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The question of whether Jesus historically existed is part of the study undertaken in the quest for the historical Jesus and the scholarly reconstructions of his life. Virtually all scholars of antiquity accept that Jesus was a historical figure[note 1][note 2] and dismiss denials of his existence as a fringe theory, while many details like his alleged miracles are subject to debate.
Standard historical criteria have aided in evaluating the historicity of the gospel narratives, and only two key events are almost universally accepted, namely that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and crucified by order of the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate.
Besides the gospels, sources for the historicity of Jesus include Roman historians Josephus and Tacitus, who lived shortly after the time of Jesus and referenced him and his followers in their histories.
The quest for the historical Jesus and the scholarly reconstructions of the life of Jesus are based primarily on critical analysis of the gospel texts and applying the standard criteria of historical-critical investigation, and methodologies for analyzing the reliability of primary sources and other historical evidence.
Virtually all scholars of antiquity agree that a historical human Jesus existed. Historian Michael Grant asserts that if conventional standards of historical textual criticism are applied to the New Testament, "we can no more reject Jesus' existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned."
Christ myth theory
The Christ myth theory, which developed within the scholarly research on the historical Jesus, is the view that "the story of Jesus is a piece of mythology", possessing no "substantial claims to historical fact". Alternatively, in terms given by Bart Ehrman paraphrasing Earl Doherty, "the historical Jesus did not exist. Or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity."
Virtually all scholars of antiquity see the theories of his non-existence as effectively refuted, and in modern scholarship, the Christ myth theory is a fringe theory and finds virtually no support from scholars.[note 2]
The New Testament represents sources that have become canonical for Christianity, and there are many apocryphal texts that are examples of the wide variety of writings in the first centuries AD that are related to Jesus. On the quality of extant sources, Hans-Joachim Schoeps summarizes:
The Gospels cannot be equated with ... biographies. ... [Their] primary purpose was not to present a detailed historical picture of the life of Jesus. And the non-Christian materials ... provide us with no essential new knowledge beyond the accounts of the Gospels. ... [Thus] the situation in regard to sources is highly unsatisfactory; legendary and historical accounts are hopelessly intertwined. The historian must recognize that the materials available to us do not enable us to reconstruct Jesus as he really was. [They have] only the Jesus the early disciples saw, the Christ who has survived in the beliefs of the Christian community.
Historiographical approaches associated with the study of the poor in the past, such as microhistory, can help assess what type of sources can be reasonably expected in the historical record for individuals like Jesus. For instance, Justin Meggitt argues that since most people in antiquity left no sign of their existence, especially the poor, it is unreasonable to expect non-Christian sources to corroborate the specific existence of someone with Jesus's socio-economic status. Ehrman argues that the historical record for the time period was so lacking that no contemporary eyewitness testimony even confirms the existence of individuals such as Pontius Pilate or Josephus.
New Testament sources
The synoptic gospels are the primary sources of historical information about Jesus and of the religious movement he founded. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke recount the life, ministry, crucifixion and resurrection of a Jew named Jesus who spoke Aramaic. There are different hypotheses regarding the origin of the texts because the gospels of the New Testament were written in Greek for Greek-speaking communities, and were later translated into Syriac, Latin, and Coptic. Scholars argue that the surviving gospels show usage of earlier independent written and oral sources that extended back to the time of Jesus's death, but did not survive.[note 3] Historians often study the historical reliability of the Acts of the Apostles when studying the reliability of the gospels, as the Book of Acts was seemingly written by the same author as the Gospel of Luke.
The seven Pauline epistles considered by scholarly consensus to be genuine are dated to between AD 50 and 60 (i.e., approximately twenty to thirty years after the generally accepted time period for the death of Jesus) and are the earliest surviving Christian texts that may include information about Jesus. Although Paul the Apostle provides relatively little biographical information about Jesus and states that he never knew Jesus personally, he does make it clear that he considers Jesus to have been a real person[note 4] and a Jew.[note 5] Moreover, he interacted with eyewitnesses of Jesus since he wrote about meeting and knowing James, the brother of Jesus[note 6] and Jesus's apostles Peter and John.
Josephus and Tacitus
Non-Christian sources used to study and establish the historicity of Jesus include the c. first century Jewish historian Josephus and Roman historian Tacitus. These sources are compared to Christian sources, such as the Pauline letters and synoptic gospels, and are usually independent of each other; that is, the Jewish sources do not draw upon the Roman sources. Similarities and differences between these sources are used in the authentication process.
