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saucy

Proof of Jesus outside the bible

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I'm always hearing people say that there is no proof of Jesus outside the bible. Well, the writings of the disciples weren't part of the bible when they were written. In most cases, such as the letters of Luke (Gospel of Luke and Acts) and letters to the various churchs by Paul (1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, etc...) were just that, letters. These people weren't trying to write a book based on their beliefs, they wrote down what they witnessed as a letter. It should also be known that Luke was a first-class historian and the rest of the disciples had nothing to gain by writing the accounts of Jesus and everything to lose. All the writings didn't even become part of what we know as the bible today until a good thousand years later. But, I found a few more sources outside the bible that include Jesus, events that took place in the bible and early Christians. Enjoy.

source

More Ancient Secular Writtings of Jesus

This is a continuation of the commentary written on 11/28/04, and also taken from the book, "A Ready Defense" by Josh McDowell and compiled by Bill Wilson. The object is to provide you with further proof of the existence of Jesus, outside of the Bible and not written by Christians, but written by secular writers.

Plinius Secundus, Pliny The Younger - Governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor (A.D. 112), Pliny was writing the emperor Trajan seeking counsel as to how to treat the Christians. He explained that he had been killing both men and women, boys and girls. There were so many being put to death that he wondered if he should continue killing anyone who was discovered to be a Christian, or if he should kill only certain ones. He explained that he had made the Christians bow down to the statues of Trajan. He goes on to say that he also "made them curse Christ, which a genuine Christian cannot be induced to do." In the same letter he says of the people who were being tried:

"They affirmed, however, that the whole of their guilt, or their error, was that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verse a hymn to Christ as to a God, and bound themselves to a solemn oath, not to do any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft, adultery, never to falsify their word, not to deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up (Epistles, X. 96).

Suetonius (A.D. 120) - A Roman historian, a court official under Hadrian, annalist of the Imperial House, Suetonius says: "As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus [another spelling of Christus], he expelled them from Rome" (Life of Claudius, 25. 4). He also writes: "Punishment by Nero was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition" (Lives of the Caesars, 26. 2)

Tertullian (Regarding Pilate and Tiberius) - Jurist-theologian of Carthage, in a defense of Christianity (A.D. 197) before the Roman authorities in Africa, mentions the exchange between Tiberius and Pontius Pilate: "Tiberius accordingly, in whose days the Christian name made its entry into the world, having himself received intelligence from the truth of Christ's divinity, brought the matter before the senate, with his own decision in favor of Christ. The senate, because it had not given the approval itself, rejected his proposal. Caesar held to his opinion, threatening wrath against all the accusers of the Christians (Apology, V.2).

Thallus, the Samaritan-born historian - One of the first Gentile writers who mentions Christ is Thallus, who wrote in A.D. 52. However, his writings have disappeared and we only know of them from fragments cited by other writers. One such writer is Julius Africanus, a Christian writer about A.D. 221. One very interesting passage relates to a comment from Thallus. Julius Africanus writes: "Thallus in the third book of his histories, explains away this darkness as an eclipse of the sun- unreasonably, as it seems to me" (unreasonably, of course, because a solar eclipse could not take place at the time of the full moon, and it was the season of the Paschal full moon that Christ died). Thus from this reference we see that the Gospel account of the darkness that fell upon the land during Christ's crucifixion was well-known and required a naturalistic explanation from those non-believers who witnessed it. 10/113

Phlegon, a first century historian - He is also mentioned by Julius Africanus, and quotes Phlegon that "during the time of Tiberius Caesar an eclipse of the sun occurred during the full moon". 60/n.p. Phlegon is also mentioned by Origen in Contra Celsum, Book 2, sections 14, 33, 59. "And about this darkness..." He says that "Phlegon mentioned the eclipse which took place during the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ, and no other [eclipse], it is clear he did not know from his sources about any [similar] eclipse in previous times... and this is shown by the historical account itself of Tiberius Caesar."

