You know, a lot of people assume that we don’t know much about Jesus outside the New Testament. Fact is it’s frequently said that we don’t know anything about Jesus outside the New Testament. Wouldn’t people be surprised to find out that we have about a dozen and half sources for him within about a hundred and hundred and a half years after the ministry of Jesus.
And these report aspects all the way through his life. Now you might think that these secular sources shy away from divine attributions of Jesus but they really don’t. For example, Roman governor Pliny tells us that Christians gathered on a particular day of the week before dawn and sang hymns to Jesus as unto a god. Now that’s a really interesting reference and then he tried to persecute some of these Christians and he also made the remark that true Christians never walked away from their faith.
The earliest source we have Thallus, a historian who was reporting Mediterranean history and he records a miracle. He talks about the darkness that surrounded the world when Jesus was crucified. We have reports of his resurrection but the fact that’s recorded in secular sources more than any other one – about 12 of the 18 sources tell us that Jesus died. Many of them telling those details – what happened to him, he died by crucifixion etc but about two-thirds of the sources we have tell us he died so it’s things like this that keep historians from saying Jesus never lived. We really do have good historical evidence.