In Books 18 and 20 of Antiquities of the Jews, written around AD 93 to 94, Josephus twice refers to the biblical Jesus. The general scholarly view holds that the longer passage, known as the Testimonium Flavianum, most likely consists of an authentic nucleus that was subjected to later Christian interpolation or forgery. On the other hand, Josephus scholar Louis H. Feldman states that "few have doubted the genuineness" of the reference found in Antiquities 20, 9, 1 to "the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James".
Tacitus, in his Annals (written c. AD 115), book 15, chapter 44, describes Nero's scapegoating of the Christians following the Fire of Rome. He writes that the founder of the sect was named Christus (the Christian title for Jesus); that he was executed under Pontius Pilate; and that the movement, initially checked, broke out again in Judea and even in Rome itself. The scholarly consensus is that Tacitus' reference to the execution of Jesus by Pilate is both authentic and of historical value as an independent Roman source.
The Mishnah (c. 200) may refer to Jesus as it reflects the early Jewish traditions of portraying Jesus as a sorcerer or magician. Other references to Jesus and his execution exist in the Talmud, but they aim to discredit his actions, not deny his existence.
Baptism and crucifixion
According to New Testament scholar James Dunn, nearly all modern scholars consider the baptism of Jesus and his crucifixion to be historically certain. He states that these "two facts in the life of Jesus command almost universal assent" and "rank so high on the 'almost impossible to doubt or deny' scale of historical 'facts' they are obvious starting points for an attempt to clarify the what and why of Jesus' mission." John P. Meier views the crucifixion of Jesus as historical fact and states that based on the criterion of embarrassment Christians would not have invented the painful death of their leader. The criterion of embarrassment is also used to argue in favor of the historicity of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist as it is a story which the early Christian Church would have never wanted to invent. Based on this criterion, given that John baptised for the remission of sins, and Jesus was viewed as without sin, the invention of this story would have served no purpose, and would have been an embarrassment given that it positioned John above Jesus.
Amy-Jill Levine has summarized the situation by stating that "there is a consensus of sorts on the basic outline of Jesus' life" in that most scholars agree that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, and over a period of one to three years debated Jewish authorities on the subject of God, gathered followers, and was crucified by Roman prefect Pontius Pilate who officiated 26–36 AD.
General biographical elements
- Jesus was a Galilean preacher.
- His activities took place in Galilee and Judea.
- He was baptized by John the Baptist.
- He called disciples.
- He had a controversy at the Temple.
- Jesus was crucified by the Romans near Jerusalem.
- After his death his disciples continued.
- Some of his disciples were persecuted.
Scholarly agreement on this extended list is not universal. Elements whose historical authenticity are disputed include the two accounts of the nativity of Jesus; the miracles, such as turning water into wine, feeding the multitude, walking on water, and various cures, exorcisms, and resurrections; his own resurrection; and certain details about his crucifixion.
Quest for the historical Jesus
Since the 18th century, three separate scholarly quests for the historical Jesus have taken place, each with distinct characteristics and based on different research criteria, which were often developed during that phase. Currently modern scholarly research on the historical Jesus focuses on what is historically probable, or plausible about Jesus.
Portraits of the historical Jesus
The portraits of Jesus constructed in the quests have often differed from each other, and from the image portrayed in the gospel accounts. There are overlapping attributes among the portraits, and while pairs of scholars may agree on some attributes, those same scholars may differ on other attributes, and there is no single portrait of the historical Jesus that satisfies most scholars. The mainstream profiles in the third quest may be grouped together based on their primary themes of apocalyptic prophet, charismatic healer, Cynic philosopher, Jewish Messiah, and prophet of social change—but there is little scholarly agreement on a single portrait or the methods needed to construct it, especially in the 21st century. There are, however, overlapping attributes among the portraits, and scholars who differ on some attributes may agree on others.
- Chronology of Jesus
- Historical background of the New Testament
- Historicity of Muhammad
- Historicity of the Bible
- Jesus and history (disambiguation)
- Jesus in comparative mythology
- Jesus in the Talmud
- Jesus Seminar
- Mara bar Serapion on Jesus
- New Testament places associated with Jesus § Archaeology
- Suetonius on Christians
- Multiple sources:
Stanton (2002, p. 145): Today nearly all historians, whether Christians or not, accept that Jesus existed and that the gospels contain plenty of valuable evidence which has to be weighed and assessed critically. There is general agreement that, with the possible exception of Paul, we know far more about Jesus of Nazareth than about any first or second century Jewish or pagan religious teacher.