And then there is the Letter of Mara Bar-Serapion - It is in the British Museum. A manuscript preserving the text of a letter written around A.D.73. This letter was sent by a Syrian named Mara Bar-Serapion to his son Serapion. He instances the deaths of Socrates, Pythagoras and Christ. "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 their kingdom was abolished. God 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 teaching of Plato. Pythagoras 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. 10/114

All these historians and non-Christian people wrote about Christ and some of the unexplainable events that took place during His walk on earth. I don’t know how much more written proof one would need to be convinced the Gospels speak the truth.

By George Konig

December 5, 2004

www.konig.org

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Thanks for the sources. I have them here at home somewhere but I could only remember Pliny the Younger and that there was one relating to Pontius Pilate.

Until next time

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I also recommend the book Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. In that book, it is said that there are over 70+ sources outside the bible that mention Jesus. They have even found archeological evidence. People just easily say there isn't any evidence, but don't look into it. It's out there folks.

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Good find saucy thumbsup.gif There is evidence even in todays date. He must have been a remarkable man as the Roman Empire would not have based their calender on a meager jewish carpenter from Nazarene.

All The Best

Irish

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You didn't look very far, there are more sources than that. dontgetit.gif

In the "bible" of Islam-the korean, it mentions Jesus by name as having existed/lived. I grant they only consider him a prophet-but none the less another reference in a non-christian book rolleyes.gifrolleyes.gif

The last part is very hard to word in a sense that it will not be an insult or insulting. Since I am not sure how to do that, let me say directly it is not, just pointing out something that has always amused me personally. ph34r.gifph34r.gifph34r.gif

Darwin talked about survival of the fittest. He meant those with the properties or mutations giving them properties that allows something to survive better than the rest will do so. geek.gifgeek.gif

On that basis, you are using darwins theory in your sig-the Jesus fish eating the darwin fish. w00t.gifw00t.gifw00t.gif

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Plinius Secundus, Pliny The Younger - Governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor (A.D. 112), Pliny was writing the emperor Trajan seeking counsel as to how to treat the Christians. He explained that he had been killing both men and women, boys and girls. There were so many being put to death that he wondered if he should continue killing anyone who was discovered to be a Christian, or if he should kill only certain ones. He explained that he had made the Christians bow down to the statues of Trajan. He goes on to say that he also "made them curse Christ, which a genuine Christian cannot be induced to do." In the same letter he says of the people who were being tried:

"They affirmed, however, that the whole of their guilt, or their error, was that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verse a hymn to Christ as to a God, and bound themselves to a solemn oath, not to do any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft, adultery, never to falsify their word, not to deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up (Epistles, X. 96).

If you are going to attempt to use Pliny’s report, then don’t paraphrase, use the actual wording such as below:

'Christians ... asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. '

(Pliny to Trajan, Letters 10.96-97)

Note that Pliny is relaying what those arrested said they believed (and there is no reference here to a 'Jesus.') Pliny had convened trials of Christians, not because of their beliefs but because he had ' forbidden political associations' which he obviously suspected them of forming. He continues:

'Accordingly, I judged it all the more necessary to find out what the truth was by torturing two female slaves who were called deaconesses. But I discovered nothing else but depraved, excessive superstition.'

Some of those arrested recanted, worshipped the imperial image and state gods, and cursed Christ. But Pliny is uncertain how to proceed with numerous others in what he describes as a widespread 'contagion' and asks Trajan for guidance. Trajan's celebrated reply is:

' They are not to be sought out; if they are denounced and proved guilty, they are to be punished, with this reservation, that whoever denies that he is a Christian and really proves it -- that is, by worshiping our gods -- even though he was under suspicion in the past, shall obtain pardon through repentance.'

The real value of this correspondence (the only example of its kind to survive the Christian dark age) is not that it is some 'proof' of Jesus's existence (which it manifestly is not, since he isn’t even mentioned and the worship described doesn’t vibe with any Christian worship of any period) but evidence of the toleration of Roman jurisprudence in the 'golden age' of the Empire. Says Trajan:

'But anonymously posted accusations ought to have no place in any prosecution. For this is both a dangerous kind of precedent and out of keeping with the spirit of our age.' Would that the Christians nearly 300 years later would have been so tolerant and kindly!

