Since the 18th century scholars have attempted to reconstruct the life of the historical Jesus, developing historical-critical methods for analysing the available texts. The only sources are documentary; in conjunction with Biblical texts such as the Pauline Letters and the synoptic Gospels, three passages in non-Christian works have been used to support the historicity of Jesus: two in the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus, and one from the Roman historian Tacitus. Although the authenticity of all three has been questioned, and one is generally accepted as having been altered by Christians, most scholars believe they are at least partially authentic.
There is near unanimity among scholars that Jesus existed historically,[nb 1][nb 2][nb 3][nb 4] although biblical scholars differ about the beliefs and teachings of Jesus as well as the accuracy of the details of his life that have been described in the Gospels.[nb 5][nb 6]:168-173 While scholars have sometimes criticized Jesus scholarship for religious bias and lack of methodological soundness,[nb 7] with very few exceptions, such critics do support the historicity of Jesus, and reject the theory that Jesus never existed, known as the Christ myth theory.[nb 8] Certain scholars, particularly in Europe, have recently made the case that while there are a number of plausible "Jesuses" that could have existed, there can be no certainty as to which Jesus was the historical Jesus, and that there should also be more scholarly research and debate on this topic.
Historicity is the historical actuality or historical authenticity of a person or event, as opposed to being a myth, legend, or fiction.[nb 9] Historicity is self analysis inspired by attempts to understand the potential of the past and better understand and conceive surprising events. Historicity focuses on the truth value of knowledge claims about the past (denoting historical actuality, authenticity, and factuality.) The historicity of a claim about the past is its factual status.
Questions regarding historicity concern not just the issue of "what really happened," but also the issue of how modern observers can come to know "what really happened." This second issue is closely tied to historical research practices and methodologies for analyzing the reliability of primary sources and other evidence.
Non-Christian sources used to study and establish the historicity of Jesus include Jewish sources such as Josephus, and Roman sources such as Tacitus. The sources are compared to Christian sources such as the Pauline Letters and the Synoptic Gospels, and are usually independent of each other (e.g. Jewish sources do not draw upon Roman sources), and similarities and differences between them are used in the authentication process.
The sources for the historicity of Jesus are mainly Christian sources, such as the gospels and the purported letters of the apostles. The authenticity and reliability of these sources has been questioned by many scholars, and few events mentioned in the gospels are universally accepted.:181
There are three mentions of Jesus in non-Christian sources which have been used in historical analyses of the existence of Jesus, two mentions in the works of 1st-century Roman historian Josephus and one mention in the works of the 2nd-century Roman historian Tacitus.
Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews, written around 93–94 AD, includes two references to the biblical Jesus Christ in Books 18 and 20. The general scholarly view is that while the longer passage, known as the Testimonium Flavianum, is most likely not authentic in its entirety, it is broadly agreed upon that it originally consisted of an authentic nucleus, which was then subject to Christian interpolation or forgery. Of the other mention in Josephus, Josephus scholar Louis H. Feldman has stated that "few have doubted the genuineness" of Josephus' reference to Jesus in Antiquities 20, 9, 1 and it is only disputed by a small number of scholars.
If we apply to the New Testament, as we should, the same sort of criteria as we should apply to other ancient writings containing historical material, we can no more reject Jesus' existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned.
Historical reliability of the Gospels
An 11th-century Byzantine manuscript containing the opening of the Gospel of Luke.
Historians subject the gospels to critical analysis, attempting to differentiate rather authentic, reliable information from possible inventions, exaggerations, and alterations. Since there are more textual variants in the New Testament (200–400 thousand) than it has letters (c. 140 thousand), scholars use textual criticism to determine which gospel variants could theoretically be taken as 'original'. To answer this question, scholars have to ask who wrote the gospels, when they wrote them, what was their objective in writing them, what sources the authors used, how reliable these sources were, and how far removed in time the sources were from the stories they narrate, or if they were altered later. Scholars can also look into the internal evidence of the documents, to see if, for example, the document is misquoting texts from the Hebrew Tanakh, is making claims about geography that were incorrect, if the author appears to be hiding information, or if the author has made up a certain prophecy. Finally, scholars turn to external sources, including the testimony of early church leaders, writers outside the church (mainly Jewish and Greco-Roman historians) who would have been more likely to have criticized the church, and to archaeological evidence.
