126 Writers Say that Jesus Never Existed


Hello all,

So I was over at an Atheist forum (scoping out the competition:) ), and Atheist heads seem to be exploding left, right, and centre with the publication of new “research” by some guy named Michael Paulkovich. Now, Michael analyzed 126 contemporary (to Jesus’ time) writers, and found that none of them mention Jesus, with the exception of Josephus whose passages on Jesus were “made up” by Christians. Many people here will of course be familiar with the historical arguments for Jesus’ existence, but does anyone care to speak to his absence in early sources. As far as my own two cents are concerned, I would say three things.

  1. This guy completely neglects all biblical sources e.g. Paul, the Gospels etc.
  2. He leaves out secular sources such as Tacitus, Suotenius, and my favourite, Celsus (his explanation of Jesus’ divinity is really worth a read); and
  3. Christianity was obviously a small cult at the time, should we expect that contemporary sources would write about him?


I’d just like to point out a big problem. The thread starts out, “126 Writers Say that Jesus Never Existed,” and continues, “Michael analyzed 126 contemporary (to Jesus’ time) writers, and found that none of them mention Jesus.” Those are two extremely different claims.

To not mention someone in a work of limited scope is not the same as to claim that that person never existed. If I had to guess, I would guess that most contemporary authors of any time period don’t mention everyone from their time period. I would guess that if you gathered all written documents from the late 1700s, only several of them would mention George Washinton. Many would be on completely unrelated points.

Thus, we ought to expect only that several writers from Jesus’ time would mention Him. And that is what we find.


Many thousands of martyrs say otherwise. One does not easily die for a fairy tale, especially 2000 years after the fact.



We also have people who deny the holocaust ever happened and other historical events. Apparently, we’ll always have that “fringe” crowd.


Thanks for all of the level-headed replies. For any interested, I’d like to link to a blog post that refutes this guy rather well. I also found it to be quite entertaining. Full disclosure though, the blog writer is an Atheist (in case that will turn any of you off of his historical commentary). thewrongmonkey.blogspot.com/


I could say the writers never existed too… doesn’t make it any more true than what they’re saying.


The problem is that many people try to convey modern methods of information processing to the times back then. They just think, well if nobody wrote about it… Well, nobody really wrote about anything.

Most information was word of mouth. There were no newspapers, computers, google, tv etc. People didn’t have smartphones to record and blog about every little thing. Yet for some reason they think the execution of poor Jewish carpenter should be front page news.

But for some reason when you point to the Church and its 2 billion followers that doesn’t count. When you point to the 2000 year old manuscripts verified by historians that doesn’t count. People will just cherry pick the information they want to believe.

In all my theological study I have learned the following: There is a God and I’m not him. Jesus walked the Earth and started the Catholic Church. :thumbsup:


I thought about that issue as well. Total vehement denial of the holocaust, despite all the evidence.

As far as the atheists, sounds like they are fighting their conscience and trying to convince themselves that they don’t believe in God. If so, they should listen to their conscience.



I think one of the main points he and others make is that if he existed, some historian or prominent person (who was not Christian) would have written about him at the time.

Celsus lived two centuries later.
Tacitus makes a brief mention, but again it’s written nearly a century after Jesus died.
Suotenius was born forty years after Jesus died.

Josephus has long been known as the first non-Christian source that mentions Jesus I think, right?
It’s rather odd that…if someone came back to life after being publicly crucified…and then walked around in front of hundreds of people…that not one other person would mention him.



Note that the atheist blogger describes Paulkovich as “historically illiterate”, since a considerable number of the people on his list there are irrelevant (because they wrote on wholly-unrelated topics), or false (because their writings do not survive), or misnamed, while those who do refer to Jesus are ignored.


One can make a case that the man Jesus existed, although the case is not strong. This, however, has nothing to do with Jesus’ divinity…something that is purely a matter of faith. No manuscript, or group of manuscripts can offer any proof for someone being the son of god.


I will say it is strange to exclude Christian writers.


It certainly doesn’t sound like this guy’s methodology was valid. Why did he leave out secular sources? If a secular writer, for example an official in the Roman government, wrote about Jesus, surely this would be valid evidence?

