T Nation

Jesus' Existence

I have a question-- in the WB thread there was mention of the debate over the existence of jesus and the historical sources that mention him. I haven’t read Josephus, so I can’t comment on whetehr to believe him or not, but someone cast doubt on tacitus, whose work I know very well.

I believe the remarks were that tacitus’s reference to the Christians is believed to be a later interpolation. Why is this believed? His mention of Chritianity is far from positive, and sounds a lot like his other rather abrupt moral condemnations throughout his work. He believed very much in the importance of keeping the state and Roman identity intact, something Christianity among other things worked against in an indirect way. His refernce to Jesus seems not only credible, but in keeping with his other sentiments.

Why believe someone made this up and inserted it later? As a side note, I’m inclined to believe Jesus existed and wowed alot of people in some way.

Its rather amazing when you put up a subject like this and it ends in contraversy. But in all reality, there are plenty of well known facts for the existence of Jesus. I once heard someone remark that there are 10,000 facts for the life of Jesus versus 1 fact that the Battle of Waterloo existed. Yet there is no debate over the second.

I doubt there’s too many people that doubt Jesus ever lived. The debate is about, who He was.

Perhaps, you think He was a looney. One remark I make to people that are questioning about Jesus. What if it were true? You may not believe in Him at all. But what would it mean if Jesus was exactly what He said He was?

Man, this thread is soon going to take off like rocketship once the opinions start rolling in. i might as well get my once cent in while i can. i cant quote sources or writings but i have fromed my own opinion over the years. it is that there was actually a man named jesus who did a lot of great things for the people of his time but i do not believe that he was some sort of higher being (at least not yet). there are a whole slew of unanswered questions for me that keep me from believing. here are just a few:

why did jesus and God just speak to the folks in the modern day middle east? if he was the savior of all mankind why wouldnt he speak to everyone else (asians, incas, myans, native americans, etc.)? it seems each culture has its own diety it looks to for help and answers but they all seem to have consistent values on how to be an overall good person and lead a “meaningful” life. if jesus was the savior of man, again why would he not speak to everyone of that time.

why would jesus never come back to give a “refresher course” on his word, especially in some of the earth’s most trying times (WWI, WWII, now, etc.)? according to record he has only been in physical form once (twice if you count the ressurection). it would sure put an end to all this debating!!

here is what i think. i think that the real jesus was a humble man who lived his life the way that most people of the time felt was a great way to be: humble, respectful, caring, helping, selfless, etc. the scribers of the bible took notice and created this story as a model for the citizens of the time to live by using jesus as an example. of course, they added somewhat of a fatastic twist to it which would cause the story to be respected and followed by more people, especially if they knew the consequences of acting up. the bible answers all of the main questions that we ask ourselves: how did we get here? where did the animals come from? what happens when we die? all of the beliefs of the other cultures with no relation to jesus answer the same questions but with different players.

again, i dont claim to be a scholar and cant site sources but this is just my opinion. hope it starts some debate!!

I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except through me…Jesus as quoted in John 14:6. To make that statement you got to be crazy or the only way to the Father…

Secular historians and others from antiquity attest to the historical reality of Jesus Christ.

JOSEPHUS: (37-101 A.D.)

Josephus was born in Jerusalem only four years after Jesus’ crucifixion. He was an eyewitness to much of what he recorded in the first century A.D. Josephus mentions many events and people from the Gospels. Josephus was an Orthodox Jew who was commissioned by the Romans to write a history of the Jewish people and Rome up until that point.

Mentions Jesus: Antiquities, Book 18, ch. 3, par. 3.

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.

Mentions John the Baptist and Herod: Antiquities, Book 18, ch. 5, par. 2

“Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness.”

Mentions James, the half-brother of Jesus: Antiquities, Book 20, ch. 19.

“Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done.”

TACITUS: (55-117 A.D.)

Cornelius Tactitus is regarded as the greatest historian of ancient Rome. Writing on the reign of Nero, Tacitus alludes to the death of Christ and to the existence of Christians in Rome.

“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 Judea, 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.”

PLINY THE YOUNGER: (112 A.D.)

Governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor, Pliny wrote a letter to the Emperor Trajan regarding how to deal with Christians who worship Christ. These letters concern an episode which marks the first time the Roman government recognized Christianity as a religion separate from Judaism, and sets a precedent for the massive persecution of Christians that takes place in the second and third centuries.

“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.”

BABYLONIAN TALMUD: (Completed in the 6th Century A.D.)

The Babylonian Talmud is a Rabbinic commentary on the Jewish scriptures (Tanach: Old Testament). They are a look into what a hostile source was saying about Jesus. They couldn’t deny his miracles so they claim that it was sorcery rather than admit to what was a known fact. They also admit that Yeshu (Hebrew for Jesus) was hanged (Crucified: Luke 23:39, Galatians 3:13).

“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 (an admission of his miracles) and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.” But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of the Passover!”

The Babylonian Talmud, vol. III, Sanhedrin 43a.

LUCIAN: (120-180 A.D.)

A Greek satirist that spoke scornfully of Christ and Christians, affirming that they were real and historical people, never saying that they were fictional characters.

“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.”

Lucian, The Death of Peregrine. 11-13.

LETTER OF MARA BARSARAPION: (73 A.D.)

Mara Bar-Serapion was a Syrian who lived in the first century A.D. He wrote a letter to his son Serapion that mentions the Jews who killed their King. The letter is now in the possession of the British Museum.

“What benefit did the Athenians obtain by putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as judgment for their crime. Or, the people of Samos for burning Pythagoras? In one moment their country was covered with sand. Or the Jews by murdering their wise king?..After that their kingdom was abolished. God rightly avenged these men…The wise king…Lived on in the teachings he enacted.”

Thallus: (52 A.D.)

One of the first secular writers that mentioned Christ. Thallus wrote a history of the Eastern Mediterranean world from the Trojan War to his own time. Unfortunately, his writings are only found as citations by others. Julius Africanus, a Christian who wrote about AD 221 mentioned Thallus’ account of an eclipse of the sun (Luke 23:44-45).

“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.”

Julius Africanus, Chronography, 18:1.

PHLEGON: (1st Century)

A secular historian wrote a history named, “Chronicles.” This original work has been lost, Julius Africanus preserved a small fragment in his writings. Phlegon mentions the eclipse (Matthew 27:45) during the crucifixion of Jesus.

“During the time of Tiberius Caesar an eclipse of the sun occurred during the full moon.”

Africanus, Chronography, 18:1.

SUETONIUS: (69-140 A.D.)

A Roman historian and annalist of the Imperial House under the Emperor Hadrian. He refers to Christ and Christians and the “disturbances” caused by them, namely not worshipping idols and loving all, including their tormentors.

“Because the Jews at Rome caused constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus [Christ], he [Claudius] expelled them from the city [Rome].” Acts 18:2, which took place in 49 A.D.

Life of Claudius, 25:4.

In another work Suetonius wrote about the the fire which devastated Rome in 64 A.D. under the reign of Nero. Nero blamed the Christians and exacted a heavy punishment upon them, among them covering them with pitch and burning them alive in his gardens.

“Nero inflicted punishment on the Christians, a sect given to a new and mischievous religious belief.”

Lives of the Caesars, 26.2

CELSUS: (2nd Century)

Criticizes the Gospels, unknowingly reinforces the authors and the content, he alludes to 80 different quotes in the Bible. Admits that the miracles of Jesus were generally believed in the 2nd century.

JULIAN THE APOSTATE: (332-363 A.D.)

Emperor of Rome mentions the Gospels, miracles and other facts about Jesus. Julian had struggled to end the power of Christians in the Roman Empire. Since the day fifty years earlier that Constantine conquered in the sign of the cross, Christian influence had steadily grown. As Julian lay dying from a mortal wound he made the following remark:

   "As he bled, the dying emperor groaned, "You have conquered, O Galilean," referring to Jesus Christ.  

CLEMENT OF ROME: (100 A.D.)

Clement affirms the Resurrection, Gospels and that Jesus was sent to earth by God to take away our sins.

“Clement was the fourth bishop of Rome, the first being Peter. Did he know Peter and Paul? It is completely possible that those two Spirit-filled men taught him. Clement even wrote a letter to the Corinthian church that echoed the teachings of the apostles.”

Ignatius of Antioch: (50-107 A.D.)

