The Person of Jesus Part 4: The Existence of Jesus

So far, I have spent four posts (see here, here, here, and here) introducing the person of Jesus, explaining his historical significance, impact, and influence, and laying out questions that I will be examining in a historical inquiry into his life and identity. Although some readers might have grown impatient with it, I believe it was necessary to take so much time introducing the relevant ideas and issues, before actually beginning the historical process, so as to lay a solid foundation and direction. Whether Jesus is merely the most important human who has ever lived, or else God in human flesh, there can be no doubt to the importance of studying his life and the meaning thereof. As I have frequently stated, I will be conducting this inquiry strictly on historical grounds, with as much objectivity and little assumption as possible; although I certainly will not shy away from looking at theological aspects and perhaps deriving theological implications from the historical facts. For, after all, if Jesus really is the Son of God, to do any less would be a grave injustice.

But for now, we are at the very bottom of this steep climb, and have not yet arrived at any conclusions about his life, excepting its historical impact. So how can we go about learning the historical facts of his life?

E. P. Sanders, who I quoted briefly at the end of the last post, is a leading scholar in historical Jesus studies. In his book The Historical Figure of Jesus, he offers a general outline of Jesus’ life. The outline consists of facts that are “almost beyond dispute,” and even then, Sanders, who himself is not a Christian, asserts that “a list of everything that we know about Jesus would be appreciably longer” [1]. In addition to this he states: “There are virtually no substantial doubts about the general course of Jesus’ life: when and where he lived, approximately when and where he died, and the sort of thing that he did during his public activity” [2]. Why do I emphasize this? Because it is important to note, contrary to the popular claims one often finds scouring the internet, that some basic facts about the life of Jesus are accepted by virtually all scholars, even the skeptical ones. Here is one list of such facts, quoted directly from Sanders’ book:

“Jesus was born c. 4 BCE, near the time of the death of Herod the Great;

he spent his childhood and early adult years in Nazareth, a Galilean village;

he was baptized by John the Baptist;

he called disciples;

he taught in the towns, villages, and countryside of Galilee (apparently not the cities);

he preached ‘the kingdom of God’;

about the year 30 he went to Jerusalem for Passover;

he created a disturbance in the Temple area;

he had a final meal with the disciples;

he was arrested and interrogated by Jewish authorities, specifically the high priest;

he was executed on the orders of the Roman prefect, Pontius Pilate.

We may add here a list of equally secure facts about the aftermath of Jesus’ life:

his disciples at first fled;

they saw him (in what sense is not certain) after his death;

as a consequence, they believed that he would return to found the kingdom;

they formed a community to await his return and sought to win others to faith in him as God’s Messiah” [3].

Many scholars would add a good deal of other facts to this as well, as Sanders mentions. Some scholars, far in the minority, would also take away, or at least qualify, some of the facts listed above. This all will be taken into account.

Of course, the fact that a large number, or even a vast majority, of professional scholars believes something to be true does not, alone, make it true. It does, however offer fairly strong indication that there are other, independent good reasons for believing it to be true, and it is to these reasons we shall now turn.

So where to begin? There are many different directions that could be taken here. Our ultimate goal is to come to some sort of conclusion about the identity of Jesus; but that assumes that a historical person Jesus even existed in the first place. If one just scours the internet, one is sure to find plenty of instances of people asserting things like: “Jesus never existed,” “there is absolutely no historical evidence for Jesus,” “the story ofJesus was just copied from pagan gods,” etc. etc. I’ve even come across, on several different occasions, people saying something to the effect of “Jesus is just like Santa Clause, a myth,” which is ironic considering that Santa Clause himself was a real, well attested historical figure, St. Nicholas (albeit nothing like the modern conception of Santa Clause). Even the famous philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote that “Historically it is quite doubtful whether Christ ever existed at all, and if He did we do not know anything about Him” [4]. So how do we know that a real Jesus ever existed?

