Author: Professor Walter J. Veith, PhD
Summary: A look at the historical evidence about Jesus from both Christian and secular sources.
Did Jesus exist? Much historical evidence proves that He did:
A.The 27 different New Testament documents.
B. The writings of the Church Fathers (Polycarp, Eusebius, Irenaeus, Origen).
It is also noteworthy that Christians throughout the ages were prepared to suffer persecution and even death for His name's sake, and the entire human history has been divided into a pre- and post-Christ era
C. Tacitus, the Roman historian.
Writing in about 115 AD, he speaks about Nero's persecution of Christians in the year 64 AD:
But all the endeavours of men, all the emperor's largesse and the propitiations of the gods, did not suffice to allay the scandal or banish the belief that the fire had been ordered. And so, to get rid of this rumour, Nero set as the culprits and punished with the utmost refinery of cruelty, a class hated for their abominations, who are commonly called Christians. Christus, from whom their name is derived, was executed at the hands of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius. Checked for the moment, this pernicious superstition again broke out, not only in Judea, the source of the evil, but even in Rome, that receptacle for everything that is sordid and degrading from every quarter of the globe, which there finds a following.i
D. Suetonius, the Roman historian.
He refers to Chrestus (which is probably a confusion of Christus, i.e. Christ) in his Life of Claudius (the emperor from 41 to 54), which was written about 120 AD. He is probably referring to quarrels between Jews and Christians about Jesus:
Since the Jews were continually making disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he (Claudius) expelled them from Rome.
E. The Talmud, a collection of Jewish traditions from the third century. It tells the story of Christ's death:
On the eve of Passover, they hanged Yeshu of Nazareth, and the herald went before him for forty days, saying, "Yeshu of Nazareth is going forth to be stoned in that he hath practiced sorcery and beguiled and led astray Israel. Let everyone knowing aught in his defense come and plead for him." But they found naught in his defense and hanged him on the eve of Passover.