In yesterday’s post I began to show how Jesus is the best attested Palestinian Jew of the first century, if we look only at external evidence (Josephus is better attested because we have his own writings) (and in response to several questions/comments, I’m not including Paul because I’m talking only about Jews from Palestine; he was from the Diaspora). We have four narrative accounts of Jesus’ life and death, written by different people at different times and in different places, based on numerous sources that no longer survive. Jesus was not invented by Mark. He was also known to Matthew, Luke, and John, and to the sources which they used (Q, M, L, and the various sources of John). All of this within the first century.
This is not to mention sources from outside the New Testament that know that Jesus was a historical figure – for example 1 Clement and the documents that make up the Didache. Or — need I say it? – every other author of the New Testament (there are sixteen NT authors altogether, so twelve who did not write Gospels), none of whom knew any of the Gospels (except for the author of 1, 2, and 3 John who may have known the fourth Gospel). By my count that’s something like twenty-five authors, not counting the authors of the sources (another six or seven) on which the Gospels were based (and the sources on which the book of Acts was based, which were different again).
If there had been one source of Christian antiquity that mentioned a historical Jesus (e.g., Mark) and everyone else was based on what that source had to say, then possibly you could argue that this person made Jesus up and everyone else simply took the ball and ran with it. But …
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