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"The excessive skepticism shown toward the Bible has been progressively discredited. Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of numerous details."
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»  Shaking Modern Discoveries
»  Non-biblical Sources
»  A Brief History of the New Testament

Chapter 6:
Unparalleled Historicity
Is the text of the Bible a reliable historical document?

Non-biblical Sources

In relatively recent times, some have tried to dispute the fact that the Christian figure of Jesus Christ was an actual historical person. Jesus, they say, never really lived, but was fabricated in the imaginations of those who founded Christianity.

However, there are several surviving non-Christian documents from the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D. which confirm not only the historicity of Jesus, but also the following information about Him: 1) Jesus was a Jewish teacher; 2) many people believed that He performed healings and exorcisms; 3) He was rejected by the Jewish leaders; 4) He was crucified under Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius (A.D. 14–37); 5) despite this shameful death, his followers, who believed that He was still alive, spread beyond Palestine so that there were multitudes of them in Rome by A.D. 64; 6) all kinds of people from the cities and countryside — men and women, slave and free — worshiped Him as God by the beginning of the 2nd century.[10]

As the Encyclopedia Britannica observes, the non-Christian accounts that corroborate the above facts “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 at the end of the 18th, during the 19th, and at the beginning of the 20th centuries.”[11] The Encyclopedia lists the following historical accounts as examples:

  1. Antiquities of the Jews, by Flavius Josephus (A.D. 37–100). This work is described as “invaluable” for Jewish history.[12] As a historian, with access to both Roman and Jewish governmental records, Josephus described events in Israel during the 1st century A.D. His work includes several references to Jesus Christ, one of which reads: “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 amongst 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 tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”[13]

  2. The Annals [historical records] of the Roman historian and governor of Asia, Cornelius Tacitus, written about A.D. 110. These writings confirm such things as the execution of Jesus, identify Jesus as the founder of the Christian faith, and discuss the persecution of Christians.[14]

  3. An inquiry of the governor of Asia Minor, Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Younger), in his letter to the emperor Trajan (A.D. 111). Here, Christians are described as those who “bound themselves to a solemn oath” and sang hymns to Christ “as to a god.”[15]

  4. Roman historian, Suetonius, in his Life of Claudius (A.D. 100). Suetonius refers to the Christians causing disturbances in Rome which led to their being banished from the city.[16] Claudius’s decree of expulsion (A.D. 49) is also mentioned in the Bible (Acts 18:2).

  5. The Talmud, a compendium of Jewish law, lore, and commentary. (Referring to specific writings from the 1st and 2nd centuries). These writings reveal an acquaintance with the Christian tradition, but include several divergent legendary motifs as well. The picture of Jesus offered in these writings may be summarized as follows: born the (according to some interpretations, illegitimate) son of a man called Panther, Jesus worked magic, ridiculed the wise, seduced and stirred up the people, gathered five disciples about him, and was hanged (crucified) on the eve of the Passover.[17]


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