Disciple of the apostles Peter, Paul, and John, who was martyred for his faith in Jesus. He was obviously convinced that Jesus really had lived and that Jesus was all that the apostles has said He was.

“…nearness to the sword is nearness to God; to be among the wild beasts is to be in the arms of God; only let it be in the name of Jesus Christ. I endure all things that I may suffer together with him, since he who became perfect man strengthens me…We have not only to be called Christians, but to be Christians.”

While the emperor Trajan was on a visit to Asia Minor, he arrested Ignatius. When the bishop confessed his faith in Christ, the Emperor sent him in chains to Rome to die. He was hustled to the arena at once and thrown to two fierce lions who immediately devoured him.

QUADRATUS: (125 A.D.)

Bishop of Athens and a disciple of the apostles. Church historian Eusebius has preserved the only work that we have from Quadratus.

“The deeds of our Saviour were always before you, for they were true miracles; those that were healed, those that were raised from the dead, who were seen, not only when healed and when raised, but were always present. They remained living a long time, not only whilst our Lord was on earth, but likewise when he had left the earth. So that some of them have also lived in our times.”

Eusebius, IV, III

EPISTLE OF BARNABAS: (130-38 A.D.)

Mentions the Resurrection, miracles, content of the Gospels and the crucifixion of Jesus.

ARISTIDES: (138-161 A.D.)

Aristides was a second-century Christian believer and philosopher from Athens. This portion of his defense of Christianity was addressed to the Roman Emperor Antonius Pius, who reigned from 138-161 A.D.

“The Son of the most high God, revealed by the Holy Spirit, descended from heaven, born of a Hebrew Virgin. His flesh he received from the Virgin, and he revealed himself in the human nature as the Son of God. In his goodness which brought the glad tidings, he has won the whole world by his life-giving preaching…He selected twelve apostles and taught the whole world by his mediatorial, light-giving truth. And he was crucified, being pierced with nails by the Jews; and he rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. He sent the apostles into all the world and instructed all by divine miracles full of wisdom. Their preaching bears blossoms and fruits to this day, and calls the whole world to illumination.”

Carey, “Aristides,” 68.

JUSTIN MARTYR: (106-167 A.D.)

Justin Martyr is regarded as one of the greatest early Christian apologists. He was born around 100 A.D and was beheaded for his faith in Jesus in 167 A.D. He mentions as facts many things about Jesus and Christianity, such as: The Magi (wise men who brought gifts from Arabia), King Herod, His crucifixion, His garments parted among the Roman soldiers, the apostles leaving him on the night of his arrest, his fulfilled prophecies, His resurrection and His ascending into heaven among many others. These quotes can be found in his debate with Trypho the Jew.

HEGESIPPUS: (2 Century)

Eusebius draws the conclusion that Hegesippus was a Jew that wrote five books called, “Memoirs.” Only fragments remain of his original work in the writings of Eusebius. They show that Hegesippus traveled extensively trying to determine if the stories of Jesus and the apostles were true. He found that they they were accurate, even in the troubled church in Corinth.

   "The Corinthian church continued in the true doctrine until Primus became bishop.  I mixed with them on my voyage to Rome and spent several days with the Corinthians, during which we were refreshed with the true doctrine.  On arrival at Rome I pieced together the succession down to Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus, Anicetus being succeeded by Soter and he by Eleutherus.  In every line of bishops and in every city things accord with the preaching of the Law, the Prophets, and the Lord."

Eusebius, The History of the Church, 9.22.2.

TRAJAN: (53-117 A.D.)

Trajan is a Roman Emperor who wrote a letter [see letter] in response to the Governor of Asia Minor, Pliny the Younger. Pliny needed advice in dealing with “Christians” who renounced their belief in Jesus due to fear of torture and execution.

MACROBIUS: (4th-5th Century)

Pascal (Pensees) mentions a quote of Augustus Caesar as an evidence to the murder of the 7-20 male babies (this is based on the population of Bethlehem in 4-6 B.C., which was 700-1,000 people) by King Herod in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16).

King Herod heard that a king was to be born and his fear and mental instability caused him to kill these male children under two years of age. King Herod killed his Wife, mother in law, and three sons. This is in character with his life of murder and paranoia. King Herod’s reign was described by his enemies as, “He stole to the throne like a fox, ruled like a tiger, and died like a dog.”

