Article: "Here’s the historical evidence from non-Christian sources that Jesus lived and died."


#1

This article is at https://aleteia.org/2018/04/12/heres-the-historical-evidence-from-non-christian-sources-that-jesus-lived-and-died/

“There is also a long-established record of non-Christian evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was a historical figure who lived 2,000 some years ago.”

“The historical record that confirms the existence of Jesus includes writing from both Roman and Jewish historians, rabbinical literature, and anti-Christian commentators who lived during Christianity’s earliest days.”

Then after this beginning, this article provides a number of these non-Christian sources from early times.


#2

I don’t think the dispute is whether Jesus actually lived and died. The dispute (by non-believers) is whether he was simply a good man and teacher or God.


#3

Sadly, at least in my area, there is a rapidly growing claim that all mentions of a historical Jesus are fabricated by the disciples and no one named “Jesus of Nazareth” who was executed by the Romans via crucifixion ever actually existed. :frowning:


#4

I assume such people are atheists.
Also their claim does not make sense logically. Someone might die for something they think is true (but is not) but are they suggesting the disciples died for something they knew was false??!!


#5

There are actually huge numbers of people who believe that Jesus never even physically existed, that he is a complete fiction. Someone once asked this question, did Jesus really exist, on a non-religious forum I am on, and most of the responses were “he’s totally made up”. This was despite a small group of educated people who were not believers, but had degrees in history or similar, saying that historical evidence showed Jesus did exist and was a real person even though they didn’t believe in His divinity and were atheists or agnostics.

I was really boggled that so many people would completely deny/ ignore historical, factual evidence from non-Christian sources that a man named Jesus existed and was executed by Pilate, even if they did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God or believe in God at all. The people doing this denying/ ignoring were for the most part not educated and seemed to be responding emotionally.


#6

It’s my understanding that among scholars of Jesus’ historicity, including non-Christian, atheist and agnostic scholars, it is almost universally accepted that a man named Jesus existed, was baptized by John the Baptist, and was crucified by Pontius Pilate. There is disagreement on everything else about him.


#7

Yes, this is the majority opinion. I believe they are seeing this creep in in more anti-christian fringe academic areas. I live near a college town which is VERY anti-christian and VERY liberal, so the growing claim in that Jesus is totally false. I agree with you and Thistle, that this claim is totally bunk…but it’s a reality I’m living with in my community that most people are going towards. It really makes absolutely no sense to me so articles like this are actually insanely helpful.


#9

I’ve encountered some of the more scholastic naysayers to Jesus’s existence. While they do admit that there are some sources that say that there was a Jesus who was crucified by the Romans, they day that the historical evidence provided in the Gospels do not match contemporary fact and thus the subject of the gospels does not have any basis in reality. In short, the Jesus of the evidence is not the Jesus of the Gospel. They have primarily point to four points of evidence.

  1. Jesus (Joshua) was a common name in Israel, so there is no certainty that the Jesus which was crucified was the same as the one in the Gospel.
  2. The account of His birth contradict itself as to the time. It says that Quirinus was governor of Syria at the time of the census. Supposedly, Josephus (who was born almost forty years later) states that these two events do not overlap. The rebuttal to this is that Josephus has been proved wrong in other issues regarding a larger gap of years that he attributes to the gap between Quirinus and Augustus’s census.
  3. There is no evidence that Romans crucified using nails instead of ropes in that region. This is completely false, as the only evidence of a Roman Crucifixion using nails was found in the Middle East.
  4. Pontius Pilate did not exist. They point to a total lack of physical evidence of the existence of a man named Pontius Pilate acting as the Roman Governor of Jerusalem. It is true, there has been an extreme lack of physical evidence of Pilate’s existence. Up until modern times, his existence was only attested to in Josephus and Philo (another historian). There was, however, a stone marker unearthed in 1961 which bears Pilate’s name in the context of a Governor.

Even those who are somewhat educated in this matter still ignore fact in their attempt to ignore Christ’s existence and discount him.


#10

This is correct in the history department.


