Historicity of Jesus vs. Other Historical Persons
by James Bishop
Note that I leave extra-Biblical (non-Biblical accounts) of Jesus’ life out of this analysis, if you wish to know these extra-Biblical accounts, please consult another article I have written, “36 Reasons Why Historians Know Jesus Existed”.
Now, when we compare Jesus to other ancient figures of history, as we will do below, please keep in mind these four points:
1. There are amazingly few manuscripts of any text written during Jesus’ time on historical characters.
2. Historians of this period wrote very little about religious figures.
3. Jesus was active for a very short period of time (just three years).
4. Jesus ministered in a very remote corner of the Roman Empire.
The events recorded in the New Testament were written soon after the events took place. In fact, outside of the book of Revelation and the three letters of John considered to have been written later, when we look at the rest of the New Testament books there are no reasons for dating them later than 80 AD, or 50 years after the death of Jesus Christ. Most of the New Testament was likely written before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and perhaps before the fire of Rome (64 AD), and the subsequent persecution of Christians. We know this since none of these events, which would have had an enormous impact on the Christian community, are mentioned in any of the New Testament writings.
For instance, the martyrdoms of James in 62 AD, Paul in 64 AD, and Peter in 65 AD. They were all were leaders in the early church, and for this reason their deaths were momentous events for the early Christian community. Yet we find none of the deaths referred to in any of the 27 canonized books of the New Testament, as well as neither in Acts which is our most comprehensive historical record we have of the early church. The only explanation can be that they were all written prior to these events, and thus likely before 62 AD – this would make the written record as close as 30 years after the death of Jesus.
Anyway, lets consider the following comparisons…
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