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The historicity of Jesus concerns the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth. While scholars often draw a distinction between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith, and while scholars further debate what can specifically be known concerning Jesus' character and ministry, essentially all scholars in the relevant fields agree that the mere historical existence of Jesus can be established using documentary and other evidence.
The lines of evidence used to establish Jesus' historical existence include the New Testament documents, theoretical source documents that may lie behind the New Testament, statements from the early Church Fathers, brief references in histories produced decades or centuries later by pagan and Jewish sources, gnostic documents, and early Christian creeds.
Paul of Tarsus, a first century Hellenistic Jew, dictated letters to various churches and individuals from c. 48-68. Fourteen letters are traditionally attributed to Paul, thirteen of which claim to be written by the man (the Epistle to the Hebrews is anonymous). Current scholarship generally believes that at least seven of these letters are authentic Pauline compositions, with views varying concerning the remaining works.
While not personally an eye-witness of Jesus' ministry, Paul states that he was acquainted with people who had known Jesus: the apostle Peter (also known as Cephas), the apostle John, and James, the brother of Jesus. Additionally, in his letters, Paul often refers to both teachings of Jesus and events in Jesus' life. For example, Paul talks about Jesus' teaching regarding divorce, the second coming, and the remuneration of religious leaders. Likewise, Paul alludes to Jesus' humanity, the Last Supper, his crucifixion, and reports of his resurrection.
The four Gospels found in the New Testament—the Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of Luke, and the Gospel of John—are fuller, detailed biographies of Jesus. These accounts focus specifically on his ministry, and conclude with his death and resurrection.
The canonical Gospels are anonymous and were originally untitled, but since at least the second century these documents have been associated with certain personalities, the associations providing the traditional titles: Matthew was to have been written by Matthew, one of the Twelve apostles of Jesus; Mark was to have been written by Mark, an associate of Simon Peter, also one of the Twelve; Luke was to have been written by Luke, a traveling companion of Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles; John was to have written by John, another of the Twelve.
The first three Gospels, known as the synoptic gospels, share much material. As a result of various scholarly hypotheses attempting to explain this interdependence, the traditional association of the texts with their authors has become the subject of debate. Though some solutions retain the traditional authorship, other solutions reject some or all of these claims. The solution most commonly held in academia today is the two-source hypothesis, which posits that Mark and a hypothetical 2nd source, called the Q document, were used as sources for Matthew and Luke. Other solutions, such as the Augustinian hypothesis and Griesbach hypothesis, posit that Matthew was written first and that Mark was an epitome. Scholars who accept the two-source hypothesis generally date Mark to just prior to 70, with Matthew and Luke dating to 80-90. Scholars who accept Matthean priority usually date all the synoptic gospels to before 70, with some arguing for dates as early as 40. John is most often dated to 90-100, though a date as early as the 60s, and as late as the second century have been argued by a few.
"Thus our prime sources about the life of Jesus were written within about fifty years of his death by people who perhaps knew him, but certainly by people who knew people who knew him. If this is beginning to sound slightly second hand, we may wish to consider two points. First... most ancient and medieval history was written from a much greater distance. Second, all the Gospel writers could have talked to people who were actually on the spot, and while perhaps not eyewitnesses themselves, their position is certainly the next best thing."
The book of the Acts of the Apostles, written at least twenty but probably thirty or forty years after Galatians, gives a detailed account of the emergence of the Christian church in the aftermath of Jesus' ministry. Amid descriptions of various evangelistic activity, Acts indicates that a number of Jesus' relatives, including his mother Mary and his brother James, were involved in the movement.
The authors whose works are contained in the New Testament sometimes quote from creeds, or confessions of faith, that obviously predate their writings. Scholars believe that some of these creeds date to within a few years of Jesus' death, and developed within the Christian community in Jerusalem. Though embedded within the texts of the New Testament, these creeds are a distinct source for Early Christianity.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 reads: "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." This contains a Christian creed of pre-Pauline origin. The antiquity of the creed has been located by many Biblical scholars to less than a decade after Jesus' death, originating from the Jerusalem apostolic community. Concerning this creed, Campenhausen wrote, "This account meets all the demands of historical reliability that could possibly be made of such a text," whilst A. M. Hunter said, "The passage therefore preserves uniquely early and verifiable testimony. It meets every reasonable demand of historical reliability."
