Matthew Ferguson: Ten Reasons to Reject the Apologetic 10/42 Source Slogan (2012)

The “10/42 source slogan” refers to the claim that “42 ancient sources record Jesus 150 years within his lifetime, whereas only 10 mention the contemporary Roman emperor Tiberius.” Matthew Ferguson, a Ph.D. student at the University of California at Irvine, has written a detailed critique of the 10/42 source slogan.

Here is an excerpt from the article’s conclusion:

Upon investigation of the “10/42” statistic, it is clear that Habermas and Licona exaggerated the number of authors who allegedly wrote about Jesus, including authors such as Mara Bar-Serapion and the Younger Pliny who make no direct reference to Jesus. Habermas and Licona missed at least 34 narrative accounts that mention Tiberius within 150 years of his life. When you re-crunch the numbers, the count for Tiberius versus Jesus comes out to 44/42. Furthermore, the flawed statistic had to stretch out the date range to an extreme 150 years in order to skew the numbers in favor of late Christian authors. When analyzing contemporary sources during Tiberius and Jesus’ own lifetime, 14 sources document Tiberius and a whopping 0 account for Jesus.

The total score card for contemporary written sources comes out to 14 literary, 100+ epigraphical, and ~100 papyrological for Tiberius in comparison to 0/0/0 for Jesus.

I haven’t yet read this article, but I’m passing this along because I think it will be of interest to many readers.

Note: as always, links do not necessarily constitute endorsement.