Wells (2007, p. 446):"Today, most secular scholars accept Jesus as a historical, although unimpressive, figure."
Ehrman (2012b, pp. 4–5) harvtxt error: no target: CITEREFEhrman2012b (help): "Serious historians of the early Christian movement—all of them—have spent many years preparing to be experts in their field. Just to read the ancient sources requires expertise in a range of ancient languages: Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and often Aramaic, Syriac, and Coptic, not to mention the modern languages of scholarship (for example, German and French). And that is just for starters. Expertise requires years of patiently examining ancient texts and a thorough grounding in the history and culture of Greek and Roman antiquity, the religions of the ancient Mediterranean world, both pagan and Jewish, knowledge of the history of the Christian church and the development of its social life and theology, and, well, lots of other things. It is striking that virtually everyone who has spent all the years needed to attain these qualifications is convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was a real historical figure."
- The Christ myth theory is rejected by mainstream scholarship:
- Robert E. Van Voorst, referring to G. A. Wells: "The nonhistoricity thesis has always been controversial, and it has consistently failed to convince scholars of many disciplines and religious creeds ... Biblical scholars and classical historians now regard it as effectively refuted".
- While discussing the "striking" fact that "we don't have any Roman records, of any kind, that attest to the existence of Jesus", Ehrman dismisses claims that this means Jesus never existed, saying, "He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees, based on clear and certain evidence."
- Robert M. Price, a former fundamentalist apologist who is now a Christian atheist, says the existence of Jesus cannot be ruled out, but is less probable than non-existence. He agrees that his perspective runs against the views of the majority of scholars.
- Michael Grant, a classicist, states: "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."
- "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."
- Maurice Casey, an irreligious Emeritus Professor of New Testament Languages and Literature at the University of Nottingham, concludes in his book Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths? that "the whole idea that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist as a historical figure is verifiably false. Moreover, it has not been produced by anyone or anything with any reasonable relationship to critical scholarship. It belongs to the fantasy lives of people who used to be fundamentalist Christians. They did not believe in critical scholarship then, and they do not do so now. I cannot find any evidence that any of them have adequate professional qualifications."
- Bockmuel: "[F]arfetched theories that Jesus' existence was a Christian invention are highly implausible."
- The Gospel of Luke states that "many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us."
- In Galatians 4:4, Paul states that Jesus was "born of a woman."
- In Romans 1:3, Paul states that Jesus was "born under the law."
- That Jesus had a brother named James is corroborated by Josephus.
- Levine, Allison & Crossan 2006, pp. 1–2.
- Bart D. Ehrman (1999). Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. Oxford University Press. pp. ix–xi. ISBN 978-0-19-512473-6.
- Dunn 2003, pp. 125–127.
- Mark Allan Powell (1998). Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee. Westminster John Knox Press. pp. 168. ISBN 978-0-664-25703-3.
- James L. Houlden (2003). Jesus in History, Thought, and Culture: Entries A–J. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-57607-856-3. Archived from the original on 14 April 2021. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
- Robert E. Van Voorst (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 14,16. ISBN 978-0-8028-4368-5. Archived from the original on 19 August 2020. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
- Bart Ehrman (a secular agnostic) wrote: "He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees, based on certain and clear evidence." B. Ehrman, 2011 Forged : writing in the name of God ISBN 978-0-06-207863-6. p. 256-257
- "Introduction". The Historical Jesus : Five Views, edited by James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic. 2009. pp. 38–39. ISBN 9780830838684.
Contrary to previous times, virtually everyone in the field today acknowledges that Jesus was considered by his contemporaries to be an exorcist and a worker of miracles. However, when it comes to historical assessment of the miracles tradition itself, the consensus quickly shatters. Some, following in the footsteps of Bultmann, embrace an explicit methodological naturalism such that the very idea of a miracle is ruled out a priori. Others defend the logical possibility of miracle at the theoretical level, but, in practice, retain a functional methodological naturalism, maintaining that we could never be in possession of the type and/or amount of evidence that would justify a historical judgment in favor of the occurrence of a miracle. Still others, suspicious that an uncompromising methodological naturalism most likely reflects an unwarranted metaphysical naturalism, find such a priori skepticism unwarranted and either remain open to, or even explicitly defend, the historicity of miracles within the Jesus tradition.