Other relevant creeds which predate the texts wherein they are found that have been identified are 1 John 4:2: "This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God", "Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, this is my Gospel", Romans|1:3-4: "regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.", and 1 Timothy 3:16: "He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory," an early creedal hymn.
Jesus is a large factor in New Testament apocrypha, works excluded from the canon as it developed because they were judged not to be inspired. These texts are almost entirely dated to the mid second century or later, though a few texts, such as the Didache, may be first century in origin. Some of these works are discussed below:
Certain Gnostic texts mention Jesus in the context of his earthly existence, and some scholars have argued that Gnostic texts could contain plausible traditions. Examples of such texts include the Gospel of Truth, Treatise on Resurrection, and the Apocryphon of John, the latter of which opens with the following:
It happened one day when John, the brother of James — who are sons of Zebedee — went up and came to the temple, that a Pharisee named Arimanius approached him and said to him: "Where is your master whom you followed?" And he said to them: "He has gone to the place from which he came." The Pharisee said to him: "This Nazarene deceived you all with deception and filled your ears with lies and closed your hearts and turned you from the traditions of your fathers."
Of all the Gnostic texts, however, the Gospel of Thomas had drawn the most attention. It contains a list of sayings attributed to Jesus. It lacks a narrative of Jesus treating his deeds in a historical sense. The majority of scholars date it to the early-mid second century, while a minority view contends for an early date of perhaps 50, citing a relationship to the hypothetical Q document among other reasons.
Early Christian sources outside the New Testament also mention Jesus and details of his life. Important texts from the Apostolic Fathers are, to name just the most significant and ancient, Clement of Rome (c. 96), Ignatius of Antioch (c. 107-110), and Justin Martyr.
Perhaps the most significant Patristic sources are the early references of Papias and Quadratus (d. 124), mostly reported by Eusebius in the fourth century, which both mention eyewitnesses of Jesus’ ministry and healings who were still alive in their own time (the late first century). Papias, in giving his sources for the information contained in his (largely lost) commentaries, stated (according to Eusebius):
Thus, while Papias was collecting his information (c. 90), Aristion and the elder John (who were Jesus’ disciples) were still alive and teaching in Asia minor, and Papias gathered information from people who had known them. Another Father, Quadratus, who wrote an apology to the emperor Hadrian, was reported by Eusebius to have stated:
By “our Savior” Quadratus means Jesus, and by “our times” it has been argued that he may refer to his early life, rather than when he wrote (117-124), which would be a reference contemporary with Papias.
There are passages relevant to Christianity in the works of four major non-Christian writers of the late 1st and early 2nd centuries – Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny the Younger. However, these are generally references to early Christians rather than a historical Jesus. Of the four, Josephus' writings, which document John the Baptist, James the Just, and possibly also Jesus, are of the most interest to scholars dealing with the historicity of Jesus (see below). Tacitus, in his Annals written c. 115, mentions Christus, without many historical details (see also: Tacitus on Jesus). There is an obscure reference to a Jewish leader called "Chrestus" in Suetonius. (According to Suetonius, chapter 25, there occurred in Rome, during the reign of emperor Claudius (circa AD 50), "persistent disturbances ... at the instigation of Chrestus".  Mention in Acts of "After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome." (Acts of the Apostles 18:1-2) has been conjectured to refer to the expulsion at the times of these "persistent disturbances".
Flavius Josephus (c. 37–c. 100), a Jew and Roman citizen who worked under the patronage of the Flavians, wrote the Antiquities of the Jews in 93 AD. In these works, Jesus is mentioned twice. The one directly concerning Jesus has come to be known as the Testimonium Flavianum.
In the first passage, called the Testimonium Flavianum, it is written:
About this time came Jesus, a wise man, if indeed it is appropriate to call him a man. For he was a performer of paradoxical feats, a teacher of people who accept the unusual with pleasure, and he won over many of the Jews and also many Greeks. He was the Christ. When Pilate, upon the accusation of the first men amongst us, condemned him to be crucified, those who had formerly loved him did not cease to follow him, for he appeared to them on the third day, living again, as the divine prophets foretold, along with a myriad of other marvellous things concerning him. And the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day.