#11

This really is not a debate among historians. If we would only see things or persons as proven when we have archaeological evidence, we could skip entire areas and times of history. And, just a word about this “oh look we found the arch/body of xyz/ whatever biblical”- just no. Archaeology can categorize things in a certain time, but in most cases this says nothing more than “an item from the first century” and not “THE ONE item from the Bible in the first century” we search.
The debate regarding Pontius Pilate is more that the times and dates given in the Bible point in different directions when we search the actual governor. Some see the passages of certain cruelties in connection with the name of a governors more as a topoi for “cruel governor” , for “tyrannis” in general, even if this person hadn’t an office anymore at this time- maybe it became proverbial.
These are the debates I am aware of from partnership programs of theologians and historians.


#12

I know that there is no true historical debate on the existence of Pilate. These were simply the primary ‘facts’ that I have heard spouted back me from ‘learned individuals’ who reject the historicity of Christ’s existence.


#13

Sorry, then it was my misunderstanding. I’m so tired of this questioning, both as historian and as christian…
I guide tours in an museum and I recently heard the question of a young boy who asked if Jesus was a woman because he saw a “documentation” on TV… :triumph::sweat:


#14

It is possible that Josephus was wrong in the date, but it is also possible that Quirinius was appointed as a lower ranking official than governor in Syria first and oversaw a regional census that happened earlier.


#15

This is a correct summary. While there is intense and extensive debate about virtually everything about the historical Jesus (entire libraries can be dedicated to the subject), the idea of Jesus as a myth is long dead and buried in academia. In fact, I am not aware of a single scholar who believes he didn’t exist. I can’t imagine any university hiring a person who held such a view, or granting them tenure. I hope I’m not proven wrong.

Anyone holding such a view is such a poor historian that they aren’t worthy of the (admittedly very cheap) title.


#16

according to Dr David Anders of EWTN radio, the most comprehensive book on the resurrection of Jesus is N.T, Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God. I just got the book. Anders is right – this is not the book for everybody to read. I’m just getting into it, and have stopped to read a couple other books. The first chapter, though, show how technical his book is.

His goal is to explain what the Bible verses mean that say that Jesus was raised to life from the dead. Now, he reassures us that he believes in the gospel, but he’s taking us on a long journey. Otherwise, the first chapter deals with defining what is history? And, he explains that there are five different senses of what ‘history’ and ‘historical’ means. So, he’s just setting this up and getting started. I’m about 50 pages into about an 800 page book.

So, I pass this along as Dr Anders did, fyi.

Maybe I’m missing something, but does anybody deny that Jesus was a real person who died? It’s more significant that he rose from the dead.


#17

I’ve read that book, and the books preceding and coming after it. It is part of a series of nine (I think) books Wright wrote or is writing. It’s a wonderful book.

I have no doubts that Jesus of Nazareth lived, taught, and was crucified in Jerusalem.


#18

Bart Ehrman, whose brilliant scholarship is being unfairly discussed on another thread is a strong advocate for the historical Jesus. As with all his arguments he makes a most persuasive case.


#19

Bart Ehrman is certainly a brilliant scholar and textual critic whose work is unfairly dismissed because he dares to seek the absolute truth rather that blindly following what he has been told. And yes, he certainly believes in the historical Jesus.


#20

The problem I run into when I encounter “mythicists” is they are already biased against Christianity and often organized religion in any form. They tend to perceive themselves as intellectually superior to anyone with religious conviction, and so when we offer something like “the majority of historians agree Jesus was a real man”, they think those historians are just idiots like the rest of us. They miss the work that goes into determining the accuracy of the claim. They don’t realize how little evidence there is for a lot of other stuff we all take for granted. Indeed, without a time machine it would be next to impossible to definitively prove much of anything before photography, and even now we know photographs can be faked and altered. That is, I think, the key point when talking to mythicists. We have to emphasize what makes a professional historian a professional, and we have to underscore the fact that a lot of what we take as fact isn’t backed up all that well. So within the context of ancient history and the people who study it, its pretty easy to see why the reality of the Historical Jesus is commonly agreed upon. Mythicists are wrongly putting ancient evidence into a modern context and declaring it unfit, all while maintaining a bias that necessitates their forgone conclusion be supported in any way. If they want to deny Jesus existed, they’ll have to start denying a lot of other people did as well.


#21

One reason I am here is because of my interest in how people come to believe things as distinct from concluding them from observation and reason. It is possible but unlikely that no one approximating to the historical existed. How people come to believe either the opposite or actually firmly believe with certainty that no such person existed is as interesting to me as people believing that the shroud of Turin is ‘real’.


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