In recent years I have observed a marked increase in interest at all levels of society regarding the origins of Christianity. During this period, the Gnostic “gospel of Judas” has graced the cover of my National Geographic on two or three occasions and, with its Nag Hammadi counterparts, the gospels of “Phillip” and “Thomas”, obtained prominent inclusion in the “Christian” sections of many nationally-chained bookstores.
Dan Brown’s “DaVinci Code” astonished us all with the revelation of Jesus’ marriage and progeny as well as the church’s dark conspiracy to cover it up. Though most people recognize that Brown’s story is fictional, the source books for these theories, “The Woman with the Alabaster Jar”, “Holy Blood, Holy Grail”, etc., are meant to be taken seriously. These books, having thus achieved notoriety, may also be found on the Christian aisle of bookstores nationwide.
James Cameron’s entry into the field was perhaps the most startling of all. His documentary and associated book concerning the ossuaries of Jesus Christ and his family invoke claims which would, if accepted, reshape the fabric of societies world-wide. And yes, Cameron’s book now occupies a space on the same shelf with Wesley and Augustine.
It appears to me that the modern interest in this period is being driven by
deeper questions involving human resurrection and life-after-death. Having experienced a paradigm from Christian to secular society within the last generation seems to have left the western world in some doubt as to life’s meaning. The question of “what happens afterward?” becomes paramount when you are pretty certain you don’t know. So the resurrection of Christ as an historical fact has become pivotal in these investigations.
Having been, for many years, a student of the history of Imperial Rome and first century Judea, and given the magnitude of the foregoing assertions, I have been not a little disconcerted by the lack of inclusion of the ancient written testimony which bears upon the present controversies. As you, the interested reader, are no doubt aware, the first and second centuries AD were something of a literary “golden age”. The height of the Roman Empire, when security was provided by Roman arms and most of the Mediterranean region had already been Hellenized under Greco-Roman regimes, created a population commonly literate in Latin, Greek, and an original native tongue. From this fertile ground Greek, Roman, Jewish, and Christian authors produced a plethora of literature addressing virtually every subject which concerned the Roman world, including the baffling persistence of early Christianity.
Due to apparent inconsistencies between the literature with which I am acquainted and the more publicized recent theories, I began to research this period in earnest several years ago. I decided that trying to disprove the various new theories would be an ineffectual and futile gesture. Why waste words trying to discredit each of the myriad possible non-truths? The crux of the matter, I reasoned, is the resurrection of Christ.
With this in mind I have produced a manuscript, citing some thirteen-hundred contemporaneous sources, entitled How to Live Forever, proving that Jesus Christ rose physically from the dead. For obvious reasons, the proof lies not in the form of a mathematical theorem, but rather in the style of courtroom testimony. Various witnesses are examined, their testimony taken, their credibility assessed, with the weight of evidence determining the verdict. If a man may be sent to his death based upon human testimony, surely such testimony will suffice to demonstrate whether a resurrection, however rare, has occurred?
Prior to seeking publication, I have subjected the manuscript to elements of peer review, to assure that the arguments and treatment of the evidence were sound. Dr. Paul L. Maier, Russell H. Seibert Professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University, has this to say about How to Live Forever:
In these pages, John Takach takes the most glorious, yet controversial, claim of Christianity – the resurrection of both Jesus Christ and those who believe in him – and carefully compares the evidence, both biblical and non-biblical, in its support. As do I, he finds the correlation between the sacred and secular sources of antiquity to be astonishingly strong, demonstrating that we are dealing here with authentic, factual, historical evidence for the resurrection. Set squarely in the Jewish and Greco-Roman context of ancient history, the data Takach marshals show that Christian beliefs and hopes for life after death are not mere dreams of wish fulfillment.
Others have been amazed at the strength and one-sidedness of the relevant evidence in stark contrast to the claims of so many modern “scholars”. While not written to a “Christian” audience, How to Live Forever dares to face the unknown, the misunderstood, the “miraculous” as science should; building theories based upon the data, rather than selecting data based upon the criteria of adherence to existing theories.
The book sales of authors such as Elaine Pagels, Bart D. Ehrman, and John Dominic Crossan amply demonstrate the public fascination with this subject; How to Live Forever provides the alternative explanation. If proof of the miraculous; if demonstration of life-after-death; if examination of the resurrection of Christ, the foundation for the beliefs of one-third of humanity – If these questions pique your interest – I invite you to seek the answers within How to Live Forever.
Finally, proof of the resurrection!
With warmest regards, I remain
Yours Very Truly,