For many years a great number of people have maintained that there is no record of Jesus outside the narrative of the Bible. For this reason, some have concluded that He is merely a myth or legend.
From the non biblical record of history we can reconstruct the entire life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The majority of these texts speak of Jesus in derogatory or non-complementary terms. None of these texts are seeking to prove the existence of Jesus nor validate Him as a genuine person of history. In fact, by their non complementary and often scathing remarks, these writers of antiquity have preserved for us a substantial and conclusive chronicle of the same events that are a part of the New Testament narrative.
- Historical Evidence That Proves The Resurrection Of Jesus
- Darkness During Jesus Crucifixion, Confirmed by Secular Historians
- Is The New Testament A Valid Historical Narrative?
- Were The Gospels Written By Eyewitnesses?
- Has The Text Of The New Testament Been Changed?
- The Four Gospels Were Not Written Anonymously
- Tacitus as a Credible Witness
- Josephus as a Credible Witness
A majority of what we know about events of antiquity, come to us from sources that wrote about these events after the events took place. Much of the world’s knowledge about history come to us reliably from sources just like Tacitus, Suetonius, and Dio Cassius.
Those who exclude the works of authors who wrote after the events took place, distinguish themselves as unreliable scholars or communicators of true facts. Every reliable scholar uses works from writers who documented events after they took place.
From the following list of secular sources, we can accurately conclude that Jesus is a genuine person of history and that His presence on earth, as described in the pages of the New Testament, are also accurate.
Note: This list now includes 136 Secular citations.
If Jesus appears in the historical record, then He is no myth. If Jesus is recorded by contemporaneous, no-biblical sources which confirms many of the facts stated in the New Testament, this proves the reliability of the New Testament. It matters not whether a secular writer believes Jesus is God or Messiah. We are not concerned whether anyone believes that Jesus performed miracles, raised people from the dead, or He was crucified and risen from the dead. All that concerned us is whether there is a preserved secular record validating Jesus as a real person from history. In this, the record is clear; Jesus existed during the same period described by the New Testament, and His crucifixion and resurrection are critical facts of this secular record.
In this regard, there is no other person in antiquity that has the substantial record of extant manuscript evidence, Jesus presents to us.
As you read the following citations that prove Jesus, remember that these preserved records are not believers in Jesus, nor are they seeking to validate Jesus as a real person. A majority of the following writings by these non-Christian sources, are visibly hostile, even hateful towards Jesus and those who follow Him. This is the entire point: By their adversarial remarks, without being aware, these non-Christian writers have preserved for us, an empirical record from history that Jesus did in fact live, die, and rose from the dead.
The following are summaries of texts for each of the secular sources included in this essay. The actual text of these letters and documents are at the end of this essay in the notes section, as citations.
Are These Citations For Jesus, “Contemporaneous?”
It is important to understand what a contemporaneous citation for Jesus means. By definition, contemporaneous, means, existing or occurring in the same period of time. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the writer himself lived during the same period, although there are many citations for Jesus where the writers did live during the first century. Contemporaneous means that the writers who had knowledge of the events that concern Jesus in the historical records they present to us, knew the facts of the time period Jesus lived, and having seen these records in the preserved historical documents of that particular ruling government, or other agency, this historian wrote about Jesus and the events that took place during the same period they occured in the narratives of the New Testament.
A Good example of contemporaneous citations is exhibited by the texts written by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus.
In the ancient records of the Roman Senate, Jesus was known as Chrestus, as described by the writings of Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus. For more than 30 years, Suetonius had access to the Imperial and Senatorial archives, and many other contemporary memoirs and public documents. According to historical experts of that period, much of the information that is left to us from Suetonius about the Roman Caesars came from eyewitness accounts. Unlike Tacitus, Suetonius fact-checked the material that was contained within the Roman archives, for accuracy. According to Suetonius, Jesus was well known to the Roman government. He was known as Chrestus—the one responsible for the disturbances, reported by Pontius Pilate, in Jerusalem. In “The Twelve Caesars” by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, he says:
“Because the Jews at Rome caused continuous disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus (Christ), he expelled them from the City.”
This is a direct, contemporaneous corroboration of the text by an impartial, uninterested leader of the Roman government, who received his information from the Roman archives, from eyewitness accounts, fact-checked by Suetonius.
Both the Jews and the Romans would rather that Jesus had not existed, yet they found themselves recording many of the events of His life and death in their preserved records of history. The evidence that is extant from antiquity demands that Jesus existed as a real person in Israel during the same period of history in which the New Testament describes Him.
“No credible Biblical scholar today believes that Jesus was not a real person of history. The evidence for His existence is so overwhelming, that to deny Jesus lived in Galilee at the time depicted by the New Testament would place any writer in a classification of incompetency.”[CT1]
All opposition to the existence of Jesus has now been refuted, and the fact that He lived and conducted Himself in the events described by the four Gospels of the New Testament is incontrovertible.
Since we know for certain that the historical record of Jesus is verified by secular, as well as Biblical texts, we must now consider what Jesus stated about Himself. Jesus claimed to be the True and Living God, presented to us in the body of a man. As we examine Jesus’ claims, we find that there is no mistake, no misunderstanding in what Jesus said—He believed Himself to be God. Then Jesus supported His claim to be God by doing things that only God could do: heal the sick, make the blind see, cause the disabled to walk, heal the leper, cast out demons, and raise the dead. The people who observed Jesus said that He was without sin and that they believed He is Jehovah-God, the Creator of the universe (Colossians 1:1, Hebrews 1:1, John 1:1).
Secular Confirmation of Jesus’ Birth, September 29, 3 B.C.
Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius: A Roman Praetorian prefect, who vividly describes crucial events that are described in the New Testament, validating important historical facts about Jesus, the Messiah.
Herod was one of the most paranoid individuals of all time. He was said to be so afraid that someone would conspire to take his throne, that he had his wife and sons murdered. Confirmation of Herod’s vitriol fear of a usurper to his throne comes from an extra-biblical source by a Roman writer, Macrobius, who described Herod’s paranoia in stating that Caesar Augustus said it was safer to be one of Herod’s pigs than his own son:
“When he [emperor Augustus] heard that among the boys in Syria under two years old whom Herod, king of the Jews, had ordered to kill, his own son was also killed, he said: it is better to be Herod’s pig, than his son.”[A]
This comment by Macrobius also confirms the Gospel account of Matthew 2:16-18, describing the reason for this massacre of innocent children: to kill the infant Jesus. As Herod issues an order to kill all of the baby boys in Bethlehem who were two years old and under, he also orders the execution of his own son. This gives us an additional secular source for confirmation of Jesus’ existence as a child in Bethlehem, in fulfillment of the prophecy of Micah 5:2 for the birth of the Messiah and Jeremiah 31:15 for the unsuccessful attempt on His life.
Four facts of history that this Roman writer, Macrobius, confirms from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke in their account of Jesus’ birth:
- Caesar Augustus was Emperor (Luke 2:1).
- Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 1:8, 2:1).
- Herod was king of Judea (Matthew 2:3).
- An attempt was made on Jesus’ life (Matthew 2:16-18).