Events widely accepted as historical
Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed, and most biblical scholars and classical historians see the theories of his non-existence as effectively refuted.[nb 10] There is no evidence today that the existence of Jesus was ever denied in antiquity by those who opposed Christianity.Geoffrey Blainey notes that "a few scholars argue that Jesus... did not even exist," and that they "rightly point out that contemporary references to him were extremely rare." There is widespread disagreement among scholars on the details of the life of Jesus mentioned in the gospel narratives, and on the meaning of his teachings.
Part of the ancient Madaba Map showing two possible baptism locations
Bronzino's depiction of the Crucifixion with 3 nails, no ropes, and a hypopodium standing support, c. 1545.
According to New Testament scholar James Dunn, nearly all modern scholars consider the baptism of Jesus and his crucifixion to be historically certain. He states that these "two facts in the life of Jesus command almost universal assent" and "rank so high on the 'almost impossible to doubt or deny' scale of historical 'facts' they are obvious starting points for an attempt to clarify the what and why of Jesus' mission." that they are often the starting points for the study of the historical Jesus.
Bart D. Ehrman states that the existence of Jesus and his crucifixion by the Romans is attested to by a wide range of sources including Josephus and Tacitus.[need quotation to verify]John P. Meier views the crucifixion of Jesus as historical fact and states that based on the criterion of embarrassment Christians would not have invented the painful death of their leader. Meier states that a number of other criteria, e.g. the criterion of multiple attestation (i.e. confirmation by more than one source), the criterion of coherence (i.e. that it fits with other historical elements) and the criterion of rejection (i.e. that it is not disputed by ancient sources) help establish the crucifixion of Jesus as a historical event.[not in citation given] Biblical scholar John Dominic Crossan, highly skeptical with regard to the Gospel accounts of miracles, wrote in 1995 "[t]hat (Jesus) was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be, since both Josephus and Tacitus... agree with the Christian accounts on at least that basic fact.
One of the arguments in favor of the historicity of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist is that it is a story which the early Christian Church would have never wanted to invent, typically referred to as the criterion of embarrassment in historical analysis. Based on this criterion, given that John baptised for the remission of sins, and Jesus was viewed as without sin, the invention of this story would have served no purpose, and would have been an embarrassment given that it positioned John above Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew attempts to offset this problem by having John feel unworthy to baptise Jesus and Jesus giving him permission to do so in Matthew 3:14–15.
Historian of ancient history Robin Lane Fox states "Jesus was born in Galilee". Co-director of Ancient Cultures Research Centre at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia Alanna Nobbs has stated "While historical and theological debates remain about the actions and significance of this figure, his fame as a teacher, and his crucifixion under the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate, may be described as historically certain."
Amy-Jill Levine has summarized the situation by stating that "there is a consensus of sorts on the basic outline of Jesus' life" in that most scholars agree that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, and over a period of one to three years debated Jewish authorities on the subject of God, gathered followers, and was crucified by Roman prefect Pontius Pilate who officiated 26–36 AD. There is much in dispute as to his previous life, childhood, family and place of residence, of which the canonical gospels are almost completely silent. This silence is a problematic fact in explaining the historiography of Jesus. It has been suggested that it was the result of a conflict between the Nazarene Jewish followers of Jesus, led by his brother James, and the nascent Gentilic Christians led by the Apostle Paul.
