Is Jesus history? It is a good question isn't it. Is he a historical person? Is he really a person who lived, walked, died and potentially rose again? Is he history? But also is he history? Is he no longer relevant?
Geoffrey Blainey, the Australian historian, has recently turned his attention to Christianity in A Short History of Christianity. I haven't read his book yet from the weekend newspaper (video interviews on site as well) it looks like the answer is yes and no.
Yes, Jesus is history.
Blainey applies the test of an empirical historian before concluding that, by the standards of the first century AD, the voluminous accounts of Jesus' life count as reasonable documentary evidence. Jesus did exist.
Apparently, Blainey 'hedges his bets' on the resurrection as an historical event giving 'ample voice to its sceptics'. However, from the review, it seems he has recognised that it is hard to account for the radical change in the disciples without some kind of explanation. They went from those who denied Jesus at his trial to those who risked their lives to spread the message about him that helped change the ancient world. In short, Jesus is history and had an impact in history.
And no, Jesus is not history.
In a short article on the same page, Geoffrey Blainey explores the idea that Christianity is not actually in decline. That even at its so called 'heydays' in various periods and places it was often a veneer for a multitude of people. Furthermore, despite Christianity's many critics that it has still much to offer. For it is Christianity that is interested in wisdom and matters of the human heart and human nature. These are topics that science and technology struggle to probe.
I'm looking forward to reading A Short History of Christianity.