Papyrus Describing The Census Described By Luke’s Gospel
Historical scholars are struck by the sheer number of historical references to people, places, and governments that are made in the New Testament. A majority of these specific statements have been verified by archeological discoveries and found absolutely accurate in every detail.
One of the criticisms of Luke’s account of Jesus’ life is found in his description of the census that he says was ordered by Caesar Augustus.
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. ~Luke 2:1-3
Because no previous archeological discovery had ever verified that such a census took place, Luke was regarded as having embellished this story. A later discovery regarding the taxes of the kingdom of the Roman government revealed that the taxpayers were enrolled every 14 years by the use of a census. Archeology has uncovered facts that verify Caesar Augustus did conduct the precise census described, during the period of time Luke specified—near the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.[E1]
Further, an inscription discovered in Antioch describes Quirinius in 7 B.C., who was the governor of Syria on two occasions—7 B.C. and 6 A.D.—a fact that is confirmed by the Jewish historian, Josephus.[E2]
An archeological discovery in Egypt uncovered a Papyrus that specifically describes the details of this census spoken of by Luke, under Caesar Augustus:
“Because of the approaching census it is necessary that all those residing for any cause away from their homes should at once prepare to return to their own governments in order that they may complete the family registration of the enrollment and that the tilled lands may retain those belonging to them.”[E3]
The fact that Luke has been confirmed as a scholarly historian of specific details regarding the history of the first century, it is certain that he also recorded the specific events of Jesus’ ministry with the same precision. Luke’s integrity as a historical scholar demands that we accept, with confidence, his testimony of Jesus’ resurrection, which is the foundation of the entire Christian church.
In his book, Archeological Confirmation of the New Testament, Dr. F. F. Bruce describes a problem that was present in Luke’s description of the Tetrarch of Abilene, in Luke 3:1.
Luke 3:1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene…
Previously there was no record of anyone called “Lysanias” as the tetrarch of Abilene during the time Luke specified that he was there. In recent history, an archeological discovery made in Damascus, Syria describes a person called “Freedman of Lysanias the Tetrarch.” Scholars date this inscription at between 14 A.D. and 29 A.D.[E4] This is the same period of time in which Luke had written of Lysanias.
An interesting discovery in 1910 by Sir William Ramsay debunked the secular record of Cicero of the Romans, who described Iconium as being in Lycaonia. Luke describes Lystra and Derbe as being in Lycaonia.
Acts 14:6 they became aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region.
The secular record has been erroneously held as more reliable and accurate than the Biblical record in past history. This continues to be a common error made today. The facts bearing witness, the Bible is always right in matters of history and the secular record is consistently wrong. This truth has been confirmed by archeological discoveries over the entire course of human history, all over the world.
Other noted scholars such as Dr. Adrian Nicholas Sherwin-White, a British historian and scholar—regarding Ancient Rome—wrote his doctoral thesis on the treatment of the New Testament from the point of view of Roman law and society.
Dr. Sherwin-White said this regarding the work of Dr. Ramsey’s conclusions on the Book of Acts:
“Any attempt to reject its (the New Testament’s) basic historicity even in matters of detail must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for granted.”[E5]
Dr. Sherwin-White examined the records of Rome, and concluded that their own history proved the narrative of the New Testament scriptures regarding the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.[E6]
Three Roman Historians: Suetonius, Tacitus, and Dio Cassius: 12-37 AD
A secular source in the Roman Archives of history states: “Christ had been executed in Tiberius’ reign by the Governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate.”[B]
Tacitus is a non-Christian source, who writes in The Roman Annals that Jesus died during the reign of Tiberius Caesar. Roman Emperors always had the date of their death recorded. The Roman writer Suetonius also recorded a biography for Emperor Tiberius where he lists the dates of the major events that took place during the life of Tiberius.
The Roman historian Dio Cassius is a third secular source that also lists the same dates that Tacitus records. These historians dated events in the standard Roman way, which was to write that an event happened during a particular year of the Emperors reign, or to name the Roman consul who was in office at that time. In the Roman form of government, the consul changed every year. This provides us with a precise year to determine when events took place.[C]
Both Suetonius and Dio Cassius, recorded that Emperor Tiberius died on March 16, AD 37 A.D. The term “A.D., represents the term, Anno Domini, which is Latin for ‘in the year of the Lord’, B. C. is an abbreviation for for before Christ. The A.D. term used to date events, came from the Roman scholar and monk Dionysius Exiguus. During the time for these dates, the Romans used the Julian Calendar.
According to Roman historians, Suetonius, Tacitus, and Dio Cassius, Emperor Tiberius began to reign together with Emperor Augustus, his stepfather, in 12 A.D. Roman history records that the Roman Senate appointed Tiberius as the new emperor when Augustus died in 14.4 A.D. Emperor Tiberius ruled until his death on March 16, 37 A.D.
Tacitus wrote in the Roman Annals that Jesus died during the reign of Tiberius, starting from the date he began his reign, 12 A.D., ruling jointly with Augustus until 14.4 A.D, when Tiberius became the only Emperor of the Roman Empire.
A Roman coin struck during that time, confirms that Tiberius began his reign in 14 A.D.
All three Roman historians, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Cassius Dio, count from the date of this coin, 14 A.D., the year of Emperor Augustus death, the beginning of Emperor Tiberius reign. Tacitus recorded that Jesus died during the reign of Tiberius, defining His crucifixion between 14-37 A.D.
These are secular, Roman sources, confirmed by three Roman historians, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Cassius Dio, proving the presence of Jesus in Jerusalem during the same period of first century history the New Testament places Him there.
The Persecution of Early Christians by the Romans
One of the most compelling pieces of evidence from secular history that serves to validate the presence of Jesus on earth, dying on a cross and resurrected from the dead, is the persecution of the early followers of Jesus by the Roman government.
The Romans were very tolerant of every religion, except Christianity. The Roman Emperors determined that Christianity was a terrible superstition, in which its followers believed in the impossible: their leader had risen from the dead.[A1]
“The Roman Empire was generally quite tolerant in its treatment of other religions. The imperial policy was generally one of incorporation – the local gods of a newly conquered area were simply added to the Roman pantheon and often given Roman names. Even the Jews, with their one god, were generally tolerated. So why the persecution of Christians?”
“In order to understand the Roman distrust of Christianity, one must understand the Roman view of religion. For the Romans, religion was first and foremost a social activity that promoted unity and loyalty to the state – a religious attitude the Romans called pietas, or piety. Cicero wrote that if piety in the Roman sense were to disappear, social unity and justice would perish along with it.”
“The early Roman writers viewed Christianity not as another kind of piety, but as a “superstition.” Pliny, a Roman governor writing circa 110 AD, called Christianity a “superstition taken to extravagant lengths.” Similarly, the Roman historian Tacitus called it “a deadly superstition,” and the historian Suetonius called Christians “a class of persons given to a new and mischievous superstition.[B1]—Persecution in the early church
The mischievous superstition that Tacitus, Pliny, and Suetonius refer to was the firm belief by the followers of Jesus that He had risen from the dead. This fact of Christianity made it impossible for the Roman Emperors to accept Christianity as a conventional religion. No other leader amongst any other religion had ever claimed to rise from the dead. We should understand, at the onset, that Christianity is far different from all other religions. The central and most crucial part of Christianity is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without the Resurrection, Christianity would have ceased to exist before it began.