Concerns have been raised about the authenticity of the passage, and it is widely held by scholars that at least part of the passage has been altered by a later scribe. The Testimonium's authenticity has attracted much scholarly discussion and controversy of interpolation. Louis H. Feldman counts 87 articles published during the period of 1937-1980, "the overwhelming majority of which question its authenticity in whole or in part." Judging from Alice Whealey's 2003 survey of the historiography, it seems that the majority of modern scholars consider that Josephus really did write something here about Jesus, but that the text that has reached us is corrupt. There has been no consensus on which portions have been altered, or to what degree. However, Dr. Geza Vermes points out in an in-depth analysis of the passage that much of the language is typically Josephan, which not only supports the hypothesis that Josephus did write something about Jesus, but also may aid in determining which parts of the passage are genuine
In the second, very brief mention, Josephus calls James "the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ." The great majority of scholars consider this shorter reference to Jesus to be substantially authentic, although a minority has raised doubts.
In antiquity, Origen recorded that Josephus did not believe Jesus was the Christ, as it seems to suggest in the quote above. Dr. L. Michael White argued against authenticity, citing that parallel sections of Josephus's Jewish War do not mention Jesus, and that some Christian writers as late as the third century, who quoted from Josephus's Antiquities, do not mention this passage. However, Alice Whealey has shown that it is far from clear that any third century Christians other than Origen quoted from or even directly knew Antiquities. While very few scholars believe the whole Testimonium is genuine, most scholars have found at least some authentic words of Josephus in the passage, since some portions are written in his style.
The main reason to believe Josephus did originally mention Jesus is the fact that the majority of scholars accept the authenticity of his passage on Jesus' brother James. Arguably the main reason to accept that Josephus also wrote a version of the Testimonium Flavianum is the fact that Jerome and Michael the Syrian quote literal translations of the text in a form reading, more skeptically than the textus receptus, that "he was thought to be the Christ" rather than "he was the Christ." The identical wording of Jerome and Michael the Syrian proves the existence of an originally Greek Testimonium reading this, since Latin Christian scholars and Syriac scholars did not read each others' works, but both commonly translated Greek Christian works.
Shlomo Pines and a few other scholars have argued that the version of the Testimonium written by the 10th century Arab historian named Agapius of Manbij is closer to what one would expect Josephus to have written, and the similarities between the two passages imply a Christian author later removed Josephus' conservative tone and added interpolations. Pines cites Josephus as having written:
At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good, and (he) was known to be virtuous and many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not desert his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.
However, it has been argued that Agapius' text is almost surely a paraphrase of the Testimonium from the Syriac translation of Eusebius of Caesarea's Historia Ecclesiastica, and that it is Michael the Syrian's Syriac Testimonium, which also derives from the Syriac Historia Ecclesiastica,along with the Latin translation of Jerome that are the most important witnesses to Josephus' original passage on Jesus.
Pliny the Younger, the provincial governor of Pontus and Bithynia, wrote to Emperor Trajan c. 112 concerning how to deal with Christians, who refused to worship the emperor, and instead worshiped "Christus".
Those who denied that they were or had been Christians, when they invoked the gods in words dictated by me, offered prayer with incense and wine to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for this purpose together with statues of the gods, and moreover cursed Christ — none of which those who are really Christians, it is said, can be forced to do — these I thought should be discharged. Others named by the informer declared that they were Christians, but then denied it, asserting that they had been but had ceased to be, some three years before, others many years, some as much as twenty-five years. They all worshiped your image and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ.
Charles Guignebert, who does not doubt that Jesus of the Gospels lived in Gallilee in the first century, nevertheless dismisses this letter as acceptable historical evidence: "Only the most robust credulity could reckon this assertion as admissible evidence for the historicity of Jesus"
Tacitus (c. 56–c. 117), writing c. 116, included in his Annals a mention of Christianity and "Christus", the Latinized Greek translation of the Hebrew word "Messiah". In describing Nero's persecution of this group following the Great Fire of Rome c. 64, he wrote:
Nero fastened the guilt of starting the blaze and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians [Chrestians] by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius 14-37 at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.