First, it is worth noting that despite the plethora of popular level assertions to the contrary, the overwhelmingly vast majority of professional scholars all adamantly assent to the real, historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth. One would be extremely hard pressed to find more than a handful, if even that many, of professional academic scholars who believe that a real Jesus never existed. In fact, apologist Blake Giunta calculates that 99.9% of credentialed historians, and 100% of those with active professorships, believe that Jesus was a real historical figure, which means that those who say otherwise are taken about as seriously as Holocaust deniers [5]. The late, highly respected scholar F. F. Bruce wrote:

“Some writers may toy with the fancy of a ‘Christ-myth,’ but they do not do so on the ground of historical evidence. The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar. It is not historians who propagate the ‘Christ-myth’ theories” [6].

Scholar Otto Betz likewise once commented that “No serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus” [7]. Classicist Michael Grant, who himself is an atheist, says:

“To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory. It has ‘again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars’. In recent years, ‘no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non historicity of Jesus’ or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary” [8].

New Testament Scholar Craig Evans comments:

“No serious historian of any religious or nonreligious stripe doubts that Jesus of Nazareth really lived in the first century and was executed under the authority of Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea and Samaria” [9].

And Bart Ehrman, himself assertively critical of Christianity, nonetheless wrote an entire book defending the historical existence of Jesus, in which he concludes that “Jesus himself was not a myth. He really existed” [10]. Elsewhere he says:

“He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees” [11].

Again, the fact that the overwhelmingly scholarly consensus not only affirms that Jesus really existed, but adamantly denies the opposite contention, is not alone sufficient to establish its truth. But it should give us great pause when we hear others make completely unfounded statements to the contrary. The view that Jesus never existed is known as Mythicism, and while it might have some interesting points to make, it is almost universally rejected by academics.

So what has so convinced the scholars of Jesus’s actual historical existence? First we must say a word about the relevant sources to be used. It is common to hear someone unfamiliar with the area of New Testament historical studies ask something such as: “What evidence is there outside of the Bible?” Now, the concern underlying this question is real and valid. It is meant to guard against circular arguments like this:

  1. The Bible says Jesus existed
  2. The Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God, so whatever it says is true
  3. Therefore, it is true that Jesus existed

Now, this argument is not necessarily false; if you could establish on independent grounds via theological or other reasons that the Bible is in fact the inspired, inerrant Word of God, then you might be justified in concluding that whatever it says is true. But this method doesn’t work for historical inquiry. Historical inquiry cannot start from the assumption that the documents are necessarily either true or false, either in whole or in part.

However, it is extremely important to realize that just because we don’t take a certain document to be divinely inspired and inerrant as a starting assumption, this does not preclude us from using those same documents as sources for historical analysis. Indeed, even if the documents turned out to be entirely historical inaccurate in every possible way, we could still garner historical information from them. Consider, for example, The Iliad of Homer. While scholars think some event resembling a “Trojan War” probably occurred, they also recognize that Homer’s narrative is largely poetic and exaggerated, not historical. Nevertheless, even if The Iliad can’t tell us much about the actual Trojan War, it certainly can tell us much about Greek culture, beliefs, and practices in the context in which The Iliad was produced. Thus to entirely discount The Iliad as a historical source, just because it itself is not necessarily strictly historical, would be presumptuous and imprudent.

In the same way, examine this passage from one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also . . . But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied” [12].

This passage is actually incredible significant for historical Jesus studies, and we will probably be returning to it several times in the future. For now, I just want to highlight one thing it shows us. In the passage, Paul makes several claims about Jesus. Now, these claims may or may not be true/historically accurate in any way; we don’t know at this point in our journey. But regardless of the historical truth of the claims themselves, the passage can give us historical information on its own. It tells us about the writer, in this case Paul, about what he believes, about what he’s trying to convey to others, about the various contexts in which he’s writing, etc. We can garner that all as historical information without assuming or even considering whether or not the passage is “divinely inspired” in any way. That is a matter which historical method alone is not sufficient to answer.

