I've heard it expressed how "there was no historical Jesus, because anything written about him happened after he died, and so it can't be verified, therefore he was made up."
It is true that his followers, those who were with him until the end, didn't write down their accounts until later, but they were still witnesses.
We could make the argument that Alexander the Great did not exist.
"But Judas?" You might say, "He was a historical figure with a movie about him with Colin Farrell".
Yes, but apart from a few inscriptions and fragments, texts written by people who actually knew Alexander or who gathered information from men who served with Alexander were all lost. Contemporaries who wrote accounts of his life included Alexander's campaign historian Callisthenes; Alexander's generals Ptolemy and Nearchus; Aristobulus, a junior officer on the campaigns; and Onesicritus, Alexander's chief helmsman. Their works are lost, but later works based on these original sources have survived. The earliest of these is Diodorus Siculus (1st century BC), followed by Quintus Curtius Rufus (mid-to-late 1st century AD), Arrian (1st to 2nd century AD), the biographer Plutarch (1st to 2nd century AD), and finally Justin, whose work dated as late as the 4th century. Of these, Arrian is generally considered the most reliable, given that he used Ptolemy and Aristobulus as his sources, closely followed by Diodorus.
Do you get that? The source material is completely gone, and all we have are people who lived a hundred years after his death all saying they read the same book that doesn't exist anymore. It's like H.P. Lovecraft's Necronomicon, Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves or William Golding's The Princess Bride at this point, in the same idea that they could all be claiming a book exists, when the books or documentaries never did.
If you are going to use the "no source material/written by non-witnesses" argument about history, then you must also apply that to every historical person and event.
Virtually all scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed and regard events such as his baptism and his crucifixion as historical. Referring to the theories of non-existence of Jesus, Richard A. Burridge states: "I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that any more."
The historical existence of Jesus as a person is a separate issue from any religious discussions about his divinity, or the theological issues relating to his nature as man or God. Leading scientific atheist Richard Dawkins specifically separates the question of the existence of Jesus from the attribution of supernatural powers to him, or the accuracy of the Christian gospels. Dawkins does not deny the existence of Jesus, although he dismisses the reliability of the gospel accounts.
I believe Jesus is exactly who He said He is. You may call me a fool for believing that, but at least I know the details of my foolishness.
"Yeah, but Judas, you read about god in a book. Believe everything you read?"
Well, you read about evolution in a book. Believe everything that you read?
My favorite Monty Python explanation of logic: "Wood floats on water. A duck floats on water. Therefore a duck is made of wood." Brilliant logic when you think about it. All the evidence and facts are true. The conclusion is totally false. I feel that many in the religious, scientific, and historical community follow this logic structure in their arguments.
Also, proving the other person is wrong, does not make you right. If I proved anyone wrong today, it's just because I want lame duck arguments taken out of discussions. If you don't believe in God, and you have a legitimate reason, good for you. If that reason proves to be incorrect, and you still don't want to believe in God, don't just find a different argumen (Christians, this goes for you too)t; examine why you don't want to accept the possibility. "It's just illogical!" doesn't work if you have no supporting logic. It's good to have reasons for belief or disbelief, but it is also good to examine your own motivations for accepting or refuting information.
Maybe your parents were atheists and you're rebelling. Maybe your ex-fiance dumped you and and converted.
Please, don't just use nonsensical arguments like "there is no historical Jesus", or " You can't prove it doesn't exist, so it must exist" to push an agenda.
With that fertility title? Ēostre was the Germanic fertility goddess represented by eggs and rabbits. After Christianization, the relics of the "pagan" holiday were kept and explained...well I'm still unsure about that one.
All I really want to know is why Christians (of which I count myself, loosely) celebrate the death and resurection of their Jewish god by eating a baked ham?
Sources for this article can be found in your local library*, and in online resources:
Alexander the Great:
Library of world history by Diodorus of Sicily
Quintus Curtius Rufus' History of Alexander the Great of Macedonia
a Life of Alexander by Plutarch of Chaeronea
Anabasis by Arrian of Nicomedia
Jesus of Nazareth:
Jesus & the Rise of Early Christianity: A History of New Testament Times by Paul Barnett 2002
The Cambridge companion to Jesus by Markus N. A. Bockmuehl 2001 Cambridge Univ Press ( Page 124 states that the "farfetched theories that Jesus' existence was a Christian invention are highly implausible.")
The historical Jesus question by Gregory W. Dawes 2001
The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Eddy, Paul; Boyd, Gregory (2007).
*As with anything that can be verified, it is best to do it yourself, and what better place than a library that has an actual, physical presence, and is harder to be "hacked". Plus I love libraries and I never want them to go away, so if I can send as many people in that direction, I will.