There have been suggestions that this was a Christian interpolation but the vast majority of scholars conclude that the passage was written by Tacitus. For example, R. E. Van Voorst noted the improbability that later Christians would have interpolated "such disparaging remarks about Christianity".
There is disagreement about what this passage proves, since Tacitus does not reveal the source of his information. Biblical scholar Bart D. Ehrman wrote that: "Tacitus's report confirms what we know from other sources, that Jesus was executed by order of the Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, sometime during Tiberius's reign." 
Tacitus may have used official sources from a Roman archive. Tacitus drew on many earlier historical works now lost to us in the Annals. The description of the suppression of Christianity, calling it a superstition for instance, is not based on any statements Christians may have made to Tacitus. However if Tacitus was copying from an official source some would expect him to not incorrectly label Pilate a procurator, as he was a prefect.
Historian Richard Carrier speculates:
"it is inconceivable that there were any records of Jesus for Tacitus to consult in Rome (for many reasons, not the least of which being that Rome's capitol had burned to the ground more than once in the interim), and even less conceivable that he would have dug through them even if they existed … It would simply be too easy to just ask a Christian—or a colleague who had done so … there can be no doubt that what Pliny discovered from Christians he had interrogated was passed on to Tacitus."
Charles Guignebert argued "So long as there is that possibility [that Tacitus is merely echoing what Christians themselves were saying], the passage remains quite worthless". 
Gerd Theissen and Annette Merz conclude that Tacitus gives us a description of widespread prejudices about Christianity and a few precise details about "Christus" and Christianity, the source of which remains unclear. Christus was a Jew and a criminal who Pontius Pilate had executed. He authored a new religious movement that began in Judea and was called Christianity which was widespread around the city of Rome during Nero's reign.
Max Radin concludes, based on the text from Tacitus, that these facts can be known from a non Christian source: Jesus was a real person, approximately when his death occurred by execution and that Pilate was his judge.
The event was noted in Acts 18:2. The term Chrestus also appears in some later texts applied to Jesus, and Robert Graves, among others, consider it a variant spelling of Christ, or at least a reasonable spelling error. On the other hand, Chrestus was itself a common name, particularly for slaves, meaning good or useful. In regards to Jewish persecution around the time to which this passage refers, the Jewish Encyclopedia states: "... in 49-50, in consequence of dissensions among them regarding the arrival of the Messiah, they were forbidden to hold religious services. The leaders in the controversy, and many others of the Jewish citizens, left the city".
Another suggestion as to why Chrestus may not be Christ is based on the fact Suetonius refers to Jews not Christians in this passage, even though in his Life of Nero he shows some knowledge of the sect's existence. One solution to this problem, however, lies in that fact that the early Christians had not yet separated from their Jewish origin at this time. Even discounting all these points, this passage offers little information about Jesus himself.
For what benefit did the Athenians obtain by putting Socrates to death, seeing that they received as retribution for it famine and pestilence? Or the people of Samos by the burning of Pythagoras, seeing that in one hour the whole of their country was covered with sand? Or the Jews by the murder of their Wise King, seeing that from that very time their kingdom was driven away from them? For with justice did God grant a recompense to the wisdom of all three of them. For the Athenians died by famine; and the people of Samos were covered by the sea without remedy; and the Jews, brought to desolation and expelled from their kingdom, are driven away into every land. Nay, Socrates did “not” die, because of Plato; nor yet Pythagoras, because of the statue of Hera; nor yet the Wise King, because of the new laws which he enacted. [//http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf08.ix.xvii.html CCEL]
Some scholars believe this describes the fall of Jerusalem as the gods' punishment for the Jews having killed Jesus because they infer that Jesus must be "the wise king" referred to by Mara.
Thallus, of whom very little is known, wrote a history from the Trojan War to, according to Eusebius, 109 BC. No work of Thallus survives. There is one reference to Thallus having written about events beyond 109 BC. Julius Africanus, writing c. 221, while writing about the crucifixion of Jesus, mentioned Thallus. Thus:
On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in his third book of History, calls (as appears to me without reason) an eclipse of the sun.
