One way or another, it’s a debate most of us feel strongly about – did Jesus Christ actually exist?
Millions of Christians around the world are celebrating Jesus’ life this Easter weekend, but some believe he was not the son of God – others think he never existed.
In fact, a 2015 study found 40 per cent of English adults do not believe Jesus was a real historical figure.
So what historical evidence is there that Jesus Christ lived?
Writing for The Guardian, Dr Simon Gathercole, Reader in New Testament Studies at the University of Cambridge, explored why so many are convinced of Jesus’ existence.
He said evidence is ‘both long-established and widespread’, with texts appearing within decades of his supposed lifetime.
Jewish and Roman historians from the era wrote about Jesus, alongside Christian writings.
This is significant when compared to King Arthur – despite apparently living about 500 years after Jesus, he is not mentioned in text until hundreds of years later.
In addition, the level of detail in the epistles of St Paul, written just 25 years after Jesus’ death, and biographies in the New Testament are further evidence of his existence, Dr Gathercole said.
And while the subject of whether he lived is debated now, it was never argued in writings from the time.
Dr Gathercole concluded: ‘These abundant historical references leave us with little reasonable doubt that Jesus lived and died.
‘The more interesting question – which goes beyond history and objective fact – is whether Jesus died and lived.’