In conclusion, there is a substantial body of data that argues for a historical Jesus who lived early in the first century. We have mentioned a few of the key strands (and we will investigate many others in Chapter 7). Paul knew of Jesus’ disciples and visited with Peter and John. Another acquaintance, James, was the brother of Jesus. Hundreds who had witnessed the risen Jesus were still alive in Paul’s day. Further, the Gospels are written within a time frame that at least raises the possibility of recording much reliable historical information about Jesus. Certain extrabiblical texts record other data about Jesus, as well. Martin’s charges at each of these points involve arguments that strain the limits of reason and even border on credulity.

While we will turn below to a positive case for the historicity of Jesus, we have argued here that the central tenets of Martin’s theses fail to account for the available data at a very basic level. Many of his problems stem from what might be considered, at best, a failure to assess carefully the available evidence on this topic. Along with Wells, one distinctly gets the sense that this thesis is held in the face of myriads of data to the contrary. That the view lacks scholarly appeal (as readily admitted by Martin himself) is not because some scholars are unwilling to embrace such a radical thesis, but that the conclusions are simply unwarranted. Summary and Conclusion

Surprisingly few scholars have asserted that Jesus never existed or have attempted to cast almost total doubt on his life and ministry. When such efforts have occurred, they have been met by rare outcries from the scholarly community.^60 We have seen that these attempts are refuted at almost every turn by the early and eyewitness testimony presented by Paul and others, as well as by the early date of the Gospels. Such evidence caused Charlesworth to conclude specifically concerning Wells’ position: “Many solid arguments can be presented against such distortions and polemics.”^61

57 Ibid., p. 46.

58 For examples, whyshould we question Josephus’ second reference to Jesus as the brother of James (Martin, p. 49)? Do many but the most radical scholars doubt it? How do we know for sure that Tacitus couldn’t have obtained data about Jesus from Roman or other sources (p. 51), especially when he records data not found in the New Testament? Should we reject all secondary citations in ancient accounts like Martin questions Africanus’ citing of Thallus (p. 51)? While some scholars may question whether Suetonius’ mention of “Chrestos” is a reference to Jesus (pp. 51–52), what about those who think that it isJesus (such as Bruce, p. 21)? Although Martin questions why I don’t mention some of the texts from the Talmud (p. 70, note 44), I plainly say that these passages are dated much later. (See Gary R. Habermas, Ancient Evidence for the Life of Jesus, [Nashville: Nelson, 1984, 1988], p. 99.)

59 Both quotations are from Martin, Case Against Christianity, p. 52.