So historians are quite justified in using the materials which are contained in Christian scripture as sources. They can examine them, analysize them, and even use them as historical evidence. The fact that Christians hold the documents to be divinely inspired is (somewhat) irrelevant to the historical process.

Another important point that is sometimes missed by Christians and non-Christians alike. It is common to hear questions such as “are the Gospels historically accurate/reliable?” which can be a good question. The problem is that New Testament scholars don’t necessarily treat the Gospels as sources in this manner. Historical Jesus studies seeks to find information about Jesus, and it can draw this information from different places. Very often, scholars will accept that certain pieces of historical information can be found within the gospels, but they do not often ask “is this document as a whole historically accurate in its entirety.” One reason is that we just don’t have the means to validate all of what the gospels say, every little event or word spoken. That’s just not how historical evidence works. On the flip side, if we were to find something historically inaccurate within the gospels, this would not mean that the gospels in their entirety are completely false, without any accurate historical information. Most scholars are of the opinion that the gospels contain at least some bedrock of historical information, but either also contain other features such as exaggeration/legend, or else have information that is historically unable to be validated or invalidated due to scarcity of evidence either way. Again, this mistake is often made on both “sides.” For example, I once came across an article on a Christian apologetics website that discussed the archaeological finding of a certain location in one of the gospels, and the article asserted that this find “proves” that the gospels are true. It doesn’t, at all. What it might do is show that that certain location in the gospels was real and not made up, and this might lend more general credence to the author’s knowledge of the geographical context and his being in a position to know what actually happened. But to claim it does more than that is widely overstating the ability of the evidence. Furthermore, historical evidences do not ever offer strict, absolute “proofs.” Instead, historical evidence (like scientific evidence, for that matter), works by induction and inference to the best explanation, which is always probabilistic in nature.

In the next post, we’ll look more into the criteria and sources scholars use to examine the life of the historical Jesus. For the rest of this post, we’ll look at several reasons why scholars overwhelmingly accept the actual, historical existence of the person Jesus of Nazareth:

1) The earliest Christians themselves believed that Jesus was a real historical person. This takes us back to the passage from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians above. In it, Paul first lists a series of facts that he holds as the very essence and foundation of Christian belief: Christ died, was buried, was raised from the dead on the third day, and appeared to many of the disciples. Now, of course, Paul claiming that these things are true isn’t enough to tell us whether or not they’re actually true. But what it does give us is information about what the early Christians believed. They obviously believed these facts to be true, and to an extraordinarily high degree, as is made evident by the second part of the passage, in which Paul claims that if Jesus was not resurrected, then “your faith is in vain” and “your faith is worthless”! For Paul, the resurrection is the defining event in human history, and the cornerstone of his faith. But if the resurrection didn’t occur, then his faith is worthless, and his life is “to be pitied”. For Paul, if these events did not really happen in history, then they mean nothing, and he’s wasting his life. Contrast this with the claims of the Mythicists (those who don’t think Jesus ever actually existed): “[Mythicism is] the theory that no historical Jesus worthy of the name existed, that Christianity began with a belief in a spiritual, mythical figure, that the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction, and that no single identifiable person lay at the root of the Galilean preaching tradition” [13]. Even without going into much depth, it is clear that Paul certainly is not staking his entire belief on a “spiritual, mythical figure” but on a real historical person whose death and resurrection inspire Paul’s entire worldview.

This belief in Jesus as a real, physical human being who lived and died is littered throughout the entirety of the New Testament documents, deeply embedded in the very heart of the belief of the early Christians. Here is a small selection of passages that illustrate this:

“concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh” [14].

Here we see Paul claiming that Jesus was a real human with real human ancestors and real human flesh.

every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God” [15].

Notice the “has come in the flesh”.

Of course, the belief in Jesus as a real, physical human is the very starting assumption of the gospels, and is replete throughout the many speeches given by apostles in Acts. Of course some of the later “gnostic” gospels portrayed Jesus as purely divine and not human, but these are, as we shall see in a future post, much later and less established than canonical New Testament documents, and reflect gnostic philosophy, not mainstream Christian belief.

