Question about Jesus's existence................?

Why is it that people deny Jesus's existence when the consensus among historians and scholars of all stripes is that he existed????

Of course in terms of evidence, we have the Gospels and the Pauline Epistles, and outside the Biblical canon we have the writings of Josephus, Suetonius, Tacitus, and Mara Bar Serapion.

Now of course the immediate answer to this is, well we don't have any writings from his time period, so he didn't exist. That of course is fallacious because their are many other Ancient figures in history for whom the evidence of them comes years after their life. Hannibal Barca for instance. The earliest sources we have of him come 70 to 80 years after his death by Polybius.

Then the usual response to this "well even if Jesus existed, it does not prove he is the son of God". Well no duh sherlock, and way to shift the argument. Just like how proving the existence of Julius and Caesar Augustus don't prove they were the son of God either, which many believed at the time.


@Dane......actually many of them are not Christian. Take Bart Ehrman for example

Update 2:

@Mikey......that's like saying that I am pathetic for citing De Bello Gallico to prove Caesar's existence. Try harder

Update 3:

@Darwin'sfriend.....suetonius, tacitus, Mara Bar Serapion, plus even if we don't know who authored the Gospels themselves, that does not mean that they cannot be considered sources. Then you have the extrabiblical Christian sources like the Didache, or the Epistle of Clement.

Again, people thought Caesar Augustus was the son of God. Does that disprove his existence?

Update 4: this. This is from the Biblical and New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman, who is an agnostic, and wrote books like forged, and others


Update 5:

@Chances68......even if it is an embellishment. So what. Are the writings of Ancient historians generally speaking embellishments? Also, St Paul himself was in contact with Jesus's disciples who knew him. I doubt that they would just make up the existence of the leader of their messianic movement.

That is like saying that the followers of Simon Bar Kochba made up the existence in order to launch their Jewish revolt in 132 A.D.

15 Answers

  • ?
    Lv 6
    6 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Because of a bias

    They'll often bring up the fact that the historians who mention Jesus came a few decades after He lived even though that's hardly any reason to discount them.

    Any self-respecting historian is going to research something that occurred in the past before writing about it. You have to give these people more credit.

    If you're going to discount Jesus' existence because His historians come a bit later than you'd have to end up discounting the existence of several other figures.

    Also, citing the Gospels is NOT pathetic. They're a real source that come from the 1st century. Why wouldn't they be sources? The Bible as we know it was not compiled until the 4th century and the Gospels existed individually prior to that.

    Source(s): Aspiring Eastern Orthodox monk
  • 6 years ago

    The problem is in your unwarranted assertion that "... when the consensus among historians and scholars of all stripes is that he existed...",when those that specialize in studying his existence are divided into many different camps ranging from existence to a composite of several people to complete myth.

    You should also realize that "most historians" are not really qualified to offer a professional opinion about areas outside of their speciality - think about it this way, a Civil War Historian might have a reasonable accurate understanding of what we know about the Civil War, but they would also need to demonstrate an equally accurate understanding of any other time period, before they can be considered as professionally qualified to comment on it.

    As for your dismissal of the argument that "well even if Jesus existed, it does not prove he is the son of God", I think you miss the point. For nearly 2000 years, Jews and other cultures have been persecuted in Jesus' name. Today, people are actively discriminating against others in Jesus' name - strangely in spite of what Jesus actually taught, if he existed.

    Let's say that Jesus actually existed. Great, according to the Gospels which, were written over 70 after he died, he realized that morality depends on the situation and how you treat others rather than rule, something that many philosophers and other religions have understood. The problem is that there is no reason to think that Herod the great slaughtered all male children under two, that he called a census that made people go to where their father's were born (or whatever silly thing that the Bible claims).

    Basically, what you have if Jesus actually existed is just a guy that came up with concepts that have independently occurred in various times and cultures and in many ways, his concepts were much less "enlightened" than earlier versions.

  • 6 years ago

    I'd like to answer Kimberly's points, if I may.

    1. Josephus' account has been widely discredited as a forgery.

    2. If Paul was imprisoned, how does that prove the existence of Jesus? You note that this event is alleged to have happened in 59 CE. What this shows, actually, is that the cult of Jesus was real. Not that the person was.

    3. Tacitus...same problem. Much of what he wrote was about Christians, not Christ, and the bit you quote with regards to "Christus" is only commenting on the theory of where this group came from. But more to the point, textual analysis has long suggested that the portion of Tacitus' work regarding "Christus" was added much later by monks who were tasked with recopying and :clarifying" texts.