Scholars attribute varying levels of certainty to other episodes. E.P. Sanders and Craig A. Evans independently state that there are two other incidents in the life of Jesus that can be considered historical: that Jesus called disciples, and that he caused a controversy at the Temple.[not in citation given] This extended view assumes that there are eight elements about Jesus and his followers that can be viewed as historical facts—four episodes in the life of Jesus and four about him and his followers, namely:
Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. He called disciples. He had a controversy at the Temple. Jesus was crucified by the Romans near Jerusalem.
Jesus was a Galilean. His activities were confined to Galilee and Judea. After his death his disciples continued. Some of his disciples were persecuted.
Scholarly agreement on this extended list is not universal.
The Mishnah (c. 200) may refer to Jesus and reflect the early Jewish traditions of portraying Jesus as a sorcerer or magician. Other possible references to Jesus and his execution may exist in the Talmud, but they also aim to discredit his actions, not deny his existence.
Currently modern scholarly research on the historical Jesus focuses on what is historically probable, or plausible about Jesus. More recently historicists have focused their attention on the historical writings associated with the period in which Jesus lived or on the evidence concerning his family.
Since the 18th century, three separate scholarly quests for the historical Jesus have taken place, each with distinct characteristics and based on different research criteria, which were often developed during that phase. The portraits of Jesus that have been constructed in these processes have often differed from each other, and from the dogmatic image portrayed in the gospel accounts. The mainstream profiles in the third quest may be grouped together based on their primary theme as apocalyptic prophet, charismatic healer, Cynic philosopher, Jewish Messiah and prophet of social change, but there is little scholarly agreement on a single portrait, or the methods needed to construct it. There are, however, overlapping attributes among the portraits, and scholars who differ on some attributes may agree on others.
A number of scholars have criticized the various approaches used in the study of the historical Jesus—on one hand for the lack of rigor in research methods, on the other for being driven by "specific agendas" that interpret ancient sources to fit specific goals. These agendas range from those that strive to confirm the Christian view of Jesus, or to discredit Christianity, or to interpret the life and teachings of Jesus with the hope of causing social change.By the 21st century the "maximalist" approaches of the 19th century which accepted all the gospels and the "minimalist" trends of the early 20th century which totally rejected them were abandoned and scholars began to focus on what is historically probable and plausible about Jesus.
The quest for the historical Jesus refers to academic efforts to provide a historical portrait of Jesus. Since the 18th century, three separate scholarly quests for the historical Jesus have taken place, each with distinct characteristics and based on different research criteria, which were often developed during each specific phase. These quests are distinguished from earlier approaches because they rely on the historical method to study biblical narratives. While textual analysis of biblical sources had taken place for centuries, these quests introduced new methods and specific techniques to establish the historical validity of their conclusions.
The enthusiasm shown during the first quest diminished after the 1906 criticism of Albert Schweitzer, who pointed out various shortcomings in the approaches used at the time. The second quest began in 1953 and introduced a number of new techniques, but reached a plateau in the 1970s. In the 1980s a number of scholars gradually began to introduce new research ideas, initiating a third quest characterized by the latest research approaches.
While there is widespread scholarly agreement on the existence of Jesus, and a basic consensus on the general outline of his life, the portraits of Jesus constructed in the quests have often differed from each other, and from the image portrayed in the gospel accounts. There are overlapping attributes among the portraits, and while pairs of scholars may agree on some attributes, those same scholars may differ on other attributes, and there is no single portrait of the historical Jesus that satisfies most scholars.
The Christ myth theory is the proposition that Jesus of Nazareth never existed, or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity and the accounts in the gospels. Many proponents use a three-fold argument first developed in the 19th century that the New Testament has no historical value, there are no non-Christian references to Jesus Christ from the first century, and that Christianity had pagan and/or mythical roots.
In recent years, there have been a number of books and documentaries on this subject. Some "mythicists" concede the possibility that Jesus may have been a real person, but that the biblical accounts of him are almost entirely fictional. Others believe in a spiritual Christ, but that he never lived.
