It is pretty common for Christians to assert that there is more evidence for the existence of Jesus than there is for some other historical figure like Alexander the Great or George Washington. This is simply not true. The fact is that there are no contemporary accounts for the existence of Jesus.
While it is still possible that Jesus might have existed even if there are no contemporary accounts for his existence, without contemporary sources or any other actual evidence, there is no valid reason to believe Jesus actually did exist.
Still, it would be possible for someone to gain value from a fictional character without a problem. For example, I am well aware that Luke Skywalker is a fictional character and yet he remains an inspiration to me in reality. Within Christianity, there is the movement which takes this philosophy to heart by asking, “What would Jesus do?” This question would still be valid regardless of whether Jesus was a real person or a fictional character.
Of course there are also a great majority of Christians who claim that without a belief in a historic Jesus, the religion becomes a sham. Those Christians have a problem because there are no contemporary accounts for the existence of Jesus. All be have is hearsay accounts from people who never saw or met him.
When I first bring this up, the very first thing most Christians often tell me is that most historians accept the historicity of Jesus. This is just an appeal to authority. The fact is that most historians accept the historicity of Jesus on faith. When we really look at the evidence, it is clear that there is very little reason to believe Jesus existed. It is only recently that some historians have started to even question the historicity of Jesus. When they have, no actual evidence has been found to support the claim of a historic Jesus.
Again when I point out that there are no contemporary sources, Christians usually bring out the Gospels. This is laughable since the Gospels are not contemporary sources. The Gospel of Mark (not actually written by Mark) is believed to be the earliest written Gospel. It is generally dated to be written about 65 CE. This Gospel is also not a first hand account as many Christians believe and we know very little about who the author actual was. We don’t even know his name. We also know that the other Gospels used Mark as a primary source and that over the course of hundreds of years, the Gospels has been altered multiple times.
This is when Christians often throw out names of non-Christian writers who they claim wrote about Jesus like: Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, and Lucian of Samosata, among others. First, most of those writers didn’t write very much at all about Jesus. Many talk about someone called “Christ.” Christians assume this refers to Jesus, but there have been many people during that time and in other times who claimed to be “the Christ.” But what I find more interesting is that none of those writers were contemporaries to Jesus who was alleged to have been crucified in the year 33 CE:
Josephus (37 CE – c. 100 CE)
Tacitus (56 CE – 117 CE)
Pliny the Younger (61 CE – c. 112 CE)
Lucian of Samosata (125 CE – after 180 CE)
Here are some writers who would have been contemporaries of Jesus and interestingly enough never mentioned him at all despite the Gospel claim that he was known far and wide:
Philo Judaeus (20 BCE – 50 CE)
Seneca (4? BCE – 65 CE)
Pliny the Elder (23? CE – 79 CE)
Then there are the Scrolls of Gabriel’s Revelation which tell a story remarkably similar to that of Jesus except that the principle character was named Simon. The scrolls pre-date the alleged birth of Jesus. In other words, the Scrolls of Gabriel serve as a rough draft for the Gospel story.
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