Suetonius (A.D. 120) - A Roman historian, a court official under Hadrian, annalist of the Imperial House, Suetonius says: "As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus [another spelling of Christus], he expelled them from Rome" (Life of Claudius, 25. 4). He also writes: "Punishment by Nero was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition" (Lives of the Caesars, 26. 2)

No where in Suetonius’ writings does he ever mention a Jesus of Nazareth. The above attempt at equating Chrestus (a very common Greek name, meaning “the Good” and found in well over seventy different classical inscriptions) with Christus, is at best a poor attempt at justifying your god’s existence and at worst a bald-faced attempt to “hood wink” the reader! Since insurrections among the laborers and slaves were common in Rome and since Chrestus was a very common name among the lower and slave classes (a good many slaves being Greek), this passage means nothing as far as “proving” the existence of Jesus, but probably reports a minor riot or insurrection! Incidentally, your source’s quote about the new and mischievous superstition comes from Suetonius’ “Life of Nero”. But even given that he mentions Christians gives no proof of the existence of a Jesus of Nazareth only in the existence of Christians, kind of like the mention of Mormons give no proof of the existence of the Angel Moroni (he who gave the golden tablets to Joe Smith).

Tertullian (Regarding Pilate and Tiberius) - Jurist-theologian of Carthage, in a defense of Christianity (A.D. 197) before the Roman authorities in Africa, mentions the exchange between Tiberius and Pontius Pilate: "Tiberius accordingly, in whose days the Christian name made its entry into the world, having himself received intelligence from the truth of Christ's divinity, brought the matter before the senate, with his own decision in favor of Christ. The senate, because it had not given the approval itself, rejected his proposal. Caesar held to his opinion, threatening wrath against all the accusers of the Christians (Apology, V.2).

Don’t you find it strange that such a document that proves the existence of an individual (who from the very first was denied to have existed), just disappeared, with no copies existing anywhere? That an Emperor known by Christians as one of their persecutors would have persecuted them knowing what he supposedly knew? Isn’t it strange that the man making this claim, this strident believer and defender of the faith, Tertullian, renounced Christianity and became a pagan once again? If all the above had been true, then why would he suddenly not believe? Methinks there be many fishes in Denmark!

Thallus, the Samaritan-born historian - One of the first Gentile writers who mentions Christ is Thallus, who wrote in A.D. 52. However, his writings have disappeared and we only know of them from fragments cited by other writers. One such writer is Julius Africanus, a Christian writer about A.D. 221. One very interesting passage relates to a comment from Thallus. Julius Africanus writes: "Thallus in the third book of his histories, explains away this darkness as an eclipse of the sun- unreasonably, as it seems to me" (unreasonably, of course, because a solar eclipse could not take place at the time of the full moon, and it was the season of the Paschal full moon that Christ died). Thus from this reference we see that the Gospel account of the darkness that fell upon the land during Christ's crucifixion was well-known and required a naturalistic explanation from those non-believers who witnessed it. 10/113

Thallus is by no means an accepted source since Thallus (the historical Thallus) wrote around 2nd century BCE (at least that’s when his world history ends). Many scholars believe that It was Phlegon that was being quoted and it was accidentally ascribed to Thallus, by Africanus writing in the 3rd century CE. Africanus’ exact words are:

This event followed each of his deeds, and healings of body and soul, and knowledge of hidden things, and his resurrection from the dead, all sufficiently proven to the disciples before us and to his apostles: after the most dreadful darkness fell over the whole world, the rocks were torn apart by an earthquake and much of Judea and the rest of the land was torn down. Thallus calls this darkness an eclipse of the sun in the third book of his Histories, without reason it seems to me. For....how are we to believe that an eclipse happened when the moon was diametrically opposite the sun?

