What is the evidence that Jesus was a real person and that his story was not fabricated?
Jesus is the pillar of Christian faith, I want to know, what are some evidences that show that he existed and not just fabricated?
It has been argued that hardly anyone in the ancient world is more well attested to than Jesus of Nazareth. Within one hundred years of his life, at least nine non-Christian mention Jesus as a real person, as well as more than a dozen Christian writers. The number of ancient writers who mention Tiberius, the emperor when Jesus was born, is approximately equal to the number that mention Jesus. Does anyone doubt the reality of the emperor Tiberius? The non-believers who mention Jesus as a real person who started a religious movement include the Roman historian Tacitus, the Jewish historian Josephus, as well as Roman writers Suetonius, Pliny the Younger and more. He is also mentioned in the Jewish Talmud. No serious person will make claim that Jesus was not a real person. Even those who deny that he was God or that he was the Messiah do not make the outrageous claim that he was not a real person who preached to the Jews about the Kingdom of God. I am copying and pasting quotes from nine pagan writers who mention Jesus below.
Also, more than a dozen Christian writers from the first 100 years of Jesus’ life also mention many details about this man. For some reason, skeptical scholars want to completely discount all Christian writers about the man who started their movement, as if they are all liars or crazy people. On what basis to they do to Christian writers what they do not do to any others, which is assume they are all lying. Writers who mentioned Jesus within 100 years o his life include Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Polycarp, Clement of Rome, Ignatius, and many others. These are mentioned in my book, “The Christian Story: Finding the Church in Church History” which is available at www.ipibooks.com
Serious scholars (including hard-core skeptics of Jesus’ claims) are nearly unanimous that one cannot explain the explosive growth of the nascent Jesus movement unless one accepts that this group did in fact believe in Jesus and that he was resurrected from the dead. Whether he actually was raised, of course, is a different question, but what almost no-one doubts is that he was a real person and that his followers believed he worked miracles and was raised from the dead.
It is a legitimate and reasonable to discuss whether all of the deeds and sayings attributed to Jesus are genuine. Christians and non-believers can have a useful discussion about this question. What is not in doubt is that Jesus of Nazareth was a real person, that he was a preacher of righteousness who talked about the Kingdom of God, that he was killed in Jerusalem and that his followers believed he was raised from the dead. All of these are as close to facts as we have from the ancient past.
I hope this helps.
Extra-Biblical references to Jesus:
1. Tacitus, Roman historian (AD 56-118)(about AD 115 concerning Nero in AD 64);
Not all the relief that could come from the man, not all the bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero from the infamy of bbeing believed to have ordered the conflagration, the fire of Rome. Therefore, to squelch the rumor, Nero created scapegoats and subjected to the most refined tortures those whom the common people called ‘Christians,’ [a group] hated for their abominable crimes. Their name comes from Christ, who, during the reign of Tiberius, had been executed by the procurator Pontius Pilate. Suppressed for the moment, the deadly superstition broke out again, not only in Judea, the land which originated this evil, but also in the city of Rome, where all sorts of horrendous and shameful practices, from every part of the world converge and are fervently cultivated.
2. Flavius Josephus (AD 38-100) Writing about AD 94 under Domitian. Concerning events he had indirect knowledge of. Josephus was a Pharisee. Jewish historian who was a turncoat, switching from the Jewish rebel side to Rome to serve under Nero and Vespasian. Josephus is a relatively reliable historian.
The “Testimonium Flavium” (Antiquities 18:3.3)
About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing amongst us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvelous things about him. And the tribe of Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.
Agapius, an Arab Christian in 9th century probably quotes the original, leaving out the parts in parenthesis. Note the passage reads grammatically well without the parts in parenthesis.
Note: Josephus also reports the martyrdom of “James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ” (Antiquities 20:20)
3. Babylonian Talmud (late first or second century AD) Babylonian Sanhedrin43a-b
On the eve of the Passover they hanged Yeshu and the herald went before him for forty days saying [Yeshu] is going forth to be stoned in that he hate practiced sorcery and beguiled and led astray Israel
It is taught: On the eve of Passover they hung Yeshu and the crier went forth for forty days beforehand declaring that “[Yeshu] is going to be stoned for practicing witchcraft, for enticing and leading Israel astray. Anyone who knows something to clear him should come forth and exonerate him.” But no one had anything exonerating for him and they hung him on the eve of Passover. Ulla said: Would one think that we should look for exonerating evidence for him? He was an enticer and G-d said (Deuteronomy 13:9) “Show him no pity or compassion, and do not shield him.” Yeshu was different because he was close to the government
4. Seutonius about AD 120 Very reliable historian wrote concerning the times of Claudius about AD 50
“As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he Claudius) expelled them from Rome”
5. Lucian of Samosata Social commentator and critic of Christianity
6. Pliny the Younger AD 112 Writing to Emperor Trajan.
Those who denied that they were or had been Christians, when they invoked the gods in words dictated by me, offered prayer with incense and wine to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for this purpose together with statues of the gods, and moreover cursed Christ — none of which those who are really Christians, it is said, can be forced to do — these I thought should be discharged. Others named by the informer declared that they were Christians, but then denied it, asserting that they had been but had ceased to be, some three years before, others many years, some as much as twenty-five years. They all worshiped your image and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ
8. Mara bar Sarapion
9. Thallus We know of Thallus only from a third century Christian historian named Julius Africanus who wrote a three-volume treatise of world history in the 50s AD. In discussion the darkness at the time of the resurrection of Jesus, Julius Africanus mentions that in the 3rd book of Thallus’ history, he mentions the darkness and calls it an eclipse of the sun. Africanus believes that Thallus is wrong. Whether or not this source proves the darkness at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion is dubious, but it does seem to support the idea that even non-Christians were aware of the resurrection as early as the 50s AD—at about the time the first book of the NT was written. It also supports the claim, not necessarily of the darkness having occurred, but of the darkness having been claimed and believed by the Christians. Because we do not have Thallus’ history and because we have a Christian interpreting rather than quoting it, this is rather dubious support to Christian claims.
The number of Pagan sources for Jesus Christ among contemporaries or within 100 years: 9
The number of Pagan sources for Tiberius among contemporaries or within 100 years: 9 (or 10 if you count Luke)