Many historians and theologists agree that there are huge gaps in the biblical literature that is used as justification or hard evidence for Jesus' existence. It is not just texts from the biblical era, but also many from the AD era that is contradicting themselves in the information or simply missing context to actually define who it is referring to.
In Christianity, the main sources that are used to justify the existence of Jesus are texts found within the Bible, whether it be the new or old testament. However, there are some sources that are categorized as "extra-biblical sources" that scholars and Christians like to present as proof of Jesus' existence. In this article, we will be going over some of these sources and the issues they present when trying to prove the existence of Jesus.
Pliny The Younger
Those who denied that they were or had been Christians, when they invoked the gods in words dictated by me, offered prayer with incense and wine to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for this purpose together with statues of the gods, and moreover cursed Christ — none of which those who are really Christians, it is said, can be forced to do — these I thought should be discharged. Others named by the informer declared that they were Christians, but then denied it, asserting that they had been but had ceased to be, some three years before, others many years, some as much as twenty-five years. They all worshiped your image and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ. (Quote by Pliny the Younger)
One of the main issues with these texts as with the other sources that are presented from the same category is that they are presented after the 2nd century AD, therefore believed to not have the same validity as biblical texts. The text does not exactly refer to the existence of Jesus, it refers more directly to the existence of Christianity during Biblical times. Overall there is no direct mention of Jesus, and although Christianity is all about Jesus, that does not justify his existence, at least in the eyes of most critics.
Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day. (Quote by Josephus on Jesus)
The main issue in this text is that Josephus was born 10 years after Jesus had died, therefore it is impossible for him to meet Jesus. The second thing is that many scholars believe that Josephus' texts have been edited at a later date. Some sources mention that the text had been published to the public 50 years after Jesus' death, making the validity questionable, to say the least.
The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day — the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account… You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. (Quote by Lucian of Samosata)
As with all the rest of the texts, the main issue is that it had been written after the second century, many years after the death of Jesus, therefore the text could have been picked up from legends. Although there is an indirect mention of Jesus or "a person crucified on that account", the focus is on Christian belief, as if Christianity revolves around Jesus and not the other way around.
What a lot of these texts are missing is more context to Jesus, details about him as an entity, and how he wanted Christians to perceive his religion as well as his teachings. The argument that is presented by those who support these texts as justification for Jesus' existence is that Christianity is about belief, but why are all the texts that try to represent Jesus so inconsistent?
Every Christian and believer should be their own judge.