Within 60 to 100 years of Christ’s death, there are about half-dozen Jewish and Roman historians who corroborate the story of Jesus even though it is apparent from their accounts that they had not read the New Testament, which at that point was a collection of books and letters circulating among a few dozen churches. But their history corroborates much of the New Testament account of the life and teachings of Jesus and the history of Apostles.
That these pagans did not begin to write volumes about Jesus Christ soon after his death is a moot point.
First, few historical records from this period survived in writing. That is because durable vellum had not been invented and papyrus was a fragile medium that lasted only a few years until it deteriorated. Unless books were copied every 50 years or so, they disintegrated and were lost. The fact that so many writings about Jesus survived is an amazing phenomenon in itself and speaks of divine intention.
Second, there really were not more than a few thousand Christians in the whole world and probably less than 50 cities with churches in the entire New Testament period up until the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 A.D. Some say that all the New Testament was compiled by 70 A.D. forty years after Jesus death. Some say by 90 A.D. But most of the New Testament was written from 50 to 70 A.D. In the 20 years before that before that there was an oral tradition and a few letters that are recorded in the context of other writings later on. The Gospel tradition began immediately after the death and resurrection of Jesus (c. AD 29) and continued in an unbroken oral tradition until the Gospels and Epistles were compiled from 50 to 70 AD.
Third, we know from some early Roman records and the book of Acts itself that the Christians were thought of as a Jewish sect, because most early Christians were Jewish up until the destruction of Jerusalem. It wasn’t until the early second century that Christianity began to swell to large numbers among important people and took in as members many Gentiles citizens of the Roman Empire.
The claim that there is a “lack of records” is false and would not be surprising even if it were true. The Jesus Myth relies on positivist thinking — that since we don’t have written accounts or official records by non-believing pagans then Jesus simply didn’t exist. It is more logical to say that all of the people who met Jesus and were sufficiently impressed enough to write about His life and teachings would have been His followers.
The person to read on the Internet on this topic is J.P. Holding. I first met J.P. when I started to do some research on the Jesus Myth. He has written more in refutation of the “Jesus Myth” than any writer I know. He is one of the foremost apologists on this issue. And I was surprised to find that J.P. lived less than 15 miles from my house.
When we first met, he basically confirmed my exact same thought: “These people are just stupid. They will sap you of your time. They will not listen to reason. And because of them, I have a new policy on my web site: No stupid people.”
Unkind though it may sound, it is true. Their arguments are stupid. Their research is wrong. They lack credentials. Even the most liberal scholars do not take them seriously. The Jesus Myth people are just plain dumB with a capital “B.”
The problem is that with the explosion of Blogs and now YouTube, documentaries and discussions of the Jesus Myth have proliferated. In fact, the “Jesus Mythologists” are the ones who have commented the most on my Real Jesus series on YouTube – even though the documentary does not deal at all with the heresy of the Jesus Myth – but rather the Jesus Seminar. Even the arch liberal Jesus Seminar theologians admit Jesus existed because it is so unlikely that He did not — even if one takes a modernist, positivist approach.