There are a small group of people who question whether Jesus existed as a real person. Jesus existed because his existence was extremely well documented. Below are proofs of Jesus being a real person:
These early historians wrote about the early Christians:
Cornelius Tacitus (55-120 AD) Roman Historian wrote this:
Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.
He is confirming the existence of Jesus Christ who suffered “extreme penalty” at the hands of Pontius Pilate. The extreme penalty of those days was crucifixion and this confirms the biblical account that Pontius Pilate was in charge.
Pliny the Younger (61 – 113 AD), the Roman governor of Bithynia-Pontus (now in modern Turkey) wrote a letter to Emperor Trajan around 112 AD and asked for counsel on dealing with Christians. The letter (Epistulae X.96) details an account of how Pliny conducted trials of suspected Christians who appeared before him as a result of anonymous accusations and asks for the Emperor’s guidance on how they should be treated.
Neither Pliny nor Trajan mentions the crime that Christians had committed, except for being a Christian; and other historical sources do not provide a simple answer to this question, but a likely element may be the stubborn refusal of Christians to worship Roman gods; making them appear as objecting to Roman rule.
Suetonius (117-138 AD) Roman Historian
Because the Jews at Rome caused constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus [Christ], he [Claudius] expelled them from the city [Rome]. – Life of Claudius 25.4
Nero inflicted punishment on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous religious belief. – Lives of Casesars, Nero, 16
The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, writing during the second half of the first century CE, produced two major works: History of the Jewish War and Antiquities of the Jews. Two apparent references to Jesus occur in the second of these works. The longer, and more famous passage, occurs in Book 18 of Antiquities and reads as follows (taken from the standard accepted Greek text of Antiquities 18:63-64 by L. H. Feldman in the Loeb Classical Library):
About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats and as a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing amongst us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvellous things about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.
These others made fun of Christ and Christians but never denied his existence:
Lucian of Samosata (125 – after 180 AD)
Lucian satirized the Christians in his Passing of Peregrinus, a story of a philosopher sage who at one point becomes a leader of the Christians to take advantage of their gullibility. Here is a quote:
“These deluded creatures, you see, have persuaded themselves that they are immortal and will live forever, which explains the contempt of death and willing self-sacrifice so common among them. It was impressed on them too by their lawgiver that from the moment they are converted, deny the gods of Greece, worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws, they are all brothers. They take his instructions completely on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods and hold them in common ownership. So any adroit, unscrupulous fellow, who knows the world, has only to get among these simple souls and his fortune is quickly made; he plays with them.”
Celsus 2nd Century Greek Philosopher
“Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who gained her living by the work of her own hands. His mother had been turned out of doors by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of adultery [with a soldier named Panthéra (i.32)]. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard. Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain (magical) powers which Egyptians pride themselves on possessing. He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god.”
In a 2011 review of the state of modern scholarship, Bart Ehrman (a secular agnostic) wrote: “He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees” B. Ehrman, 2011 Forged : writing in the name of God ISBN 978-0-06-207863-6. page 285
Richard A. Burridge states: “There are those who argue that Jesus is a figment of the Church’s imagination, that there never was a Jesus at all. I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that any more.” in Jesus Now and Then by Richard A. Burridge and Graham Gould (Apr 1, 2004) ISBN 0802809774 page 34
Michael Grant (a classicist) states that “In recent years, ‘no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non historicity of Jesus’ or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary.” in Jesus by Michael Grant 2004 ISBN 1898799881 page 200
Crossan, John Dominic (1995). Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography. HarperOne. p. 145. ISBN 0-06-061662-8.
That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be, since both Josephus and Tacitus…agree with the Christian accounts on at least that basic fact.