Last year the Skeptics Guide to the Universe did an in-depth segment of the historicity of Jesus. It was a great discussion for and against the historical Jesus, looking at the evidence and arguments on both sides.
It’s half an hour long, starts at 25 minutes in until minute 55.
My favourite part is 48 minutes in where they compare Jesus to the Roswell crash, and how real events get mythologised.
This is probably one of the most fascinating topics for the historian. It is also a topic filled with many common errors.
From the many controversial claims made in this podcast, here’s the first (30:19):
We have no first-hand eyewitness accounts of Jesus.
Now this may be true if there is reasonable grounds to doubt the validity of the new testament documents. However, if we take the names of the gospel accounts at face value, we find that we have two direct eye-witness accounts and two second-hand accounts. The first two eye-witness accounts are the gospels of Matthew and John. Matthew was apparantely also known as Levi, the tax collector, and John was the apostle John, son of Zebedee, who was also one of the three (or four) apostles of Jesus’ inner circle.
The other two second-hand accounts are not technically second-hand because, according to internal and external evidence, the gospels of Mark and Luck were written by the disciples of Peter and Paul, respectively, and likely while they were both still alive.
The above information, as in the names attributed to the four gospels, is given to us from tradition, as all the gospels are anonymously written. To claim that there exist no eye-witness account of Jesus, we would have to prove that these gospels are made up accounts by people other than eye-witnesses or disciples of eye-witnesses. Not an easy task.
A few days ago I wrote a 660-word article on this issue (historocity of Jesus) which I am trying to get posted on an Atheist website. Mark Gibbs informs me that the CA protocol is for me to contact a contributor such as yourself to host the article. If you could furnish me with your email address I will send you the article.