This letter appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
In his response to my last letter requesting proof of Christ's existence, via the supporting evidence of contemporary historians who lived at the time of Christ but were independent of any biblical connection, Keith Coleman (Mailbox, September 12) points out that Christ is mentioned by the first century historians Josephus and Tacitus.
However, what Mr Coleman fails to mention is that neither of these writers had been born at the time that Christ is said to have lived (c. 7BC or 5BC— circa 30AD or 33AD).
Josephus was born in AD37, and Tacitus in AD55.
Consequently, their accounts about the life of Christ were written quite a few decades after the events were supposed to have taken place and neither of them was in a position to confirm Christ's existence from direct experience.
If the only material available to them were accounts given by the four Gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, whose attestations would eventually form the first four books of the New Testament with descriptions of the life of Christ – all so varied, they sound as if they were played out in four parallel universes – then the reliability of Josephus and Tacitus' writings as factual historical documents is very questionable.
That is unless they had access to the writings of contemporary and reliable independent historians who lived at the time of Christ and could confirm his existence. If that is the case, who were they?
Alan Pendragon South Knighton