Paul's letters report of a historical Jesus. (They also report a good deal of Jesus's biography).
Some example reports, dating between AD 40-50, include...
During his life (c. 160 – c. 240), Sextus Julius Africanus discusses Thallus's written explanation for the darkness which fell during Jesus's crucifixion (Mk 15:33 -- “…there was darkness over the whole land”).1
• Robert Van Voorst: “Around 55 C.E, a historian named Thallos wrote in Greek a three-volume chronicle of the eastern Mediterranean area from the fall of Troy to about 50 C.E. Most of the book, like the vast majority of ancient literature, perished, but not before it was quoted by Sextus Julius Africanus (ca. 160-ca. 240), a Christian writer in his History of the World (ca. 220).” [Jesus Outside the New Testament (Eerdmans, 2000), 22.]
• Julius Africanus: “On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun. For the Hebrews celebrate the Passover on the 14th day according to the moon, and the passion of our Saviour falls on the day before the Passover; but an eclipse of the sun takes place only when the moon comes under the sun. And it cannot happen at any other time but in the interval between the first day of the new moon and the last of the old, that is, at their junction: how then should an eclipse be supposed to happen when the moon is almost diametrically opposite the sun? Let that opinion pass however; let it carry the majority with it; and let this portent of the world be deemed an eclipse of the sun, like others a portent only to the eye. Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth—manifestly that one of which we speak. But what has an eclipse in common with an earthquake, the rending of rocks, and the resurrection of the dead, and so great a perturbation throughout the universe? Surely no such event as this is recorded for a long period. But it was a darkness induced by God, because the Lord happened then to suffer.”
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke report of a historical Jesus.
The book of Acts of the Apostles reports of a historical Jesus.
The Gospel of John reports that Jesus is a real historical figure.
Flavius Josephus (Jewish historian; A.D. 37-101) reports on Jesus as an historical figure here:
IMPORTANT: Grayed out text is not considered part of Josephus's Antiquities, but instead a later addition by a Christian scribe.
• “About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.” [trans. by Feldman (Brill Academic, 1999).]
• “This statement stands in all Greek manuscripts from the eleventh century onward and was known as early as the fourth century when Eusebius twice quoted it (Hist. Eccl. 1.11: Dem, Ev. 3.5, 124). Origen (c.185-c.254) knew of Josephus's allusions to John the Baptist and James but twice says Josephus did not believe Jesus to be the Christ (Comm. Mt. 10:17; Contra Cels. 1.47)” [_Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels_, eds. Green, McKnight, Marshall (IVP, 1992), 393.]
• Edwin Yamauchi: “Almost everyone agrees that a number of phrases in the passage are so patently Christian that a Jew like Josephus would not have penned them: 1) "If indeed one ought to call him a man" imples that Jesus was more than human. 2) "He was the Christ." Josephus elsewhere says very little about messianic expectations, because he wanted to downplay those beliefs. 3) "On the third day he appeared to them restored to life." This seems to be an unambiguous testimony to the resurrection of Christ.”
Flavius Josephus (Jewish historian; A.D. 37-101) reports on Jesus as brother of the historical James here:
• Josephus: “assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James,” [trans. by Whiston]
Clement of Rome (c. 95 A.D. apostolic father) spoke of Jesus as an historical figure:
In c. AD 100,1 the Didache speaks of Jesus as an historic figure.
In c. AD 73 [maybe],1 a pagan stoic philosopher named Mara-Bar-Sarapion spoke of Jesus as an historical figure in the following letter to his son.
Writing around AD 101-110, Papias (Bishop of Hierapolis) reports of Jesus's existence.
Around AD 107-110, Ignatius of Antioch speaks of Jesus as an historic figure, like here:
See also: ―Letter to the Trallians ch. 9 ―Letter to the Smyrnaeans ch. 3
Writing around AD AD 110 to 140, Polycarp (Bishop of Smyrna) testifies of Jesus's existence in his letter to the Philippians
• Irenaeus (Disciple of Polycarp): “There is also a forceful epistle written by Polycarp to the Philippians, from which those who wish to do so, and are anxious about their salvation, can learn the character of his faith, and the preaching of the truth.”[James Stevenson, A new Eusebius (SPCK, 1965), 120.]
Writing around A.D. 111-113,1 Pliny the Younger (Roman governor) speaks of Jesus as an historic figure in his letter to the Emperor Trajan:
[Note: Pliny does not say “as if he existed,” but says “as to a god” sarcastically, because he does not think Jesus was a god. He knows Jesus only as a man.]
Writing around AD 115,
Writing around AD 117-138,
• N.T. Wright: “[b]orn around 69 and wrote in the time of Hadrian (117-38). Racy and unreliable though he often is, the following extracts are normally regarded as referring to actual events. […] it has often been pointed out that the difference in pronunciation between Chrestus and Christus would be minimal in this period, 48 and there is no good reason to doubt that what we have here is a garbled report of disturbances within the large Jewish community in Rome, brought about by the presence within that community of some who claimed that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. This expulsion from Rome is also mentioned in the New Testament, in Acts 18.2 (It is quite possibly alluded to, or at least presupposed, in Rome. As well: see several articles in Donfried 1991 , and Wright 1992a) The reference in Acts suggests (though this is controversial) that the episode took place in about 49 AD, since some of those expelled found their way to Corinth in time to meet Paul when he arrived there around that time (see above).” [New Testament and the People of God, 354.]
• Andreas Köstenberger, Leonard Kellum, Charles Quarles: “Another Roman historian who referred to Jesus was Suetonius (c. 120), who reported that "Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome who, instigated by Chrestus, never ceased to cause unrest." (Seutonius, Life of Empreror Claudius, 25.4) This expulsion is probably the expulsion of the year 49 mentioned in Acts 18:2. Seutonius seems to have confused the name “Chrestus” (a name common among Roman slaves) with “Christus,” a messianic title with which he was unfamiliar. Suetonius also assumed that Jesus was alive and in Rome at the time of the expulsion. He probably made this assumption because it was unusual for people to have the kind of devotion for a dead or distant figure that Christians in mid-first-century Rome expressed to Christ. The unrest to which Suetonius referred was likely tension between Jews and Jewish Christians over the claims of the Christian Gospel.” [The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament (B&H Publishing Group, 2009), 110.])
Writing around AD 150, the early Christian apologist Justin Martyr speaks of Jesus as an historic figure in his letter to the Emperor Trajan (Letters 10.96-97).
Writing around AD 165-175, Lucian of Samosata testifies to Jesus as an historical figure.
• Lucian of Samosata (in his book: "The Way to Write History"): History …abhors the intrusion of any least scruple of falsehood; it is like the windpipe, which the doctors tell us will not tolerate a morsel of stray food… The historian's one task is to tell the thing as it happened... [The historian] must sacrifice to no God but Truth; he must neglect all else; his sole rule and unerring guide is this - to think not of those who are listening to him now, but of the yet unborn who shall seek his converse. [H. W. Fowler and F. G. Fowler (trans.) The Works of Lucian of Samosata Sect. 39; vol. 2, 128-129.]
Writing around AD 175-185, Irenaeus of Lyons testifies of Jesus being an actual historical figure.