If you have only thirty minutes to build a case that Jesus of Nazareth really existed, how do you do it? That was the problem I was confronted with this past Friday at the Mythicist Milwaukee conference, in my debate with Robert Price. Rather than mount a lot of arguments and say very little about each one of them (what we used to call “the shotgun approach” when I was in high school), I thought it would be better just to make a few points and pack them up with evidence and reasoning.
The first and most obvious point, to me, is this. Jesus is one of the two best attested Jews living in Palestine in the entire first century. There were hundreds of thousands of Jews in some way connected with Palestine at the time Only one is better attested than Jesus (with a proviso, which I’ll explain). That one is the Jewish historian Josephus. The reason he is better known than Jesus is because he has left us a large number of writings – a twenty-volume history of the Jewish people, for example, a six-volume discussion of the Jewish War against Rome, and an auto-biography. Now *that’s* a lot of documentation for a person! Jesus, so far as we know, didn’t write a thing, and so we have nothing like that from him. Or for any other Jew at the time and place.
But if you look simply at external documentation – that is, references to and discussions about a person by other sources – Jesus in fact is much better documented than Josephus. By an enormous margin.
We have …
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