Scholar Bart D. Ehrman says(said) that we have such scanty about the documentation of Jesus life. Bart D. Ehrman says/said that Jesus is never mentioned in any Greek or Roman, non-Christian sources until 80 years after his death. There is no record of Jesus having lived in these sources. In the entire first Christian century Jesus is not mentioned by a single Greek or Roman historian, religion scholars, politicians, philosophers or poets. His name never occurs in a single inscription and it is never found in a single piece of private correspondence zero zip references. In other words, there is no non-Christian evidence from the first century of a “historical Jesus.”
Is Bart D. Ehrman right?
If so, does that undermine the credibility of the christianity and our faith?
Also keen to hear responses to this. I started (but have only got 2 minutes in) listening to a podcast debate from several years ago on Justin Brierly’s “Unbelievable” podcast between Bart Ehrman and Peter Williams on a similar subject line. I haven’t listened to it, but I enjoy this podcast and it is usually a pretty good listen.
Thanks for the question. It has been ask before and I am sure it will be ask again.
I am going to answer it from a slightly different angle. Ehrman is trying to make the point that on the subject of Jesus, the extant literature of that day was silent. And because it was silent, then the story of Jesus was likely a myth. He was wrong and I will give a few links to resources to help you think though this at the end of this post but I am going to quote from a book that I am reading currently on the Jerusalem Talmud by Jacob Nuesner.
You are probably wondering what does the Talmud have to do with Jesus or Ehrman’s position. so let me share. Please note the Jerusalem Talmud was a work that spanned almost 300 years, 200AD to 400AD a period of time that was historically significate to the west. This is what he had to say:
By the end of the fourth century, with Theodosius’ law of A.D. 392, the practice of paganism had been outlawed. The great city, Rome, fell to barbarians in 410. There never was a more momentous century in the history of the West. On all of these immense events, the Talmud of the Land of Israel, a document of the very same years, maintains perfect silence.
Neusner, J. (2003). Judaism in Society: The Evidence of the Yerushalmi: Toward the Natural History of a Religion (p. 8). Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers.
The point that I am making is I could take the position that because the Jerusalem Talmud makes no mention of these calamitous event (from a Jews POV) then they did not happen, of course this is not a good argument but hopeful you can see my point.
Now to some community links that will give a more direct answer and resources that you will be able to use.
That should give some resources for you to use as you sort this out.
Just out of curiosity is this a topic of discussion with friends and family or just a result of personal study.
I would read Bart Ehrmans book on the historical Jesus in which he defends the historicity of Jesus as an actual person against those few who believe he was a myth. Though he conceives of Jesus differently, his historical examination of Jesus as a historical figure helps to solidify that part of the argument and can help buttress Christianity from that particular perspective (that he wasn’t a myth).
Honestly you’d have to read Bart Ehrmans work. He’s a conflicted individual at times. On one hand the evidence isn’t enough for him but on the other defends the overwhelming amount of evidence we have for Jesus.
Here are some books to read that might help.
-Bruce M. Metzger, Bart D. Ehrman “The Text of the New Testament: Its transmission, Corruption, and Restoration”. Forth Edition
-John McRay “Archaeology and the New Testament”
-Craig A. Evans "Jesus and His World: The Archaeological Evidence. Louisville, KY: Westminister John Knox Press, 2012
I added archaeological evidence because this supports that the Bible writers were telling the truth about what they wrote. 80 yrs honestly isn’t a long time compared to other people in history who were supposed to be way more famous than Jesus, such as Caesar himself in that Era. But when those later documents are combined with the bible which are accounts written within the earthly life time of Jesus and the life time of the apostles you can’t deny Jesus existed.
You also have to remember that for the first 3 centuries Christians were persecuted. I think that would have a lot to do with why you don’t see many outside sources aside from Christians themselves about Jesus. So I don’t think what he said undermines the Bible at all. He’s kind of nitpicking if you ask me. He knows better than most that if you apply that standard to any other person in ancient history no one comes close to meeting that standard.