51 The lengthy chain of argument can be found in Habermas, The Resurrection of Jesus: An Apologetic, especially Part One.
52 Shepard Clough, Nina Garsoian and David L. Hicks, Ancient and Medieval, in A History of the Western World, 3 vols. (Boston: D.C. Heath and Co., 1964), vol. I, p. 127.
The authors certainly do not sound overly critical and perhaps they are speaking of a fully developed life of Jesus in ancient history. Nevertheless, this view is echoed by many persons. Consider a statement in a modern novel, spoken by a fictitious archaeologist who is very skeptical of Christianity: The church bases its claims mostly on the teachings of an obscure young Jew with messianic pretensions who, let’s face it, didn’t make much of an impression in his lifetime. There isn’t a single word about him in secular history. Not a word. No mention of him by the Romans. Not so much as a reference by Josephus.^53
Although the character who uttered this pronouncement is fictitious, the charge is a frequent one and, as in this case, sometimes used in an attempt to discredit Christianity. We will simply make two responses to this view here, especially since it is not necessarily a critical attempt to reject the pursuit of the historical Jesus.
1.A false notion
First, it is simply false to hold that there are no ancient sources outside of the New Testament that speak of Jesus. It is true that none of these extrabiblical sources give a detailedaccount concerning Jesus, but there are nevertheless well over a dozen non-Christian sources from ancient history that mention him. There are also a number of early Christian sources that provide more information concerning him. We will have to wait until Part Two to specifically substantiate this claim, but it is enough to note here that it is incorrect to assert that the ancient non-Christian world knew nothing of Jesus. It may even be the case that he is one of the most-mentioned figures of the ancient world!