There is, I think, one document in the Hebrew history that refers to a Jesus of Nazareth, as well as documents in India of unverified authenticity that may be a record of that person being there.
My opinion is that there very likely was someone by that name, but it is just as likely that everything we think we know about that person is as inaccurate as the portraits we use to assign a European appearance to him.
It's a tricky question. If you could see the Jesus Of Nazareth that really existed, your reaction might be, "That's not the Jesus I know. That person doesn't verify the Jesus I know as a historical figure."
If that's the case, then the Jesus we know today who looks so white and supports all kinds of wars and hatred towards one's neighbors is not a historical figure. He's a myth - a folk tale that we can make anything we want out of.
There's a historical Paul Bunyan too. As you might guess, that in no way adds historicity to the legends that were attributed to him.
New Testament documents, of which there about five thousand, substantiated the existence of Jesus.
No other ancient historical figure has as much literary evidence for his existence and teaching.
His conflict with unbelieving Jews and Roman authorities, among other things, point to Jesus' physical existence. Likewise, the persecution of the first century church by both Jews and Romans, proves that Jesus lived. Moreover, both secular and religious documents proclaim His life.
It is ridiculous that people would make the argument that Jesus never existed when history has settled that Jesus really existed. People will always come up with unfounded arguments (based on conspiracy theories) and shouldn't be given the attention for their unfounded claims. The question is not whether Jesus existed but whether his claims were true. I believe the claims of Jesus were verified in his resurrection. Therefore not only was Jesus a historical figure, but also divine.
The existence of Jesus Christ cannot be denied for a great number of reasons. I will present three main ones to begin: The Biblical record, the external record, and the church's growth.
Firstly, we have the Biblical record. The books of the New Testament provide in-depth depictions and explanations of the existence of Jesus, as a real human being. They detail him in great depth. Even those who are not Christian must admit the reliability of the New Testament as historical documents. They were written within 100 years of Jesus' life; not enough time to completely make him up, or for legend to grow about him. Thus, we can use them as historical proof of his existence.
Secondly, there is numerous accounts of Jesus' existence outside of the Bible. For instance, Josephus, and well-known Jewish historian, writes about Jesus twice in his histories. While one of these references was later edited, it's original wording, and his second reference, both show Jesus to be a real person. Roman historian Tacticus also talks about Jesus. Other first century Romans mention Christianity and it's founder, who they called Christus (a romanization of the term Christ). Thus, we can see that there is plenty of historical proof of Jesus' reality.
Finally, we can see his historical existence because of the growth of the Christian church. The church grew and expanded rapidly in the first century AD, a fact that cannot be denied. It became a strong force around the known world by at least the year 130 AD. This was around a century after the death of Jesus. There is no way a myth could have sprung up that quickly. There is no other time in history where we can see an example of this happening. What's more, the church expanded from Jerusalem and Israel. If Jesus never existed, then people would have known that fact. It would be comparable to someone going around telling everyone that John F Kennedy was not a real person; everyone would know you were lying, and your crazy belief would not have gone far. In the same way, if Jesus was a lie, the early church would not have been able to convince anyone of his existence. Therefore, the rapid growth of the church proves Jesus was real.
We have seen, therefore, that Jesus was a real historical person. This can be seen through the Biblical text, external historical texts, and the growth of Christianity. Even if one does not accept the Godship of Jesus Christ, his existence cannot be denied.
There is proof that he at least was real, whether or not he was the holy son of God, is another story. I am not here to debate religion, but to state the truth, in the fact that he was a real person. And even if you don't believe that he was a holy man, he was real, and a historical figure.
To say Jesus wasn't even a historical person is flirting with kookdum. There's more evidence for the historical Jesus than the Roman Emperor at the time. Every serious historian will agree that Jesus was a real person. The only problem arises are these miracle claims and his resurrection, because historians cannot have a miracle as an explanation. Some will say it's possible that they could have happened, but to say that it is historical is going against their philosophy.
Yes, Jesus was a historical figure. Most New Testament scholars and historians agree. The real question is about whether or not Jesus really performed the miracles that many of the gospel authors claim he did. We do know, however, the early Jesus movement didn't view Jesus as "God" as these Trinitarian Christians view him as today.
I think that it is clear that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed a historical figure. You only need to look at The writings of Josephus and Tacitus to see the evidence for him. The vast majority of ancient scholars agree on the historicity of Jesus - many also go so far as to say the Gospels are a reliable source of data on the life of Jesus.
One bit of evidence is found in the Pauline letters - where it mentions 'James, the brother of the Lord' - this is a non-specific point and is very important for historians to decide on the credentials of a source. It does not set out to make a point which is an indication of it's reliability.
I don't think anyone can doubt that Jesus existed, at the very least as a historical figure.
I want to find some contemporary evidence for the existence of Jesus, but there isn't any outside of the Bible itself, and even in that, the only person claimed to have met Jesus met the ghost of Jesus on his travels.
There is no first-person contemporary evidence, yet people still believe there's sufficient reason to believe he exists? That's shocking. We have a higher standard of evidence for nearly every single other figure we believe is historical, yet when it comes to Jesus we just accept that he existed despite sketchy reasons.
I don't think anybody who actually takes a look at the supposed evidence with the same standard of evidence they would use in other parts of their life, and still come out the other side believing he existed as a historical figure, unless he used faith.
Like he said, there is no evidence beyond the Bible itself, written by men more than likely years after the supposed death of Jesus. Jesus, real or not, did contribute very significantly to history however, so I guess in that sense he is a "historic" figure, but there is no evidence of his existence outside of the accouts of the Bible. Romans never wrote about his life when he was supposed to be alive, and took no records of his life or death. If he did exist, they would not have cared enough about him, because he would have simply been a leader of a small cult. He never provoked the Romans or others enough to leave behind lasting, valid evidence.