Is there Evidence for Jesus outside the Bible?

by Steve Ray on October 21, 2010

Some people think Jesus is a mythical figure like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Others think Jesus might be historical but only mentioned in the Bible is the only source of information on the existence of Jesus. They question whether Jesus really existed as a real historical figure. Is the Bible the only source that confirms the historical existence of Jesus?

Jesusat33AJesus was a historical person. He really lived in space and time. The Bible is a very reputable source of information about the historical Jesus who walked the paths of Israel. But even though the Bible is certainly adequate to affirm the existence of Jesus, there ARE other sources that confirm his historical existence.

Below are a list of books and websites that address this issue head-on. There is evidence of Jesus’ existence outside the Bible and these are books I have in my library that provide the evidence. No one has to doubt his historical existence, that is for sure. If you know of any other sources, please let me know in the Comments below.

Books about the Historical Evidence for Jesus

The Evidence for Jesus by R. T. France
The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ by Gary Habermas
Ancient Evidence for the Life of Jesus: Historical Records of His Death and Resurrection by Gary Habermas
Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence by Robert Van Voorst
The Evidence for Jesus by James Dunn

Internet Sources

Wikipedia has a pretty helpful source under the title Historicity of Jesus. It deals with early Christian sources outside the Bible but I would especially point out the subsection on Greco-Roman sources which provides a number of good quotations.

New Testament Documents: Are they Reliable? by F. F. Bruce. The complete book is on-line.

The above are mostly Protestant books though they are very good. If anyone knows other books or a good Catholic source, let me know. Good websites would be especially welcome.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Charlotte November 8, 2008 at 11:24 PM

Hi!

I’m sure that all of the books listed here will mention as one of their main sources of information the works of the Roman historian, Josephus. I have his complete works somewhere down in my basement, sorry I can’t remember the title. But anyway, Josephus was I think an Israel-born Roman citizen? (My memory is getting rusty since my religion degree, I might be off a little.) Anyway, whatever his geneaological background, he was a detailed observer/historian who wrote down everything that was going on in Israel, mostly in Jerusalem, during the time of Roman occupation. Much of what we know as the background for both books of Maccabees and roughly the period of 1-100 A.D. is either confirmed or expounded upon in great detail by Josephus. He mentions Jesus a handful of times as a zealot or revolutionary, and does confirm his crucifixtion. I think (?) he might also have offered a few comments about what people were saying about Jesus at the time? (Boy, it’s been awhile since I’ve had to remember anything about Josephus.)

Josephus is controversial for some. For a long time, some questioned how unbiased/accurate his historical documentation was. But over time, popular opinion has started to swing back in his direction, as archaeology and other historical theories have come to light. Regardless of his personal perspective or sympathies, over and over, Josephus’ basic facts about the period of Roman occupation in Israel at the time of Christ have been confirmed as true. In fact, most scholars and historians agree 100% that without Josephus, we would not have anywhere’s near the understanding of this period (and thus, Christ’s role in that world).

Give Josephus a try! Sometimes what he wrote is a lot of names and scenarios, you feel like you’re playing a game of Risk or watching a 10-part war series. But other times, his personal commentary is interesting, if not outright witty.

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