23 Historical Things We Know For Certain About Jesus. | Historical Jesus studies
It is not trivial that many of the historians cited here are not Christians, and in some cases claim no religion at all.
The neo-atheists' claim (not all of them say it) that Jesus is an invented character just doesn't hold up. "Explanations must explain," and denial of one explanation does not itself constitute another explanation. And the thing to be explained is why the Church came into being when it it did, on the basis that it did. For the Church has claimed since the mid-first century that it was founded by the shock and awe of Jesus of Nazareth having been executed then raised from the dead. The skeptics promoting the theory that all of that is a "later legend" invention are still faced with the incontrovertible fact that (a) the Church had a definite beginning in time and place that is not disputed, and (b) that the Church has always claimed its founding was due to one specific thing: the death and resurrection of Jesus.
So the later skeptics do not persuade when they offer no historically rooted explanation of why, absent the resurrection, the Church even started. But I have not seen any such explanation except, perhaps, his disciples tried gamely to carry on with Jesus' ethical and religious work but soon found that there was some extra "oomph" needed to keep it going. And even that lacks historical evidence.
I was talking to a US Marine Corps veteran one time and we briefly discussed the story of the founding of the Marine Corps. Marine lore has it that the Corps was founded in a bar, Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, to be exact. It was there that the first Marine Corps recruitment drive was held.
Now here is the question: Let us suppose that I, playing the part of a skeptic, say that the USMC was not actually founded at Tun Tavern, and that Tun Tavern probably never actually existed in the first place. Yet the USMC undeniably exists.
If I expect anyone to believe me, then wouldn't I also have to explain why would the USMC later make it up, and why? The Corps already would still exist if it had been founded elsewhere, elsewhen. What is gained by suppressing the true founding and inventing Tun Tavern?
And critically, would I not have to provide actual historical evidence of the USMC's real-though-suppressed founding? Otherwise, there's nothing but the smokescreen of an argument clinic.
The same question applies to the stories about the resurrection of Jesus. Later-legend theorists can't just present us with their own counter claim that the resurrection is a later invention. They need to provide what the suppressed reasons were for the founding of the Church, why they were suppressed and why this particular legend was substituted.
And they have to do it all by presenting compelling, historically-rooted proofs. But they don't because they can't.