(Tacitus via Wikipedia)
I recently read one of the best summaries ever of all of the historical evidence for the real existence of the man called Jesus of Nazareth in a recent edition of the Biblical Archaeology Review (Jan/Feb 2015):
“Did Jesus Exist? Searching for Evidence Beyond the Bible” by Dr. Lawrence Mykytiuk of Purdue University
It has become popular in secular and atheist circles to claim that Jesus never really existed as a real person in history. I have noted all of the conclusive historical evidence for his existence before on this site. However, Dr. Mykytiuk does a far better than I have ever been able to do in my past efforts. Please read his whole article- here is his conclusion after looking at the evidence:
1. He existed as a man. The historian Josephus grew up in a priestly family in first-century Palestine and wrote only decades after Jesus’ death. Jesus’ known associates, such as Jesus’ brother James, were his contemporaries. The historical and cultural context was second nature to Josephus. “If any Jewish writer were ever in a position to know about the non-existence of Jesus, it would have been Josephus. His implicit affirmation of the existence of Jesus has been, and still is, the most significant obstacle for those who argue that the extra-Biblical evidence is not probative on this point,” Robert Van Voorst observes.32 And Tacitus was careful enough not to report real executions of nonexistent people.
2. His personal name was Jesus, as Josephus informs us.
3. He was called Christos in Greek, which is a translation of the Hebrew word Messiah, both of which mean “anointed” or “(the) anointed one,” as Josephus states and Tacitus implies, unaware, by reporting, as Romans thought, that his name was Christus.
4. He had a brother named James (Jacob), as Josephus reports.
5. He won over both Jews and “Greeks” (i.e., Gentiles of Hellenistic culture), according to Josephus, although it is anachronistic to say that they were “many” at the end of his life. Large growth
in the number of Jesus’ actual followers came only after his death.
6. Jewish leaders of the day expressed unfavorable opinions about him, at least according to some versions of the Testimonium Flavianum.
7. Pilate rendered the decision that he should be executed, as both Tacitus and Josephus state.
8. His execution was specifically by crucifixion, according to Josephus.
9. He was executed during Pontius Pilate’s governorship over Judea (26–36 C.E.), as Josephus implies and Tacitus states, adding that it was during Tiberius’s reign.
Dr. Mykytiuk also notes in the article that “ no ancient person ever seriously argued that Jesus did not exist.“… [N]o pagans and Jews who opposed Christianity denied Jesus’ historicity or even questioned it.” He was consistently treated as a real person in early Jewish Rabbinical writings albeit an apostate.
Anyone who has any question about the historical existence of the man Jesus should read this article. One might continue to disagree with the traditional Christian teaching about who Jesus was and is but the historical evidence clearly supports his existence as an historical figure none-the-less. *Top