^While discussing the "striking" fact that "we don't have any Roman records, of any kind, that attest to the existence of Jesus," Ehrman dismisses claims that this means Jesus never existed, saying, "He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees, based on clear and certain evidence.".
^Robert M. Price (a former fundamentalist apologist turned atheist who says the existence of Jesus cannot be ruled out, but is less probable than non-existence) agrees that this perspective runs against the views of the majority of scholars.
^Michael Grant (a classicist) states that "In recent years, 'no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non historicity of Jesus' or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary.".
^"There are those who argue that Jesus is a figment of the Church’s imagination, that there never was a Jesus at all. I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that any more.".
^Of "baptism and crucifixion", these "two facts in the life of Jesus command almost universal assent".
^That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be, since both Josephus and Tacitus ... agree with the Christian accounts on at least that basic fact.
^..."The point I shall argue below is that, the agreed evidentiary practices of the historians of Yeshua, despite their best efforts, have not been those of sound historical practice".
^"[F]arfetched theories that Jesus' existence was a Christian invention are highly implausible.".
^It is contingent on the original historicity for something to be transformed to historical actuality.
^Robert E. Van Voorst, referring to G.A. Wells: "The nonhistoricity thesis has always been controversial, and it has consistently failed to convince scholars of many disciplines and religious creeds... Biblical scholars and classical historians now regard it as effectively refuted".
^Wandersee, J. H. (1992), The historicality of cognition: Implications for science education research. J. Res. Sci. Teach., 29: 423–434. doi: 10.1002/tea.3660290409
^Harre, R., & Moghaddam, F.M. (2006). Historicity, social psychology, and change. In Rockmore, T. & Margolis, J. (Eds.), History, historicity, and science (pp. 94–120). London: Ashgate Publishing Limited., 
^Hall, J. (2007). Historicity and Sociohistorical Research. In W. Outhwaite, & S. Turner (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Social Science Methodology. (pp. 82–102). London, England: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781848607958.n5
^Hall, J. (2007). History, methodologies, and the study of religion. In J. Beckford, & N. Demerath (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of the sociology of religion. (pp. 167–189). London: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781848607965.n9
^The Cambridge Companion to Jesus by Markus N. A. Bockmuehl 2001 ISBN 0521796784 pages 121-125
^ abcdeIn a 2011 review of the state of modern scholarship, Bart Ehrman (a secular agnostic) wrote: "He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees" B. Ehrman, 2011 Forged : writing in the name of GodISBN 978-0-06-207863-6. page 285
^Robert M. Price (an atheist) who denies the existence of Jesus agrees that this perspective runs against the views of the majority of scholars: Robert M. Price "Jesus at the Vanishing Point" in The Historical Jesus: Five Views edited by James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy, 2009 InterVarsity, ISBN 0830838686 page 61
^ abcdeMichael Grant (a classicist) states that "In recent years, 'no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non historicity of Jesus' or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary." in Jesus by Michael Grant 2004 ISBN 1898799881 page 200
^ abcRichard A. Burridge states: "There are those who argue that Jesus is a figment of the Church’s imagination, that there never was a Jesus at all. I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that any more." in Jesus Now and Then by Richard A. Burridge and Graham Gould (Apr 1, 2004) ISBN 0802809774 page 34
^ abcdJesus Remembered by James D. G. Dunn 2003 ISBN 0-8028-3931-2 page 339 states of baptism and crucifixion that these "two facts in the life of Jesus command almost universal assent".
^ abCrossan, John Dominic (1995). Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography. HarperOne. p. 145. ISBN0-06-061662-8. "That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be, since both Josephus and Tacitus...agree with the Christian accounts on at least that basic fact."
^Who is Jesus? Answers to your questions about the historical Jesus, by John Dominic Crossan, Richard G. Watts (Westminster John Knox Press 1999), page 108
^James G. D. Dunn, Jesus Remembered, (Eerdmans, 2003) page 779-781.