I’m quite surprised that he found writings from 126 writers who were alive during the lifetime of Jesus’ and were living in the part of the world where knowledge of His life could be expected to have reached.


Regarding Jospehus writings on Jesus, there are arguments for and against authenticity:


Also posted:


I did see a swear word on this person’s blog, so be warned and I also read this from an atheist. He has some strong words:

126 Writers Who, According To Michael Paulkovich, Should Have Mentioned Jesus If Jesus Existed

Here we go, here’s Paulkovich’s list, reproduced as he gave it, complete with quirky renderings such as “Cassius Deo” rather than the more familiar “Deo Cassius,” and “Halicarnassensis Dionysus II” rather than “Dionysus of Halicarnassus.”

Aelius Theon, Albinus, Alcinous, Ammonius of Athens, Alexander of Aegae, Antipater of Thessalonica, Antonius Polemo, Apollonius Dyscolus, Apollonius of Tyana, Appian, Archigenes, Aretaeus, Arrian, Asclepiades of Prusa, Asconius, Aspasius, Atilicinus, Attalus, Bassus of Corinth, C Cassius Longinus, Calvisius Taurus of Berytus, Cassius Deo, Chaeremon of Alexandria, Claudius Agathemerus, Claudius Ptolomaeus, Cleopatra the Physician, Cluvius Rufus, Cn Cornelius Lentulus Gaetulicus, Cornelius Celsus, Columella, Cornutus, D Haterius Agrippa, D Valerius Asiaticus, Damis, Demetrius, Demonox, Demosthenes Philalethes, Dion of Prusa, Domitius Afer, Epictetus, Erotianus, Euphrates of Tyre, Fabius Rusticus, Favorinus, Flaccus, Florus, Fronto, Gellius, Gordius of Tyana, Gnaeus Domitius, Halicarnassensis Dionysus II, Heron of Alexandria, Josephus, Justus of Tiberius, Juvenal, Lesbonax of Mytilene, Lucanus, Lucian, Lysimachus, M Antonius Pallas, M Vinicius, Macro, Mam Aemilius Scaurus, Marcellus Sidetes, Martial, Maximus Tyrius, Moderatus of Gades, Musonius, Nicarchus, Nicomachus Gerasenus, Onasandros, P Clodius Thrasea Paetus, Palaemon, Pamphila, Pausanius, Pedacus Dioscorides, Persius/Perseus, Petronius, Phaedrus, Phillipus of Theesalonica, Philo of Alexandria, Phlegon of Tralles, Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger, Plotinus, Plutarch, Pompeius Saturninus, Pomponius Mela, Pomponius Secundus, Potamon of Mytilene, Ptolomy of Mauretania, Q Curtius Rufus, Quintilian, Rubellius Plautus, Rufus the Ephesian, Saleius Bassus, Scopelian the Sophist, Scribonius, Seneca the Elder, Seneca the Younger, Sex Afranius Burrus, Sex Julius Frontinus, Servilius Damocratus, Silius Italicus, Soranus, Soterides of Epidaurus, Sotian, Statius the Elder, Statius the Younger, Suetonius, Sulpicia, T Aristo, T Statilius Crito, Tacitus, Thallus, Theon of Smyrna, Thrasyllus of Mendes, Ti Claudius Pasion, Ti Julius alexander, Tiberius, Valerius Flaccus, Valerius Maximus, Vardanes I, Vellius Paterculus, Verginius Flavius and Vindex.

Okay. Let’s start with those on the list who, contrary to Paulkovich’s assertions, actually do mention Jesus or Christians: Josephus, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius and Tacitus. There is of course a passage in the manuscripts of Josephus, which praises Jesus to the point of calling him god-like, which is now generally agreed to be an interpolation. Some scholars, apologists, mostly, agree that it is an interpolation but insist – unconvincingly, in my opinion – that the original narrative still mentioned Jesus at that point. Be that as it may, Jesus is mentioned in another passage in Josephus having to do with his brother James. Some say that the passage in Tacitus describing Nero’s cruel treatment of Christians actually has to do with followers of Chrestus, not Christus. I maintain that “Chrestus” is simply a misspelling. 4 who mention Jesus or Christians, that leaves 122 names on Paulkovich’s list.

