Scandinavia and the World

Comments #9869039:

Death of the author 7 2, 6:33am

@Nisse_Hult It's actually not entirely clear whether a historical Jesus existed. The Roman sources we have either report what Christians at the time believed or are evident interpolations (new passages added into older writings by later writers). As a result, we are really only left with Christian sources.

Problematically, the oldest sources we have mention little about Jesus or the events of his life with these details only coming as sources get further from the supposed events. Perhaps worse, our oldest sources come from Paul whose only recorded interaction with Jesus was a vision. This is then complicated further by the general disregard for so-called ''apocryphal'' sources, despite a number of them being older than those accepted in Biblical canon.

This is all before considering what we mean when we say a person existed historically. Take for example Robin Hood, King Arther, and Dracula. As far as we can tell, a historical Robin Hood could have existed but basically all our stories about him and all the characters associated with him are later fictional additions. Arther appears to have been composited potentially from several kings and definitely from entirely fictional additions by subsequent authors. Then there's Dracula whom we know definitely was a historical person, but our most prolific writings about him are entirely fictional.

Can we really say a character existed when we wouldn't recognize them as the character and they wouldn't recognize our depictions of them? Can we really say that a character existed if they are a composite of several people who existed? Can we really say that the character existed when we know that the person they are based off of basically just shares their name?