Since this keeps coming up from political Marxist it will be presented yet again.Here is a quote from the Encyclopedia Britannica concerning the testimony of the many independent secular accounts of Jesus of Nazareth: "These independent accounts prove that in ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus, which was disputed for the first time and on inadequate grounds by several authors at the end of the 18th, during the 19th, and at the beginning of the 20th centuries." [link to www.thedevineevidence.com] The Evidence for the Existence of Jesus
[link to video.google.com
] CORNELIUS TACITUS (55 - 120 A.D.) Tacitus was a 1st and 2nd century Roman historian who lived through the reigns of over half a dozen Roman emperors. Considered one of the greatest historians of ancient Rome, Tacitus verifies the Biblical account of Jesus' execution at the hands of Pontius Pilate who governed Judea from 26-36 A.D. during the reign of Tiberius."Christus, the founder of the [Christian] name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius. But the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also."
Annals XV, 44
[link to www.perseus.tufts.edu
] What this passage reveals and how it confirms the Biblical account:
-Jesus did exist
-Jesus was the founder of Christianity
-Jesus was put to death by Pilate
-Christianity originated in Judea (With Jesus)
-Christianity later spread to Rome (Through the Apostles and Evangelists)
Because of his position as a professional historian and not as a commentator Tacitus referenced government records over Christian testimony. There is not a surviving copy of Tacitus' Annals that does not contain this passage. There is no verifiable evidence of tampering of any kind in this passage. It simply provides evidence of Jesus' existence (a topic not debated at this point in history) and not his divinity.
[link to www.thedevineevidence.com
] GAIUS SUETONIUS TRANQUILLUS (69 - 130 A.D.) Suetonius was a prominent Roman historian who recorded the lives of the Roman Caesars and the historical events surrounding their reigns. He served as a court official under Hadrian and as an annalist for the Imperial House. Suetonius records the expulsion of the Christian Jews from Rome (mentioned in Acts 18:2) and confirms the Christian faith being founded by Christ."As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, [Claudius] expelled them from Rome."
Life of Claudius 25.4
[link to www.fordham.edu
] THALLUS (~ 52 A.D.) Although his works exist only in fragments, Julius Africanus debates Thallus' explanation of the midday darkness which occurred during the Passover of Jesus' crucifixion. Thallus tries to dismiss the darkness as a natural occurrence (a solar eclipse) but Africanus argues (and any astronomer can confirm) a solar eclipse cannot physically occur during a full moon due to the alignment of the planets. Phlegon of Tralles, a 2nd century secular historian, also mentions the darkness and tries to dismiss it as a solar eclipse. He also states the event occurred during the time of Tiberius Caesar."On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness. 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 Savior 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... 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."
Chronography XVIII, 47
[link to www.neverthirsty.org
] PLINY THE YOUNGER (63 - 113 A.D) Pliny the Younger admits to torturing and executing Christians who refused to deny Christ. Those who denied the charges were spared and ordered to exalt the Roman gods and curse the name of Christ. Pliny addresses his concerns to Emperor Trajan that too many citizens were being killed for their refusal to deny their faith."I asked them directly if they were Christians...those who persisted, I ordered away... Those who denied they were or ever had been Christians...worshiped both your image and the images of the gods and cursed Christ. They used to gather on a stated day before dawn and sing to Christ as if he were a god... All the more I believed it necessary to find out what was the truth from two servant maids, which were called deaconesses, by means of torture. Nothing more did I find than a disgusting, fanatical superstition. Therefore I stopped the examination, and hastened to consult you...on account of the number of people endangered. For many of all ages, all classes, and both sexes already are brought into danger..."
Pliny's letter to Emperor Trajan
[link to www.tyrannus.com
] Though Pliny states some of the accused denied the charges, a recurring theme in the correspondence between Pliny and Trajan is the willingness of the true believer to die for Christ. This would hardly be reasonable if they knew He never existed!
