There was no such person in the history of the world as Jesus Christ. There was no historical, living, breathing, sentient human being by that name. Ever. [The Bible] is a fictional, nonhistorical narrative.
– Jon Murray, President American Atheists
So what do non-biblical Sources say about Jesus’ existence and what does history actually record?
It is interesting to note that contrary to atheists and non believers claim that there is no proof that Jesus existed in history there are many such sources from which we learn about the historical Jesus.There is tremendous amount of evidence from hostile sources.Hostile sources are sources who are definitely not in favour of belief in Christ.
The important value of these sources is simply the acknowledgment of Christ’s existence.While it is true that we cannot establish Jesus’ divinity through these sources they provide a great source to prove Jesus’ existence to skeptics.
Josephus was a Jewish historian born in about AD 38.He fought the Romans in the First Roman-Jewish War of 66–73 as a Jewish military leader in Galilee.In AD 93, Josephus finished his work Antiquities of the Jews in which at least three passages specifically confirm certain Scriptures.It states:
But to some of the Jews the destruction of Herod’s army seemed to be divine vengeance, and certainly a just vengeance, for his treatment of John, surnamed the Baptist. For Herod had put him to death, though he was a good man and had exhorted the Jews to lead righteous lives, to practice justice towards their fellows and piety towards God, and so doing to join in baptism. …convened the judges of the Sanhedrin and brought before them a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, and certain others. He accused them of having transgressed the law and delivered them up to be stoned. At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And 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. And 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;…
Better known as Pliny the Younger,Pliny Secundus was a lawyer,author and magistrate of Ancient Rome.Pliny is known for his hundreds of surviving letters, which are an invaluable historical source for the time period.One of these is a particular letter written circa AD 112 to the Roman emperor Trajan.Though this does not reference Christ directly it does talk about early Christians.It states that:
In the meantime, the method I have observed towards those who have been denounced to me as Christians is this: I interrogated them whether they were in fact Christians; if they confessed it, I repeated the question twice, adding the threat of capital punishment; if they still persevered, I ordered them to be executed. …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 verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to perform any wicked deed, never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to make it good; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food – but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.
Lucian was a satirist who wrote in the Greek Language He is noted for his witty and scoffing nature. Lucian also wrote a satire called The Passing of Peregrinus, in which the lead character, Peregrinus Proteus, takes advantage of the generosity and gullibility of Christians. This is one of the earliest surviving pagan perceptions of Christianity.It states:
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 upon 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.
Tacitus was a was a senator and historian of the Roman Empire.In his Annals in book 15, chapter 44, written c. 116 AD, there is a passage which refers to Christ, to Pontius Pilate, and to a mass execution of the Christians after a six-day fire that burned much of Rome in 64 AD by Nero.
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 Pilate, 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…
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillas
Tranquillas was a historian and chief secretary to Emperor Hadrian.In his work Life of Claudius he states:
Because the Jews at Rome caused continuous disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from the city
The Talmud is essentially the collection of Jewish oral traditions that were put into writing with additional commentary between the years of AD 70 and 200.The Babylonian Talmud, states:
On the eve of Passover they hanged Yeshu. And an announcer went out, in front of him, for forty days (saying): ‘He is going to be stoned because he practiced sorcery and enticed and led Israel astray. Anyone who knows anything in his favor, let him come and plead in his behalf.’ But, not having found anything in his favor, they hanged him on the eve of the Passover.
In summary we can put together the following profile of Jesus and his influence as well as existence which confirms many Scriptures in the Bible.
- Jesus was a wise man and was called the Christ or Messiah. (Josephus)
- Jesus gained disciples from other nations. (Josephus)
- Christ’s disciples, “reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive.” (Josephus)
- His disciples took to the habit of meeting on a fixed day of the week and took their name “Christians” from him. (Pliny)
- They gave worship to Christ “as to a god”. (Pliny)
- Christians started living after Christ’s laws. (Lucian)
- Christians believed themselves to be all brothers from the moment of their conversion. (Lucian)
- Under Herod, and during the reign of Tiberius, Pontius Pilate condemned Christ to die. (Tacitus)
- Christ was crucified on the eve of Passover. (the Talmud)
- Christians were tortured and even executed for their refusal to deny their belief in the resurrection and deity of Jesus Christ. (Josephus, Pliny,Lucian,Tacitus)