- Dunn 2003, p. 339.
- Herzog 2005, pp. 1–6.
- Powell 1998, pp. 168–173.
- Bock, Darrell; Webb, Robert, eds. (2009). Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus : A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. ISBN 978-3161501449.
- Blomberg, Craig (2011). "New Testament Studies in North America". In Köstenberger, Andreas J.; Yarbrough, Robert W. (eds.). Understanding The Times: New Testament Studies in the 21st Century. Crossway. p. 282. ISBN 978-1-4335-0719-9.
The fruit of a decade of work by the IBR Historical Jesus Study Group, Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence [Ed. Darrell L. Bock and Robert L. Webb (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, forthcoming).] takes a dozen core themes or events from Jesus' life and ministry and details the case for their authenticity via all the standard historical criteria, as well as assessing their significance. The results show significant correlation between what historians can demonstrate and what evangelical theology has classically asserted about the life of Christ.
- Crossan 1994, p. 145.
- E. Meyers & J. Strange (1992). Archaeology, the Rabbis, & Early Christianity. Nashville: Abingdon, 1981; Article "Nazareth" in the Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York: Doubleday.[page needed]
- Robert M. Price (a Christian 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 0830838686 p. 61
- Jesus Now and Then by Richard A. Burridge and Graham Gould (1 April 2004) ISBN 0802809774 p. 34
- Michael Grant (1977), Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels
- Bromiley 1982, p. 1034.
- Ehrman 2012b, p. 12, 347, n. 1. sfn error: no target: CITEREFEhrman2012b (help)
- James D. G. Dunn (1974) Paul's understanding of the death of Jesus in Reconciliation and Hope. New Testament Essays on Atonement and Eschatology Presented to L.L. Morris on his 60th Birthday. Robert Banks, ed., Carlisle: The Paternoster Press, pp. 125–141, Citing G. A. Wells (The Jesus of the Early Christians (1971)): "Perhaps we should also mention that at the other end of the spectrum Paul’s apparent lack of knowledge of the historical Jesus has been made the major plank in an attempt to revive the nevertheless thoroughly dead thesis that the Jesus of the Gospels was a mythical figure." An almost identical quotation is included in Dunn, James DG (1998) The Christ and the Spirit: Collected Essays of James D.G. Dunn, Volume 1, Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., p. 191, and Sykes, S. (1991) Sacrifice and redemption: Durham essays in theology. Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press. pp. 35–36.
- Van Voorst (2003), pp. 658, 660. sfnp error: no target: CITEREFVan_Voorst2003 (help)
- Fox 2005, p. 48.
- Burridge & Gould (2004), p. 34.
- Ehrman, Bart (25 April 2012). "Fuller Reply to Richard Carrier". The Bart Ehrman Blog. Archived from the original on 17 February 2019. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
- Robert E. Van Voorst (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Wm. B. Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-8028-4368-5. Archived from the original on 19 August 2020. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
- Bart D. Ehrman (2011). Forged: Writing in the Name of God – Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are. HarperCollins. pp. 256–257. ISBN 978-0-06-207863-6.
- James Douglas Grant Dunn (2010). The Historical Jesus: Five Views. SPCK. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-281-06329-1.
- Grant, Michael (2004). Jesus. Orion. p. 200. ISBN 978-1-898799-88-7.
- Burridge, Richard A.; Gould, Graham (2004). Jesus Now and Then. William B. Eerdmans. pp. 34. ISBN 978-0-8028-0977-3.
- Casey, Maurice (2014). Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths?. New York and London: Bloomsbury Academic. p. 243. ISBN 978-0-56744-762-3.
- Markus Bockmuehl (2001). The Cambridge Companion to Jesus. Cambridge University Press. pp. 123–124. ISBN 978-0-521-79678-1. Archived from the original on 14 April 2021. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
- Theissen, Gerd; Merz, Annette (1996). The Historical Jesus. Minneapolis MN: Fortress Press. pp. 17–62. ISBN 978-0-8006-3122-2.
- Schoeps, Hans-Joachim (1968) . The Religions of Mankind. Translated by Winston, Richard; Winston, Clara. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books. pp. 261–262. ISBN 978-0-385-04080-8.