Lucian, a second century Romano-Syrian satirist, who wrote in Greek, wrote:
The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day — the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account… You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.
Celsus wrote, about 180, a book against the Christians, which is now only known through Origen's refutation of it. Celsus apparently accused Jesus of being a child and a sorcerer and is quoted as saying that Jesus was a "mere man".
The Acts of Pilate is purportedly an official document from Pilate reporting events in Judea to the Emperor Tiberius (thus, it would have been among the commentaii principis). It was mentioned by Justin Martyr, in his First Apology (c. 150) to Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, and Lucius Verus. He said that his claims concerning Jesus' crucifixion, and some miracles, could be verified by referencing the official record, the "Acts of Pontius Pilate". With the exception of Tertullian, no other writer is known to have mentioned the work, and Tertullian's reference says that Tiberius debated the details of Jesus' life before the Roman Senate, an event that is almost universally considered absurd. There is a later apocryphal text, undoubtedly fanciful, by the same name, and though it is generally thought to have been inspired by Justin's reference (and thus to post-date his Apology), it is possible that Justin actually mentioned this text, though that would give the work an unusually early date and therefore is not a straightforward identification.
The Babylonian Talmud in a few rare instances likely or possibly refers to Jesus using the terms "Yeshu," "Yeshu ha-Notzri," "ben Satda," and "ben Pandera." These references probably date back to the Tannaitic period (70 to 200). One important reference relates the trial and execution of Jesus and his disciples. It includes this text:
It is taught: On the eve of Passover they hung Yeshu and the crier went forth for forty days beforehand declaring that "[Yeshu] is going to be stoned for practicing witchcraft, for enticing and leading Israel astray. Anyone who knows something to clear him should come forth and exonerate him." But no one had anything exonerating for him and they hung him on the eve of Passover. Ulla said: Would one think that we should look for exonerating evidence for him? He was an enticer and G-d said (Deuteronomy 13:9) "Show him no pity or compassion, and do not shield him." Yeshu was different because he was close to the government.
These early possible references to Jesus have little historical information independent from the gospels, but they do seem to reflect the historical Jesus as one who had disciples and was crucified during Passover. They reflect hostility toward Jesus among the rabbis. The story of Jesus' trial asserts that Jesus was guilty of a capital crime, and defends the court against the early Christian criticism that Jesus' trial had been hasty. Another aspect of this record is that it varies dramatically from the records in the gospels. Instead of twelve disciples, there are only five, and only one name, that of Matai, even resembles those of the disciples in the gospels. Other differences include hanging instead of crucifixion, a call for witnesses to his defense and the disciples all being sentenced to death after their own trials.
It is taught: Yeshu had five disciples - Matai, Nekai, Netzer, Buni, and Todah. They brought Matai [before the judges]. He said to them: Will Matai be killed? It is written (Psalm 42:2) "When [=Matai] shall (I) come and appear before G-d." They said to him: Yes, Matai will be killed as it is written (Psalm 41:5) "When [=Matai] shall (he) die and his name perish." They brought Nekai. He said to them: Will Nekai be killed? It is written (Exodus 23:7) "The innocent [=Naki] and the righteous you shall not slay." They said to him: Yes, Nekai will be killed as it is written (Psalm 10:8) "In secret places he slay the innocent [=Naki]." They brought Netzer. He said to them: Will Netzer be killed? It is written (Isaiah 11:1) "A branch [=Netzer] shall spring up from his roots." They said to him: Yes, Netzer will be killed as it is written (Isaiah 14:19) "You are cast forth out of your grave like an abominable branch [=Netzer]." They brought Buni. He said to them: Will Buni be killed? It is written (Exodus 4:22) "My son [=Beni], my firstborn, Israel." They said to him: Yes, Buni will be killed as it is written (Exodus 4:23) "Behold, I slay your son [=Bincha] your firstborn." They brought Todah. He said to them: Will Todah be killed? It is written (Psalm 100:1) "A Psalm for thanksgiving [=Todah]." They said to him: Yes, Todah will be killed as it is written (Psalm 50:23) "Whoever sacrifices thanksgiving [=Todah] honors me." 
