Billions of people from all corners of the globe will testify that Jesus of Nazareth was one of the most prominent, influential figures in the history of the world. However, others are doubtful that the Son of God even existed at all. In 2015, the Church of England conducted a survey and found that less than a quarter of those polled believed Jesus was a real person.
So, it is possible that nearly one-third of the world’s population is wrong? What does archeological or written evidence have to say on the matter?
Jesus Not Supported by Archeology
As of right now, there is no concrete evidence to show that Jesus was a real-life person. However, judging by how Jesus’ life was portrayed in the Bible, this isn’t all that surprising. After all, he was a peasant, and peasants didn’t really leave any trails like kings, emperors, or pharaohs.
Researcher at the University of North Carolina and author of Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, Bart Ehrman, argues that a lack of physical evidence of both the character Jesus and anyone from his time does not mean he didn’t exist. In fact, his archeological trail—if it even existed—may have been lost in time as it does with over 99% of the dead and buried.
Even though many archeologists are in dispute about whether the ancient relics associated with the alleged Son of God are real, they have unearthed crosses, tombs, underground water reservoirs, all of which match the descriptions in the Bible.
Written Accounts Outside of the New Testament
The most prominent of written records about Jesus and his life on this planet comes from the four Gospels, as well as additional writings about the New Testament. Obviously, these are biased, and their credibility should all be questioned. But what about written reports outside of religious scripture?
Surprisingly, these exist, though they are few in number. The first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus wrote about the historical figure nearly a century after his alleged crucifixion. Flavius was a popular aristocrat who also served time in the military during the Jewish Revolt around 70 AD. However, at best, his records are second-hand, meaning that whatever he wrote came from what people said about Jesus.
His writings describe a man who was allegedly the brother of the Messiah, but historians doubt as to whether these stories are authentic. However, Flavius does explain in greater detail a story of a Jewish peasant who performs good deeds and was killed on the cross by Pilate.
Roman Accounts of Jesus
Roman historian Tacitus wrote that followers of Jesus would sing hymns and praise him as their lord. In addition, stories of Emperor Claudius expelling Jews from Rome might have been referring to followers of Christ.
While these snippets do not confirm or deny the divinity the Jesus, they do at least acknowledge that he was an influential figure. The credibility of the scribe also indicates that these retellings are not a fabrication of the mind.