Recorded Secular Records Of Jesus’ Resurrection
Roman authors who describe the reasons that Christianity was deemed so dangerous to Roman society, characterized the belief that Christians would not deny the resurrection of Jesus, as “superstitio.”[C1] Tacitus called their trust in the resurrection, exitabilis (detestable).[D1] Suetonius referred to the Christian stance of Jesus’ resurrection as Superstitio nova ac malefica (Mischievous Superstition).[E1] Pliny wrote to Emperor Trajan that the Christian superstitious belief in the resurrection was a contagio (disease).[F1]
Christianity was not seen by the Romans as most other religions. In the minds of the Roman Emperors, the bizarre belief that Jesus had risen from the dead, defined those who believed this superstition as mentally ill. If the Romans allowed Christianity to spread throughout the Roman Empire, it would threatened the very fabric of Roman society.
In Roman thinking, superstition was not regarded in the same way that it was in most other cultures. The superstition of Christianity was viewed by the Romans as dangerous, and corrosive to society. In the minds of Roman leaders, the idea that a man could have risen from the dead was so disturbing to the human mind that a person would likely go insane. This would result in a loss of his humanity, and the entire structure of Roman life would erode into chaos.[G1]
Only when Romans encountered Christians who insisted that Jesus had been raised from the dead, did they find it impossible to tolerate their strange and dangerous religion. In the minds of the Romans, anyone who could believe such things were already insane and worthy of death. To allow people to populate nations for whom they ruled, with these intolerable views, the entire Roman Empire could be jeopardized.
It was because the Romans viewed a religion based upon a resurrected Savior as extremely dangerous, that they vigorously sought to stamp out every trace of Christianity. History records that during the reign of ten Emperors, over five million Christians were persecuted and killed by the Roman government for a period of 250 years.[H1] Beginning with Nero in 54 A.D., and ending with Diocletian in 313 A.D.[I1]
These facts of secular history, preserved today in the records of the Roman Senate, are compelling and empirical evidence that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was well known by the Romans. It is irrelevant that the Romans didn’t believe the resurrection had taken place. What we should pay attention to is the fact that Roman Leaders understood that Christians believed this doctrine so fervently that they would rather die than deny it had taken place.
Serenius Granianus: Proconsul to Asia, writing to the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the first century. The mention of “Christians,” in the first century in the records of one of the leading Romans of that day, is evidence that Jesus was in Jerusalem, crucified, and risen from the dead. Why?
- The Romans had no desire to preserve a record of Jesus or His followers. The only reason we find this text in the records of the Romans is because there were so many serious problems with those who were called Christians. In the minds of the Romans, Christians believed the most damnable doctrine the Roman Emperors could imagine. So much so, that this belief in the resurrection of Jesus was considered a mental illness that could only be cured by renouncing this belief or be put to death. The inclusion of text confirming the existence of Christians, is in its final analysis, empirical evidence He existed.
- Only those who personally believed these facts of Christ were called Christians., those who firmly believed in the bodily crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The term “Christians” only began because of the Christ who is described in great detail in the 27 books of the New Testament. If Jesus never existed; He was not crucified under Pilate; He did not rise from the dead as the New Testament describes, how do we account for so many references to Him in the records of the Romans? Why were nearly 5 million Christians put to death by the Romans simply because they would not deny the resurrection?
- Serenius, in describing Jesus at Jerusalem, records the treatment of Christians by the Romans in the first century and the prejudice and cruel treatment they received by leaders of the Roman government.
- Serenius stated that Christians were convicted without due process of the law.
- Serenius recorded that Emperor Hadrian wrote that Christians should each be examined and given the opportunity to defend themselves, without harassment or malicious proceedings.
- Letters written by Serenius about Jesus, record that Emperor Hadrian instructed Serenius to give fair treatment to Christians during their examination.
- Serenius said that as a result of these examinations, there should be no tainting of testimony because of the petitions or complaints that were made by those who brought their accusations against Christians.
- Serenius stated that Christians were to be judged strictly according to the “heinousness nature” of their crimes, ie. unwillingness to renounce the resurrection of Jesus and worship a Roman god.
- Serenius noted in the Roman records that Christians were frequently written about and accused of crimes simply because they believed in Jesus and His resurrection.
Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, known as Pliny the Younger: was a lawyer, author, and magistrate of Ancient Rome. The writer of ten books during the first century, describing Christianity and several facts concerning Jesus.
- Pliny noted the presence of Christianity in the world during the first century, was so prevalent that many pagan temples had been abandoned.
- Pliny wrote to the Roman Emperor, Trajan, and asked whether the Christians he was interrogating should be afforded mercy if they repented of their belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- Pliny confirms the existence of Christians in the first century, and their flourishing numbers, due largely to their belief in the resurrection of Jesus.
- Pliny informed the Emperor that there was great concern a widespread belief in the resurrection of Jesus would cause tremendous difficulties for the government of Rome. For this reason, those who believed in Jesus were put to death if they refused to repent and deny that Jesus had risen from the dead.
- Pliny records that Christians were careful to not act in any way that would bring disrepute to the name of Christ, as they lived their righteous lives.
- Pliny mentions that Christians eating the body and drinking the blood of Jesus during their communion ceremonies was a grotesque practice.
- Pliny states that Christians are described as worshiping on Sunday.
- Pliny asked the Emperor if Christians could be spared if they were willing to deny Christ and, instead, worship the Roman gods.
- Pliny writes that those who believed in Christ would not repent of their belief.
- Pliny mentions deaconesses in the Christian church who were tortured, in order to gain information about their dangerous religion.
- Pliny described those who believed in Jesus and His resurrection, as meeting regularly for worship.
Emperor Trajan: Emperor of Rome in the first century, writing a great deal regarding many problems that took place with Christians and their fervent faith in the resurrection of Jesus, in response to Pliny’s letters in the first Century.
- Trajan instructs Pliny to punish unrepentant Christians with some restrictions.
- Pliny was not to seek out Christians.
- Trajan stated that the worship of Roman gods by repentant Christians was cause to commute their sentence of death.
- Trajan instructs Pliny to ignore any evidence presented to him, containing names of those who followed the Christ.
Tacitus: A Roman Senator and recorder of events from the Roman Senate, first Century. Roman historian and senator, Tacitus, describes Jesus Christ and His execution by Pontius Pilate as well as the existence and formation of the early Christian church in Rome, in his “Annals,” Book 15, Chapter 44.[AA}
Tacitus was 7 years old when the Great Fire of Rome took place. He was well aware of this massive inferno that destroyed most of the city. Tacitus knew, in great detail, the accusations of Nero and the reasons why Christianity was spreading so quickly throughout the world—the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Tacitus never refutes either; and being a patriot of Rome, he certainly was not sympathetic to Christians whom he believed were responsible for the destruction of the city he loved. Tacitus simply recorded the facts of Jesus’ crucifixion, as they were dictated to him by Nero and those who had firsthand knowledge of the event.[BB] Tacitus received his information from Suetonius, who recorded the events of the great fire in the records of the Roman Senate:
“After the great fire at Rome… Punishments were also inflicted (by Nero) on the Christians, a sect professing a new and mischievous religious belief.”[CC] —Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus
The fact that Tacitus and the history of the Roman government record the same events that occurred during the same period of history, when the four Gospels also record these events of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, should cause any serious historian to conclude they are authentic. There is no conflicting evidence in any of the writings of Tacitus that contradicts the New Testament narrative of Jesus Christ.
