as you have pointed out. Jesus started life as a natural man with a short future on earth capable of fulfilling the offering for sin. He was the atonement for anyone willing to accept his payment for sin and as a result anyone gets a heavenly life for eternity. He is to return at an appointed time known only by his father.
        Thoughs events are not of this world and the natural scheme of the working order of present time.
        The Bible has always been accepted as divine but to believe that you have to believe the canon of scripture is a divine process. King James and his band were divine?

        • Carlos Jordan says:

          Gary, Christianity Is a FACTual Religion, Christianity appeals to history, the facts of history, which P. Carnegie Simpson calls, “the most patent and accessible data.”: Simpson continues that “He [Jesus] is a fact of history cognizable as any other.”

          The witers of the New Testament either wrote as EYEWITNESSES of the events they described or recorded eyewitness accounts of the events, as Peter said:

          “For we did NOT follow cleverly devised tales when we made KNOWN to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, BUT, we were EYEWITNESSES of His majesty.” ( II Peter 1:16)

          And in I John 1: 1-3, “What was from the beginning, what we have HEARD, what we HAVE SEEN with our eyes, what we BEHELD and our HANDS HANDLED, and we have SEEN and bear WITNESS and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us – what we have SEEN and heard we proclaim to you, that you may also have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship IS with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

          A bais definition of history for me is “a knowledge of the past based on TESTIMONY.” Some immediately say, “I don’t agree.” Then I ask, “Do you believe Lincoln lived and was President of the United States?” Yes, is usually their reply. However, no one I’ve met has personally seen and observed Lincoln. The only way one knows is by TESTIMONY.”

          WILL THE REAL MR> ESCUSE PLEASE STAND UP?

          Intellectual Excuses

          The rejection of Christ is often not so much of the “mind” but of the “will’; not so much “I can’t,” but “I Won’t.”

          The reason(s) that most people reject Christ, are:

          1. Ignorance – Romans 1:”18-23 (often self-imposed) Matthew 22: 29.
          2. Pride – John 5: 40-44
          3. Moral problem – John 3: 19,20.

          You simply cannot counter the sound historical facts and evidence, so you then resort to throwing ‘Redherring’ distractives into the fray, won’t work, can’t work!

          • Gary Estes says:

            Thoughts in general:

            Ignorance, pride and morality are foundational to most if not all religions. My question, why is christianity dying at a never seen before rate and Islam the largest religion in the world growing along with Judaism, Hindu. Why are people choosing alternate religions, can’t be ignorance christianity has sent out thousands of missionsaries world wide.
            We all try and interpet cultures that have been on display for thousands of years. Exodus 20:2 Rabbi Kushner says was, “the only words God gave and Moses added the rest.” The Talmud!
            Jesus did live and is not unlike another person who will live as long as we keep them in our heart and mind. We can not live in denial that Jesus practiced Judaism and announced he would build his church on shifty Peter. But he called him a rock? Jesus on more than one account didn’t follow established protocol of cultural laws;i.e. woman at the well. Most likely because he had come not to abolish the law but augment the law. Jesus knowing very well that Moses added the cultural laws in Exodus Jesus made remarks, “love your neighbor as yourself”. Who elevated Jesus to martyed status, himself?

            Th Constitution of the 50 United States works good for the legal system.

            I have been studying life, all forms of life. I gained insight I hadn’t considered before. Consciousness and self cosciousness dictate the beginning of human life. It is impossible for God to breath life into a zygote or embryo. Genesis states humanity becomes a living soul when God breathes life into developed nostrils. Our species begins as egg and sperm unite and two cells and one blood cell start the cycle with supplied nutitions from the mother. Cells develop independently of outside intervention and end when cells have reached their result. A finger develops on the hand and stops development. Unfortunately sometimes cells go wrong and the result is deformation. Two heads joined bodies at the spin, six toes three arms. These are extreme cases. Our genetic informatiom is influnenced by the host, eye color, sketial structer, fat tendency…we add that by our life style.
            I don’t call my studies an outcome of a natural man or mind, a study in biological development is more accurate.
            I understand religion isn’t founded on or concerned with cellular life, it is a study about the behavioral science. More an act and react.

