This morning I am asked to provide secular evidence for Jesus being a real person. Fair enough, I will do my best. When I read McDowell’s book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, what it did for me was to open my eyes to the truthfulness of the Bible.
Now for the references you asked for - Josh McDowell’s book is truly a good resource for you to find and have. I know it sounds outdated, but history does not change! Chapter 5 of his book is titled “Jesus – A Man of History”. Here McDowell gives quote after quote of secular historians attesting to the factual nature of Jesus; many of them are quotes from the Roman officials stating what a royal pain this Jesus was for them! And he has carefully footnoted each one and gives the references – here are two I thought would be most helpful to you:
Betz, Otto. What Do We Know About Jesus? 1966.
Bruce, F.F. The New Testament Documents, Are They Reliable? 1972.
And here is a very interesting quote, I’m somewhat certain the “updated” Encyclopedia Britannica would not say this, but maybe then it would. Political correctness has caused a lot of people to rethink what they would otherwise say. Anyway, here’s what he says about the 1974 text (15th edition), his footnote “3/145” may refer to the volume and page number, I’m not sure. The following paragraph is taken right from McDowell’s book, the 5th chapter:
The latest edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica uses 20,000 words in describing this person, Jesus. His description took more space than was given to Aristotle, Cicero, Alexander, Julius Caesar, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed or Napoleon Bonaparte. Concerning the testimony of the many independent secular accounts of Jesus of Nazareth, it records: “These independent accounts prove that in ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus, which was disputed for the first time and on inadequate grounds by several authors at the end of the 18th, during the 19th, and at the beginning of the 20th centuries.” 3/145
One last thing – if Jesus is a legend – why in the world, honestly, WHY do we name our years based on his birth? BC – before Christ and AD – Anno Domini, Latin for “in the year of the Lord” I think, at the very least, you must surely realize that a man with this name lived and that he was an important historical figure.