Virtually all other claims of Jesus come from sources
outside of Christian writings. Devastating to the claims of Christians, however,
comes from the fact that all of these accounts come from authors who lived after
the alleged life of Jesus. Since they did not live during the time of the
hypothetical Jesus, none of their accounts serve as eyewitness evidence. ~ Jim
Did a historical Jesus exist?
Why is it that Christian Mythology gets a pass and can be assumed to be true? No one assumes that various heroes of Greek Mythology must have existed and a great deal of historical and archeological research often goes into examining the basis for many of these different myths and stories.
Instead of looking at the world from the basis that Jesus must have existed, one should question and research his existence the same way that individuals look at, research, and critique other forms of less accepted mythology. If you want to know the truth, people should review Christian Mythology with the same lens applied to Greek, Egyptian, ancient Sumerian, Celtic or any of the many ancient forms of mythological scripture.
There is no physical evidence to support a historical Jesus; no artifacts, dwelling, works of carpentry, or self-written manuscripts. All claims about Jesus derive from writings of other people. There occurs no contemporary Roman record that shows Pontius Pilate executing a man named Jesus. Devastating to historians, there occurs not a single contemporary writing that mentions Jesus. All documents about Jesus came well after the life of the alleged Jesus from either: unknown authors, people who had never met an earthly Jesus, or from fraudulent, mythical or allegorical writings. Although one can argue that many of these writings come from fraud or interpolations, I will use the information and dates to show that even if these sources did not come from interpolations, they could still not serve as reliable evidence for a historical Jesus, simply because all sources about Jesus derive from hearsay accounts.
Hearsay means information derived from other people rather than on a witness' own knowledge. Courts of law do not generally allow hearsay as testimony, and nor does honest modern scholarship. Hearsay does not provide good evidence, and therefore, we should dismiss it. If you do not understand this, imagine yourself confronted with a charge for a crime which you know you did not commit. You feel confident that no one can prove guilt because you know that there exists no evidence whatsoever for the charge against you. Now imagine that you stand present in a court of law that allows hearsay as evidence. When the prosecution presents its case, everyone who takes the stand against you claims that you committed the crime, not as a witness themselves, but solely because they claim other people said so. None of these other people, mind you, ever show up in court, nor can anyone find them.
Hearsay does not work as evidence because we have no way of knowing whether the person lied, or simply based his or her information on wrongful belief or bias. We know from history about witchcraft trials and kangaroo courts that hearsay provides neither reliable nor fair statements of evidence. We know that mythology can arise out of no good information whatsoever.
We live in a world where many people believe in demons, UFOs, ghosts, or monsters, and an innumerable number of fantasies believed as fact taken from nothing but belief and hearsay. It derives from these reasons why hearsay cannot serves as good evidence, and the same reasoning must go against the claims of a historical Jesus or any other historical person.
Authors of ancient history today, of course, can only write from indirect observation in a time far removed from their aim. But a valid historian's own writing gets cited with sources that trace to the subject themselves, or to eyewitnesses and artifacts. For example, a historian today who writes about the life of George Washington, of course, can not serve as an eyewitness, but he can provide citations to documents which give personal or eyewitness accounts. None of the historians about Jesus give reliable sources to eyewitnesses, therefore all we have remains as hearsay.
Elaine Pagels writes: "Although the gospels of the New Testament - like those discovered at Nag Hammadi - are attributed to Jesus' followers, no one knows who actually wrote any of them." Not only do we not know who wrote them, consider that none of the Gospels existed during the alleged life of Jesus, nor do the unknown authors make the claim to have met an earthly Jesus. Add to this that none of the original gospel manuscripts exist; we only have copies of copies.
The consensus of many biblical historians put the dating of the earliest Gospel, that of Mark, at sometime after 70 C.E., and the last Gospel, John after 90 C.E. This would make it some 40 years after the alleged crucifixion of Jesus that we have any Gospel writings that mention him! Elaine Pagels writes that "the first Christian gospel was probably written during the last year of the war, or the year it ended. Where it was written and by whom we do not know; the work is anonymous, although tradition attributes it to Mark..."
The traditional Church has portrayed the authors as the apostles Mark, Luke, Matthew, & John, but scholars know from critical textural research that there simply occurs no evidence that the gospel authors could have served as the apostles described in the Gospel stories. Yet even today, we hear priests and ministers describing these authors as the actual disciples of Christ. Many Bibles still continue to label the stories as "The Gospel according to St. Matthew," "St. Mark," "St. Luke," St. John." No apostle would have announced his own sainthood before the Church's establishment of sainthood. But one need not refer to scholars to determine the lack of evidence for authorship. As an experiment, imagine the Gospels without their titles. See if you can find out from the texts who wrote them; try to find their names.
The apocryphal Jesus stated in Matthew 24:34, "Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened." So why didn't the end of the world come during the generation of Jesus? Was he speaking of the end of the world? Or was he speaking metaphorically? Christians are most adroit at cherry-picking, it really wouldn't matter what was meant. They will tell you their holy book was not written metaphorically, except for the parts that can't be explained, those are metaphors, everything else is the word of God.