It was a mystery religion began by John the Baptist.
The first Christian writings to talk about Jesus are the epistles of St Paul, and scholars agree that the earliest of these letters were written within 25 years of Jesus’s death at the very latest, while the detailed biographical accounts of Jesus in the New Testament gospels date from around 40 years after he died.
It is also difficult to imagine why Christian writers would invent such a thoroughly Jewish saviour figure in a time and place – under the aegis of the Roman empire – where there was strong suspicion of Judaism.
the first author outside the church to mention Jesus is the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus
About 20 years after Josephus we have the Roman politicians Pliny and Tacitus
In the earliest literature of the Jewish Rabbis, Jesus was denounced as the illegitimate child of Mary and a sorcerer.
we know of no one in the ancient world who questioned whether Jesus lived.
It is worth noting, though, that the two mainstream historians who have written most against these hypersceptical arguments are atheists: Maurice Casey (formerly of Nottingham University) and Bart Ehrman (University of North Carolina).
The Guardian article, written by Simon Gathercole (https://www.divinity.cam.ac.uk/directory/simon-gathercole), is a pretty poor comeback to the claim that Jesus Christ did not exist. Gathercole is a Christian theologian, so his perspective can hardly be said to be objective; after all, his job is predicated on belief in Christ.
The point of the New Testament was to argue that God had rejected the Jews as his people, and that he had chosen a new set of followers.
So you would prefer an atheist source? Does that meet your standard for objectivity?
Never happened. God never rejected the Jews as His people.
Question: What is the earliest reference to the existance of christians, not Christ, but christians in Israel that you do accept?
In other words unless they whisper sugar in your ears [confirm what you already believe] then no.
Christain was a term originally meant as an insult. The first believers called themselves followers of The Way.
Point is it was already wide spread both in Israel and the middle east by the time it was noted. It also was close enough to the purported time of the events for people who lived during that time to still be around. They would have been able to dispute it if it were made up.
They'd have been like "I dont know where you got your information but there was no such man in Jerusalem on that date nor was there a triple crucifixion or and talk of a man rising from the dead."
Indeed without Jesus there is no credible explanation for the existence of the church.
Indeed without Tammuz there is no credible explanation for the existence of the cult.Indeed without Bacchus there is no credible explanation for the existence of the Mysteries.Indeed without Herakles there is no credible explanation for the existence of all of his shrines and legends.Indeed without the Olympian gods there is no credible explanation for the existence of Greek religious observations, shrines, and local cults.