Socrates was highlighted and brought to public view beyond the territory in which he lived by two persons, one was Plato and the other one was Xenophon.
Plato is read well, whereas Xenophon is not read much for reasons more than the fact that he did not have an illustrious disciple like Aristotle.
Xenophon is supposed to have been turnpiked by Socrates and asked: How men are made virtuous?
When Xenophon pleaded ignorance, much as the Biblical command of Jesus to Matthew at the customs, is supposed to have stated: FOLLOW ME & LEARN‼️
This Xenophon became Socrates’ follower and wrote many books, which have mostly survived and the one book called Apology deals with the trial of Socrates and the defence.
The interesting part of all this is that Xenophon being the head of 10,000 men of the mercenary band, had gone on a war and was actually absent from Athens at the time of the trial and execution of Socrates. Yet, what Xenophon wrote of Socrates, is accepted by historians as true.
The point I am labouring at is that one need NOT BE A WITNESS to the events to gather facts from those who were present at the scene and present those facts as History. Therefore on a comparative basis, much of the History wouldn’t measure up to the touchstone of historicity if the same yardstick which is applied to Jesus were to be applied to those historical figures.
Like Plato and Xenophon to Socrates, the persons who were in a position to write about Jesus were John and the other 10 disciples who survived the crucifixion. But it was not any of these who brought out the teachings of Jesus as much as the Evangelist Paul. An erudite Jew, with a Roman citizenship. This Paul of Tarsus, earlier called Saul, wrote on Jesus and his teachings by the mid first century of the Common Era. The evangelism of Paul made enclaves of Christianity in various cities of Greece and the Asia Minor. That is History. A record not disputed. Paul had not met Jesus while Jesus was in the flesh, however Paul says that Jesus appeared to him. This is almost a few years after Jesus’ crucifixion, if we take that as a fact, then Pontius Pilate, who as per historical records was the Roman Prefect in-charge of Judaea executing the functions on behalf of the Roman emperor, was contemporaneous to Jesus historically.
But why was not Jesus’ name not mentioned in the records?
I believe that not only the Roman Prefect was not interested in perpetuating the status of persons who could be a threat to the the Roman Empire; even the Jewish Religious heads were against the memory of Jesus, consequently all records must have been destroyed so as to gloss over the empty tomb issue.
Further, looking at Jesus from the synoptic Gospels, Jesus was then a popular local hero shuttling between Galilee and Judaea, at variance with the established Jewish faith and its informal custodians like the Pharisees and the Scribes and it wouldn’t have been anybody’s case to glorify his deeds in the flesh or to perpetuate the memory of Jesus. In fact the Jews then being under the Roman vassalage, the local authorities were interested in maintaining status quo lest a worse fate befall them. Therefore, to look for contemporary references either in the Roman history or the Jewish history wouldn’t be of much avail.
At least one and a half decades had passed before Paul starts his epistolary venture, before the Gospel writer Mark wrote his Gospel.
Therefore the forerunner to the Gospels were those 13 epistles written by Paul the evangelist to the various branches he had established around Greece and Asia Minor. These pockets of Christian Faith coagulated into the Church. These are facts.
I’d like to excerpt Schopenhauer here from his essay WISDOM OF LIFE:
“We can thus understand how it is that the vainest people in the world are always talking about la gloire, with the most implicit faith in it as a stimulus to great actions and great works. But there can be no doubt that fame is something secondary in its character, a mere echo or reflection—as it were, a shadow or symptom—of merit: and, in any case, what excites admiration must be of more value than the admiration itself. The truth is that a man is made happy, not by fame, but by that which brings him fame, by his merits, or to speak more correctly, by the disposition and capacity from which his merits proceed, whether they be moral or intellectual. The best side of a man’s nature must of necessity be more important for him than for anyone else: the reflection of it, the opinion which exists in the heads of others, is a matter that can affect him only in a very subordinate degree. He who deserves fame without getting it possesses by far the more important element of happiness, which should console him for the loss of the other. It is not that a man is thought to be great by masses of incompetent and often infatuated people, but that he really is great, which should move us to envy his position; and his happiness lies, not in the fact that posterity will hear of him, but that he is the creator of thoughts worthy to be treasured up and studied for hundreds of years.
Therefore, it was the content of Jesus’ teachings which Paul gathered from the Apostles which form the bulk of his exhortations to those pockets of Christianity which Paul established, which formed the kernel and substance of Jesus’ sayings and lent to the appeal and coagulation of the movement called the Church at Antioch.
In the case of Jesus the man, the man Jesus died and His ideas sprouted and spread. Whether he was crucified, buried and resurrected could be a matter of faith but that the Faith led to the discovery of tracing those teachings to Jesus, which is discovery of a fact from an Idea.
That atoms existed was an Idea even before it was discovered and proved and its structure hypothesised though chemistry. Likewise, Jesus was a discovery and that discovery is a fact and that its origins are not concentrated at one point does not take away the fact that it was historical.
If Imran Khan could rely on the revelations made by the Angel Gibrel to the Prophet Mohammed as ‘facts’ and implicitly believe in those facts as historical, he should at least concede to the fact that Jesus, Isa Nabi, for him and refrain from questioning the Historicity of Jesus.
I may not agree with the belief that Jesus was merely a prophet, but Mr. Imran is bound to believe as a fact that Jesus was born, lived a Prophet and would return.
At least each man is to be judged by the same yardstick which he uses, for Jesus said:
1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
(Matthew Chapter 7)