Charles Guignebert (Professor of the History Of Christianity at the Sorbonne) similarly stated "all the pagan and Jewish testimonies, so-called, afford us no information of any value about the life of Jesus, nor even any assurance that he ever lived, however, Guignebert rejected the Jesus Myth theory and felt that the Epistles of Paul were sufficient to prove his historical existence.
Scholars who promote the conclusion that Jesus is a myth sometimes use this early rabbinic literature to argue that the Jesus stories of the gospels derive from a Jewish teacher in the first or second century BCE.
The Historical Jesus is a reconstruction of Jesus using modern historical methods.
Paul Barnett pointed out that "scholars of ancient history have always recognized the 'subjectivity' factor in their available sources" and "have so few sources available compared to their modern counterparts that they will gladly seize whatever scraps of information that are at hand." He noted that modern history and ancient history are two separate disciplines, with differing methods of analysis and interpretation.
In The Historical Figure of Jesus, E.P. Sanders used Alexander the Great as a paradigm—the available sources tell us much about Alexander’s deeds, but nothing about his thoughts. "The sources for Jesus are better, however, than those that deal with Alexander" and "the superiority of evidence for Jesus is seen when we ask what he thought." Thus, Sanders considers the quest for the Historical Jesus to be much closer to a search for historical details on Alexander than to those historical figures with adequate documentation.
Consequently, scholars like Sanders, Geza Vermes, John P. Meier, David Flusser, James H. Charlesworth, Raymond E. Brown, Paula Fredriksen and John Dominic Crossan argue that, although many readers are accustomed to thinking of Jesus solely as a theological figure whose existence is a matter only of religious debate, the four canonical Gospel accounts are based on source documents written within decades after Jesus' lifetime, and therefore provide a basis for the study of the "historical" Jesus. These historians also draw on other historical sources and archaeological evidence to reconstruct the life of Jesus in his historical and cultural context.
In contrast, Charles Guignebert, Professor of the History of Christianity, at the Sorbonne, maintained that the "conclusions which are justified by the documentary evidence [concerning the life of Jesus] may be summed up as follows: Jesus was born somewhere in Galilee in the time of the Emperor Augustus, of a humble family, which included half a dozen or more children besides himself." (Emphasis added). He adds elsewhere "there is no reason to suppose he was not executed".
Recent research has focused upon the "Jewishness" of the historical Jesus. The re-evaluation of Jesus' family, particularly the role played after his death by his brother James, has led scholars like Hans Küng to suggest that there was an early form of non-Hellenistic "Jewish Christianity" like the Ebionites, that did not accept Jesus' divinity and was persecuted by both Roman and Christian authorities. Küng suggests that these Jewish Christians settled in Arabia, and may have influenced the story of Christ as portrayed in the Qur'an.
The existence of Jesus as an actual historical figure has been questioned by few biblical scholars and historians, some of the earliest being Constantin-François Volney and Charles François Dupuis in the 18th century and Bruno Bauer in the 19th century. Each of these proposed that the Jesus character was a fusion of earlier mythologies.
The views of scholars who entirely rejected Jesus' historicity were summarized in Will Durant's Caesar and Christ, published in 1944. Their rejections were based on a suggested lack of eyewitnesses, a lack of direct archaeological evidence, the failure of ancient works to mention Jesus, and similarities early Christianity shares with then-contemporary religion and mythology.
More recently, arguments for non-historicity have been discussed by George Albert Wells, by Earl Doherty (The Jesus Puzzle, 1999), by Tony Bushby (The Bible Fraud), by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy (Jesus & the Lost Goddess) and by biblical scholar Robert M. Price. Doherty, for example, maintains that the earliest records of Christian beliefs (the earliest epistles) contain almost no reference to the historical Jesus, which only appears in the Gospel accounts. He suggests that these are best explained if Christianity began as a mythic savior cult, with no specific historical figure in mind.
Nevertheless, the historicity of Jesus is accepted by almost all Biblical scholars and classical historians. The New Testament scholar James Dunn describes the mythical Jesus theory as a 'thoroughly dead thesis'.
Redirecting to Historicity of Jesus