It is an assertion heard in recent decades with some regularity among critics seeking to discredit the claims of Jesus Christ in the New Testament to be God. It typically goes something like this:
“Jesus Christ did not even exist as a real person, but was instead a fictional creation of a small sect of dissident Jews whose vision of their expected Messiah was taken over by Gentiles and turned into religious/political movement.”
In fact, modern scholarship has established that the Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — were written within the living memory of witnesses to the life and teachings of Jesus, and are verified by far more ancient transcripts than such long-accepted authors as Homer, Aristotle and Julius Caesar.
But a number of ancient authors who were actively hostile to Jesus also wrote about Him, and their testimony provides compelling evidence of the absurdity of the claim Jesus never actually existed.
To cite just one of these hostile ancient figures, J. Warner Wallace of Cold-Case Christianity describes Thallus, who noted the darkness that fell across the earth at one point during the crucifixion of Christ:
“Thallus is perhaps the earliest secular writer to mention Jesus and he is so ancient his writings don’t even exist anymore. But Julius Africanus, writing around 221AD does quote Thallus who previously tried to explain away the darkness occurring at Jesus’ crucifixion:
“’On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.’ (Julius Africanus, Chronography, 18:1)
“If only more of Thallus’ record could be found, we might find more confirmation of Jesus’ crucifixion. But there are some things we can conclude from this account: Jesus lived, He was crucified, and there was an earthquake and darkness at the point of His crucifixion.”
In the video above, Wallace describes in detail the evidence from Thallus and the other hostile ancient writers attesting to the existence of Jesus. He covers the same ground in this lengthy analysis on the Cold-Case Christianity web site.