Scholars today have discovered that Tacitus had access to Acta Senates, the official records of the Roman Senate, from where he derived an accurate basis for his writing.[DD] Critics who have stated that because Tacitus was not alive when Jesus is alleged to have been crucified and resurrected, and therefore disqualifies him as a valid witness of these events, have been proven wrong in their theories.
All of the work that Tacitus has accomplished in his Annals originated from the year-by-year records of the official Roman Senate transcripts.[EE] Tacitus did not create or embellish any of the accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion or resurrection; he simply wrote, in his Annals, what the Roman Senate had already recorded during the time Jesus was tried under Pontius Pilate.
The most credible scholars today have confirmed that this text from Tacitus is authentic and reliable.[FF]
- Tacitus describes the followers of Jesus as “Christians.”
- Tacitus recorded that Jesus was Crucified by Pontius Pilate.
- Tacitus said that Jesus was executed during the reign of Emperor Tiberius.
- Tacitus wrote that Jesus’ death stopped the evil superstition of Christianity.
- Tacitus describes the Believers in Jesus as resurfacing after their persecution.
- Tacitus said that the followers of Jesus were seen in Judea.
- Tacitus stated that those who believed in Jesus took their testimony of His resurrection to the Roman capital.
- Tacitus recorded that Emperor Nero had blamed Christians for the fires that destroyed Rome.
- Tacitus said that Christians were hated because of their faith in Jesus.
- Tacitus described the followers of Jesus were arrested.
- Tacitus said the followers of Jesus were convicted for not denying Jesus.
- Tacitus placed into the record that the followers of Jesus were mocked.
- Tacitus said that the followers of Jesus were tortured.
- Tacitus also wrote that the followers of Jesus were themselves crucified.
- Tacitus noted that the followers of Jesus were burned to death for refusal to deny Jesus’ resurrection.
- Tacitus stated that as a result of all these actions, the people of Rome felt compassion for Christians.
- Tacitus said that in response to the public outcry against the treatment of Christians, this caused the Roman government to change their view of Christians.
- Tacitus concluded that the fervency of Christians was due to their firm belief that Jesus had risen from the dead.
- Tacitus concluded that the reason Christians were crucified was due to their founder also being crucified.
- Tacitus wrote that the reason Christians would not deny Jesus was because they were certain He had risen from the dead.
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly known as Suetonius, was a Roman historian who wrote during the early Imperial era of the Roman Empire. Secretary to the Roman Emperor, Hadrian, in the first Century.
Suetonius as a primary Roman historian, give us further evidence that Jesus was known as Chrestus, in the archives of the Roman government, left to us by the writings of Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus. For more than 30 years, Suetonius had access to the Imperial and Senatorial archives, and many other contemporary memoirs and public documents.[GG]
According to historical experts of that period, much of the information left to us from Suetonius about the Roman Caesars came from eyewitness accounts. Unlike Tacitus, Suetonius fact-checked the material that was contained within the Roman archives, for accuracy. According to Suetonius, Jesus was well known to the Roman government. He was known as Chrestus—the one responsible for the disturbances reported by Pontius Pilate, in Jerusalem. In “The Twelve Caesars,” by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, he says:
“Because the Jews at Rome caused continuous disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus (Christ), he expelled them from the City.”[HH]
This is a direct corroboration of the text of Tacitus, who also received his information from the Roman archives. When we team both Tacitus and Suetonius together, there is no doubt that the text in the Roman record describing Jesus in Jerusalem, creating a disturbance that resulted in His crucifixion under Pilate, is a true record of these events. This serves as empirical evidence for Jesus as a genuine person of history, in specific confirmation of the New Testament narrative of Him.
The text above from Suetonius, describing the expulsion of Christians from Rome, is also reported by the New Testament Book of Acts:
“After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth.And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them.”[II]
This serves as further evidence for the precise nature of the New Testament accounts of Jesus and the influence He presented in both Jerusalem and Rome. The fact that Suetonius recorded the expulsion of Christians in Rome, while Luke writes in describing the same event, is incredible proof of Biblical accuracy.
- Suetonius recorded that the reason for the disturbances in Rome was due to Jews who objected to those who believed in Jesus Christ.
- Suetonius said that the belief of Christians that Jesus died and rose again was viewed by the Emperors as dangerous superstitions.
- Suetonius said the entire reason that five million Christians were crucified over a 250-year period of time was due to their unwavering faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Josephus: Primary Jewish historian during the period of history when the followers of Jesus were spreading Christianity throughout Israel and the Roman Empire. First Century.
1) Jesus was known as a wise teacher who was alleged to have been without sin.
2) The people who believed in Him were both Jews and Gentiles.
3) Jesus was executed by Pontius Pilate as he ordered Him to be crucified.
4) Josephus writes that the followers of Jesus reported that He had risen from the dead.
5) The allegation that people were saying that Jesus had risen from the dead on the third day.
6) As a result of Jesus alleged resurrection, His followers grew in number.
7) The allegation that Jesus was the promised Messiah.
8) The Jesus who was crucified was the brother of James.
9) Many people in Israel at that time believed that Jesus was the Messiah.
10) Josephus was likely the brother of Nicodemus and received testimony about Jesus from him.
11) Matthew and Josephus were both alive during the same period of history. Josephus had likely read Matthew’s account of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and this is likely the source from where he received his information in writing about Jesus crucifixion and resurrection.
Thallus: writer of history for the Eastern Mediterranean period of the Trojan War. His works commented on by scholar Julius Africans. First Century.
1) Thallus records commentary on the darkness that encompassed Jerusalem during the time when Jesus was crucified.
2) The Christian Gospel was being preached in the region of the Mediterranean in the first century.
3) Because of the profound implications of the miracles that Jesus instituted, many explanations were being made by those who did not believe in Jesus or the supernatural origin of the things attributed to Him.
4) Julius Africans described the darkness during Jesus crucifixion as supernatural because the occurrence of a Solar Eclipse at that time was scientifically impossible; taking place during a new moon.
5) Because of Thallus and the Africanus commentary, the darkness that was described by writers of that period, was defined as a fulfillment of prophecies from the prophet Amos.
Jewish Talmud: Rabbi’s Judah, Akiba, and Meir are cited as writing in opposition to Jesus in the Mishna and Gemaras Talmud. Second Century.
1) Jesus is described as “hanged on a tree,” which was common language of that day for describing crucifixion.
2) The Talmud confirms Jesus’ crucifixion as occurring during the same period that the New Testament records these events.
3) The crucifixion of Jesus took place on Passover, which is profoundly important to the Messiah’s story, since He must be killed during Passover.
4) The Talmud describes Jesus as destined to be stoned forty days before they crucified Him.