            Psychiatry identifies people who talk to the air and hear voices as schzophrenic and delusional. What are people who follow mentally ill people called, foolish, moranic, and just plain stupid..or a natural man who does not receive things of the spiritual world? Get a grip on reality! Educate yourself or learn more liberal arts, the world is full beyond measure of beauty.

      • Gary Estes says:

        I don’t accept the New Testament as a true accurate
        source, it has never been verified with scientific evidence. It qualifies as hear say, with no eye witness you are building your hypothesis on only hear say and hope so attitudes.
        The Old Testament has been verified with the dead sea scrolls.
        I think the results of the church age have proven to be worthy to produce what it has to date.

  17. J.D. Bush says:

    In the following verse, Jesus takes the emphasis off himself and represents himself as a conduit for the greater truth:
    “Jesus cried and said, ‘He that believeth on me, believeth
    not on me, but on him that sent me.'” -John 12:44

  18. Gary Estes says:

    Your statements are illuminating. I would prefer logical inductive reasoning from an independent source.

    Thank you

    • perrymarshall says:

      Gary,

      I’ve provided quite a bit of that in some of the other articles here – as has Anne Rice. In fact she gives you all the research material you could ever ask for at the end of this very article. Why don’t you buy some of the books referenced and study them, I think you will find the objectivity you seek.

      Perry

      • Gary Estes says:

        Mr. Marshall

        I concluded Ann Rice returned to the roots of her early formative years and teaching on catholism.

        I will look into the non-biased material you point out when I get time. Right now I’m into biogenetics.

        There has been some discussion on life here recently. Jesus has made the statement, “I am life”. I find just that one trait general. What does he mean? If he is attempting to state he can produce life, he never did in Biblical records. Male and female produce sperm and egg, if not united they both will die.
        The past few weeks I have been attempting to understand the human behavior of Germany following Adolf Hitler and the holocaust. World history is composed of mass murder and slavery even today. Thank goodness we life in a country that alows its people to practice freedom. Although American has a history of mass murder and slavery.
        Rabbi Harold Lawrence Kushner, made an interesting statement about the Bible,Christianity, and its contents. His statements always provoke thought to me. ” The Christians and their Bible, so they call it, condon slavery”. If the Bible was re-written without slavery and other non practiced life styles, it would be very condensed and a paramount distortion, holding the Jewish race responsible for the death of Jesus.
        Personally I have never made the grand leap into atheism, but I don’t concur with religion today. The book of Jude, points out a great falling away.
        Mr. Jordon has alluded to me as a natural man verses a spiritual man? This is rooted in scriptual philosphy. I understand perfectly where he is coming from. What are any of us but united egg and sperm on the short road of life trying not to waste our time living responsibly?
        As far as I know humanity is the place God wants us to be, I don’t dictate his will.

        • perrymarshall says:

          Gary,

          I would encourage you to read and think for yourself. I don’t feel that you are doing either yet.

          Have you ever read the New Testament?

          Have you ever studied what the NT says about equality and slavery?

          Have you ever seriously studied what the OT says about equality and slavery?

          You seem to be talking about a book that you have read much more about than you have actually read.

          As you read the four gospels in full – especially the book of John – you’ll begin to form an idea what Jesus meant by being “the life.” If you only read little fragments, it all seems very…. fragmented.

          • Gary Estes says:

            Hi Perry

            You have taken large amounts of your valuable time to communicate with me, I certainy appreaciate your time. I’m beginning to feel bad to consume so much of your time.

            My motto exactly,”read and think for yourself”. Also think outside the box.

            I have purposely stayed away from quoting scripture. My questions and comments as I recall leave ample room for a strategy outside the religious areana. I want to conclude; there is a God (there always has been) and collect evidence that humanity has created their own God they control with their own personnal direction. I don’t have any ill-will toward the Church. I’m attempting to re-write the Church age founded on humanity rather than the Bible and its false teachers.

            There is limited information and facts about the Bible I don’t know. I can’t possible know everyone’s interpretation of scripture.

      • Gary Estes says:

        Hopefully time will allow soon as I finish Developmental Biology and Bioethics and the New Embryology.

