This thread is for listing all our favorite evidences that Christ actually lived. 

In particular it is for responding to some statements such as these:

"Jesus never wrote anything Himself."

"Jesus was supposed to be born during a Roman census, but the first census was in 74 C.E."

"All the historian who wrote aabout Jesus were not His contemporaries, but lived after Him."

 

 

Tags: Jesus, existence, historians, proof

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My favorite evidence for the existence of Jesus is in the Annals of Tacitus.  Tacitus was an anti-Christian who had every reason to say that Jesus never lived, but he didn't say that.  Instead, Tacitus said that Christ was crucified in Judaea, and afterward the "superstition" broke out not just in Judaea but in Rome and all over the place.  Tacitus even verifies that Pontius Pilate was the procurator that crucified Jesus.  In my opinion, this evidence makes it hard for any skeptic to deny the historicity of Jesus, even though Tacitus did live after Jesus.

References to Jesus of Nazareth outside of the Scriptures

ANCIENT QUATATIONS

            The documents of the New Testament are very frequently quoted in the writings of early Christians, as well as in the writings of their opponents.  Indeed the opponents of the followers of Jesus argue their false teachings from the documents accepted as authentic by the Christians with few exceptions.  In fact, if they attempted to put forward an incorrect teaching from an illegitimate source, they would have no success with those who rejected the false writings as having no authority among the disciples!  Even the false teachers of ancient times point to the authentic and authoritative documents.  Of course among the writings of early Christians outside the New Testament abundant references and quotations of our twenty-seven recognized documents.  There are so many quotations that it is nearly possible to reconstruct the entire New Testament from these many direct references.  And, again it is found that the quotations attest to the accuracy and preservation of the same words over and over.  We are thus enabled us with great certainty to declare that though the original writings from the hands of the authors are physically lost, their contents and message are accurately before us in the Greek text we now use.  Not only do these three sources confirm the accuracy of what we are reading, but they also point to an actual first century origin for the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament. 

 

THE EVIDENCE OF NON-BIBLICAL REFERENCES

            The quotations of the false teachers point to the reliability of the New Testament documents and in addition, these references outside of the Bible also confirm that the accounts of Jesus are in fact ancient.  The vast number of plain references to Jesus of Nazareth in so many very forms of ancient documents points to His genuine historical existence.  These many quotations treat Him as a real historical person who lived in the time period asserted by our New Testament writings.  Not only does the Bible speak of Jesus, but documents other than the Bible, indeed numerous non-religious writings refer to Jesus and His followers.  These writings show that already, by the beginning of the second century, the teaching of Jesus had spread throughout the Empire and that early on there were groups of disciples (churches) everywhere.

 

1.The historian TACITUS, writing in about 112 AD speaks of how the emperor, Nero, falsely accused and tormented the followers of Christ.  He also says that Christ had been put to death by Pontius Pilate, just as declared in the Gospels.  Tacitus is no friend to the message of Jesus, since he indicts it as a “pernicious superstition” and “mischief” what had spread through the city of Rome (Annals of Tacitus xv.44).

 

2.LUCIAN, also from the second century, mocks the disciples as followers of “the man who was executed because he introduced this new cult into the world [and] persuaded them that they were all brothers one of another.”  Lucian further complains that these followers of Jesus denied the Greek gods.

 

3.Another historian, FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS, who lived and wrote in the first century, spoke of Jesus as a wise teacher and “a doer of wonderful works.”  He also writes of how Jesus was condemned by Pontius Pilate.  In another statement, somewhat disputed, but clearly ancient, Josephus describes Christ as “a wise man, if indeed one should call Him a man” (Antiquities xviii.3.3).  The predecessor of Jesus, the rugged prophet John (Mk 1:4-9) is described by Josephus in a passage which has no questions as to its authenticity (Antiquities xviii.5.2).  In addition he speaks of an important follower of Jesus and how he was killed (Antiquities xx.9:1).

 

4.SEUTONIUS (69 – 140 AD), an official of the Roman government, maligns the followers of Jesus as “a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition.”  He complains about seditions or disturbances raise at the instigation of “Chrestus,” which is probably an alternate spelling of for Christ (Life of Claudius 25:4; Life of Nero 16; Lives of the Caesars 26:2).  Bear in mind though, that other historians say that this was a false accusation and from the actual writings of the New Testament, it can be observed that the disciples were not at all interested in overthrowing human governments (Ro 13:1-7; I Pe 2:13-15).  Jesus did not come with any political objectives.

 

5.One Roman governor, PLINY THE YOUNGER, writes about the disciples in an inquiry to the emperor, Trajan.  In this letter, written in 112 AD, Pliny is asking how to treat the followers of Christ.  He says that he had been killing them all –men, women, boys and girls.  However, he continues, if they would bow to an image of Emperor Trajan, they would be spared.  Of what crime were they guilty?  First of all, they did not worship the popular gods, refusing to bow to a statue of the emperor.  He says further, that they bound themselves “not to commit any fraud, theft, adultery, never to falsify their word, and not to deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up” (Epistles X.96-98).

 

6.THALLUS, who wrote in 52 AD, tried to explain the darkening of the sun that took place at the death of Jesus as an eclipse (Compare Lk 23:44).  However the execution of Jesus occurred in connection with a Jewish holiday that was observed during a full moon, making the eclipse untenable as an explanation for the darkness.  Nevertheless, the effort of Thallus shows that events of the life of Jesus were well known by this time.

 

7.In an ancient personal letter dating from late in the first century, a father named MARA encourages his son to seek wisdom even though it might result in trouble.  He then points to wise men who, though they were opposed, yet their opponents later encountered great disasters.  Among the wise men he uses as examples are the well-know historical figures, Pythagoras and Socrates.  He also refers to Jesus of Nazareth as an actual person, calling Him the “wise King” who was executed but “lived on in the teaching that He had given.”

 

THE “HISTORICITY” OF JESUS OF NAZARETH

            References to Jesus and His followers found in writings outside the Bible show that the disciples of Jesus were well established throughout the Empire by the end of the first century.  Clearly, the accounts of the life of Jesus were not in any way an "fabrication of the second century, as alleged by Karl Marx - to which we reply smugly, "The second century after what, Karl?"

          

I recommend Bart Ehrman's recent book Did Jesus Exist?, which in addition to discussing both the Biblical and non-Biblical evidence for the existence of Jesus, also identifies the flaws in the various arguments often given for Jesus being a myth.

HA! the second century! :)  Great, thorough post, Jim.
 
Jim Brenneman said:

THE “HISTORICITY” OF JESUS OF NAZARETH

            References to Jesus and His followers found in writings outside the Bible show that the disciples of Jesus were well established throughout the Empire by the end of the first century.  Clearly, the accounts of the life of Jesus were not in any way an "fabrication of the second century, as alleged by Karl Marx - to which we reply smugly, "The second century after what, Karl?"

          

Thanks for the recommendation.  That's another good purpose for this thread: recommending resources on the existence of Jesus.
 
Mariana said:

I recommend Bart Ehrman's recent book Did Jesus Exist?, which in addition to discussing both the Biblical and non-Biblical evidence for the existence of Jesus, also identifies the flaws in the various arguments often given for Jesus being a myth.

Census and Quirinius's governership are both discussed in this article by AIG - http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2012/03/16/feedback-conser... 

 

FYI!

I remember reading that one, now that you mention it.  Thanks!
 
Brian Guiley said:

Census and Quirinius's governership are both discussed in this article by AIG - http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2012/03/16/feedback-conser... 

 

FYI!

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