5) Jesus was found guilty of sorcery and apostasy when He taught doctrine that was considered misleading to the people of Israel.
6) During the trial of Jesus, no witnesses were found to testify on His behalf.
7) Jesus had many disciples who followed Him. These persons were also considered dangerous by the Sanhedrin.
8) The Jewish record in the Talmud shows that these leaders of Israel treated Jesus with greater scorn and disrespect than others’s who had been accused of similar crimes.
9) The Talmud records that Jesus age at crucifixion was between 33 and 34 years.
10) Mary, is described as the mother of Jesus.
Traditions of the Jews, Toledoth Jesu (Chronicles of Jesus): Describing the early feelings of Jews regarding the man called “Jesus.” These documents were reported as compiled in the fifth century, but historical evidence suggests that these writing existed in the second century.
1) Describing the widely held tradition that the disciples of Jesus had removed His body from the tomb in order to convince people that He had risen from the dead.
2) A man called “Juda,” is described as discovering this plan to remove Jesus’ body by the disciples. The disciples planned to dig a new grave for Jesus body and bury Him there, after they stole Him from the tomb donated by Joseph of Aramenthea.
3) The Jews of the first century had ignored the rapid rise in numbers for those who believed in Jesus.
4) Writing to ridicule Jesus’ miracles, His birth, and crucifixion.
5) Descriptions of the foundation principles of Jesus’ ministry by satire and criticism.
6) According to this narrative, Jews would read the Tolodeth Yeshu on Christmas Eve. Marc Shaprio, “Torah Study on Christmas Eve,” The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 8:2 (1999): 334.
7) Jesus allegedly stole the name of God from the temple and gained His powers from this process.
8) Jesus fooled the people by magic and false miracles.
9) Jesus died a charlatan’s death, as experienced a criminal’s burial.
10) Alternative views describe Jesus as a brilliant student who was wrongfully discarded by Rabbi, Joshua ben Perachia of the Sanhedrin. (cf. Sanhedrin 107b; Sotah 47a). Echoes of this storyline sometimes appear in Toledot Yeshu.
11) In subsequent versions of the Toledot Yeshu, there were many accusations of Jesus’ virgin birth, the scandal of His true father, accusations that Mary was raped or a participant in adultery. These were included in the written degradation of Jesus’ life. Toledot Yeshu seminar, Princeton University (2009).
Greek Philosopher, Celsus: Second Century. First Christian Apologist, Origen wrote a complete impeachment of all Celsus’ attempts at refuting Jesus in the New Testament in 248 A.D. Often Origen quoted Celsus verbatim, often paraphrasing, frequently referring to the New Testament letters that existed at that time, where Celsus attempted rebuttal. Origen restates many of Celsus’ arguments, with his refutation. Accuracy was crucial to Origen’s refutation of The True Doctrine, leaving history with the reliable source for what Celsus said, and how easy it was for Origen to refute every assertion that atheists presented at such an early date.
- Celsus derided Jesus in his writings, His origin, and those who followed Him.
- Celsus makes comments about statements that are made in the Hebrew Toledot Yeshu, further confirming that the Jews also recorded Jesus in their texts.
- We can reconstruct nearly the entire text and narratives of the New Testament, just from the commentary and rebuttals of Origen. This is substantial evidence that the New Testament was fully intact by 248 A.D., and regarded as accurate and reliable testimony about Jesus, His death and resurrection.
Greek Satirist, Lucian: In the second century, many derisions against Jesus and His followers.
1) Early Believers in Jesus were naive, and lacking good judgment; easily deceived by charlatans, giving large sums of money to support the cause of Jesus.
2) Lucian writes that Jesus was crucified and those who believe in Him believed that they would live forever.
3) Early believers worshipped Jesus as God.
4) Those who believed in Jesus, studied His teaching in context with the Greek language, comparing Him to early Greek philosophers.
5) Jesus’s followers believe in Him by faith.
6) Jesus’ followers sold their possessions in order to gain money to care for other less fortunate believers.
7) The early church, relied upon the writings of letters that were distributed to various places, for their doctrine and teaching.
8) Lucian refers to Jesus as “a crucified sage.”
9) Those who follow the teaching of Jesus were easily taken advantage of, because of their tender hearts.
Syrian, Mara Bar-Serapion: between the first and third century, writes from prison about the man called Jesus and His teaching.
1) Asks the question: “what advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King?”
2) Questioned if the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., was a direct result of their denial of Jesus.
3) Alleges that the Jews were driven from their land, as a result of denying Jesus as their Messiah.
4) The suggestion that Jesus was unjustly killed.
Gnostic teacher, Valentinus: From the first century. Clement of Alexandria said that Valentinus was a follower of Theudas, who was a follower of Paul, a writer of the New Testament. Gnosticism is generally regarded as contrary to the teachings of the New Testament regarding the true nature of Jesus.
1) Discusses the historical reality of Jesus’ in Israel.
2) Refers to Jesus as “the Son of God.”
3) Describes Jesus as teaching His followers about His Father.
4) Is careful to deny that Jesus came as God in the flesh, which is the basis of all Gnostic doctrine.
5) Calls Jesus: “the Word.”
6) Speaks of Jesus death on a tree, which is an early manner of speaking to describe crucifixion.
7) States that the followers of Jesus believed that His death brought salvation to those who believe.
8) Writes that the followers of Jesus affirm that He was resurrected from the dead.
The Acts of Pontius Pilate: Described by Justin Martyr and Tertullian from 150-200 A.D. There are later historical records that are known by the same name, which are known fabrications of this genuine record.
1) Justin Martyr described the descriptions of Jesus’ crucifixion as validated in the report by Pilate.
2) The term: “They pierced my hands and my feet,” as used in Psalm 22, describing the event of Jesus crucifixion 1,000 years later, included in Pilate’s report.
3) Pilate’s report also references the prophecy in Isaiah 53, describing the gambling of Jesus’ clothing by the Roman soldiers.
4) Pilate’s report details several of Jesus’ miracles and His assertion that He is God, brought to the attention of the Roman Senate by Emperor Tiberius. Because the Roman Senate did not endorse Jesus, they rejected his proposal to include these matters into the senate record.
Phylegon: a freed slave of Emperor Hadrian, born in 80 A.D. His writings are preserved by other historical documents, primarily, Origen.
1) Describing Jesus’ ability to accurately predict events of the future that were later confirmed by history as fulfilled.
2) Describing Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s future death by crucifixion.
3) Describes the crucifixion of Jesus at Jerusalem.
4) Describes an alleged solar eclipse that took place during the time of Emperor Tiberius, during the time of Jesus crucifixion.
5) Described the earthquakes that took place during Jesus crucifixion.
6) States that Jesus retained wounds from the crucifixion after He was resurrected.
Rheginos, who is possibly Valentinus: The Treatise on Resurrection. From the second century.
1) Jesus, the man, was also fully God as He is the Son of God.
2) Through His death as the Son of God, He defeated death.
3) States the facts of Jesus’ death.
4) States the facts of Jesus’ resurrection.
5) Since Jesus has been raised, Rheginos is encouraged to count himself as raised.