- Meggitt, Justin J. (October 2019). "'More Ingenious than Learned'? Examining the Quest for the Non-Historical Jesus". New Testament Studies. 65 (4): 458-459. doi:10.1017/S0028688519000213.
For example, given that most human beings in antiquity left no sign of their existence, and the poor as individuals are virtually invisible, all we can hope to do is try to establish, in a general sense, the lives that they lived. Why would we expect any non-Christian evidence for the specific existence of someone of the socio-economic status of a figure such as Jesus at all? To deny his existence based on the absence of such evidence, even if that were the case, has problematic implications; you may as well deny the existence of pretty much everyone in the ancient world.
- Ehrman, Bart D. (2012). Did Jesus Exist? : The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. New York: HarperOne. pp. 49–50. ISBN 9780062206442.
Think again of our earlier point of comparison, Pontius Pilate. Here is a figure who was immensely significant in every way to the life and history of Palestine during the adult life of Jesus (assuming Jesus lived), politically, economically, culturally, socially. As I have indicated, there was arguably no one more important. And how many eyewitness reports of Pilate do we have from his day? None. Not a single one. The same is true of Josephus. And these are figures who were of the highest prominence in their own day.
- "Jesus Christ". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Archived from the original on 3 May 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
The Synoptic Gospels, then, are the primary sources for knowledge of the historical Jesus
- Vermes, Geza. The authentic gospel of Jesus. London, Penguin Books. 2004.
- Mark Allan Powell (editor), The New Testament Today, p. 50 (Westminster John Knox Press, 1999). ISBN 0-664-25824-7
- Stanley E. Porter (editor), Handbook to Exegesis of the New Testament, p. 68 (Leiden, 1997). ISBN 90-04-09921-2
- Ehrman, Bart D. (2012). Did Jesus Exist? : The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. New York: HarperOne. pp. 83–85. ISBN 9780062206442.
All of these written sources I have mentioned are earlier than the surviving Gospels; they all corroborate many of the key things said of Jesus in the Gospels; and most important they are all independent of one another. Let me stress the latter point. We cannot think of the early Christian Gospels as going back to a solitary source that "invented" the idea that there was a man Jesus. The view that Jesus existed is found in multiple independent sources that must have been circulating throughout various regions of the Roman Empire in the decades before the Gospels that survive were produced. Where would the solitary source that "invented" Jesus be? Within a couple of decades of the traditional date of his death, we have numerous accounts of his life found in a broad geographical span. In addition to Mark, we have Q, M (which is possibly made of multiple sources), L (also possibly multiple sources), two or more passion narratives, a signs source, two discourse sources, the kernel (or original) Gospel behind the Gospel of Thomas, and possibly others. And these are just the ones we know about, that we can reasonably infer from the scant literary remains that survive from the early years of the Christian church. No one knows how many there actually were. Luke says there were "many" of them, and he may well have been right. And once again, this is not the end of the story." (page 83) and "The reality appears to be that there were stories being told about Jesus for a very long time not just before our surviving Gospels but even before their sources had been produced. If scholars are right that Q and the core of the Gospel of Thomas, to pick just two examples, do date from the 50s, and that they were based on oral traditions that had already been in circulation for a long time, how far back do these traditions go? Anyone who thinks that Jesus existed has no problem answering the question: they ultimately go back to things Jesus said and did while he was engaged in his public ministry, say, around the year 29 or 30. But even anyone who just wonders if Jesus existed has to assume that there were stories being told about him in the 30s and 40s. For one thing, as we will see in the next chapter, how else would someone like Paul have known to persecute the Christians, if Christians didn't exist? And how could they exist if they didn't know anything about Jesus?" (page 85)
- Green, Joel B. (2013). Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (2nd ed.). IVP Academic. p. 541. ISBN 978-0830824564.
- Edward Adams in The Cambridge Companion to Jesus by Markus N. A. Bockmuehl (2001) ISBN 0521796784 pp. 94–96.
- Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic. p. 202. ISBN 978-0-8010-3114-4. Archived from the original on 5 August 2021. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
- Tuckett, Christopher M. (2001). Markus N. A. Bockmuehl (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Jesus. pp. 122–126. ISBN 978-0521796781.
