Was Jesus a person in history?

This page deals with Jesus from a purely academic, historical standpoint.. Can we be sure he existed in history?

Here is an article written by an atheist who is also a historian.  Tim O'Neil argues that the Christ Myth theorists have not made their case, and points out the very real issues with the claims made by proponents of the myth theory.


This is O'Neil's conclusion

The original question we concerned ourselves with was whether historians regard the existence of Jesus to be "historical fact".  The answer is that they do as much as any scholar can do so for the existence of an obscure peasant preacher in the ancient world.  There is as much, if not slightly more, evidence for the existence of Yeshua ben Yusef as there is for other comparable Jewish preachers, prophets, and Messianic claimants, even without looking at the gospel material.  Additionally, that material contains elements which only make sense if their stories are about a historical figure.

The arguments of the Jesus Mythicists, on the other hand, require contortions and suppositions that simply do not stand up to Occam's Razor  and continually rest on positions that are not accepted by the majority of even non-Christian and Jewish scholars.  The proponents of the Jesus Myth hypothesis are almost exclusively amateurs with an ideological axe to grind and their position is and will almost certainly remain on the outer fringe of theories about the origins of Christianity.


Some claim that Jesus never existed and that he is rather a complete myth. Do they have a case?

The most basic argument for a historical Jesus is that the experts in the field (historians) are telling us that they accept he existed in history... However, the only things they agree on with any certainty is that he was batpized by John the Baptist, and that he was crucified under Pontius Pilate.

This website is still under construction.. I realize that Wikipedia isn't the end-all of knowledge, but it is a good place to start..  This information is from the Wikipedia page Historical Jesus. 

Most contemporary scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed, and most biblical scholars and classical historians see the theories of his non-existence as effectively refuted.[7][9][10][30][31][32] In antiquity, the existence of Jesus was never denied by those who opposed Christianity.[33][34] There is, however, widespread disagreement among scholars on the details of the life of Jesus mentioned in the gospel narratives, and on the meaning of his teachings.[14] Scholars differ on the historicity of specific episodes described in the Biblical accounts of Jesus,[14] and the only two events subject to "almost universal assent" are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate.[11][12][13]

(7) In a 2011 review of the state of modern scholarship, Bart Ehrman (a secular agnostic) wrote: "He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees" B. Ehrman, 2011 Forged : writing in the name of God ISBN 978-0-06-207863-6. page 285
(8)Robert M. Price (an atheist who denies the existence of Jesus) agrees that this perspective runs against the views of the majority of scholars: Robert M. Price "Jesus at the Vanishing Point" in The Historical Jesus: Five Views edited by James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy, 2009 InterVarsity, ISBN 028106329X page 61
(9)Michael Grant (a classicist) states that "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." in Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels by Micjhael Grant 2004 ISBN 1898799881 page 200
(10)Richard A. Burridge states: "There are those who argue that Jesus is a figment of the Church’s imagination, that there never was a Jesus at all. I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that any more." in Jesus Now and Then by Richard A. Burridge and Graham Gould (Apr 1, 2004) ISBN 0802809774 page 34
(11)Jesus Remembered by James D. G. Dunn 2003 ISBN 0-8028-3931-2 page 339 states of baptism and crucifixion that these "two facts in the life of Jesus command almost universal assent".
(12)Prophet and Teacher: An Introduction to the Historical Jesus by William R. Herzog (4 Jul 2005) ISBN 0664225284 pages 1-6
(13)Crossan, John Dominic (1995). Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography. HarperOne. p. 145. ISBN 0-06-061662-8. "That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be, since both Josephus and Tacitus ... agree with the Christian accounts on at least that basic fact."
(14)Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee by Mark Allan Powell 1998 ISBN 0-664-25703-8 pages 168–173
(30)Robert E. Van Voorst Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence Eerdmans Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0-8028-4368-9 page 16 states: "biblical scholars and classical historians regard theories of non-existence of Jesus as effectively refuted"
(31)James D. G. Dunn "Paul's understanding of the death of Jesus" in Sacrifice and Redemption edited by S. W. Sykes (Dec 3, 2007) Cambridge University Press ISBN 052104460X pages 35-36 states that the theories of non-existence of Jesus are "a thoroughly dead thesis"
(32)The Gospels and Jesus by Graham Stanton, 1989 ISBN 0192132415 Oxford University Press, page 145 states : "Today nearly all historians, whether Christians or not, accept that Jesus existed".
(33)Encyclopedia of theology: a concise Sacramentum mundi by Karl Rahner 2004 ISBN 0-86012-006-6 pages 730-731
(34)Van Voorst, Robert E (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 0-8028-4368-9-page 15

What do historians say about Jesus?  He existed, he was baptized by John the Baptist, and he was crucifed under Pontius Pilate.  Anything more is open to debate.

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