^Rev. John Edmunds, 1855 The seven sayings of Christ on the cross Thomas Hatchford Publishers, London, page 26
^Stagg, Evelyn and Frank. Woman in the World of Jesus. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1978 ISBN 0-664-24195-6
^Funk, Robert W. and the Jesus Seminar. The acts of Jesus: the search for the authentic deeds of Jesus. HarperSanFrancisco. 1998. "Empty Tomb, Appearances & Ascension" p. 449-495.
^James D. G. Dunn (1974) Paul's understanding of the death of Jesus in Reconciliation and Hope. New Testament Essays on Atonement and Eschatology Presented to L.L. Morris on his 60th Birthday. Robert Banks, ed., Carlisle: The Paternoster Press, pp. 125–141, Citing G.A. Wells (The Jesus of the Early Christians (1971)): "Perhaps we should also mention that at the other end of the spectrum Paul’s apparent lack of knowledge of the historical Jesus has been made the major plank in an attempt to revive the nevertheless thoroughly dead thesis that the Jesus of the Gospels was a mythical figure." An almost identical quotation is included in Dunn, James DG (1998) The Christ and the Spirit: Collected Essays of James D.G. Dunn, Volume 1, Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., p. 191, and Sykes, S. (1991) Sacrifice and redemption: Durham essays in theology. Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press. p. 35-36.
^Encyclopedia of theology: a concise Sacramentum mundi by Karl Rahner 2004 ISBN 0-86012-006-6 pp. 730–731: "The few non-Christian sources [e.g. Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, and Josephus] merely confirm that in antiquity it never occurred to any one, even the bitterest enemies of Christianity, to doubt the existence of Jesus"
^Van Voorst, Robert E (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 0-8028-4368-9-page 15: Referring to G.A. Wells (The Jesus of the Early Christians (1971)): "Fourth, Wells cannot explain to the satisfaction of historians why, if Christians invented the historical Jesus around the year 100, no pagans and Jews who opposed Christianity denied Jesus' historicity or even questioned it." (Van Voorst refutes his own point in footnote 35, citing Justin's Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 8)
^Eisenmann, Robert, (2001), "James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls"
^Butz, Jeffrey (2005), "The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Traditions of Christianity" (Inner Traditions)
^Tabor, James (2012), "Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity" (Simon and Shuster)
^ abcdeAuthenticating the Activities of Jesus by Bruce Chilton and Craig A. Evans 2002 ISBN 0391041649 pages 3–7
^Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee by Mark Allan Powell (1 Nov 1998) ISBN 0664257038 page 117
^ abJesus and the Politics of his Day by E. Bammel and C. F. D. Moule (30 Aug 1985) ISBN 0521313449 page 393
^In Jesus: The Complete Guide edited by J. L. Houlden (8 Feb 2006) ISBN 082648011X pages 693–694
^Jesus in the Talmud by Peter Schäfer (24 Aug 2009) ISBN 0691143188 page 141 and 9
^Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey by Craig L. Blomberg (1 Aug 2009) ISBN 0805444823 page 280
^Kostenberger, Andreas J.; Kellum, L. Scott; Quarles, Charles L. (2009). The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New TestamentISBN 0-8054-4365-7. pages 107–109
^John, Jesus, and History Volume 1 by Paul N. Anderson, Felix Just and Tom Thatcher (14 Nov 2007) ISBN 1589832930 page 131
^John P. Meier "Criteria: How do we decide what comes from Jesus?" in The Historical Jesus in Recent Research by James D. G. Dunn and Scot McKnight (15 Jul 2006) ISBN 1575061007 page 124 "Since in the quest for the historical Jesus almost anything is possible, the function of the criteria is to pass from the merely possible to the really probable, to inspect various probabilities, and to decide which candidate is most probable. Ordinarily the criteria can not hope to do more."