Saturnalia, lib. 2, ch.4.

HADRIAN: (106-167 A.D.)

Justin Martyr quotes this Roman Emperor’s letter to Minucius Fundanus, proconsul of Asia Minor. This letter deals with accusations from pagans against the Christians.

“I have received the letter addressed to me by your predecessor Serenius Granianus, a most illustrious man; and this communication I am unwilling to pass over in silence, lest innocent persons be disturbed, and occasion be given to the informers for practicing villainy. Accordingly, if the inhabitants of your province will so far sustain this petition of theirs as to accuse the Christians in some court of law, I do not prohibit them from doing so. But I will not suffer them to make use of mere entreaties and outcries. For it is far more just, if any one desires to make an accusation, that you give judgment upon it. If, therefore, any one makes the accusation, and furnishes proof that the said men do anything contrary to the laws, you shall adjudge punishments in proportion to the offences. 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.”

Justin Martyr, The First Apology, Chapters, 68-69.

JUVENAL: (55 AD-127 AD)

 Juvenal makes a reference of the tortures of Christians by Nero in Rome.

“But just describe Tigellinus and you will blaze amid those faggots in which men, with their throats tightly gripped, stand and burn and smoke, and you trace a broad furrow through the middle of the arena.”

Satires, 1, lines 147-157.

SENECA: (3 B.C.-65 A.D.)

Seneca mentions the cruelties that Nero imposes upon Christians.

“The other kind of evil comes, so to speak, in the form of a huge parade. Surrounding it is a retinue of swords and fire and chains and a mob of beasts to be let loose upon the disemboweled entrails of men. Picture to yourself under his head the prison, the cross, the rack, the hook, and the stake which they drive straight through a man until it protrudes from his throat. Think of human limbs torn apart by chariots driven in opposite directions, of the terrible shirt smeared and interwoven with inflammable materials, and of all the other contrivances devised by cruelty, in addition to those which I have mentioned!”

Epistulae Morales, Epistle 14, “On the Reasons for Withdrawing from the World.”

HIEROCLES: (AD 284-305)

A quote by Eusebius preserves some of the text of this lost work of Hierocles, Philalethes or Lover of Truth. In this quote, Hierocles condemns Peter and Paul as sorcerers. Again, their miracles could not be denied, rather they claimed that they used sorcery.

“And this point is also worth noticing, that whereas the tales of Jesus have been vamped up by Peter and Paul and a few others of the kind,–men who were liars and devoid of education and wizards.”

Eusebius, The Treatise of Eusebius, ch. 2.

ANTONIUS PIUS: (86 AD to 161 AD)

A letter from the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius to the general assembly in Asia Minor. This letter says that the officials in Aisa Minor were getting upset at the Christians in their province, and that no changes are to be made in Antoninus’ method of dealing with them.

“The Emperor Caesar Titus AElius Adrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, Supreme Pontiff, in the fifteenth year of his tribuneship, Consul for the third time, Father of the fatherland, to the Common Assembly of Asia, greeting: I should have thought that the gods themselves would see to it that such offenders should not escape. For if they had the power, they themselves would much rather punish those who refuse to worship them; but it is you who bring trouble on these persons, and accuse as the opinion of atheists that which they hold, and lay to their charge certain other things which we are unable to prove. But it would be advantageous to them that they should be thought to die for that of which they are accused, and they conquer you by being lavish of their lives rather than yield that obedience which you require of them. And regarding the earthquakes which have already happened and are now occurring, it is not seemly that you remind us of them, losing heart whenever they occur, and thus set your conduct in contrast with that of these men; for they have much greater confidence towards God than you yourselves have. And you, indeed, seem at such times to ignore the gods, and you neglect the temples, and make no recognition of the worship of God. And hence you are jealous of those who do serve Him, and persecute them to the death. Concerning such persons, some others also of the governors of provinces wrote to my most divine father; to whom he replied that they should not at all disturb such persons, unless they were found to be attempting anything against the Roman government. And to myself many have sent intimations regarding such persons, to whom I also replied in pursuance of my father’s judgment. But if any one has a matter to bring against any person of this class, merely as such a person, let the accused be acquitted of the charge, even though he should be found to be such an one; but let the accuser he amenable to justice.”

