Do Christians Have to Rely on the Bible Alone to Prove Jesus’ Existence?

Another argument used by people who claim that Christ is only a myth is that secular historians make no mention of Jesus Christ. Their point is that if Jesus had really existed, he would have been written about by virtually all contemporary historians.

On the surface, that seems like a logical point to make. However, there are really very few 1st and 2nd century secular writings about any historical person. According to E. M. Blaiklock, who has catalogued most of the non-Christian writings of the Roman Empire, “practically nothing exists from the time of Christ,” even for great secular leaders such as Julius Caesar.¹

The gospels tell us that Jesus reached out to ordinary people, not those in power. He had no involvement in Roman politics or military affairs. Considering the overall lack of historical documents from the 1st century, as well as the fact that Jesus wasn’t a great political or military leader, Darrell Bock notes,

It is amazing and significant that Jesus shows up at all in the sources we have.²

So how do the number of secular writings about Jesus compare with that of other known 1st century historical characters? Contrary to what is claimed by Ellen Johnson and other Christ-mythers, nine early non-Christian secular writers mention Jesus as a real person within 150 years of his death.³

Jesus Christ is actually mentioned by more contemporary secular writers than the Roman emperor, Tiberius.4

If we were to consider all early sources, Christian and non-Christian, there are forty-two who mention Jesus, compared to just ten for Tiberius.5 (See Was Jesus a Real Person? for more evidence on Jesus’ existence.)

Interestingly, most secular sources who mentioned Jesus in their writings were opponents of Christianity. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica,

These independent accounts prove that in ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus.6

 

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¹ Quoted in Josh McDowell and Bill Wilson, Evidence for the Historical Jesus (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1993), 23.

² Darrell L. Bock, Studying the Historical Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2002), 46.

³ Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2004), 127.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 Quoted in Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, vol. 1 (Nashville: Nelson, 1979), 87.