- Jesus Remembered: Christianity in the Making by James D. G. Dunn (2003) ISBN 0802839312 p. 143
- Jesus Christ in History and Scripture by Edgar V. McKnight (1999) ISBN 0865546770 p. 38
- Jesus according to Paul by Victor Paul Furnish (1994) ISBN 0521458242 pp. 19–20
- Galatians 1:19
- Murphy, Caherine M. (2007). The Historical Jesus For Dummies. For Dummies. p. 140. ISBN 978-0470167854.
- Ehrman, Bart D. (2012). Did Jesus Exist? : The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. New York: HarperOne. pp. 145–146. ISBN 9780062206442.
In about the year 36, Paul went to Jerusalem to confer with Peter (Galatians 1:18–20). Paul spent fifteen days there. He may not have gone only or even principally to get a rundown on what Jesus said and did during his public ministry. It is plausible, in fact, that Paul wanted to strategize with Peter, as the leader (or one of the leaders) among the Jerusalem Christians, about Paul's own missionary activities, not among the Jews (Peter's concern) but among the Gentiles (Paul's). This was the reason stated for Paul's second visit to see Peter and the others fourteen years later, according to Galatians 2:1–10. But it defies belief that Paul would have spent over two weeks with Jesus's closest companion and not learned something about him—for example, that he lived. Even more telling is the much-noted fact that Paul claims that he met with, and therefore personally knew, Jesus's own brother James. It is true that Paul calls him the "brother of the Lord," not "the brother of Jesus." But that means very little since Paul typically calls Jesus the Lord and rarely uses the name Jesus (without adding "Christ" or other titles). And so in the letter to the Galatians Paul states as clearly as possible that he knew Jesus's brother. Can we get any closer to an eyewitness report than this? The fact that Paul knew Jesus's closest disciple and his own brother throws a real monkey wrench into the mythicist view that Jesus never lived.
- Galatians 2:9
- The Cambridge Companion to Jesus by Markus N. A. Bockmuehl (2001) ISBN 0521796784 pp. 121–125
- Bruce David Chilton; Craig Alan Evans (1998). Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of Current Research. BRILL. pp. 460–470. ISBN 978-90-04-11142-4. Archived from the original on 4 October 2020. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
- Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey by Craig L. Blomberg (2009) ISBN 0-8054-4482-3 pp. 431–436
- Van Voorst (2000) pp. 39–53
- Schreckenberg, Heinz; Kurt Schubert (1992). Jewish Traditions in Early Christian Literature. ISBN 978-90-232-2653-6.
- Kostenberger, Andreas J.; L. Scott Kellum; Charles L. Quarles (2009). The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament. ISBN 978-0-8054-4365-3.
- The new complete works of Josephus by Flavius Josephus, William Whiston, Paul L. Maier ISBN 0-8254-2924-2 pp. 662–663
- Josephus XX by Louis H. Feldman (1965), ISBN 0674995023 p. 496
- Van Voorst, Robert E. (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence ISBN 0-8028-4368-9. p. 83
- Flavius Josephus; Maier, Paul L. (December 1995). Josephus, the Essential Works: A Condensation of Jewish Antiquities and The Jewish war ISBN 978-0-8254-3260-6 pp. 284–285
- P.E. Easterling, E. J. Kenney (general editors), The Cambridge History of Latin Literature, p. 892 (Cambridge University Press, 1982, reprinted 1996) ISBN 0-521-21043-7
- Eddy 2007, pp. 179–180. sfn error: no target: CITEREFEddy2007 (help)
- Evans 2001, p. 42. sfn error: no target: CITEREFEvans2001 (help)
- Mercer dictionary of the Bible by Watson E. Mills, Roger Aubrey Bullard (2001) ISBN 0-86554-373-9 page 343
- Pontius Pilate in History and Interpretation by Helen K. Bond (2004) ISBN 0-521-61620-4 page xi
- Jesus and the Politics of his Day by E. Bammel and C. F. D. Moule (1985) ISBN 0521313449 p. 393
- In Jesus: The Complete Guide edited by J. L. Houlden (8 Feb 2006) ISBN 082648011X pp. 693–694
- Jesus in the Talmud by Peter Schäfer (24 Aug 2009) ISBN 0691143188 pp. 9, 141
- Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey by Craig L. Blomberg (1 Aug 2009) ISBN 0805444823 p. 280
- Kostenberger, Andreas J.; Kellum, L. Scott; Quarles, Charles L. (2009). The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament ISBN 0-8054-4365-7. pp. 107–109
- Dunn 2003, p. 339 James Dunn states of "baptism and crucifixion", these "two facts in the life of Jesus command almost universal assent"..
