Such questions are given greater relevance when one takes into consideration the claims of those who assume the position that Jesus, as a historical character, never even existed. The substance of this argumentation is virtually lacking, often drawn from silence, and finds itself housed in a very small, but vocal group of those who often call themselves “mythers”.
Such are often dismissed as outliers, even called “know-nothings”, but there are a few credentialed scholars who live among the ranks, such as Robert M. Price.(1) Central to such argumentation is often found the claim that there is no contemporary historical evidence for the existence of such a man as Jesus of Nazareth.(2) They will often admit that there is substantial information that is used as confirmation later in history, say fifty to seventy years out, but there is nothing from the days of Jesus’ life that speaks of what he did, much less his existence.(3) But this is summarily dismissed as merely derivative since much of it is based upon information presented in the gospels, which would seem to indicate that the stories present in the gospels themselves were already widespread, if not the gospels themselves already in existence and accepted as factual for there to be such acceptance of the historical existence. It’s as though those who accept and promote the myth theory are dependent upon the gospels being already in existence, as well a refined tradition being in place within the first generation of believers, in order for their position to have traction, which would actually seem to be an argument against their position.
Even historical critics of the Christian faith, going back over a thousand years have an assumption of the historical existence of Jesus. In Against the Galileans, a polemic against Christianity, the historical existence of Jesus is affirmed, as is another key, ancient biblical figure.(4) There is an even earlier assertion and acceptance of this existence is found in another anti-Christian work, that seems to be repeating similar accusations found in the gospels.(5) If even the earliest opponents of Christianity accepted the existence of Jesus as a person, even going so far as to accept that there was something different, maybe even special about him, then there should be no doubt as to whether or not such a person existed. In fact, it could be readily argued that, “[…]a dispassionate consideration of the case makes it quite plain: Jesus did exist.”(6) It seems that any arguments brought to contrary that fact are merely biased against any evidence that supports the assumption.
1. Ehrman, Kindle loc. 261-2
4. Julian, p. 341
5. Celsus, pp. 53-4
6. Ehrman, Kindle loc. 109