A Doubter’s Guide to Jesus

John Dickson has a neat summary of the extra-biblical material about Jesus from Graeco-Roman and Jewish writers (i.e. Pliny, Tacitus, Josephus, etc). This is a compilation of what can be found from other evidence for the life of Jesus outside of the New Testament:
  1. The name “Jesus.”
  2. The place and time-frame of his public ministry (Galilee and Judea during Pontius Pilate’s governorship, Ad 26-36).
  3. The name of his mother (Mary).
  4. The ambiguous nature of his birth.
  5. The name of one of his brothers (James).
  6. His fame as a teacher.
  7. His fame as a miracle worker.
  8. The attribution to him of the title “Messiah/Christ.”
  9. His “kingly” status in the eyes of some.
  10. The time and manner of his execution (crucifixion around the Passover festival).
  11. The involvement of both the Roman and Jewish leadership in his death.
  12. The coincidence of an eclipse at the time of his crucifixion.
  13. The report of Jesus’ appearances to his followers after his death (if the alternative version of the Josephus passage is accepted, which may be debated).
  14. The flourishing of a movement that worshipped Jesus after his death.
A Doubter’s Guide to Jesus: An Introduction to the Man from Nazareth for Believers and Skeptics” by John Dickson (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2018), p26. Dickson also goes on to argue for the reliability of the New Testament as a genuine first century source like any other, something that serious historical scholarship readily accepts as historical text.

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