Justin Martyr, The First Apology, ch. 70.

That’s a bunch of propaganda. First off “christos” means messiah in hebrew. Tons of people claimed to be the messiah in ancient times and whenever any historian notes the existence of a supposed messiah the dishonest christians of today try to make the jump to assuming they were talking about Jesus.

The best proof of an actual Jesus claiming to be the messiah comes from Joesphus. It has been clearly shown that this was a forgery that was added into Josephus’ work during a 4th AD copying by hand of his writings. Josephus the Jew suddenly becomes converted to christianity for a single line and then suddenly goes back to being a Jew. No other historian mentions this line mentioning Jesus before the 4th century AD as they surely would have. And the man involved who suddenly supposedly noticed it was known to be a person who was willing to tell any lie if it might save people’s souls from eternal hell.

Furthermore many credible historians did make note of many individuals claiming to be messiahs yet there still exist zero credible reports of a Jesus claiming to be the messiah.

Search for it on the web if you have any actual intellectual interest as opposed to just faith.

fellas, I appreciate your contributions, but my intention was not to start a debate over whether or not Jesus himself existed in the form he claimed to exist, but why Tacitus specifically is doubted in his account.

DeepSouth, many of your citations either come from too late a time, i.e, whether or not he existed, his followers were a recognizable sect, or can have suspicion cast on them. This suspicion derives from the possibility that the original sources did not themselves mention jesus-- that scribes much later in history tacked on the references to further validate the power of the Church. We do not have an original Josephus text, for example-- we have a copy of a copy of a copy.

One theory suggests that the reference of Josephus to Jesus is completely out of place and inconsistent with the way in which he relates other history, therefore, one of the copiers along the way inserted it.

My question is how the similar theory about tacitus holds water, if it infact holds water at all, whic at the moment I’m inclined to doubt.

[quote]Jay Sherman wrote:
That’s a bunch of propaganda. First off “christos” means messiah in hebrew. Tons of people claimed to be the messiah in ancient times and whenever any historian notes the existence of a supposed messiah the dishonest christians of today try to make the jump to assuming they were talking about Jesus.

The best proof of an actual Jesus claiming to be the messiah comes from Joesphus. It has been clearly shown that this was a forgery that was added into Josephus’ work during a 4th AD copying by hand of his writings. Josephus the Jew suddenly becomes converted to christianity for a single line and then suddenly goes back to being a Jew. No other historian mentions this line mentioning Jesus before the 4th century AD as they surely would have. And the man involved who suddenly supposedly noticed it was known to be a person who was willing to tell any lie if it might save people’s souls from eternal hell.

Furthermore many credible historians did make note of many individuals claiming to be messiahs yet there still exist zero credible reports of a Jesus claiming to be the messiah.

Search for it on the web if you have any actual intellectual interest as opposed to just faith.[/quote]

I think your personal comment is uncalled for. Furthermore, my understanding is that Josephus was known NOT to be a Christian, ever.

I don’t have the present knowledge to critique the “propoganda” as you so call it…which is part of the reason I posted it. If you took the time to read through all if it, some if it is quite “interesting” and right after the time Jesus is said to have been alive.

Here’s a buttload of false “Kristos’” for you that also mentions the consensus of Josephus’ Jesus mention being a forgery. (Interpolation.)

[quote]The Red Monk wrote:
fellas, I appreciate your contributions, but my intention was not to start a debate over whether or not Jesus himself existed in the form he claimed to exist, but why Tacitus specifically is doubted in his account.

DeepSouth, many of your citations either come from too late a time, i.e, whether or not he existed, his followers were a recognizable sect, or can have suspicion cast on them. This suspicion derives from the possibility that the original sources did not themselves mention jesus-- that scribes much later in history tacked on the references to further validate the power of the Church. We do not have an original Josephus text, for example-- we have a copy of a copy of a copy.

One theory suggests that the reference of Josephus to Jesus is completely out of place and inconsistent with the way in which he relates other history, therefore, one of the copiers along the way inserted it.