- Crossan 1994, p. 45 "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.".
- John P. Meier "How do we decide what comes from Jesus" in The Historical Jesus in Recent Research by James D. G. Dunn and Scot McKnight 2006 ISBN 1-57506-100-7 pp. 126–128
- Jesus as a figure in history: how modern historians view the man from Galilee by Mark Allan Powell 1998 ISBN 0-664-25703-8 p. 47
- Who Is Jesus? by John Dominic Crossan, Richard G. Watts 1999 ISBN 0664258425 pp. 31–32
- Jesus of Nazareth: An Independent Historian's Account of His Life and Teaching by Maurice Casey 2010 ISBN 0-567-64517-7 p. 35
- The historical Jesus: a comprehensive guide by Gerd Theissen, Annette Merz 1998 ISBN 0-8006-3122-6 p. 207
- Amy-Jill Levine; Dale C. Allison Jr.; John Dominic Crossan (2006). The Historical Jesus in Context. Princeton University Press. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-691-00992-6.
- Eisenmann, Robert, (2001), "James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls"
- Butz, Jeffrey (2005), "The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Traditions of Christianity" (Inner Traditions)
- Tabor, James (2012), "Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity" (Simon & Schuster)
- Authenticating the Activities of Jesus by Bruce Chilton and Craig A. Evans 2002 ISBN 0391041649 pp. 3–7
- Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee by Mark Allan Powell (1 Nov 1998) ISBN 0664257038 p. 117
- Who is Jesus? Answers to your questions about the historical Jesus, by John Dominic Crossan, Richard G. Watts (Westminster John Knox Press 1999), p. 108
- James G. D. Dunn, Jesus Remembered, (Eerdmans, 2003) pp. 779–781.
- Rev. John Edmunds, 1855 The Seven Sayings of Christ on the Cross. Thomas Hatchford Publishers, London, p. 26
- Stagg, Evelyn and Frank. Woman in the World of Jesus. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1978 ISBN 0-664-24195-6
- Funk, Robert W. and the Jesus Seminar. The acts of Jesus: the search for the authentic deeds of Jesus. HarperSanFrancisco. 1998. "Empty Tomb, Appearances & Ascension" pp. 449–495.
- Bruce M. Metzger's Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament: Luke 24:51 is missing in some important early witnesses, Acts 1 varies between the Alexandrian and Western versions.
- Ben Witherington, The Jesus Quest: The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth (8 May 1997) ISBN 0830815449 pp. 9–13
- Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee by Mark Allan Powell (1 Jan 1999) ISBN 0664257038 pp. 19–23
- John, Jesus, and History Volume 1 by Paul N. Anderson, Felix Just and Tom Thatcher (14 Nov 2007) ISBN 1589832930 p. 131
- John P. Meier "Criteria: How do we decide what comes from Jesus?" in The Historical Jesus in Recent Research by James D. G. Dunn and Scot McKnight (15 Jul 2006) ISBN 1575061007 p. 124 "Since in the quest for the historical Jesus almost anything is possible, the function of the criteria is to pass from the merely possible to the really probable, to inspect various probabilities, and to decide which candidate is most probable. Ordinarily the criteria can not hope to do more."
- The Quest for the Plausible Jesus: The Question of Criteria by Gerd Theissen and Dagmar Winter (30 August 2002) ISBN 0664225373 p. 5
- Jesus Research: An International Perspective (Princeton-Prague Symposia Series on the Historical Jesus) by James H. Charlesworth and Petr Pokorny (15 September 2009) ISBN 0802863531 pp. 1–2
- The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament by Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum 2009 ISBN 978-0-8054-4365-3 pp. 124–125
- Familiar Stranger: An Introduction to Jesus of Nazareth by Michael James McClymond (22 March 2004) ISBN 0802826806 pp. 16–22
- Amy-Jill Levine in The Historical Jesus in Context edited by Amy-Jill Levine et al. 2006 Princeton University Press ISBN 978-0-691-00992-6 p. 1: "no single picture of Jesus has convinced all, or even most scholars"
- The Cambridge History of Christianity, Volume 1 by Margaret M. Mitchell and Frances M. Young (20 February 2006) ISBN 0521812399 p. 23
- Images of Christ (Academic Paperback) by Stanley E. Porter, Michael A. Hayes and David Tombs (19 December 2004) ISBN 0567044602 T&T Clark p. 74
- The Jesus Quest: The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth by Ben Witherington (8 May 1997) ISBN 0830815449 p. 197
- Blomberg, Craig L. (2007), The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, InterVarsity Press, ISBN 9780830828074
- Brown, Raymond E. (1997). An Introduction to the New Testament. Doubleday.
