Ever wonder whether Jesus existed, whether all of the Christmas masses and mission trips are founded in myth or reality? Ever questioned your faith?
Don’t worry. It’s natural and we won’t tell anybody. And anyway, we’re here to bring you the good news: there is little doubt that Jesus was a prominent historical figure. As for whether he was the son of God, that’s where faith comes into play.
Continue reading to learn more about the historical texts that support Jesus’s existence.
Are We Sure that Jesus Was Real?
Scholars and historians agree ample evidence supports the existence of Jesus as a prominent figure in ancient society. Roman and Jewish historians consistently mention him in the years following his death and Christian writings also frequently mention him.
Compared to other prominent figures throughout history whose existences have been disputed, such as King Arthur, there is more substantial evidence to support Jesus’s existence.
The most critical component of the proof of Jesus’s existence comes from the fact that proof is not rooted in folklore. Rather, historians and scholars confirmed his existence in writing while he was alive. The majority of evidence supporting King Arthur’s existence came well after his time. The writings supporting Jesus’s existence occurred while he was alive.
What Do Christian Writings Say About Jesus?
The evidence of Jesus’s existence is both detailed and early. The first Christian writings are of Jesus and the epistles and scholars agree that the earliest of these letters were written around 40 years after Jesus died. This means the letters appeared within the lifetimes of eyewitnesses.
What Do Non-Christian Writers Say About Jesus?
The presence of Jewish reports of Jesus also strongly supports his existence. Jewish texts accurately describe the culture and geography of Palestine and coincide with other Christian reports. Roman texts corroborate these texts, and they add even more validity due to the Roman Empire’s classification of Jews as threats.
The earliest text we have as evidence for Jesus comes from Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who wrote a history of Judaism around AD93. In it, there are two references to Jesus. One of these references came under scrutiny because scholars believe it was corrupted by Christian scribes. The other does not welcomely suspicion.
20 years later, the Roman politicians Pliny and Tacitus referenced Jesus being executed by Pontius Pilate while Tiberius was emperor. These reports corroborate the timeline of the Biblical texts.
Pliny, a governor in Turkey, also wrote that Christians worshiped Christ as a God. He did not have any reason to fabricate the existence of Jesus since he opposed him, going so far as to refer to his teachings as “destructive superstitions.”
Did Ancient Writers Discuss the Existence of Jesus?
There is no evidence in the ancient world that refutes Jesus of Nazareth’s existence. Non-Christian writers denounced Jesus as an illegitimate child of Mary and a sorcerer in early Jewish Rabbi texts. In philosophy and literature, Jesus was referred to as a scoundrel and a sorcerer.
This lack of opposition to Jesus’s existence (even from those who would deem themselves Jesus’s enemies) leaves little room for doubt that he was real. To be clear, this evidence does not support him as the son of God. That is an entirely different discussion.