Another factor is that some of these early authors were scholars or leaders in their own right. Clement and Ignatius were well-known bishops in the early church,^27 while Justin was a rather distinguished philosopher.^28 Additionally, these writers were frequently careful to cite evidence for their assertions. Clement and Ignatius referred to the resurrection as the basis for Christian truth. Quadratus backed his testimony with eyewitness testimony concerning Jesus’ miracles. Justin referred to miracles and fulfilled prophecy as evidence.
25 See Ignatius, Romans, 4; cf. Clement, Corinthians, 47.
26 For example, see Eusebius, Ecclesiastical HistoryIII: XV-XVI.
27 Ibid., III:XV-XXII.
28 Ibid., IV:XVI.
However, in spite of these early sources, scholarly testimonies and citings of evidence, there are also weaknesses in our usage of these sources. Initially, it is obvious that these writings rely on the New Testament for much of their data, as is specifically reported by Justin.^29 That they do so is certainly not a weakness in itself, for we have argued repeatedly that the New Testament is a good historical source. However, the point is that if they rely on the New Testament, then they are not totally extra-New Testament, and the object of this work is to ascertain what evidence of this latter kind is available.
It should also be remembered that the purpose of these writers was not a critical investigation of history per se, but the reporting of Christian origins. While such is certainly a fair and worthwhile approach, and can yield historical facts, additional evidence could also strengthen the case.
Such additional, corroborative data is partially available from the secular sources in Chapter 9, where many of the reports confirm the citings singled out here, especially with regard to the teachings and crucifixion of Jesus. There are also parallels concerning his life and the reports of his resurrection. Thus we continue to witness the ancient corroboration of Jesus’ story. As we have said, he is actually one of the most-mentioned figures in the ancient world.