Anonymous asked in Society & CultureReligion & Spirituality · 1 decade ago

Did Jesus exist as a real historical person?

Yes/ no

Faith position.

I am atheist and from what I have read, I would believe that Jesus existed. However, I don't believe he existed as the person described in the bible (Christian myth).

15 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    All the ancients below thought He was, and so do I as a Christian. Here are snippets of what they wrote:

    Josephus (born around 37 AD) wrote the Jewish Antiquities and described Jesus as a wise man, a doer of wonderful works and calls him the Christ. He also affirmed that Jesus was executed by Pilate and rose from the dead.

    Suetonius in his 'Life of Claudius' refers to Claudius expelling Jews from Rome on account of their activities on behalf of a man called Chrestus – (a misspelling of the Latin for Christ.)

    Pliny the Younger was responsible for executing Christians who refused to worship or bow down to a statue of emperor Trajan. In a letter to emperor Trajan, he describes how the Christians sang songs to Christ because he was a god.

    There are also accounts from Thallus and Phlegon (historians) who both confirmed that the land went dark when Jesus was crucified. Mara Bar-Sarapion, who was probably a Stoic philosopher, wrote to his son saying how the Jews executed their King (one of the charges brought against Jesus by the religious authorities and used to pressurise Pontius Pilate into having Jesus executed).

    There is also the written evidence of Tertullian, a Roman citizen, well educated and versed in the law, who testified that there was what people took to be an eclipse of the sun at the time Jesus died and three days later, an earthquake and the stone sealing the sepulchre where Jesus' body had been placed rolled away to reveal an empty tomb.

    Tacitus was noted for his integrity and moral uprightness. He affirms that the founder of Christianity, Chrestus, was executed by Pilate, the procurator of Judea during the reign of the Roman emperor Tiberius. He also recorded that Nero decided to blame the fire of Rome onto the Christians, a despised Jewish sect. Tacitus wrote, "Nero…punished with every refinement the notoriously depraved Christians (as they were popularly called). Their originator, Christ, had been executed in Tiberius' reign by the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate. But in spite of this temporary setback, the deadly superstition had broken out afresh, not only in Judea (where this mischief had started) but even in Rome" (The Annals of Imperial Rome, XV, 44).

    Julian the apostate (331-363 AD), the last Roman emperor to oppose Christianity despite having been raised a Christian, referred to the records of Jesus' being put to death. Although he had every possible reason to refute and defeat the spread of Christianity, he mentions these records about Jesus. Had there been no records of Jesus' existence or execution, he would surely have made that clear. On the contrary, he confirms the reality of the man Jesus. "Jesus, whom you celebrate, was one of Caesar's subjects. If you dispute it, I will prove it by and by; but it may be as well done now. For yourselves allow, that he was enrolled with his father and mother in Cyrenius… But Jesus having persuaded a few among you, and those the worst of men, has now been celebrated about 300 years; having done nothing worthy of remembrance; unless anyone thinks it is a mighty matter to heal lame and blind people, and exorcise demoniacs in the villages of Bethsaida and Bethany" (Cyril Contra Julian, VI, 191, 213).

  • 1 decade ago

    Whether or not there was an actual person that the Jesus story was pasted to is pretty insignificant. The legend that has been attributed to this person makes their actual life meaningless. The story is such that it could have been pasted onto absolutely anyone, no matter what they did in their life, and the jesus story would still be the same. So who cares?

    It's like asking if the story of Thor was based on a real person. If it was, the actual human that it was based on bears no resemblance to what the legend now says.

  • 1 decade ago

    If Jesus did walk the Earth, there has never a more famous man with no verifiable contemporary historical record. And the Romans were great record keepers. How could such a monumental person, one able to do miracles like raising the dead and walking on water, go so unnoticed by the historians of the time? Answer: He didn't exist until the Gospel writers came along.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    well...concerning the question that jesus as descibed in the new testament referred to a real person...rather than totally made up based on the imagination of people who wrote about him....I suppose i feel its somewhere between these two extremes...He probably had some qualities based on a real person, or perhaps even multiple people...but a lot was pure imagination. This is quite obvious if you notice even simple facts such as did he have a sister or gospel says clearly yes, the other says clearly no. Real people do not both have a sister and not have a sister. Whether he was purely imaginary, all of it was deliberate fantasy, i think this is liek 10-15% possible.

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  • 1 decade ago

    It's highly likely, but of course we could never know for sure. I think it is more likely that he did exist just simply because of the crucifixion story. Why would a bunch of Jews make up a story about their messiah being crucified when such a thing was not supposed to happen according to the Jewish scriptures? This is surely not a way to start a new Jewish messianic movement. Why would God sacrifice himself to himself in order to make a loophole for a law that HE created? It just wouldn't make any sense unless the crucifixion actually happened. Of course, the people in ancient cultures were pretty weird and wildly superstitious anyways, so I suppose it's possible they could have made it up. Ultimately we just can't know for sure, until we find Jesus' bone box or his diary.

  • 1 decade ago

    Like all other subject, there are two sides to the story. Each side holds on to their belief strongly and each claimed to have 'concrete evidence' to prove what they believe.

    The fact is no one alive today has known Jesus personally and what they know is based on what they read. We all know that in history, many facts are covered, altered, distorted or destroyed.

    From what remains, it appears that there is such a person as Jesus. However, those 'magical' or 'mysterious' parts, I will take it with a pinch of salt.

  • 1 decade ago

    Yes, he did. And he does.

    Being that most of the recorded history of Jesus is found in the Bible, what do you base your belief on? Seems a nonsequetir. Being an atheist doesn't require that you don't think the Bible's history can't be trusted.



  • 1 decade ago

    Yes, there is plenty of proof of him living. heres one of my answers to another question that could answer this one too-

    No doubt when Jesus died, three days later the body was gone. Because when people started saying that he rose from the dead, if his body was still there, roman officials would have just gotten it and said it was a lie. Instead they said the twelve stole it and claimed him to have rose. So no doubt it was gone. But I believe he actually rose from the dead because, all twelve disciples, and all following apostles, died for martyr. If the twelve were lieing and really just stole it, they could have said "hey we lied, Jesus is dead, don't kill me." But they didn't , they were all killed for their belief that Jesus rose from the dead. And who would die for a lie? Peter- crucified upside down. another was boiled alive, another was hit with a spear, another was thrown off a cliff and beaten.

    Peter, even as he was dieing on the cross, was ministering the word of God, I highly doubt if it was all a hoax, he would do that.

  • 1 decade ago

    I do believe there was a man named Jesus...but,agree with you NOT the one they describe. Kinda like the Telephone game....the more its passed from person to person..the more its fabricated!!

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    From what I've read, the Jesus myth sounds suspiciously similar to the myths of other gods at the time (Horus, Mithras, etc).

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