A Historical Person Yet, strangely, some say that Jesus never lived—that he is, in effect, a creation of some first-century men. Answering such skeptics, the respected historian Will Durant argued: “That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospels.” Ask yourself: Could a person who never lived have affected human history so remarkably? The reference work The Historians’ History of the World observed: “The historical result of [Jesus’] activities was more momentous, even from a strictly secular standpoint, than the deeds of any other character of history. A new era, recognised by the chief civilisations of the world, dates from his birth.” Yes, think about it. Even calendars today are based on the year that Jesus was thought to have been born. “Dates before that year are listed as B.C., or before Christ,” explains The World Book Encyclopedia. “Dates after that year are listed as A.D., or anno Domini (in the year of our Lord).” Critics, nevertheless, point out that all that we really know about Jesus is found in the Bible. No other contemporary records concerning him exist, they say. Even H. G. Wells wrote: “The old Roman historians ignored Jesus entirely; he left no impress on the historical records of his time.” But is this true? Although references to Jesus Christ by early secular historians are meager, such references do exist. Cornelius Tacitus, a respected first-century Roman historian, wrote: “The name [Christian] is derived from Christ, whom the procurator Pontius Pilate had executed in the reign of Tiberius.” Suetonius and Pliny the Younger, other Roman writers of the time, also referred to Christ. In addition, Flavius Josephus, a first-century Jewish historian, wrote of James, whom he identified as “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ.” The New Encyclopædia Britannica thus concludes: “These independent accounts prove that in ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus, which was disputed for the first time and on inadequate grounds at the end of the 18th, during the 19th, and at the beginning of the 20th centuries.” Essentially, however, all that is known about Jesus was recorded by his first-century followers. Their reports have been preserved in the Gospels—Bible books written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. What do these accounts say regarding the identity of Jesus?