Believer says: Jesus was God walking among men.
But skeptic says: In ancient times it was hardly unique to declare that a man-god walked and talked on earth. The first-century AD was a superstitious time. Even the New Testament Book of Acts says that when Paul (during the mid first century) survived a snake bite on Malta Island, his survival convinced the inhabitants that he was a god.
At first they believed that Paul was a murderer whom the Fates had punished with a snake bite. But when he showed no ill effects, the natives changed their minds and believed he was a god.
Acts 28:3 Paul gathered up a bundle of sticks and was putting them on the fire when a snake came out on account of the heat and fastened itself to his hand. 4 The natives saw the snake hanging on Paul's hand and said to one another, "This man must be a murderer, but Fate will not let him live, even though he escaped from the sea storm.” 5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire without being harmed at all. 6 They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after waiting for a long time and not seeing anything unusual happening to him, they changed their minds and said, “He is a god!”
While in another town Paul and his comrade healed a lame man. Because of that, the natives concluded that they were deities. The locals wanted to make a sacrifice to them, believing they were manifestations of Zeus and Hermes, two Olympian gods.
Acts 14:11 When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they started shouting in their own Lycaonian language, "The gods have become like men and have come down to us!” 12 They gave Barnabas the name Zeus, and Paul the name Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of the god Zeus, whose temple stood just outside the town, brought bulls and flowers to the gate, for he and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifice to the apostles.
The stories show us that people believed that a god could walk among them in human form.
But the catch was that they could accuse a miracle healer of sorcery, too. In fact Paul failed to impress some Jews or he made them nervous in the story. Either way the Jews spoke rhetoric to the crowd and they turned against Paul, believing him to be a sorcerer, the crowd that had believed he was a god before. But they wound up believing he was bad
Acts 14:18 [T]he apostles could hardly keep the crowd from offering a sacrifice to them. 19 Some Jews ... won the crowd over to their side, stoned Paul and dragged him out of the town, thinking that he was dead.
Recap: People could find favor or disfavor in faith healings in those times. They might conclude that a faith healer was a god or sorcerer although he was neither. Superstition simply prevailed. The Jewish people believed that Jesus was a god-man or sorcerer (who cast out demons through Satan). You could become a god-man or sorcerer if you were associated with an extraordinary thing. Thus the Gospel stories embellished the life of Jesus, who was probably little more than a faith healer and philosopher.
01 So, was there an historical Jesus