The point, again, is just that the earliest Christians took for granted that Jesus was a real historical person; their whole faith rested on it. There is no hint in early Christianity of anyone believing in a “spiritual”, non historical, non physical figure. Furthermore, the early Christians proclaimed Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, and there is not, to my knowledge, any significant tradition within the Jewish sects of that time which looked for a “spiritual”, non human messiah. All of the New Testament documents were written within the first century, meaning that the latest ones were written about sixty years after the death of Jesus, and the earliest ones (such as, it is widely held by scholars, the 1 Corinthians passage quoted above) containing material which goes back to the first few years or even months after Jesus’s death (more on these points in later posts). How could such a deeply embedded belief in the existence of a human being arise so rapidly from nothing all of the sudden, without any catalyst or cause? It might be possible that legends about the human could arise, but belief in the very existence of the human?

2) Even from non-Christians hostile to Christianity, there were never raised any doubts about the existence of Jesus. As Christianity grew and spread in the first century, they met hostile critics from almost every side. The Jewish sects especially often detested the Christian movement, attacking and arguing against many of the Christian beliefs. And yet, surprisingly, they never questioned the existence of Jesus of Nazareth; they likewise took his existence for granted [16]. Which leads us to our next line of evidence:

3) Secular, non-Christian sources report about Jesus, accepting his existence without doubt or question as historical fact.

The Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus, who lived circa 55-120 C.E., wrote about the reign of Nero and the famous fire in Rome in 64 C.E.:

“But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero from the infamy of being believed to have ordered the conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence, to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with guilt, and punished with the most exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus [a common pagan misspelling of Christ], the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstitious, repressed for a time, broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also” [17].

This is really a startling passage from a secular Roman historian which references several key facts from the gospels: that Jesus [Christus] was the founder of the Christian movement, and that he was executed under Pontius Pilate who was the procurator of Judea under Tiberius. Notice that the existence of Jesus is taken completely for granted. One writer comments that Tacitus “was considered one of the most careful of Roman historians” and refers to the work of two scholars who “explain why Tacitus himself would look into the existence of Jesus, and not depend on Christian hearsay, but possibly on official records” [18].

Next, the well known 1st century Jewish historian Josephus writes:

“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him . . . And the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day” [19].

Now, this is a controversial passage, because some claim that it was edited by Christian scribes. Scholarly consensus, however, is that while the italicized portions in the quote above may well be Christian additions, the rest of it is authentic from Josephus, and thus we have again more affirmation of Jesus’s existence, his crucifixion by Pilate, and the Christian movement which inexplicable arose after his death.

Scholar Van Voorst writes that this passage “affirms the existence of Jesus. 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 extra-biblical evidence is not probative on this point” [20].

A bit later, around 177 C.E., Roman philosopher Celsus wrote about Christians and their beliefs and practices, saying:

“Now, if the Christians worshipped only one God they might have reason on their side. But as a matter of fact they worship a man who appeared only recently. They do not consider what they are doing a breach of monotheism; rather, they think it perfectly consistent to worship the great God and to worship his servant as God. And their worship of this Jesus is the more outrageous because they refuse to listen to any talk about God, the father of all, unless it includes some reference to Jesus: Tell them that Jesus, the author of the Christian insurrection, was not his son, and they will not listen to you” [21].

Now, as this source is later, Celsus might not have been in a position to actually know whether Jesus existed. But the fact that he accepts that Jesus was a real human, whom the Christians believed in as a real human, without offering any doubt or question to the contrary, shows again that no one thought that Jesus didn’t exist as a real historical person.

Contrary to what one commonly hears, there is a wealth of non-Christian sources from early centuries regarding Jesus. Since this post is already quite long, I’ll just give a list of those who mention things about Jesus and the Christians: Roman historian Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, Syrian philosopher Mara Bar-Serapion, and the Jewish Talmud in several locations (which is extremely hostile to Christians and Jesus, and yet nevertheless admits his existence and several facts about his life, never arguing to the contrary).

