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Does Any Non-Biblical Archaeological Evidence Exist to Support the Existence of Jesus Christ?

Nathan Russell

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FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS (c. 37-100 C.E.) This Jewish priest and historian states that Annas, a Jewish high priest who continued to wield political influence, “convened the judges of the Sanhedrin [the Jewi

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(c. 37-100 C.E.) This Jewish priest and historian states that Annas, a Jewish high priest who continued to wield political influence, “convened the judges of the Sanhedrin [the Jewish high court] and brought before them a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ.”—Jewish Antiquities, XX, 200.

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1 hour ago, bruceq said:

(c. 37-100 C.E.) This Jewish priest and historian states that Annas, a Jewish high priest who continued to wield political influence, “convened the judges of the Sanhedrin [the Jewish high court] and brought before them a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ.”—Jewish Antiquities, XX, 200.

This particular reference to Jesus is more often considered to be a true part of the original work of Josephus. There is another Josephus reference that is almost always considered to be a forged interpolation. This one appears to not have the "earmarks" of a forged interpolation, but there are still questions about it.

Another reference or two is found in the Talmud, and these are polemic and from a couple hundred years later, potentially, which makes them less valuable as contemporary history.

There is also SEUTONIUS, a Roman historian alive from about 69 to 122 who wrote: "The Lives of the Twelve Caesars." When writing about the reign of Claudius, who ruled from 41 to 54 (the period from 8 to 21 years after Jesus died), he included the line:

"Iudaeos impulsore Chresto assidue tumultuantis Roma expulit"

The line is considered genuine, and is most likely translated, in the ways it is shown in Wikipedia here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suetonius_on_Christians

"He expelled from Rome the Jews constantly making disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus"

"Since the Jews constantly make disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome."

The same article in Wikipedia matches it to Acts 18:2:

(Acts 18:2) And he found a Jew named Aqʹui·la, a native of Ponʹtus who had recently come from Italy with Pris·cilʹla his wife, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. . . .

This appears to blame the expelling of the Jews on the many disturbances between "Hebrew" Jews and "Christian" Jews. Historians specializing in the early history of Christianity have been postulating that these disturbances were of greater importance historically than previously recognized. Such disturbances mentioned in the book of Acts, especially in the area of Jerusalem, might provide some Biblical evidence of how easily these disturbances flared up.

(Acts 2:5-10) 5 At that time devout Jews from every nation under heaven were staying in Jerusalem....[including]... sojourners from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,

(Acts 6:1-7) 6 Now in those days when the disciples were increasing, the Greek-speaking Jews began complaining against the Hebrew-speaking Jews,. . .  7 Consequently, the word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples kept multiplying very much in Jerusalem; and a large crowd of priests began to be obedient to the faith.

(Acts 13:5) 5 When they arrived in Salʹa·mis, they began proclaiming the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews.. . .

(Acts 13:45) 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began blasphemously contradicting the things Paul was saying.

(Acts 13:50) 50 But the Jews incited the prominent women who were God-fearing and the principal men of the city, and they stirred up persecution . . .

(Acts 14:1-4) . . .. 2 But the Jews who did not believe stirred up and wrongly influenced the people of the nations against the brothers. . . .  4 However, the multitude of the city was divided; some were for the Jews but others for the apostles.

(Acts 16:3) 3 Paul expressed the desire for Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.

(Acts 16:20, 21) 20 Leading them up to the civil magistrates, they said: “These men are disturbing our city very much. They are Jews, 21 and they are proclaiming customs that it is not lawful for us to adopt or practice, seeing that we are Romans.”

(Acts 17:1-5) . . .where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 So according to Paul’s custom he went inside to them,. . .  4 As a result, some of them became believers and associated themselves with Paul and Silas, and so did a great multitude of the Greeks who worshipped God, along with quite a few of the principal women. 5 But the Jews, getting jealous, gathered together some wicked men who were loitering at the marketplace and formed a mob and proceeded to throw the city into an uproar.. . .

(Acts 20:3) . . .because a plot was hatched against him by the Jews when he was about to set sail for Syria. . .

(Acts 21:20, 21) . . .“You see, brother, how many thousands of believers there are among the Jews, and they are all zealous for the Law. 21 But they have heard it rumored about you that you have been teaching all the Jews among the nations an apostasy from Moses. . .

(Acts 21:27, 28, 30) 27 Now when the seven days were about to end, the Jews from Asia, on seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd, and they seized him, 28 shouting: “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our Law and this place. . . . 30 The whole city was in an uproar,

Some historians have begun to look at some of these references to "Jews" and now see a few of them as references to "Christian Jews" who were the ones hatching plots against Paul and others. While this may not be true of these references from Acts, there are literary evidences of Christians who believed Paul was teaching apostasy.

I only bring it up to show how and why either Seutonius or Claudius may have conflated the disturbances among Jews with those of followers of Christ. Most Christians of the time, even in Asia Minor and Italy had still come from the Greek-speaking supporters of the Jewish synagogues, where it was Paul's custom to  preach, everywhere he traveled.

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@ARchiv@L That reference, as you know, includes not just Josephus, but TACITUS. Thanks for the link. I'll copy the paragraph about him.

*** w10 4/1 p. 15 Did You Know? ***
A number of secular writers who lived close to the time of Jesus made specific mention of him. Among them was Cornelius Tacitus, who recorded the history of Rome under the emperors. Regarding a fire that devastated Rome in 64 C.E., Tacitus relates that it was rumored that Emperor Nero was responsible for the disaster. Nero, says Tacitus, tried to place the blame on a group whom the populace called Christians. Tacitus writes: “Christus, from whom their name is derived, was executed at the hands of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius.”—Annals, XV, 44.

Tacitus wrote his Histories and Annals, including this one, closer to the year 116/7. This makes it earlier than that of Seutonius who wrote closer to 122. Also Tacitus is much more clear about who this Christus is and how he relates to Roman history.


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