There can be little doubt that this is a substantial amount of pre- and non-New Testament material for Jesus’ existence and for numerous facts about his life. In light of these reports we can better understand how groundless the speculations are that deny his existence or that postulate only a minimal amount of facts concerning him. Much of ancient history is based on many fewer sources that are much later than the events that they record, as we have seen. While some believe that we know almost nothing about Jesus from ancient, non-New Testament sources, this is plainly not the case. Not only are there many such sources, but Jesus is one of the persons of ancient history concerning whom we have a significant amount of quality data. His is one of the most mentioned and most substantiated lives in ancient times. The Person of Jesus
The deity of Jesus was widely reported in the ancient writings that we investigated. Of our 45 sources, 30 record this teaching, which surprisingly includes seven of the 17 secular sources.
It was pointed out in Chapter 4 that Jesus claimed to be deity, as indicated, for example, by such titles as “Son of God” and “Son of Man.”^4 The pre-New Testament creeds (the six Acts texts, along with Rom. 1:3–4, 1 Cor. 11:23ff., 15:3ff., and Phil. 2:6ff., in particular), provide especially strong evidence for the deity of Jesus. This conclusion rests on the authoritative, apostolic sources for the creeds and the incredibly early time period to which they date, right after the conclusion of Jesus’ ministry.
These creeds show that the church did not simply teach Jesus’ deity a generation later, as is so often repeated in contemporary theology, because this doctrine is definitely present in the earliest preaching. The best explanation for these creeds is that they properly represent Jesus’ own teachings, especially since he made similar claims. The Teachings of Jesus