All of these facts together have led the overwhelmingly vast majority of scholars to conclude not only that Jesus probably existed, but that he almost certainly did, and that his existence is one of the most well attested facts in all of ancient history. Although we haven’t yet discussed the exact criteria/methods used by historical Jesus scholars to determine facts, we can look very briefly at a number of broader historical criteria in examining hypotheses. Historical inquiry very often works via inference to the best explanation. These criteria are used to help determine which hypothesis best explains the facts [22]:

  1. Explanatory scope: How much data/facts does the hypothesis explain?
  2. Explanatory power: How good is the quality of explanation?
  3. Plausibility: How likely is the hypothesis given our background knowledge?
  4. Less ad hoc/Simplicity: “A hypothesis possesses an ad hoc component when it enlists non evidenced assumptions, that is, when it goes beyond what is already known” [23]. It has fewer presuppositions.
  5. Illumination: It sheds light on other problems

We can very briefly apply some of these criteria (not all are required or able to be used in every case) to the hypotheses that Jesus actually existed as opposed to the mythicist hypothesis, to see which is the better explanation of the facts.

First, explanatory scope. We have three main lines of data which we are attempting to explain: 1) That the early Christians strongly believed Jesus existed as a real human being, including some who (like Paul) were in very good positions to possibly be able to know the truth or falsehood of this. 2) Non-Christians and anti-Christians (those hostile to Christianity) never raised any doubts or questions about the existence of Jesus, but took his existence for granted in their attacks/arguments against Christianity, and 3) Secular, non-Christian, and anti-Christian historians/writers/philosophers record accounts of Jesus’s existence, life, death, and the resulted movement, accepting all of these things as historical facts without ever raising any question to the contrary. Now the hypothesis that Jesus actually existed easily covers all three of these lines of data. The mythicist hypothesis might likewise be able to account for them in their hypothesis, but, as we shall see, not in any significant way.

Next, explanatory power. The hypothesis that Jesus exists explains very easily why the earliest Christians believed that he existed: because he actually did and they knew about it. It also explains why non/anti Christians never raised any doubts or questions: because they likewise knew that he existed, and knew that arguing otherwise would be a waste of time. Finally, it explains why secular/non/anti Christians wrote about him: because he did actually exist, and his existence left a ripple of effect which interacted with events they were writing about.

Does the mythicist hypothesis explain these things very well? How does the hypothesis that Jesus never existed explain why so many people believed that he did? Especially since a belief in Jesus didn’t evolve gradually over a period of hundreds of years like other ancient myths: it sprang up virtually overnight and spread rapidly. And people weren’t saying “There was a savior called Jesus who existed a long time ago, whom we’ve heard in stories and songs”, they were saying “There was a man Jesus who lived among us and died just a little while ago, and we saw him and touched him and interacted with him, or we knew people who did.” This hypothesis also doesn’t explain why non/anti Christian sources wouldn’t question his existence. If a group of people were claiming that a certain person was doing miraculous works in a city or town, and I was in a position of authority in that very town with much knowledge about its happenings, I could very easily point out that there was never any such person. So why didn’t the Jews say, “Hey, we were there and there was never anyone named Jesus doing anything like that?” Likewise, why would secular historians who were often very careful, especially those who had no reason to be friendly towards Christianity or even very good reasons not to be, accept and record his existence? The hypothesis that Jesus never existed thus suffers very much compared to the hypothesis that he did.

As far as plausibility goes, our background knowledge does not hugely favor one hypothesis over another. The probability here is about 50/50.

Finally, the hypothesis that Jesus existed is vastly less ad hoc than the mythicist hypothesis. The mythicist hypothesis forces us to believe that certain people either had some sort of “spiritual” experience which then somehow formed a belief in a real historical person, or else it forces us to believe that a few people tricked thousands into believing in the existence of a person for no apparent reason (despite the fact that they were risking their entire lives to do so).