    4. Pliny the Younger's works DO NOT provide evidence for the existence of Jesus. They show that the group we call Christians were believers, but that's not the same thing.

    5. The claims that the stories of Jesus prove that Jesus existed are closely akin to claiming that the stories of Harry Potter prove he existed, or that stories and philosophy of the Jedi Knights prove they existed. In short, it's incorrect.

    I can't conclude with certainty that Jesus did not exist, but I can state flatly that it is not possible, given the documentary evidence we currently have at our disposal, that he did exist. My suspicion is that such a person existed, and was a radical rabbi, and that virtually everything else claimed about him was exaggeration and embellishment made up to sell a religious cult on the people of Judea. When it didn't work all that well, Paul retooled the stories again, and took it on the road, among the gentiles.

  • 6 years ago

    I'll just shoot down a couple of points and leave the rest for others.

    Who wrote the gospels because even historians and scholars of all stripes agree that it wasn't Matthew,Mark,Luke and John.

    The references to Jesus in the writings of Josephus have been proven to be forgeries.

    The so called son of god was born with pomp,angels appearing,kings being guided by a star and then nothing for 30 years?

    The fact remains that there are no contemporary writings or mention of him in Roman records

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  • Anonymous
    6 years ago

    >>...the consensus among historians and scholars of all stripes is that he existed<<

    Not his *contemporaneous* historians, of which there were quite a few. Only later historians who bought into the myth of Jesus' existence. It is generally agreed that Josephus is a forgery and frankly, citing the Gospels as evidence just makes you appear pathetic and grasping for straws.

    By the way - even if we could agree that Jesus existed that in no way makes him magical, much less the son of imaginary god.

  • 6 years ago

    People deny that Jesus existed and lived on the earth for the same reason that people deny that God exists.

    For all of the claims of scientific rationality, the bottom line is that people who do this, do not want to be accountable to an unimpeachable authority for their lives.

    It takes humility to stand before our Creator, recognizing that he is greater than we are, or ever will be.

    It also takes modesty to admit that we are all sinners, and that we need help to get out from under its death-dealing curse, by accepting the salvation that Jesus offers.

    Micah 6:8

    8 He has told you, O man, what is good.

    And what is Jehovah requiring* of you?

    Only to exercise justice,*+ to cherish loyalty,*

    And to walk in modesty+ with your God

    John 3:16, 17

    16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son,+ so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.+ 17 For God did not send his Son into the world for him to judge the world, but for the world to be saved through him.

    Romans 6:23

    23 For the wages sin pays is death,+ but the gift God gives is everlasting life+ by Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Revelation 11:15-18

    15 The seventh angel blew his trumpet.+ And there were loud voices in heaven, saying: “The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord+ and of his Christ,+ and he will rule as king forever and ever.”

    16 And the 24 elders+ who were seated before God on their thrones fell upon their faces and worshipped God, 17 saying: “We thank you, Jehovah* God, the Almighty, the one who is+ and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king.+ 18 But the nations became wrathful, and your own wrath came, and the appointed time came for the dead to be judged and to reward+ your slaves the prophets+ and the holy ones and those fearing your name, the small and the great, and to bring to ruin those ruining* the earth.”

  • Dane
    Lv 4
    6 years ago

    How many of those historians were Christian? Seems to me like there is a bias to take into account.

    Also, you're one to talk about shifting the argument. You've thus far provided 0 evidence of his existence and asked us why we would ever deny his existence.

  • Neil
    Lv 5
    6 years ago

    I don't question his existence, in so much as I accept a man called Jesus probably lived in that area at that time, I do question every facet of his life story particularly the virgin birth, the miracles and the whole son of God bit. And if you take them away does it matter if a man called Jesus lived? The man in question clearly wasn't the Jesus of the Bible since none of the important 'facts' as reported in the Bible tally.

  • Anonymous
    6 years ago

    70 or 80 years after the fact isn't exactly contemporary and I believe the argument is that there aren't any first hand sources. That being said why does it matter if he existed or not, there were plenty of other self proclaimed prophets around the same time and place and I don't see why he would be any different.

  • 6 years ago

    Doesn't matter - Jesus was said to have appeared to people after his death.

    Why doesn't he appear to me then? Maybe there was guy names Jesus and maybe he even had followers and maybe even miracles were witnessed....not much good it does for us centuries later...

    He should be willing and able to appear to his followers now but remains strangely elusive....

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