Is Jesus a fictional character in the New Testament (Did Jesus exist? part 1)?

Before I get a lot of rants about this. I am preparing for a debate. I figure Y/A! is a good area to try out my some ideas, for if there is a hole anywhere in it, I am sure someone here will be more than happy to point it out. With this section (the reason I put part 1), we are not discussing the divinity of... show more Before I get a lot of rants about this. I am preparing for a debate. I figure Y/A! is a good area to try out my some ideas, for if there is a hole anywhere in it, I am sure someone here will be more than happy to point it out. With this section (the reason I put part 1), we are not discussing the divinity of Jesus, simply did He exist? Focusing predominantly on how one might show any book or any writing is fiction.

I apologize for this being long (I have shortened it as much as I could and still have everything make sense.)

In part of my talk time I plan to say something like:

Instead of Jesus, let us suppose we want to prove that Superman a.k.a. Clark Kent never really existed. How might we do that? Would we do it by going to great length to discredit his powers and his parents? Or would we simply show that Superman was the fictional creation of Writer Jerry Siegel and Artist Joe Shuster first shown in the story "Reign of the Superman" of a 1933 'fanzine'?

Personally, I think most people would choose to point out who created the story and simply say that all the people and events in the story are fictional rather than try to disprove the powers and discredit the moral character of a fictional creation.

However . . . something that is interesting with Jesus Christ, the writers from around that time period, which were against Christianity, did not choose to say He was simply a fictional creation of the religious groups, but rather chose to discredit His actions and His heritage.

For example:

Celsus, a pagan philosopher, in a literary attack against Christianity titled True Discourse argued that Jesus was born in low circumstances. Saying that Christ was born out of wedlock after His mother had been seduced by a Roman soldier named Pandera (or Panthera). Then going on to say that later in life He (Christ) announced Himself to be God, deceiving many. Celsus charged that Christ’s own people killed Him, and that His resurrection was a deception. But Celsus never challenged the existence of Jesus.

Lucian of Samosata (c. A.D. 115-200) also wrote against Christianity saying that Christians worshipped the well-known “sophist” who was crucified in Palestine because He introduced "new mysteries". But He never denied the historicity of Christ.

Porphyry of Tyre born about A.D. 233, studied philosophy in Greece, and lived in Sicily where he wrote several books against the Christian faith. In one of his books, “Life of Pythagoras,” he contended that magicians of the pagan world exhibited greater powers than Christ. Why would he bother to try to prove that any powers are greater than that of a fictional character? If indeed Christ did not exist.

Interestingly there are numerous writings from around the time of Christ that go to great length to discredit His works and His family, rather than simply saying that his entire existence was made up by the writers of the various religious documents. If Christ did not exist at all, why would these people go to such length to prove that his actions were tricks / magic and that his heritage was of questionable origin? Could it be that many, many people had seen Christ in person and were telling others of the things that they had seen Him do and heard Him say?

(Unless the other person “challenges me”, which would give me some of their time, to produce the references of other writings discussing Jesus, I do not plan on mentioning the other 15 sources I have ready and waiting.)

At this point the debate, will go over to the other person. Keeping in mind that the other person must stay on topic to what I discussed or loose points, just as I must do when it is their turn to “lead”, what "holes" do you seen in this section that could likely be used against me?

Thanks in advance for your help.
Update: Ok some people wanted the extra sources (making the “challenge”) I am not going to go though all 15 but let me hit some highlights.

Emperor Tiberitus (14-37) or Claudius (41-54) (but most likely Tiberitus) issued an edict against grave robbing. An inscription of it was found in Nazareth. It reads:
Update 2: "Ordinances of Caesar, it is my pleasure that graves and tombs remain undisturbed in perpetuity for those who have made them for the cult of their ancestors or children or members of their house. If however any man lay information that another has either demolished them, or has in any other way extracted the... show more "Ordinances of Caesar, it is my pleasure that graves and tombs remain undisturbed in perpetuity for those who have made them for the cult of their ancestors or children or members of their house. If however any man lay information that another has either demolished them, or has in any other way extracted the buried, or has maliciously transferred them to other places in order to wrong them, or has displaced the sealing of other stones, against such one I order that a trial be instituted, as in respect of the gods, so in regard to the cult of mortals. For it shall be much more obligatory to honor the buried. Let it be absolutely forbidden for anyone to disturb them, in case of contravention I desire that the offender be sentenced to capital punishment on charge of violation of sepuiture."
Update 3: Before this time punishment was mild. Why was it changed to death? We know this decreed was soon after Christ's resurrection. Was it due to a reaction against the turmoil in Israel caused His resurrection?
Update 4: Cornelius Tacitus (A.D. 55?-after 117), the Roman Historian, wrote of Nero's attempt to relieve himself of the guilt of burning Rome: "Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished with the most exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated... show more Cornelius Tacitus (A.D. 55?-after 117), the Roman Historian, wrote of Nero's attempt to relieve himself of the guilt of burning Rome:

"Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished with the most exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also" (Annals XV.44).
Update 5: While the last document was written well after the time of Christ the fact that it references documents that did exist during the time of Christ is an important fact. Just because we no longer have the originals (after all it has been 2000 years) is not really relevant. The fact that he makes reference to... show more While the last document was written well after the time of Christ the fact that it references documents that did exist during the time of Christ is an important fact. Just because we no longer have the originals (after all it has been 2000 years) is not really relevant. The fact that he makes reference to official documents (stating what was done) does mean that at one time the documents did exist.
Update 6: However WHEN something is written has absolutely no bearing on the validity or truthfulness of the writing. For instance:
Update 7: Finding living survivors that were adults during the WWII holocaust is getting more and more difficult, simply because of the passage of time (people age and at some point die). However in my case, I happen to be old enough to have been able to know some of those survivors as well as people that lived though... show more Finding living survivors that were adults during the WWII holocaust is getting more and more difficult, simply because of the passage of time (people age and at some point die). However in my case, I happen to be old enough to have been able to know some of those survivors as well as people that lived though atrocities in other parts of the world during WWII. If I write what those people told me happened, does that make the information untrue (especially when other unrelated people of about the same age that also went though the War tell me very similar details)? Does the information become false if I do not write what the people told me until many years after the war was over or in some cases even after the person died? ABSOLUTLY NOT. The information is just as true today nearly 70 years after the events took place as they were in the 1940’s when it actually happened.
Update 8: But that really gets into a whole other section. I will probably put under the discussion of “does WHEN articles are written make them true or false?”
Update 9: Before I choose best answer, as many of you may have noticed this question had been deleted. Apparently some people choose to report it as being inappropriate. After an appeal and a quick verification question, the yahoo mediators choose to allow the question to be reposted.
Update 10: I would like to thank them for doing that, as I did want to check out all the links that everyone had posted (obviously the links were not available while the question was deleted).
Update 11: If you have never worked in the more serious side of the I.T. field you have no idea what a challenge it is to host and maintain large networks. Having been a DBA as well as system administrator for years, I know maintaining systems and keeping a few thousand people/clients happy is not an easy task. I do not... show more If you have never worked in the more serious side of the I.T. field you have no idea what a challenge it is to host and maintain large networks. Having been a DBA as well as system administrator for years, I know maintaining systems and keeping a few thousand people/clients happy is not an easy task. I do not even want to think of the nightmares related to a global system that is offered without charge and used by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people. The customer support people as well as the administrators at Yahoo get a lot of undeserved abuse for things they have absolutely no control over. And yes I said that, and continue to say that, even when I had other questions/answers deleted and not returned.

So Yahoo Staff and volunteers, for what it is worth, thanks for doing a very under appreciated job.
Update 12: As for best answer I really wish I could split the points, for the book. ~faith&grace~ suggested from what I found online looks like it might have some interesting ideas as well as the website TC listed though I have not read either. Plus the point about the peoples superstitions of the day being which Pirate AM... show more As for best answer I really wish I could split the points, for the book. ~faith&grace~ suggested from what I found online looks like it might have some interesting ideas as well as the website TC listed though I have not read either. Plus the point about the peoples superstitions of the day being which Pirate AM brought up.
Update 13: But unfortunately there can be only one, so as difficult of a decision as it was to decide between the three of you in this case I am going to go with Pirate AM. Because using the argument about the superstitions of the people of the day, is a point I really had not thought of in that light. I can see where... show more But unfortunately there can be only one, so as difficult of a decision as it was to decide between the three of you in this case I am going to go with Pirate AM.

Because using the argument about the superstitions of the people of the day, is a point I really had not thought of in that light. I can see where some interesting discussions countering Christ’s existence could be based purely on the superstitions of the people which lived not only in the days of Christ but also years later. Which would open up a whole other “can of worms” sort to speak. I think the “argument(s)” can be countered fairly easily but if one is not prepared for the statement(s), having a quick and solid comeback is far more difficult.

Thank you all for your answers.
Update 14: I am going to make one point about a debate to people that seem not to understand it. There is a HUGE difference between understanding, then rationally discussing opposing points of view and agreeing with those viewpoints. In my opinion, if ones faith cannot stand up to reasonable questioning either the... show more I am going to make one point about a debate to people that seem not to understand it.

There is a HUGE difference between understanding, then rationally discussing opposing points of view and agreeing with those viewpoints.

In my opinion, if ones faith cannot stand up to reasonable questioning either the person’s faith needs to be stronger (the person needs to learn more) and/or the faith/belief itself is useless.
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