While you’ve written a very good book it seems to be based on the premise
that Jesus actually existed. What non biblical evidences can you provide
that speak to his existence? (the questioner is referring to my book,
Reasons for Belief: A Handbook of Christian Evidences, available at
Actually, the book you mention provides a number of pieces of evidence of
the fact that Jesus lived, although they are interspersed among several of
the chapters Let me mention just a few.
1. Josephus, a Jewish historian who lived from about AD 35-105 mentions
Jesus a couple of times, specifically recounting that Jesus was killed in
Jerusalem under Pontius Pilate, that he was a worker of wonders and that
his followers claimed that he was resurrected from the dead. Josephus
definitely was not a follower of Jesus. You can find these references in
his book The Jewish Wars. Josephus also mentions the execution of the
apostle James at the hands of Herod Antipas, as recorded in Acts 12.
2. The most famous historian from the golden age of Rome, Tacitus,
mentions the Christians in Rome in his history of the empire during the
time of Nero. Tacitus also records the fact that they were followers of
“Chrestus,” which is obviously an incorrect spelling if Christus, Greek
3. The Roman historian of the early 2nd century, Pliny, also mentions the
Christians and the fact that they participated in a ceremony remembering
their founder, Christ.
4. In the Talmud, the Jewish writings of the first through third centuries
AD, Jesus is mentioned a few times, although references to him are of
course derisive, rather than complimentary. In the Talmud, Jesus is
pictured as a miracle-worker who served the Devil, which is reminiscent of
the charges leveled against Jesus in the New Testament.
Apparently, the enemies of Christianity in the first two centuries did not
debate the reality of Jesus Christ at all. There is no evidence of anyone
questioning the existence of Jesus until the eighteenth century skeptics.
Historians have generally agreed that Jesus lived and died in Palestine,
that he was a worker of wonders, that he was killed under Pontius Pilate
in Jerusalem, and that his followers claimed that he had been raised from
the dead from the very inception of the movement.
5. Just this past year, a exciting and brand new piece of evidence has
emerged. A sarcophagus (a stone container for bones) which was found in
Jerusalem came to light. This stone box was was labeled “James, the
brother of Christ, the son of Joseph.” Careful analysis of the script
which was carved into the stone has shown that it was made in around AD
60. Here we have recorded in stone proof of the existence of Jesus, his
brother James and his step father Joseph.
Other pieces of evidence could be mentioned, but it would be fair to say
that there is no doubt at all that Jesus Christ was a real person who
lived from about 5 BC to AD 30, that he lived an extremely unusual life
and that he was the founder of a movement which led to what we call
John Oakes, PhD