Next are the 47 people whose writings Paulkovich cannot have studied, as he claimed, because none of their writings survive: Albinus (assuming Paulkovich is referring to the Albinus who was procurator of Judea in Nero’s reign), Ammonius, Alexander of Aegae, Apollonius of Tyana, Attalus, Bassus of Corinth, Chaeremon of Alexandria, Claudius Agathemerus, Cleopatra the Physician, Cluvius Rufus, Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Gaetulicus, Didius Haterius Agrippa, Damis, Demetrius the Cynic, Demosthenes Philalethes, Domitius Afer, Epictetus, Fabius Rusticus, Favorinus, Gnaeus Domitius Afer, Justus of Tiberias, Pallas, Marcus Vinicius, Mamercus Aemilius Scaurus, Moderatus of Gades, Thrasea, Palaemon, Pamphile of Epidaurus, Pompeius Saturninus, Pomponius Secundus, Rubellius Plautus, Saleius Bassus, Scopelian, Scribonius, Sextus Afranius Burrus, Servilius Damocrates, Soteridas, Sotion, Statius the Elder, Aristo, Crito, Thrasyllus of Mendes, Tiberius Claudius Pasion, Tiberius Julius Alexander, Tiberius, Vardanes I, Lucius Verginius Rufus and Vindex. That leaves 74.

Aelius Theon is known only as the author of exercises for orators. Alcinous wrote a manuel of Platonic philosopher for teachers. Lesbonax died before Jesus, if he lived, was full grown. All of the several Lysimachus’ died before Jesus would’ve been born, as did both Scribonius’, father and son. Silius Italicus is known for a poem about the 2nd Punic war, Valerius Flaccus for Jason and the Argonauts. Flaccus is Valerius Flaccus. From Sulpicia, 2 lines of erotic verse survive. Soranus was a gynacologist. Archigenes, Arataeus, Pedanius, Celsus and Rufus were also physicians. Frontinus wrote one famous book about aqueducts and another about military strategy. Florus wrote an epitome of Livy. We’re down to 57 names on Paulkovich’s list. Only 2 funeral orations survive from Polemon. 4 books by Apollonius Dyscolus survive, 1 each on syntax, adjectives, conjunctions and pronouns.



Ptolomy is that extremely famous mathematician and astronomer whose authority on one point Copernicus overturned. Why does Paulkovich consider him to have been an historian? Your guess is as good as mine. Columella wrote on agriculture, Cornutus on Greek mythology, D Valerius Asiaticus wrote a letter to the police about a stolen pig, Erotianus wrote a book which leaves it unclear whether he was a physician who loved polished grammar or a grammarian who greatly admired Hippocrates. 50. That leaves 4 epigrammatists, 4 mathematicians, 2 more geographers, 9 people I’ve never heard of (Typos by Paulkovich?), and 31 more people who might have written a total of 5 pages between them about the entire history of Judea and Galilee, 5 pages which very suspiciously contain no mention of Jesus!

And many non-Christian writers before AD 300, Paulkovich’s cut-off point, who do mention Jesus or Christians, who are not on his list.

As an atheist, I long for a much better class of atheists, atheists writing about history who are not historically illiterate.



Historian Declares Jesus a Myth Despite Many Historical References


I agree with your 3 responses…by contemporary was he speaking same historical time or actually in the same area as well.

A person writing on an unrelated subject, is unlikely to include, even if they HAD heard of it, the goings on of some (at the time) small time preacher declared a trouble maker and put to death, seeing how many small time preacher trouble makers Rome regularly took care of in a similar fashion.

Unless I was a person involved, who believed in the resurrection, was bent on disproving the accounts, or bent on proving the accounts…it’s a non issue.

In other words, I’ll be those same 126 writers didn’t mention about 10 billion other things going on in the world.

When Christianity was wider spread, there were more and more references to it, as one would expect. When it was a small time cult of people going on about some no name…outsiders payed no attention.

And the claim that the passages of Josephus were things “made up” by Christians…well, WHO would spread the new other than Christians, followers who carried the good news by word of mouth. I mean, seriously what other source would one expect the earliest mentions to come from? Certainly not from anyone who didn’t take Jesus seriously.

How is it that anyone who believes in something is automatically an unreliable source of information?


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