This is all we get. It isn't clear what Thallus actually said (if it was indeed a writer named Thallus), or whether he even mentioned Jesus at all. Africanus is merely criticizing the possibility that the darkness at the death of Christ (actually it was 10 years off from the supposed crucifixion) was a solar eclipse, and thus a natural rather than a supernatural event--an attack addressed in the Apology of Tertullian, and voiced by the Jews in the Gospel of Nicodemus, which may have been written in the time of Africanus. This is hardly proof of the existence of Jesus!

Phlegon, a first century historian - He is also mentioned by Julius Africanus, and quotes Phlegon that "during the time of Tiberius Caesar an eclipse of the sun occurred during the full moon". 60/n.p. Phlegon is also mentioned by Origen in Contra Celsum, Book 2, sections 14, 33, 59. "And about this darkness..." He says that "Phlegon mentioned the eclipse which took place during the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ, and no other [eclipse], it is clear he did not know from his sources about any [similar] eclipse in previous times... and this is shown by the historical account itself of Tiberius Caesar."

Actually, we only have the word of Origen (the nutcase that emasculated himself to be spared earthly temptations) that Phlegon reported more that an eclipse of the sun. Incidentally, Phlegon wrote during the second century CE, not the first century CE! This once again (coming second hand from a 2nd century nutcase and a 3rd century Apologist) is hardly proof of the existence of Jesus!

And then there is the Letter of Mara Bar-Serapion - It is in the British Museum. A manuscript preserving the text of a letter written around A.D.73. This letter was sent by a Syrian named Mara Bar-Serapion to his son Serapion. He instances the deaths of Socrates, Pythagoras and Christ. "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 their kingdom was abolished. God 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 teaching of Plato. Pythagoras 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. 10/114 [

All these historians and non-Christian people wrote about Christ and some of the unexplainable events that took place during His walk on earth. I don’t know how much more written proof one would need to be convinced the Gospels speak the truth.

Did I blink and miss the name Jesus or Christ in the description of the manuscript above? I saw a”Wise King”, does that translate to Jesus or Christ? Since the other two “famous men” mentioned lived nearly half a millennium before, why should the “Wise King” of the Jews have lived later? This could have been any one of the Judean Kings from prior to the Exile or any of the Maccabean Kings that lived in the 2th and 3rd centuries BCE. Incidentially, that letter is said to have been written between 73 CE and the 3rd Centur CE, you can't arbitrarily take the first date and say that it is so, they aren't sure when it was written!This has to be the weakest of all your claims! In no way does this start to prove the existence of Jesus!

What surprises me is that Konig didn’t attempt to use the infamous Testimonium Flavianum or any of Cornelius Tacitus’ comment in Book 15, chapter 44! I guess even Apologists learn eventually when it is thrown back in their faces often enough! - Beowulf tongue.gif

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He must have been a remarkable man as the Roman Empire would not have based their calender on a meager jewish carpenter from Nazarene.

If the cult that deified him took over the Empire, it wouldn't be a stretch for that to happen, and it wouldn't mean that he had ever existed either! - tongue.gif

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Welcome back beowulf! Its good to have another old fart on the forum even a grumpy one grin2.gif

On you point I would agree somewhat the it was politically astute of the Roman Empire to take on the image of Christianity to have better control over a fast growing new following. However I think it would not have been done lightly given their own belief system that allowed the emperor ceaser to have god like status.

All The Best

Irish

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I also recommend the book Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

I would like to recommend the article "The Rest of the Story" by Jeffery J. Lowder which totally demolishes Strobel's book! tongue.gif

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I think it would not have been done lightly given their own belief system that allowed the emperor ceaser to have god like status.

And it wasn't done lightly, there were several generations of strife before the Church took total control of the Empire (which by then was dying as a result of the actions of the "Church Rampant"!) and the Christian dating system adopted! tongue.gif

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Saucy, do you understand that the reason researchers do not consider the Bible to be a credible source is because it is neither objective, nor contemporary? It has nothing to do with the actual religion, but rather because it is a compellation put together much time after by a people attemting to accomplish a very specific effect. Whether a report comes from the Bible or external sources, it still has to be both contemporary and verifiable before being considered credible.

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