The greatest argument against Christianity would be the fact that Jesus never lived. If the birth of Jesus did not occur, then of course, the Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Jesus did not occur. And if there is no resurrection, then death has not been conquered. If death has not been conquered, then sin has not been conquered and we are all doomed. Without the birth of Jesus, Christianity is just another religion based upon legends and myths.
Many argue that the only proof of Jesus’ birth is the Bible. And they go on to argue that the Bible is just a book of myths and legends. There is historical, archaeological, and the study of logical reasoning that disproves that the Bible just a book of myths of legends.
If the Bible is true, then Jesus birth, Crucifixion, and Resurrection are true. Some will argue that you can’t trust the Bible because it was written by those who believed in Jesus. If you use this argument regarding biographies and history books (this is what the Four Gospels are like), you see how foolish it is. Many biographies are written by people who loved the person they are writing about, but we do not question their validity. There are those who write about history who have their prejudices but we do not deny the facts that are in their books. Read on the Validity of the Bible.
However, in this section on the Birth of Christ, we will cite sources that are outside of the Bible to prove that Jesus Christ was known to be a real person and not just a fable. This is only a small amount of information-go to the Books Section to obtain much more information on the Historical Evidence of the birth of Jesus. Also, we have a great amount of material discussing the Resurrection of Jesus. If He was resurrected, he obviously was born.
The very enemies of Christianity claimed that he lived–and that he performed miracles! Early Jewish documents such as the Mishnah and even Josephus–as well as first-century Gentile historians–such as Thallus, Serapion, and Tacitus–all testify that the one called Christ lived in Palestine and died under Pontius Pilate. As the British scholar, F. F. Bruce put it, “The historicity of Christ is as [certain]. . . as the historicity of Julius Caesar” (NT Documents, 119). If they document his death, then he had to have been born.
It needs to be understood that some of the writings were hostile to Christianity, but still documented the historical fact of Jesus.
Josephus, Jewish historian (AD 37-100) wrote of Jesus:
“About this time appeared Jesus, a wise man (if indeed it is right to call Him man; for He was a worker of astonishing deeds, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with joy), and He drew to Himself many Jews (many also of Greeks, this was the Christ.) And when Pilate, at the denunciation of those that are foremost among us, had condemned Him to the cross, those who had first loved Him did not abandon Him (for He appeared to them alive again on the third day, the holy prophets having foretold this and countless other marvels about Him.) The tribe of Christians named after Him did not cease to this day.” (Jewish Antiquities, 18.3.3 &63 )
Most scholars agree that the statements in italics were added later by others, most likely Christians. However, there has not been any dispute regarding the accuracy of his statement regarding the crucifixion of Jesus, which means he had to have been born.
Tacitus, a Roman historian, in his Annals, c. AD 115, describes the Roman Emperor Nero’s actions after the great fire of Rome, c. AD 64:
Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.
Exitiabilis is the latin word for mischievous. It means destructive, fatal, deadly. So it would seem that what Tacitus actually said was it was a destructive or fatal or deadly superstition. He was calling Christianity evil. So, it is obvious that he was not a Christian, thus he would not be sharing about the death of Jesus to support the fact that there was a historical Jesus that was killed by Pontius Pilate. Note that Tacitus is not referring to the death of the Jesus as superstition but the practice of Jesus’ followers.
A famous historian, reputed in his own days as being extremely careful and factual, Tacitus would not have been prone to writing about a movement without first checking the Roman archives to see if he could not get the most accurate report possible. He wrote his history of Rome covering the death of Augustus to the death of Domitian, that’s 14-96 AD. He used earlier works by historians cross checking them with each other. He sought to verify his facts, something unusual in the writing of the time. He clearly has bias as he hated Domitian and wasn’t a great fan of Tiberius, but this would have no bearing on mentions of Christ.
Some say that Tactitus also wrote about Hercules so his works are not valid. Read our response to this accusation.
Another Roman writer who shows his acquaintance with Christ and the Christians is Suetonius (A.D. 75-160). It has been noted that Suetonius considered Christ (Chrestus) as a Roman insurgent who stirred up seditions under the reign of Claudius (A.D. 41-54): “Judaeos, impulsore Chresto, assidue tumultuantes (Claudius) Roma expulit” (Clau., xxv).
“Phlegon mentioned the eclipse which took place during the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus and no other (eclipse); it is clear that he did not know from his sources about any (similar) eclipse in previous times . . . and this is shown by the historical account of Tiberius Caesar.” Origen and Philopon, De. opif. mund. II21
“And with regard to the eclipse in the time of Tiberius Caesar, in whose reign Jesus appears to have been crucified, and the great earthquakes which then took place … Origen Against Celsus
The historical character of Jesus Christ is also attested by the hostile Jewish literature of the subsequent centuries. His birth is ascribed to an illicit (“Acta Pilati” in Thilo, “Codex apocryph. N.T., I, 526; cf. Justin, “Apol.”, I, 35), or even an adulterous, union of His parents (Origen, “Contra Cels.,” I, 28, 32).
There are many Jewish writings that show traces of acquaintance with the murder of the Holy Innocents (Wagenseil, “Confut. Libr.Toldoth”, 15; Eisenmenger op. cit., I, 116; Schottgen, op. cit., II, 667), with the flight into Egypt (cf. Josephus, “Ant.” XIII, xiii), with the stay of Jesus in the Temple at the age of twelve (Schottgen, op. cit., II, 696), with the call of the disciples (“Sanhedrin”, 43a; Wagenseil, op. cit., 17; Schottgen, loc. cit., 713), with His miracles (Origen, “Contra Cels”, II, 48; Wagenseil, op. cit., 150; Gemara “Sanhedrin” fol. 17); “Schabbath”, fol. 104b; Wagenseil, op.cit., 6, 7, 17), with His claim to be God (Origen, “Contra Cels.”, I, 28; cf. Eisenmenger, op. cit., I, 152; Schottgen, loc. cit., 699) with His betrayal by Judas and His death (Origen, “Contra cels.”, II, 9, 45, 68, 70; Buxtorf, op. cit., 1458; Lightfoot, “Hor. Heb.”, 458, 490, 498; Eisenmenger, loc. cit., 185; Schottgen, loc. cit.,699 700; cf.”Sanhedrin”, vi, vii). Celsus (Origen, “Contra Cels.”, II, 55) tries to throw doubt on the Resurrection, while Toldoth (cf. Wagenseil, 19) repeats the Jewish fiction that the body of Jesus had been stolen from the sepulchre.
So significant is Jesus in man’s history that the Encyclopedia Britannica has 20,000 words in describing this person, Jesus. His description took more space than was given to Aristotle, Cicero, Alexander, Julius Caesar, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed or Napolean Bonaparte. Why would there be so much material on a man who was never born?
Here is a quote from the Encyclopedia Britannica concerning the testimony of the many independent secular accounts of Jesus of Nazareth:
These independent accounts prove that in ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus, which was disputed for the first time and on inadequate grounds by several authors at the end of the 18th, during the 19th, and at the beginning of the 20th centuries.
Jesus is recorded as a fact, as is His death, burial and missing body in the Reader’s Digest Book of Facts, 1989.