Is there any evidence outside of the Bible that Jesus was real?
A number of non-Christian historical sources mention Jesus of Nazareth, from as early as the late first century AD. This includes Jewish historian Josephus, the Jewish OT commentary known as the Talmud, and Roman historians, especially Tacitus and Seutonius. These writers mention his name, how he died and the fact that many claimed he worked miracles and was raised from the dead. Then there were the dozens of early church writers such as Clement of Rome and Ignatius who personally knew people who knew Jesus and who told them first hand stories about Jesus of Nazareth. Ignatius actually knew the apostle John. It is literally impossible to claim that Jesus was not a real person unless one is simply ignorant of the facts or one chooses blatantly to ignore the hard evidence of history. Some have said that we know as much or more about Jesus of Nazareth as we do any other ancient figure. I think this is a bit of an overstatement, but that people say this illustrates the point. Whether or not every event recorded in the gospels actually happened is something a reasonable person can debate, but to claim that he never lived is simply not supportable.
For specifics, references and direct quotes from Tacitus, Seutonius, Josephus and others see my book Reasons for Belief (www.ipibooks.com), especially chapters 1-3. Also, doing a word search at my web site will give you several references to the things these writers said about Jesus.
John Oakes, PhD