So, in conclusion, the hypothesis that Jesus existed is overwhelmingly the best explanation of all the relevant data.

In the next post, we’ll start to examine specific events/sayings from the life of Jesus, trying to determine what specifically we can know about him beyond just his existence as a real human being.

 

Notes

[1]. Sanders, E. P. The Historical Figure of Jesus. London: Penguin Books, 1993. Print, 10.

[2]. Ibid.

[3]. Ibid., 10-11.

[4]. Russell, Bertrand. Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects. Ed. by Paul Edwards. New York:  Simon and Schuster, a Touchstone Book, 1957, page 16. Quoted in: McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999. Print. Page 119.

[5]. See here: <https://beliefmap.org/jesus-existed/#historians&gt;

[6].Bruce, F. F. The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? Downers Grove; Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1964. Quoted in: McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999. Print. Page 120.

[7]. Betz, Otto. What Do We Know About Jesus? SCM Press, 1968. Quoted in: McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999. Print. Page 120.

[8]. Grant, Michael. Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels. Simon & Schuster, 1992. Quoted at Belief Map by Blake Giunta, <Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels (Simon & Schuster, 1992>.

[9]. Evans, Craig. Jesus, The Final Days eds. Evans & Wright. Westminster, 2009, 3. Quoted at Belief Map by Blake Giunta, <Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels (Simon & Schuster, 1992>.

[10]. Ehrman, Bart D. Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. HarperOne, 2013. ebook.

[11]. Ehrman, Bart. Forged: Writing in the Name of God. HarperOne, 2011. 256. Quoted at Belief Map by Blake Giunta, <Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels (Simon & Schuster, 1992>.

[12]. New American Standard Bible (NASB).The Lockman Foundation, 1995. BibleGateway.com, https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+15&version=NASB

[13]. Earl Doherty, quoted by Bart Ehrman in Ehrman, Bart D. Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. HarperOne, 2013. ebook.

[14]. New American Standard Bible (NASB).The Lockman Foundation, 1995. BibleGateway.com, https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+1&version=NASB

[15]. Ibid., https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+john+4&version=NASB

[16]. See the following article for more information on this point. I’d like to have fleshed it out more fully, with more sources, but time constraints required me to make it brief. I may come back to this in a future post. https://jamesbishopblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/36-reasons-why-scholars-know-jesus-really-existed/

[17]. Tacitus. Annals. In Great Books of the Western World, ed. by Robert Maynard Hutchins. Vol. 15, The Annals and The Histories by Cornelius Tacitus. Chicago: William Benton, 1952. Quoted in McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999. Print. Page 120.

[18]. Arlandson, James M. “Did Jesus Even Exist?” Bible.org. Bible.org, 1 Apr. 2008. Web. 4 Oct. 2016. https://bible.org/seriespage/4-did-jesus-even-exist

[19]. Josephus, Flavius. Jewish Antiquities. Trans. by Ralph Marehus (from the Loeb Classical Library, Ed. by T. E. Page). 5 vols. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1963. Quoted in McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999. Print. Page 125.

[20]. Van Voorst quoted by James Arlandson in Arlandson, James M. “Did Jesus Even Exist?” Bible.org. Bible.org, 1 Apr. 2008. Web. 4 Oct. 2016. https://bible.org/seriespage/4-did-jesus-even-exist

[21]. Celsus, On the True Doctrine: A Discourse Against the Christians, trans. R. Joseph Hoffmann (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), 116. Quoted in: Komoszeki, J Ed, Sawyer, James M, and Daniel B. Wallace. Reinventing Jesus: How Contemporary Skeptics Miss the Real Jesus and Mislead Popular Culture. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2006. Print. 197.

[22]. For a full list and explanation of the criteria, see pages 108-114 of Licona, Michael R. The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2010. Print.

[23].  Licona, Michael R. The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2010. Print. 110.

Image credits: FreeImages.com/Bráulio Campos (http://www.freeimages.com/photo/jesus-1480847)

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