Arguments for the Historicity of Jesus
Courtesy of Dan:
- Very few of the relevant myths predate Christianity, and the common elements between them and Christianity (such as communion, virgin birth, resurrection) have a different significance and/or are cast in a different light.
- Because of #1, the parallels are largely apparent with very little true substance, so borrowing and/or influence could not be said to exist.
- Currently popular, advanced in "Reinventing Jesus": In cases where the correspondence is legitimate, it is more likely that influence goes the other way, with pagan religions borrowing from Christianity.
- alternate argument to #3 advanced by Justin Martyr in the 2nd century: The correspondence is legitimate, and exists because demons read the prophecies about Jesus and tried to discredit him in advance by counterfeiting what he would do so that he wouldn't be believed when he did come.
- alternate argument to #3 and #4 advanced by C.S. Lewis: Christianity copies other religions because God saw the yearnings of the human heart working themselves out in the stories men told, and decided to fulfill them in actual fact.
- Robert Van Voorst in "Jesus Outside the New Testament" makes an affirmative (rather than defensive) case for historicity. R.T. France does the same in "The Evidence For Jesus." Alastair McGrath has some material on the topic in "The Genesis of Doctrine"
- Good historians take historical texts as being generally accurate while attempting to control for bias, and the gospels (particularly Luke) are definitely written as history. In absence of contradictory evidence the gospels should be accepted as generally accurate history.