    • Carlos Jordan says:

      And, you can’t prove it…

      It all depends on what we mean when we say “proof.” As Professor Simon Greenleaf of Harvard, a founder of the modern theory of ‘evidence’ advises:

      “In the ordinary affairs of life we do NOT require nor expect demonstrative evidence, because it is inconsistent with the nature of ‘matters of fact’, and to insist on its production would be unreasonable and absurd…The error of the skeptic consist in…demanding demonstrative evidence concerning things which are not susceptible of any other than ‘moral’ evidence alone, and of which the utmost that can be said is, that there IS NO reasonable doubt about their truth…”

      “[T]he facts, stated in Scripture History…may be said to be ‘proved’ when they are established by that kind and degree of evidence which, as we have just observed, would, in the affairs of human life, satisfy the mind and conscience of a common man.” [Testimony of the Evangelists, Kregal Reprint, 1995, Sections 26, 27, emphasis added.]

      External Support – some early extra-NT writers.

      Paul Barnett’s ‘Is the NT history?, 1987, summarises:

      1] Jesus Christ was executed (by crucifixion?) in Judaea
      the period where Tiberius was Emperor (AD 14-37) and
      Pontius Pilate was Governor (AD 26-36). [Tacitus,
      Annals, – AD 115]

      2] The movement spread from Judaea to Rome. [Tacitus]

      3] Jesus claimed to be God and that He would depart and
      return. [Eliezer – 90,s AD, cited Klausner, 1929]

      4] His followers worshipped Him as (a) god. [Pliny – AD 112,
      letters to Trajan]

      5] He was called “the Christ.” [Josephus, Antiquities,
      – 90,s]

      6] He followers were called “Christians.” [Tacitus, Pliny]

      7] They were numerous in Bithynia and Rome [Tacitus, Pliny]

      8] It was a world-wide movement. [Eliezer]

      9] His brother was James. [Josephus]

      Reason,IS necessary for revelation, facts, evidence to be coherent; the Historic Christian faith, (church) has overwhelming evidence, both internal and external, that simply cannot be refuted by any ‘reasonable’ honest, mind, that is willing, and able, to *reason!

      • Gary Estes says:

        I understand the concept you present perfectly, your reasonable proof or lack thereof has undoubtedly stood the passage of time. I studied Biblical history in a religious setting. Later I studied ancient world history in graduate school and came away with a completely different understanding. The focus was taken off God and addressed the peoples changing life style, being taken in captivity as slaves and forced obedience to their masters.
        Subject matter dealt with mutilpe gods not just one god.
        I have found things in Judahism,Hindu, Egyptology, Buddism, Christianity, and the Muslim that I don’t especially care for. Orthodox Greek comes close to meeting my criteron for religion. For me they elevate too many saints. I find God in all his people ever place I look though.

  19. Carlos Jordan says:

    Mr. Estes, As the Creator of the Universe, with His Father, Almighty God, the Lord Jesus Christ, could say:

    “I AM the resurrection and THE LIFE. He who believes in Me, though he may die, (physically) he shall live (spiritually).
    And whoever lives and believes in Me, shall never die (spiritually). Do you believe this?” ( John 11: 25,25) emphasis added.

    Exegesis: “I am the resurrected and the LIFE” (Ego eimi he anastasis kai he zoe). This reply by Jesus is startling enough. They are not mere doctrines about future events, but present realities IN Jesus Himself. “The Resurrection is one manifestation of the Life: It is involved in the Life. Note the article (the ‘he’) with both ‘anastasis’ resurrection, and ‘zoe’ Life.(Word Pictures in The New Testament, Vol. V, p.199)

    Therefore, when Jesus Christ, who IS the eternal Word of God, Creator and sustainer of all LIFE, says, “I AM THE LIFE…” the Greek word ‘Zoe’ in this context, is referring to ‘spiritual’ life, which only Jesus can give, to those who repent, and by faith, accept and receive Him, into their hearts and lives, the miracle of spritual regeneration, through the new ‘birth’ from above.

    There are multitudes of people around the world, who are DEAD, spiritually, yes, they are alive physically, mentally, intellectually, but, they are DEAD spiritually, as they do not have this, ‘Zoe’ spiritual LIFE, that Jesus IS, alive in them, because they have rejected Him, who IS the LIFE!

    To put it rather bluntly, they are walking, talking, DEAD people, as they are void of true LIFE, ‘Zoe’ which can only be imparted, given, by Jesus who IS THE LIFE.

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