Substantial Secular Confirmation
We know that the text of Luke was written before Acts, his second book. In Acts Luke details the missionary journeys of Paul in Asia Minor. In Acts 11:27 Luke writes: “During this time some prophets traveled from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named Agabus stood up in one of the meetings and predicted by the Spirit that a great famine was coming upon the entire Roman world.” (This was fulfilled during the reign of Claudius.) ~Acts 11:27-28
This reference to Roman Emperor Claudius allows us to date this verse from the book of Acts. Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus was emperor from 41-54 A.D. Agabus said that this famine was fulfilled during the reign of Claudius. In the fourth century, Roman historian, Orosius, writes that this famine described by Agabus took place in 46 and 47 A.D. A translation from Orosius is found in the historical record written by King Alfred of England during the middle ages in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’. This Chronicle lists British history from 1 A.D. to 1154 A.D. and contains the following text: “A.D. 46. In this year, Claudius, the second Roman emperor to invade Britain, put much of the island under his control and added the Orkneys to Rome’s kingdom. This took place in the fourth year of his rule. In this same year, a great famine in Syria took place which Luke mentions in his book, ‘The Acts of the Apostles.’ Due to his incompetence, The Emperor Claudius Nero almost lost control of the British isle.”
Jewish historian, Josephus, also records in Antiquities 20 chapter 1.3-2.5: “Herod, the brother of Agrippa who had perished, was allowed to govern over Chalcis. He asked Claudius Caesar for control over the temple along with the sacred treasury, and the ability to choose the high priests, and he was given all that he had asked for.” Around this time lived queen Helena of Adiabene, along with her son Izates. They both began to follow the Jewish way, turning away from their past lifestyle . . . Her arrival was of great help to the masses in Jerusalem, for there was a famine in the land that overtook them and many people died of starvation.
Queen Helena sent some of her stewards to the city of Alexandria in order to purchase as much grain as possible. She sent others to the island of Cyprus to bring back dried figs. Helena’s efforts to save many people left a legacy in the historical record, that allows us to verify the date of this famine described by Luke in the Book of Acts.
Roman historian, Suetonius, also mentions this same famine in his writing, “Life of Claudius” Chapter 18: “There was a scarcity of food, which was the result of bad harvests that occurred during a span of several years.”
Roman historian, Tacitus, also writes in describing the famine, in his Annals, Chapter 11:4: “A vision that came to him at night was the reason charges were filed against the man. In this dream, he claimed to have seen Claudius crowned with a wreath made of wheat, the ears of which were folded downward. And from this vision, he predicted lean harvests to come.”
This presents us with a substantial secular and Biblical confirmation that the text of Acts, written by Luke, is not only accurate but confirmation that both Acts and Luke’s Gospel of Christ were written by 44 A.D.
Accurate Forensic Examination
Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians in 49 A.D. In this letter Paul describes a conversation he had with Peter and James 14 years before, in 35 A.D. Paul penned the text in Galatians just before he appeared before Festus in 49 A.D.
After Paul had completed his first eighteen months missionary journey through Asia Minor, he received a report that the believers at Galatia were struggling due to false teaching that had crept into their church. Some of the Judaizers had tried to convince the Christians of Galatia that in addition to trusting in Jesus, they must also keep the laws of Moses. In response to this difficulty, Paul wrote to confirm his former words—that no Christian must keep the laws of Moses in order to be saved.
This issue continued to be a problem amongst the new Christian churches, which precipitated the meeting with the Jerusalem Council, also in 49 A.D., that is seen in Acts 15:1-30. During this meeting of the early church leaders, it was determined that only three laws would be imposed upon new Christians: “(1.) abstain from things polluted by idols, (2.) from sexual immorality, (3.) from things strangled, and from blood ~Acts 15:20.
Again we are learning correct dates for the events of the New Testament and eventually the time of writing for the synoptic Gospels, starting with the coinage of Festus and the statement of Paul in Galatians 2. These verified events allow us to forensically determine additional accurate dates for many other events in the New Testament.
What all this information means to you, the reader: The man called “Jesus of Nazareth” is a genuine person from the historical record.
If Jesus is simply a myth, why do we find over 100 references to Him in the non-biblical records of the Romans, Jews, Greeks, and other Secular documents? In fact, we can completely reconstruct the primary events of Jesus life, death, and resurrection; strictly from these non-biblical sources.
The primary purpose of Jesus in coming to earth was to demonstrate that God exists and that it is His desire to cleanse us from our sins and make every person fully ready for heaven. Jesus repeatedly stated that He and God are one and the same. Then He demonstrated that this is true by performing works that only God could accomplish.
In many of the discussions that I have had with those who claim to an atheist or agnostic, they repeatedly state that “there is no evidence for God.” The type of evidence that they are implying is scientific, empirical, testable, and observable.
In recent years, there has been a great attempt to discredit the New Testament narrative of Jesus—altogether. There are claims made that Jesus never existed; that His life, death, and resurrection are fabrications. Assertions are made that there is no other evidence for the existence of Jesus, other than the accounts written in the New Testament Bible.
This premise ignores the vast evidence that exists from the Jewish Talmud and the records of the Roman Senate. The ancient scribes of Israel who chronicled Jesus in their writings, had no interest in preserving any historical information about Him, nor Christianity. The Jews who recorded their commentary about Jesus in the Talmud, regarded Him and His followers as the latest of many cult religions of their day. These leaders of Israel had no desire to document the existence of Jesus, His crucifixion, nor those who followed Him—yet this is precisely what they accomplished by their adversarial comments regarding His arrest and execution. These records were written during the period of history in which Jesus is reported to have been in Israel, as described by the narrative of the New Testament scriptures.
In the ancient records of the Roman Senate, Jesus was known as Chrestus, as described by the writings of Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus. For more than 30 years, Suetonius had access to the Imperial and Senatorial archives, and many other contemporary memoirs and public documents. According to historical experts of that period, much of the information that is left to us from Suetonius about the Roman Caesars, came from eye-witness accounts. Unlike Tacitus, Suetonius fact checked the material that was contained within the Roman archives for accuracy. According to Suetonius, Jesus was well know to the Roman government. He was known as Chrestus, the one responsible for the disturbances reported by Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem. In “The Twelve Caesars,” by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, he says:
“Because the Jews at Rome caused continuous disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus (Christ), he expelled them from the City.”
This is a direct corroboration of the text by an impartial, uninterested leader of the Roman government, who received his information from the Roman archives.
Both the Jews and the Romans would rather that Jesus had not existed, yet they found themselves recording many of the events of His life and death—in their preserved records of history. The evidence that is extant of antiquity, demands that Jesus existed as a real person in Israel, during the period of history in which the New Testament describes Him.
“No credible Biblical scholar today believes that Jesus was not a real person of history. The evidence for His existence is so overwhelming, that to deny Jesus lived in Galilee at the time depicted by the New Testament would place any writer in a classification of incompetency.”
All opposition to the existence of Jesus has now been refuted; and the fact that He lived and conducted Himself in the events described by the four Gospels of the New Testament, is incontrovertible.