My question is how the similar theory about tacitus holds water, if it infact holds water at all, whic at the moment I’m inclined to doubt.[/quote]

I have to admit, I’m not familiar with Tactitus’ work. Can you sum it up for me? I mean, I would love to read about it, but since I’m pressed for time right now, a little piece of info would be helpful. And if you cant sum it up, just tell me. I dont mind going and doing my own homework. I thought you could point me to his mindset though…

[quote]
JOSEPHUS: (37-101 A.D.)
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.[/quote]

In the original its messiah not christ. So Josephus, a lifelong Jew, is claiming that Jesus was the messiah. LOL. Obvious forgery for this and other reasons already mentioned.

[quote]TACITUS: (55-117 A.D.)

Cornelius Tactitus is regarded as the greatest historian of ancient Rome. Writing on the reign of Nero, Tacitus alludes to the death of Christ and to the existence of Christians in Rome.

“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 Judea, 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.” [/quote]

Already mentioned that there were many messiahs (christs) running around at that time.

[quote]PLINY THE YOUNGER: (112 A.D.)

Governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor, Pliny wrote a letter to the Emperor Trajan regarding how to deal with Christians who worship Christ. These letters concern an episode which marks the first time the Roman government recognized Christianity as a religion separate from Judaism, and sets a precedent for the massive persecution of Christians that takes place in the second and third centuries.

“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.” [/quote]

More of the same. Existence of messianic cults does not prove existence of Jesus anymore than David Koresh proves the existence of Jesus.

[quote]BABYLONIAN TALMUD: (Completed in the 6th Century A.D.)

The Babylonian Talmud is a Rabbinic commentary on the Jewish scriptures (Tanach: Old Testament). They are a look into what a hostile source was saying about Jesus. They couldn’t deny his miracles so they claim that it was sorcery rather than admit to what was a known fact. They also admit that Yeshu (Hebrew for Jesus) was hanged (Crucified: Luke 23:39, Galatians 3:13).[/quote]

They are commenting on heresay from six centuries in the past. Meanwhile there were plenty of historians living during the supposed time of Jesus’ existence and there are no mentions of a Jesus claiming to be christ except the laughable Josephus forgery.

[quote]LUCIAN: (120-180 A.D.)

A Greek satirist that spoke scornfully of Christ and Christians, affirming that they were real and historical people, never saying that they were fictional characters.

“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.”

Lucian, The Death of Peregrine. 11-13. [/quote]

Again Kristos means messiah. There were many proclaimed messiahs back then.

[quote]LETTER OF MARA BARSARAPION: (73 A.D.)

Mara Bar-Serapion was a Syrian who lived in the first century A.D. He wrote a letter to his son Serapion that mentions the Jews who killed their King. The letter is now in the possession of the British Museum.

“What benefit did the Athenians obtain by putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as judgment for their crime. Or, the people of Samos for burning Pythagoras? In one moment their country was covered with sand. Or the Jews by murdering their wise king?..After that their kingdom was abolished. God rightly avenged these men…The wise king…Lived on in the teachings he enacted.” [/quote]

“the Jews by murdering their wise king” Once again no mention of a Jesus. Just some messiah that was killed. One of many messiahs who were killed.

[quote]Thallus: (52 A.D.)

One of the first secular writers that mentioned Christ. Thallus wrote a history of the Eastern Mediterranean world from the Trojan War to his own time. Unfortunately, his writings are only found as citations by others. Julius Africanus, a Christian who wrote about AD 221 mentioned Thallus’ account of an eclipse of the sun (Luke 23:44-45).

“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.”

Julius Africanus, Chronography, 18:1. [/quote]

All sun eclipses were recorded in detail by multiple Roman and Jewish historians.

[quote]SUETONIUS: (69-140 A.D.)

A Roman historian and annalist of the Imperial House under the Emperor Hadrian. He refers to Christ and Christians and the “disturbances” caused by them, namely not worshipping idols and loving all, including their tormentors.

“Because the Jews at Rome caused constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus [Christ], he [Claudius] expelled them from the city [Rome].” Acts 18:2, which took place in 49 A.D.[/quote]

Messiah still means christ. Tons of messiahs back then. No mention of Jesus.

[quote]Life of Claudius, 25:4.

