While billions of people believe Jesus of Nazareth was one of the most important figures in world history, many others reject the idea that he even existed at all. A 2015 survey conducted by the Church of England, for instance, found that 22 percent of adults in England did not believe Jesus was a real person.

Among scholars of the New Testament of the Christian Bible, though, there is little disagreement that he actually lived. Lawrence Mykytiuk, an associate professor of library science at Purdue University and author of a 2015 Biblical Archaeology Review article on the extra-biblical evidence of Jesus, notes that there was no debate about the issue in ancient times either. “Jewish rabbis who did not like Jesus or his followers accused him of being a magician and leading people astray,” he says, “but they never said he didn’t exist.”

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Archaeological evidence of Jesus does not exist.

There is no definitive physical or archaeological evidence of the existence of Jesus. “There’s nothing conclusive, nor would I expect there to be,” Mykytiuk says. “Peasants don’t normally leave an archaeological trail.”

“The reality is that we don’t have archaeological records for virtually anyone who lived in Jesus’s time and place,” says University of North Carolina religious studies professor Bart D. Ehrman, author of Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. “The lack of evidence does not mean a person at the time didn’t exist. It means that she or he, like 99.99% of the rest of the world at the time, made no impact on the archaeological record.”