Pliny states the Christians worshiped Christ as if he were a god. This indicates one who would not normally be considered a god, such as a human who was exalted to divine status. Also, the early Christians would have been in the position to know if Jesus was a historical figure or not.CELSUS (~ 178 A.D.) Celsus was a second century Roman author and avid opponent of Christianity. He went to great lengths to disprove the divinity of Jesus yet never denied His actual existence. Unfortunately for Celsus, he sets himself up for criticism by mimicking the exact accusations brought against Jesus by the pharisees which had already been addressed and refuted in the New Testament.On Jesus' Miracles
: "Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain magical powers... He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god... It was by means of sorcery that He was able to accomplish the wonders which He performed... Let us believe that these cures, or the resurrection, or the feeding of a multitude with a few loaves... These are nothing more than the tricks of jugglers... It is by the names of certain demons, and by the use of incantations, that the Christians appear to be possessed of miraculous power..."Not only does Celsus confirm Jesus' existence, he also tries to debate the source of Jesus' miracles. Like the pharisees of Jesus' day, Celsus tries to dismiss these miracles as both demonic possession and cheap parlor tricks. However, he is clearly grasping at straws: On one hand Celsus accuses Jesus of performing magic learned in Egypt, then later states it is by the power of possession, then states the miracles were not really miracles at all but were illusionary tricks performed by a deceiver, then finally states the miracles never occurred!On the Virgin Birth: "Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who gained her living by the work of her hands. His mother had been turned out by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of adultery [with a Roman soldier named Panthera]. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard."Celsus acknowledges Jesus' birth and existence but does not accept the concept of a virgin conception. He tries to dismiss Mary's premarital pregnancy as the result of an affair she had with a Roman soldier. Strangely enough, there is a very similar passage in the Jewish Talmud which makes the same accusation. This gives us reason to believe Celsus might have referenced Jewish sources for some of his arguments.On the Apostles: "Jesus gathered around him ten or eleven persons of notorious character... tax-collectors, sailors, and fishermen... He was deserted and delivered up by those who had been his associates, who had him for their teacher, and who believed he was the savior and son of the greatest God... Those who were his associates while alive, who listened to his voice, and enjoyed his instructions as their teacher, on seeing him subjected to punishment and death, neither died with nor for him... but denied that they were even his disciples, lest they die along with Him."Celsus' intentions were to argue that if the disciples really believed Jesus was the Son of God, they would not have forsaken Him at His arrest. Instead, he only ends up confirming the Biblical account! The Bible tells us when Jesus was arrested, the apostles denied being His followers. It was only upon Jesus' resurrection they understood the spiritual principles concerning Jesus' crucifixion and boldly went out to preach the Gospel. Celsus is also wrong with his statement, they neither died with nor for him. We are told by early historians all but one of the remaining apostles were killed for their faith.On Jesus' Divinity: "One who was a God could neither flee nor be led away a prisoner... What great deeds did Jesus perform as God? Did he put his enemies to shame or bring to an end what was designed against him? No calamity happened even to him who condemned him... Why does he not give some manifestation of his divinity, and free himself from this reproach, and take vengeance upon those who insult both him and his Father?"Celsus ridicules Jesus for the exact same reasons the pharisees of His time ridiculed Him- if Jesus was the Son of God, why didn't He save Himself from the cross? Neither Celsus nor the pharisees understood the spiritual implications of Jesus' death to atone for sin. Celsus also asks why no judgment came upon the Jews but history shows shortly after His death Jerusalem was invaded by the Romans, the Jewish temple was destroyed, and the Jewish people were dispersed for almost 2,000 years!John the Baptist "If any one predicted to us that the Son of God was to visit mankind, he was one of our prophets, and the prophet of our God? John, who baptized Jesus, was a Jew."Celsus confirms Jesus' baptism by John but asserts that John was the only one who actually prophesied His coming- not the Old Testament Messianic prophecies.On the Crucifixion: "Jesus accordingly exhibited after His death only the appearance of wounds received on the cross, and was not in reality so wounded as He is described to have been."In this statement, Celsus confirms Jesus' death by crucifixion although he claims the only wounds Jesus received were those inflicted by the crucifixion (thus denying any previous torture had taken place). But not even history offers Celsus the benefit of a doubt as floggings were the standard form of torture given to victims prior to crucifixion. Celsus contradicts himself yet again when he later states Jesus was probably never even crucified but instead had an impostor die in His place!LUCIAN OF SAMOSATA (120 - ~180 A.D.) Lucian was a second century Greek satirist and rhetorician who scornfully describes his views of early Christianity. Though he ridicules the Christians and their Christ, his writings confirm Jesus was executed via crucifixion and that He was the founder of Christianity."The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day- the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account... It was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers from the moment they are converted and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws..."
The Death of Peregrinus 11-13
[link to www.suite101.com
] What this passage reveals and how it confirms the Biblical account:
-Jesus did exist
-Jesus was the founder of Christianity
-Jesus was worshiped by His followers
-Jesus suffered death by crucifixionMARA BAR-SERAPION (Post 70 A.D) Mara Bar-Serapion of Syria penned this letter from prison to his son. Though it is obvious he does not acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, he does mention aspects of Jesus' life. There is some criticism regarding this passage but it must be noted nothing in Serapion's letter contradicts what we know about Jesus."What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crime. What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning Pythagoras? In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King? It was just after that their kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise men: The Athenians died of hunger. The Samians were overwhelmed by the sea. The Jews, ruined and driven from their land, live in complete dispersion. But Socrates did not die for good. He lived on in the teachings of Plato. Pythagoras did not die for good. He lived on in the statue of Hera. Nor did the wise King die for good. He lived on in the teaching which He had given."How do we know this passage is a reference to Jesus?