Since we know for certain that the historical record of Jesus is verified by secular, as well as Biblical texts, we must now consider what Jesus stated about Himself. Jesus claimed to be the True and Living God; presented to us in the body of a man. As we examine Jesus claims, we find that there is no mistake, no misunderstanding—what Jesus said; He believed Himself to be God. Then Jesus supported His claim to be God by doing things that only God could do: Heal the sick, make the blind see, cause the disabled to walk, heal the leper, cast out demons, and raise the dead. The people who observed Jesus said that He was without sin and that they believed that He is Jehovah/God, the Creator of the universe (Colossians 1:1, Hebrews 1:1, John 1:1).
If this claim is true, and this essay validates these facts; then God has proven His existence by empirical evidence.
According to the United States Library of Congress, we have just over 20,000 documents written by Abraham Lincoln, from 1833-1916. The documents that describe the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which have survived time and decay, are 24,593.
We know more about Jesus of Nazareth and the events surrounding His life than we do the 16th president of the United States of America.
The man, Jesus Christ, is a real person from history—whose life has been recorded for us by honest men who documented the amazing things that He has said and done. There is more historical evidence for the man called Jesus than practically any other person in the chronology of the world.
“I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer.” —Dr. Thomas Arnold, Oxford history professor
“The evidence for the resurrection alone is better than for claimed miracles of all other religions. There leaders are buried and still in their graves. Jesus tomb was found empty!” —Anthony Flew, former atheist
You might also be interested in the page: Evidence For God
See the books by Robert Clifton Robinson that describe the Historical Jesus:
[A1] Robert L. Wilkin, “The Piety of the Persecutors.” Christian History, Issue 27 (Vol. XI, No. 3), p. 18, 19.
[B1] 1.Everett Ferguson, “Did You Know?” Christian History, Issue 27 (Vol. XI, No. 3), inside cover.
2.Robert L. Wilkin, “The Piety of the Persecutors.” Christian History, Issue 27 (Vol. XI, No. 3), p. 18.
[C1] ‘ Superstitio’ and the Persecution of the Christians, L. F. Janssen, Vigiliae Christianae, Vol. 33, No. 2 (Jun., 1979), pp. 131-159.
[D1] Tacitus Annals, 15.44.4
[E1] Seutonius, Nero, 16,2
[F1] Ibid, L. F. Janssen, Vigiliae Christianae, Vol. 33.
[G1] 1. Everett Ferguson, “Did You Know?” Christian History, Issue 27 (Vol. XI, No. 3), inside cover. 2.Robert L. Wilkin, “The Piety of the Persecutors.” Christian History, Issue 27 (Vol. XI, No. 3), p. 18. 3. Persecution in the Early Church, religion facts.com, March 17, 2015.
[H1] 1.Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, Publisher: ReadHowYouWant, December 19, 2011, ISBN: 1459633199, Kindle Edition 2.Chuck Smith, “The Tribulation and the Church,” The Word For Today, Publishers, August 5, 2011, Kindle Edition. 3. Maurice M. Hassatt, “Martyr.” The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. IX, Robert Appleton Company, 1910
[I1] Mark Galli, “The Persecuting Emperors.” Christian History, Issue 27 (Vol. XI, No. 3), p. 20.
[A] 1. Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius c. 395-423, Saturnalia, book II, chapter IV:11: “Cum audisset inter pueros quos in Syria Herodes rex Iudaeorum intra bimatum iussit interfici filium quoque eius occisum, ait: Melius est Herodis porcum esse quam filium,”
2. Robinson, Robert Clifton. These Things Were Written: An Expositional Treatise Of The Life, Death, And Resurrection Of Jesus . Teach The Word Publishing, INC. Kindle Edition. Chapter: “Threatened With Death,” subheading: “Non-Biblical Confirmation of Jesus’ Birth.”
[B] Tacitus, Annals 15.44
[C] Humphreys, Colin J. (2011-03-27T22:58:59). The Mystery of the Last Supper . Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.
[D] 1. A bronze coin dated from Antioch, the year 1 of Tiberius reign and year 45 of Actium. The head of Tiberius is on the reverse side. From this double-dated coin we know that Tiberius started to reign in AD 14.
2. Humphreys, Colin J. (2011-03-27T22:58:59). The Mystery of the Last Supper . Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.
[AA] P.E. Easterling, E. J. Kenney (general editors), The Cambridge History of Latin Literature, page 892 (Cambridge University Press, 1982, reprinted 1996). ISBN 0-521-21043-7
A political history of early Christianity by Allen Brent 2009 ISBN 0-567-03175-6 pages 32-34
Robert Van Voorst, Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence, Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2000. p 39- 53
[BB] Jesus & the Rise of Early Christianity: A History of New Testament Times by Paul Barnett 2002 ISBN 0-8308-2699-8 page 30.
[CC] “The Twelve Caesars,” by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus. Graves, Robert (2014-03-05). The Twelve Caesars (Kindle Locations 3661-3662). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.
[DD] “The annals by Cornelius Tacitus,” Anthony John Woodman 2004 ISBN 0-87220-558-4 pages 10-20
[EE] 1.The Annals: The Reigns of Tiberius, Claudius, and Nero by Cornelius Tacitus and J. C. Yardley ISBN 0-19-282421-X Oxford pages 2-27.
2.”Tacitus and the Writing of History,” by Ronald H. Martin 1981 ISBN 0-520-04427-4, pages 104–105.
[FF] Robert E. Van Voorst, Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence, Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2000. p 39- 53
Tradition and Incarnation: Foundations of Christian Theology by William L. Portier 1993 ISBN 0-8091-3467-5 page 263
[GG] Graves, Robert (2014-03-05). The Twelve Caesars (Kindle Locations 30-34). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.
[HH] Graves, Robert (2014-03-05). The Twelve Caesars (Kindle Locations 3343-3345). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.
[CT1] Robert E. Van Voorst Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence Eerdmans Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0-8028-4368-9 page 16 states: “biblical
[E1] 1.John Elder, “Prophets, Idols and Diggers.” Indianapolis, New York: Bobbs-Merrill,1960. Pages 159, 160
2.Joseph Free,. “Archaeology and Bible History.” Wheaton: Scripture Press Publications, 1969, Page 285
[E2] Elder, John. Prophets, Idols and Diggers. Indianapolis, New York: Bobbs-Merrill,1960, Page 160
[E3] 1.Elder, John. Prophets, Idols and Diggers. Indianapolis, New York: Bobbs-Merrill,1960, Pages 159, 160
[E4]1.Elder, John. Prophets, Idols and Diggers. Indianapolis, New York: Bobbs-Merrill,1960, Pages 159, 160.
2.Free, Joseph. Archaeology and Bible History. Wheaton: Scripture Press Publications, 1969, page 285.
[E5] F. F. Bruce, “Archaeological Confirmation of the New Testament.” Revelation and the Bible. Edited by Carl Henry. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1969. Page 321.
[E6] Adrian Nicholas Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament, 1963, page 189.
[II] Acts 18:1-2
 1) This Chronicle of Jesus was already known by the archbishop Agobard of Lyons in 827 A.D. Schäfer, “Agobard’s and Amulo’s Toledot Yeshu” in Toledot Yeshu (“the Life Story of Jesus”) Revisited. Also:
2) Sarit Kattan-Gribetz, “Hanged and Crucified: The Book of Esther and Toledot Yeshu,” Toledot Yeshu (“the Life Story of Jesus”) Revisited.