In another work Suetonius wrote about the the fire which devastated Rome in 64 A.D. under the reign of Nero. Nero blamed the Christians and exacted a heavy punishment upon them, among them covering them with pitch and burning them alive in his gardens.

“Nero inflicted punishment on the Christians, a sect given to a new and mischievous religious belief.”

Lives of the Caesars, 26.2 [/quote]

Etc.

[quote]CELSUS: (2nd Century)

Criticizes the Gospels, unknowingly reinforces the authors and the content, he alludes to 80 different quotes in the Bible. Admits that the miracles of Jesus were generally believed in the 2nd century.[/quote]

If that is proof, then this board is proof that Jesus existed.

[quote]JULIAN THE APOSTATE: (332-363 A.D.)

Emperor of Rome mentions the Gospels, miracles and other facts about Jesus. Julian had struggled to end the power of Christians in the Roman Empire. Since the day fifty years earlier that Constantine conquered in the sign of the cross, Christian influence had steadily grown. As Julian lay dying from a mortal wound he made the following remark:

   "As he bled, the dying emperor groaned, "You have conquered, O Galilean," referring to Jesus Christ. [/quote]

This is ridiculous. No point in commenting.

[quote]CLEMENT OF ROME: (100 A.D.)

Clement affirms the Resurrection, Gospels and that Jesus was sent to earth by God to take away our sins.

“Clement was the fourth bishop of Rome, the first being Peter. Did he know Peter and Paul? It is completely possible that those two Spirit-filled men taught him. Clement even wrote a letter to the Corinthian church that echoed the teachings of the apostles.”[/quote]

A christian 100 years after the fact says that Jesus existed. This is just spam now.

[quote]Ignatius of Antioch: (50-107 A.D.)

Disciple of the apostles Peter, Paul, and John, who was martyred for his faith in Jesus. He was obviously convinced that Jesus really had lived and that Jesus was all that the apostles has said He was.

“…nearness to the sword is nearness to God; to be among the wild beasts is to be in the arms of God; only let it be in the name of Jesus Christ. I endure all things that I may suffer together with him, since he who became perfect man strengthens me…We have not only to be called Christians, but to be Christians.”

While the emperor Trajan was on a visit to Asia Minor, he arrested Ignatius. When the bishop confessed his faith in Christ, the Emperor sent him in chains to Rome to die. He was hustled to the arena at once and thrown to two fierce lions who immediately devoured him.[/quote]

Etc.

[quote]QUADRATUS: (125 A.D.)

Bishop of Athens and a disciple of the apostles. Church historian Eusebius has preserved the only work that we have from Quadratus.

“The deeds of our Saviour were always before you, for they were true miracles; those that were healed, those that were raised from the dead, who were seen, not only when healed and when raised, but were always present. They remained living a long time, not only whilst our Lord was on earth, but likewise when he had left the earth. So that some of them have also lived in our times.”

Eusebius, IV, III [/quote]

Etc.

OK this is a waste of time.

Hey Tank. tacitus was a Roman historian, considered by many to be one of the greatest Roman historians. He made it his business to catalogue the history of the first hundred years or so after the transition of Rome from a Republic to an Empire. Like many aristocrats of his day, he resented the arbitrary andoften cruel power of the Emperors and believed Rome had a better system as a republic, in which (of course) the Senate, composed entirely of aristocrats, wielded a enormous amount of power and the idea of a monarch was feared and scorned.

He was also a firm believer in Roman citizenship and a sense of duty to the State-- both of which Christianity rejected and undermined. His mention of Christianity is scathingly disapproving and offhand, like many of his other brief descriptionsof “seditious” (anti-State) sentiments. It seems to fit in perfectly with the sentiments of the rest of his work, so therefore I was curious about how and why it could have been a later forgery by copyists.

Here’s 18 messiahs (Kristos) from 4 bc to 132 AD.
http://www.livius.org/men-mh/messiah/messiah00.html

“why did jesus and God just speak to the folks in the modern day middle east? if he was the savior of all mankind why wouldnt he speak to everyone else (asians, incas, myans, native americans, etc.)? it seems each culture has its own diety it looks to for help and answers but they all seem to have consistent values on how to be an overall good person and lead a “meaningful” life. if jesus was the savior of man, again why would he not speak to everyone of that time.”