-He was a wise King (Jesus was mocked by the Romans as The King of the Jews, the messianic prophecies fulfilled by Jesus referred to the coming Messiah as a king, Christian believers believed Jesus was their promised spiritual king, and Jesus was born from the royal line of King David).
-He was Jewish (Jesus was a Galilean Jew).
-He was executed (Jesus was crucified after the Jews appealed to Pilate to have Him crucified).
-After His death Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed (This occurred in 70 A.D., after Jesus' death).
-The Jews were dispersed after His death (The Jews abandoned Judea after the Roman attack of 70 A.D.).
-He was a teacher (Jesus was a rabbi/teacher).
-He lived on after death in His teachings (Jesus and His teachings founded the Christian faith).FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS (37 - 100 A.D.) Josephus was a first century pharisee and historian of both priestly and royal ancestry who provided important insight into first-century Judaism. Josephus was born only three years after the crucifixion of Jesus, making him a credible witness to the historicity of Jesus."Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him. For he appeared to them alive again the third day. As the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribes of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day."
Antiquities XVIII, 3:2
[link to www.gutenberg.org
] Jews have no reason to embelish towards Christianity.
We'll now examine the second passage given to us by Josephus.
"So Ananus assembled a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as lawbreakers, he delivered them over to be stoned."
Antiquities XX 9:1
[link to www.gutenberg.org
] Even if we dismiss the disputed words in Josephus' Testimonium, we still see he testifies to a number of things in the above two passages:
-Jesus lived in the first century
-He performed wonderful works (miracles)
-Some believed Jesus to be the Christ
-He was a teacher
-He had many followers
-He was tried by Pilate
-He was crucified
-He was the founder of Christianity
-James was the brother of JesusTHE BABYLONIAN TALMUD The Babylonian Talmud is an ancient record of Jewish history, laws, and rabbinic teachings compiled throughout the centuries. Though it does not accept the divinity of Jesus, it confirms the belief He was hanged (an idiom for crucifixion) on the eve of the Passover."On the eve of the Passover Yeshu (Jesus) [Some texts: Yeshu/Jesus the Nazarene] was hanged [crucified]. Forty days before the execution, a herald went forth and cried, 'He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.' But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of the Passover."In regards to personal writings, Socrates, for example, exists only in the writings of his students. There is not a single document still in existence that contains his original works. If we apply the same logic with Socrates skeptics use to determine Jesus' historicity, we must assume Socrates was a figment of the imagination of his students. But if we are to accept Socrates as a historical figure based on four secondary accounts, we must also accept Jesus as a historical figure whose life was documented by His disciples, historians, and those who rejected His divine claims. When skeptics claim there is a difference between a man such as Socrates and Jesus, they would be absolutely correct- Jesus had more accounts written about Him.AREN'T THE WRITINGS THAT REFER TO JESUS JUST HEARSAY ACCOUNTS?
Documenting the Gospels preserved the accounts for future generations but oral evangelism was the practical method in making the Gospel available to the current population. Whether the accounts were written the day after Jesus' ascension or 30 years later, the fact is they were still penned by either the original witnesses or during the lives of the original witnesses who could confront heretical accounts.
Jesus also concentrated His ministry in various provinces of Judea- not secular hubs of the ancient world like Rome or Alexandria. Christianity spread into the surrounding areas after the life of Jesus. I would be far more suspicious of a Roman historian writing an excerpt about Jesus in 30 A.D. rather approximately 95 A.D. when Christianity had reached Rome.Purposely avoided was Biblical evidence to support the existence of Jesus because that would be "using the Bible to prove the Bible." Instead we focused this study on extrabiblical sources. However, early Christian historians and witnesses were unanimous in their accounts that several New Testament books were written by eye witnesses of both Jesus and the apostolic ministry. If these authors were indeed eye witnesses, we can believe they also provide evidence to the historicity of Jesus.reference
[link to www.thedevineevidence.com
[link to www.forerunner.com
[link to www.creatingfutures.net
] The Case for Christ
[link to www.leestrobel.com
Even though Rome was persecuting and trying to exterminate Christianity in the first and second centuries none of the historians deny the existence of Jesus or Christianity!