 The following are specific references to Jesus of Nazareth, as found in the Talmud under passages on execution in Sanhedrin 43 a-b.1
Herzog 1: On the eve of Passover, they hanged Jesus the Nazarene.
Vatican 130: He went and brought up Jesus the Nazarene.
Vatican 140: He went and brought up Jesus.
Munich 95: On the eve of the Passover, they hanged Jesus of Nazareth.
Firenze 11.1.8-9: On the Sabbath eve and the eve of Passover, they hanged Jesus the Nazarene.
Karisruhe 2: On the eve of Passover, they hanged Jesus the Nazarene.
Barco: On the eve of Passover, they hanged Jesus of Nazareth.
1 English translations of the Talmud from Peter Schäfer, pp 133–140
 Graves, Robert (2014-03-05). The Twelve Caesars (Kindle Locations 30-34). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.
 Graves, Robert (2014-03-05). The Twelve Caesars (Kindle Locations 3343-3345). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.
 Robert E. Van Voorst Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence Eerdmans Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0-8028-4368-9 page 16 states: “biblical scholars and classical historians regard theories of non-existence of Jesus as effectively refuted”
James D. G. Dunn “Paul’s understanding of the death of Jesus” in Sacrifice and Redemption edited by S. W. Sykes (Dec 3, 2007) Cambridge University Press ISBN 052104460X pages 35-36 states that the theories of non-existence of Jesus are “a thoroughly dead thesis”
The Gospels and Jesus by Graham Stanton, 1989 ISBN 0192132415 Oxford University Press, page 145 states : “Today nearly all historians, whether Christians or not, accept that Jesus existed”.
 1.Grant, M., Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels New York: Scribner’s, 1977, Page 176
2.Van Daalen, D. H., The Real Resurrection, London: Collins, 1972, Page 41
3.Kremer, Jakob, Die Osterevangelien — Geschichten um Geschichte, Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1977, Pages 49-50
From the Archives: Emperor Hadrians moderate policies
This rescript, c. 124, protected Christians
“I received the letter written to me by your predecessor, the most illustrious Serenius Granianus, and it is not my pleasure to pass by without enquiry the matter referred to me, lest the inoffensive should be disturbed, while slanderous informers are afforded an opportunity of practicing their vile trade.
Now, if our subjects of the provinces are able to sustain by evidence their charges against the Christians, so as to answer before a court of justice, I have no objection to their taking this course. But I do not allow them to have recourse to mere clamorous demands and outcries to this end. For it is much more equitable, if anyone wishes to accuse them, for you to take cognizance of the matters laid to their charge.
If therefore any one accuses and proves that the aforesaid men do anything contrary to the laws, you will pass sentences corresponding to their offenses. On the other hand, I emphatically insist on this, that if anyone demand a writ of summons against any of these Christians, merely as a slanderous accusation, you proceed against that man with heavier penalties, in proportion to the gravity of his offense. And this, by Hercules; you shall give special heed to, that if any man shall, through mere calumny, bring an accusation against any of these persons, you shall award to him more severe punishments in proportion to his wickedness.”
“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man’s cruelty, that they were being destroyed“
Suetonius, Claudius, 25.
“Because the Jews at Rome caused continuous disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from the city.”
Josephus: Antiquities 18:3
“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats. . . . He was (the) Christ . . . he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him.”
Josephus: Jesus Within Judaism, p. 95.
“At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. His conduct was good and (he) was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.“
Thallus: Julius Africanus, Extant Writings, XVIII in the Ante– Nicene Fathers, ed. by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973), vol. VI, p. 130.
“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..”
Pliny The Younger: Pliny, Letters, transl. by William Melmoth, rev. by W.M.L. Hutchinson (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1935), vol. II, X: 96.
“They (the Christians) were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food — but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.”
Trajan: Pliny, Letters, transl. by William Melmoth, rev. by W.M.L. Hutchinson (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1935), vol. II, X: 96
“The method you have pursued, my dear Pliny, in sifting the cases of those denounced to you as Christians is extremely proper. It is not possible to lay down any general rule which can be applied as the fixed standard in all cases of this nature. No search should be made for these people; when they are denounced and found guilty they must be punished; with the restriction, however, that when the party denies himself to be a Christian, and shall give proof that he is not (that is, by adoring our Gods) he shall be pardoned on the ground of repentance, even though he may have formerly incurred suspicion. Informations without the accuser’s name subscribed must not be admitted in evidence against anyone, as it is introducing a very dangerous precedent, and by no means agreeable to the spirit of the age. “
Hadrian: Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, IV:IX.
“I do not wish, therefore, that the matter should be passed by without examination, so that these men may neither be harassed, nor opportunity of malicious proceedings be offered to informers. If, therefore, the provincials can clearly evince their charges against the Christians, so as to answer before the tribunal, let them pursue this course only, but not by mere petitions, and mere outcries against the Christians. For it is far more proper, if any one would bring an accusation, that you should examine it.”
Talmud: The Babylonian Talmud, transl. by I. Epstein (London: Soncino, 1935), vol. III, Sanhedrin 43a, p. 281.
“On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, 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 favour, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.” But since nothing was brought forward in his favour he was hanged on the eve of the Passover!”
Lucian: Lucian, The Death of Peregrine, 11-13, in The Works of Lucian of Samosata, transl. by H.W. Fowler and F.G. Fowler, 4 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1949), vol. 4.
“The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day — the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. . . . You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property.”
Mara Bar-Serapion: British Museum, Syriac Manuscript, Additional 14, 658. For this text, see Bruce, Christian Origins, p. 31.
“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 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 statue of Hera. Nor did the wise King die for good; he lived on in the teaching which he had given.
Valentinus: The Gospel of Truth 26: 4-8. The edition used here is Robinson.
“For when they had seen him and had heard him, he granted them to taste him and to smell him and to touch the beloved Son. When he had appeared instructing them about the Father . . . . For he came by means of fleshly appearance.”
Acts of Pontius Pilate: Justin Martyr, First Apology, XXXV. Quotations from Justin Martyr and Tertullian are from the Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973), vol. III.
“And the expression, “They pierced my hands and my feet,” was used in reference to the nails of the cross which were fixed in His hands and feet. And after He was crucified, they cast lots upon His vesture, and they that crucified Him parted it among them. And that these things did happen you can ascertain in the “Acts” of Pontius Pilate.”
Tiberius: Tertullian, Apology, V.
“Tiberius accordingly, in whose days the Christian name made its entry into the world, having himself received intelligence from Palestine of events which had clearly shown the truth of Christ’s divinity, brought the matter before the senate, with his own decision in favour of Christ. The senate, because it had not given the approval itself, rejected his proposal. Caesar held to his opinion, threatening wrath against all accusers of the Christians.“
Categories: Historical Validity of the New Testament, How Salvation Occurs, Jesus is God, Josephus as a credible witness, Messianic Prophecies, New Testament Criticism, Reliability of the New Testament, Robert Clifton Robinson, Secular sources for Jesus, Tacitus as a credible witness, The Creation of the Universe, The Existence of God, The Historical Jesus, Those who stop believing, What happens after death?