- Daniel Boyarin (2004). Border Lines. The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity. University of Pennsylvania Press.
- Bromiley, Geoffrey W., ed. (1982). "Jesus Christ". International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE): fully revised, illustrated, in four volumes. Vol. 2, E–J. Associate editors: Everett F. Harrison, Roland K. Harrison, William Sanford LaSor. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 1034–1049. ISBN 978-0-8028-3785-1. OCLC 500471471. Archived from the original on 30 July 2020. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
- Carrier, Richard (2012). Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1-61614-560-6. Archived from the original on 14 April 2021. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
- Crossan, John Dominic (1994), Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, HarperCollins, ISBN 978-0-06-061662-5
- Doherty, Earl (1999). The Jesus Puzzle. Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? : Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus. ISBN 0968601405
- Drews, Arthur & Burns, C. Deslisle (1998). The Christ Myth (Westminster College–Oxford Classics in the Study of Religion). ISBN 1573921904
- Dunn, James D. G. (2003), Jesus Remembered, Wim B. Eerdmans Publishing, ISBN 978-0-8028-3931-2
- Dunning, Brian (12 March 2019). "Skeptoid #666: The Historicity of Jesus Christ". Skeptoid. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
- Ehrman, Bart D (2012). Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. HarperOne. ISBN 9780062206442. Archived from the original on 3 August 2020. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
- Fox, Robin Lane (2005), The Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian, Basic Books, p. 48, ISBN 978-0465024971
- France, R.T. (2001). The Evidence for Jesus. Hodder & Stoughton.
- George, Augustin & Grelot, Pierre (Eds.) (1992). Introducción Crítica al Nuevo Testamento. Herder. ISBN 8425412773
- Gowler, David B. (2007). What Are They Saying About the Historical Jesus?. Paulist Press.
- Grant, Michael, Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels, Scribner, 1995. ISBN 0684818671
- Koester, Helmut (1992). Ancient Christian Gospels. Harrisburg, PA: Continuum. ISBN 978-0334024507.
- Herzog, William A (2005), Prophet and Teacher: An Introduction to the Historical Jesus, ISBN 978-0664225285
- Levine, Amy-Jill; Allison, Dale C. Jr.; Crossan, John Dominic (2006). The Historical Jesus in Context. Princeton University Press. pp. 1–2. ISBN 978-0-691-00992-6.
- Meier, John P., A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Anchor Bible Reference Library, Doubleday
- (1991), v. 1, The Roots of the Problem and the Person, ISBN 0385264259
- (1994), v. 2, Mentor, Message, and Miracles, ISBN 0385469926
- (2001), v. 3, Companions and Competitors, ISBN 0385469934
- (2009), v. 4, Law and Love, ISBN 978-0300140965
- Mendenhall, George E. (2001). Ancient Israel's Faith and History: An Introduction to the Bible in Context. ISBN 0664223133
- Messori, Vittorio (1977). Jesus hypotheses. St Paul Publications. ISBN 0854391541
- New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha, New Revised Standard Version. (1991) New York, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195283562
- Powell, Mark Allan (1998), Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee, Westminster John Knox Press, ISBN 978-0-664-25703-3
- Price, Robert M. (2000). Deconstructing Jesus. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1573927581.
- Price, Robert M. (2003). The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable is the Gospel Tradition?. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1591021216.
- Stanton, Graham (2002). The Gospels and Jesus (Oxford Bible Series) (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 145. ISBN 978-0199246168.
- Wells, George A. (1988). The Historical Evidence for Jesus. Prometheus Books. ISBN 087975429X
- Wells, George A. (1998). The Jesus Myth. ISBN 0812693922
- Wells, George A. (2004). Can We Trust the New Testament?: Thoughts on the Reliability of Early Christian Testimony. ISBN 0812695674
- Wells, George (2007). Flynn, Tom (ed.). The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. ISBN 9781591023913.
- Wilson, Ian (2000). Jesus: The Evidence (1st ed.). Regnery Publishing.
- Media related to Jesus and history at Wikimedia Commons