This is a good question, but i believe that the answer is that these other peoples did not believe in the God of Abraham, only middle easterners did at that time. Since the focus of Jesus’ work was to clarify and expand on the worship of Yahweh, it would make no sense for him to walk into an Inca Temple and start speaking about Yahweh. In fact, Jesus, being the Son of God, would probably knew, in his infinite wisdom, that this course of action would result in his heart being ripped out and dedicated to the sun god…

[quote]Jprocrastinator wrote:
“why did jesus and God just speak to the folks in the modern day middle east? if he was the savior of all mankind why wouldnt he speak to everyone else (asians, incas, myans, native americans, etc.)? it seems each culture has its own diety it looks to for help and answers but they all seem to have consistent values on how to be an overall good person and lead a “meaningful” life. if jesus was the savior of man, again why would he not speak to everyone of that time.”

This is a good question, but i believe that the answer is that these other peoples did not believe in the God of Abraham, only middle easterners did at that time. Since the focus of Jesus’ work was to clarify and expand on the worship of Yahweh, it would make no sense for him to walk into an Inca Temple and start speaking about Yahweh. In fact, Jesus, being the Son of God, would probably knew, in his infinite wisdom, that this course of action would result in his heart being ripped out and dedicated to the sun god…[/quote]

I believe you do make a good point. Why not speak to everyone? I think I can answer that, at least in a limited kind of way. In all reality, Jesus did come and speak to the masses and to all countries. However, His method was a bit different. I could go on and on with this post, but Jesus set up shop for His earthly ministry in the area of Galilae. Because of the crossroads from outside countries converging on one place, Jesus really did have an audience from China, Africa, and modern day Europe. They would have to travel through that particular region to reach other regions. Just mentally picture the region. To travel to Europe from China, since road systems were few, that would require either going by boat or traveling through modern day Israel. People traveling to Africa from Europe, outside of sailing, would travel through this particular region of Israel as well.

Secondly, and if the first didn’t answer part of your curiousity, Jesus told of His message to be taken to the ends of the earth, by His followers. Its often called “the Great Commission.” To people of every kind of skin color, country, language, etc. In a sense, people who deliver that message, are sharing Jesus’ own message. This is one particular reason, if you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, why Christians aren’t swept away immediately to be with God. They are left to share the ‘good news’ of Jesus or rendered a different way, “gospel.”

jprocrastinator–

point taken on most of those, and on the existence of many claimed messiahs, but I don’t think you effectively nail Tacitus. There may have been a bunch of other guys claiming to be messiahs, but did Pntius Pilate crucify them all? It would seem Tacitus has his facts narrowed down to someone specific-- the Jesus of Nazareth we know.

If I were God I’d use sky writing every morning all around the world to set a daily agenda for all the earth’s peoples. It would be written in a magical language that all humans would be able to read and comprehend, and would not leave doubt as to the nature of the message or its author.

Everyone would be included, everyone would be up to date, and everyone would rejoice and live a good life from the beginning of time to the end of the world.

Any inefficient “needle in a haystack” approaches to spread my Word such as picking or fathering the few prophets in only one particular region of the vast planet, and only in one particular time in history (or pre-history) and just letting it spread through time via a giant game of broken telephone being played by various beligerent children would be rejected.

No, I would keep it clear, current, universal, and up to date. There would be no ambiguity, there would be no need for giant hierarchies of religious leaders, no need for books and scholars on those books, no need for television channels asking for money to do my work.

My people would get up in the morning, look up in the sky, and get on with their day.

And that’s my hijack.

Here are two links which are pro Jesus existence:

http://www.carm.org/questions/1Cor15_3-4.htm

http://www.carm.org/questions/Josephus_Jesus.htm

Jesus might have existed. Was he gods son?

No, perhaps he was just good at party tricks. Rumors spread and get exaggerated over time. The Bible is a book written (and rewritten) by Man and therefor can’t be trusted.

[quote]ill wrote:
Jesus might have existed. Was he gods son?

No, perhaps he was just good at party tricks. Rumors spread and get exaggerated over time. The Bible is a book written (and rewritten) by Man and therefor can’t be trusted.[/quote]

I don’t think you are correct in that assumption:

http://www.carm.org/questions/rewritten.htm