Seutonius (c. AD 120)
“He [Claudius] expelled the Jews from Rome, since they were always making disturbances because of this instigator Chrestus [Judaeos impulsore Chresto assidue tumultuantis Roma expulit].”(Lives of the Caesars, book 5, Claudius 25:4; Van Voorst, page 30)
• Christ appears to be mentioned by this Roman historian under the name ‘Chrestus’;
• besides one textual variant that reads ‘Christ’ (instead of ‘Chresto’) the Latin text is sound;
• a Christian interpolator would more likely have spelled his name correctly, and would not have placed him in Rome in 49 AD or called him a ‘troublemaker’;
• the overwhelming majority of modern scholarship concludes this sentence is genuine, and that ‘Chrestus’ is indeed Christ.
Compare this with:
Luke (c. AD 49)
“There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. (Gospel of Luke 18:2)
Seutonius also wrote:
“punishment by Nero was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new mischievous superstition.” (Seutonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of the Nero, 16.2).
Lucian of Samosata (c. AD 170)
“The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their noble 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 on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they were converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property.” (Lucian, The Death of Peregrine, 11-13)
This passage corroborates the following facts:
- Jesus Christ existed
- Jesus was the founder of Christianity
- Jesus was worshipped by his followers
- Jesus suffered death by crucifixion
Skeptic Objection #1: Lucian was known as a satirist so he can’t be relied upon for history.
Response: In a work entitled, “The Way to Write History,” Lucian writes:
The historian’s one task is to tell the thing as it happened. This he cannot do, if he is Artaxerxes’s physician trembling before him, or hoping to get a purple cloak, a golden chain, a horse of the Nisaean breed, in payment for his laudations. A fair historian, a Xenophon, a Thucydides, will not accept that position. He may nurse some private dislikes, but he will attach far more importance to the public good, and set the truth high above his hate; he may have his favourites, but he will not spare their errors. For history, I say again, has this and this only for its own; if a man will start upon it, he must sacrifice to no God but Truth; he must neglect all else; his sole rule and unerring guide is this — to think not of those who are listening to him now, but of the yet unborn who shall seek his converse.
Skeptic Objection #2: The passage may be the result of a later Christian interpolation.
Response: Lucian refers to Jesus as a man and a sage but not as God. Christians at this time in history were focused on convincing people of Jesus’ divinity – not of his existence. Therefore, the passage falls to far short of that goal to have been forged by Christians.
**Sextus Julius Africanus **
“Among these are those already mentioned, called Desposyni, on account of their connection with the family of the Saviour. Coming from Nazara and Cochaba, villages of the Jews, into other parts of the world, they drew the aforesaid genealogy from memory and from the book of daily records as faithfully as possible. Whether then the case stand thus or not no one could find a clearer explanation, according to my own opinion and that of every candid person. And let this suffice us, for, although we can urge no testimony in its support, we have nothing better or truer to offer.”