The origins of Christian thought occurred in a time and place that together occupy a prominent place in human history. Christianity’s origin is at the juncture of the old and the new, a time when Ancient History, whose record has largely been effaced from posterity, was fading away, and a more documented era in human history was beginning. Thus, the history of Christianity is able to contain both the mythic aspect of legend as well as the tangibility of contemporaneous occurrence.
The religions extant today, like Hinduism, Confucianism and Buddhism, that are senior to Christianity were formed at least a few hundred years before and much less, perhaps only patchy, historical evidence is left of the progenitors and prophets of these faiths. Those that came after are much more recent – starting with Islam in 700 A.D. – and the fact that the father figures of these religions are historically verifiable is paradoxically a liability to the religion. Without an aura of miraculousness, these religions have a weaker ability to compel us to suspend our disbelief.
Being children of the Enlightenment, we naturally do not believe in the miraculous origins and stories of Christianity. However, this doesn’t take away from the near-certainty that Christ and his followers were real historical figures, not least because the origins of Christianity clearly took place in reaction to the practices of an established religious community – the Jews – whose traditions are still largely preserved from that era. The continuity of the Jewish tradition from ancient times to today in themselves form a guarantee of the historical truth of the story of Christ.