^Mason, Steve (2002), "Josephus and the New Testament" (Baker Academic)
^Tabor, James (2012)"Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity" (Simon & Schuster)
^Eisenman, Robert (1998), "James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls" (Watkins)
^Butz, Jeffrey "The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Teachings of Christianity" (Inner Traditions)
^Tabor, James (2007), "The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity"
^ abcdThe Quest for the Plausible Jesus: The Question of Criteria by Gerd Theissen and Dagmar Winter (Aug 30, 2002) ISBN 0664225373 page 5
^ abcJesus Research: An International Perspective (Princeton-Prague Symposia Series on the Historical Jesus) by James H. Charlesworth and Petr Pokorny (Sep 15, 2009) ISBN 0802863531 pages 1–2
^Ehrman, Bart. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-19-515462-2, chapters 13, 15
^Robert M. Price (an atheist who denies the existence of Jesus) agrees that this perspective runs against the views of the majority of scholars: Robert M. Price "Jesus at the Vanishing Point" in The Historical Jesus: Five Views edited by James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy, 2009 InterVarsity, ISBN 028106329X page 61
^ abcThe Jesus Quest: The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth by Ben Witherington (May 8, 1997) ISBN 0830815449 pages 9–13
^ abJesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee by Mark Allan Powell (1 Jan 1999) ISBN 0664257038 pages 19–23
^"Historical Jesus, Quest of the." Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. pp 775
^ abcThe Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament by Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum 2009 ISBN 978-0-8054-4365-3 pages 124–125
^ abcThe Cambridge History of Christianity, Volume 1 by Margaret M. Mitchell and Frances M. Young (Feb 20, 2006) ISBN 0521812399 page 23
^Images of Christ (Academic Paperback) by Stanley E. Porter, Michael A. Hayes and David Tombs (Dec 19, 2004) ISBN 0567044602T&T Clark page 74
^The Jesus Quest: The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth by Ben Witherington (May 8, 1997) ISBN 0830815449 page 197
^ abFamiliar Stranger: An Introduction to Jesus of Nazareth by Michael James McClymond (Mar 22, 2004) ISBN 0802826806 pages 16–22
^The Historical Jesus of the Gospels by Craig S. Keener (13 Apr 2012) ISBN 0802868886 page 163
^Jesus in Contemporary Scholarship by Marcus J. Borg (1 Aug 1994) ISBN 1563380943 pages 4–6
^John P. Meier "Criteria: How do we decide what comes from Jesus?" in The Historical Jesus in Recent Research by James D. G. Dunn and Scot McKnight (Jul 15, 2006) ISBN 1575061007 page 124 "Since in the quest for the historical Jesus almost anything is possible, the function of the criteria is to pass from the merely possible to the really probable, to inspect various probabilities, and to decide which candidate is most probable. Ordinarily the criteria can not hope to do more."
^The Symbolic Jesus: Historical Scholarship, Judaism and the Construction of Contemporary Identity by William Arnal (Jan 15, 2005) ISBN 1845530071 pages 41–43
^Criteria for Authenticity in Historical-Jesus Research by Stanley E. Porter 2004 ISBN 0567043606 pages 28–29
^Amy-Jill Levine in the The Historical Jesus in Context edited by Amy-Jill Levine et al. 2006 Princeton University Press ISBN 978-0-691-00992-6 pages 1: "no single picture of Jesus has convinced all, or even most scholars"
^Bart Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? Harper Collins, 2012, p. 12, ""In simpler terms, the historical Jesus did not exist . Or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity." further quoting as authoritative the fuller definition provided by Earl Doherty in Jesus: Neither God Nor Man. Age of Reason, 2009, pp. vii–viii: it is "the theory that no historical Jesus worthy of the name existed, that Christianity began with a belief in a spiritual, mythical figure, that the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction, and that no single identifiable person lay at the root of the Galilean preaching tradition."
^"Jesus Outside the New Testament" Robert E. Van Voorst, 2000, p=8-9