Historical evidence of the apostles' martyrdom

One of my main points for why the resurrection really happened, is the testimony of the apostles and how they died for their belief, which strengthens their claim.

A chap I was speaking to, however, remarked that these stories were often exaggerated, and asked whether there was any evidence of the apostles’ martyrdom from a non-church source?

So… is there?

I think you would have to define what a “non-church source” is before you can find proof that may evidence the claims. Quite frankly, I would think he is going to claim that anything that speaks to their martyrdom is a Church source.

To go with your first response:

It’s not on you to provide evidence, but for the person questioning to source his assertion. Else, he’s creating an argument without evidence that is truthful and, thus, deserves any explanation.

If he cannot, kindly explain that he is victim of hearsay. We do know that all but John died of less-than-natural causes from some historical sources as well as extrabiblical tradition.

You can ask your friend to visit this website that summarizes what we know and their sourcing from the Catholic Encyclopedia in most instances.

Virtually nobody cared about the Apostles besides other Catholics. So why would anyone else report their martyrdom? :confused:

Plus, why would so many people cling so hard to a tradition that they knew was obviously not true?

Whoever doesn’t want to believe s not going to believe and even if you present them with the clearest and strongest evidence, they will come out with something to refute. Answering your question you can point out the Jewish historian josephus. but again people who so.t want to believe are going to give you hundreds of excuses.

The reason why Jesus died on the cross and was then ressurected from the dead is because God ordered it so, not because the apostles testified to the fact.

Your friend needs to be informed that the “stories” of the crucifiction and ressurection of Jesus are not elaborated or exaggerated. They are fact.

With regard to the apostles’ martyrdom, there is no question that there was still dissention and disbelief in Jesus as the Messiah in the days following Christ’s death. The definition of a martyr is a witness who is willing to die for what they believe. So, of course, the apostles were not revered by most people in those days as true witnesses to the divinity of Christ. Thus, they were all martyrs, just as people in the generations to follow who spread the word of God and Christ and were put to death for their beliefs.

For those who believe, no evidence is needed.
For those who do not believe, no evidence suffices.

The following are the accounts I found. I don’t see anything spectacular about them.

Stephen, apostle and deacon, was the first martyr of the Church. Scripture (the book of Acts) recalls his being stoned at the presence of Saul. The relics of the martyr are said to be preserved in the Church of St Stephen, Jerusalem.

James was the second recorded martyr. His death is found in Acts 12:2, as we are told Herod Agrippa killed him with a sword. Clemens Alexandrinus and Eusebius both speak of this. His relics are said to be at the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Spain.

Andrew, the brother of Peter, is said to have died six years after his brother. After preaching Christ’s resurrection to the Scythians and Thracians, he was was hanged on an olive tree at Patrae, a town in Achaia. His relics are found in several churches, among which the Basilica of St Andrew in Patras, Greece.

Thomas is said to have been martyred near Mylapore, India, by being thrust through with pine spears, tormented with red-hot plates, and burned alive. Relics are still found in the church at Mylapore, Tamil Nadu, India. Other relics are found in Ortona, Italy.

Philip evangelized in Phrygia where he would be tortured and then crucified. On July 2011, archeologists unearthed what they claim to be his tomb during excavations in Hierapolis close to the Turkish city Denizli. This is confirmed, it seems, by the design of the Tomb, and writings on its walls.

Matthew is said to have been beheaded at Nad-Davar, Ethiopia. His relics are said to be preserved in the Salerno Cathedral in Italy.

Nathanael (Bartholomew) suffered a terrible fate, being flayed and then crucified in Albanopolis, Armenia. His relics are said to be at the at the Basilica of San Bartolomeo all’Isola, in Rome, and at the Canterbury Cathedral.

James the Less is said to have been cast down from the Temple or beaten to death. His grave is said to be in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, southeast of the Temple.

Simon the Zealot is said to have joined Jude in Persia and Armenia or Beirut, Lebanon, where both were martyred. His relics, along with those of St. Jude Thaddeus, are in the left transept of the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Matthias, who replaced the traitor, is said by Eusebius to have preached in Ethiopia and is said to have been stoned while hanging upon a cross. It is claimed that his relics are interred in the Abbey of St. Matthias, Trier, Germany.

John the Beloved, to whom Our Lady was entrusted, was known to have lived a very long life and to have died of natural death. He was exiled to the Island of Patmos under the Emperor Domitian for his proclamation of the risen Christ, where he received the visions of the Revelation. The Basilica of St. John in Ephesus was said to be built over his final resting place.

Paul, the last apostle, was beheaded outside of the walls of Rome by order of Nero. The Papal Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls is said to have been built over its burial place.

According to many New Testament scholars and historians, the reports of how and when the apostles died are mostly later “legendary” traditions based on faith.
Many do not consider the sources for the information as reliable.

There is the debate for some that if hundreds or thousands of people saw Jesus walking around and eating and talking after he was killed, there would have been more written about it outside Christian sources–it would have caused a big commotion.

Also, I guess, there is the debate that people may believe something to be true and may be willing to die for it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it *is *true.
For example, we have people dying today as martyrs for their religion/beliefs…suicide bombers and such…for what they believe to be true.
Is what they believe actually true?
How would one prove or disprove it?
So, it may come down to…belief and faith.

If we had solid enough proof of what any of the martyrs–past and present and of different beliefs–believed, I suppose we’d probably all be one religion and there’d be none of the doubt or questioning that we have seen for thousands of years up to today.

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According to many New Testament scholars and historians, the reports of how and when the apostles died are mostly later “legendary” traditions based on faith.
Many do not consider the sources for the information as reliable.

There is the debate for some that if hundreds or thousands of people saw Jesus walking around and eating and talking after he was killed, there would have been more written about it outside Christian sources–it would have caused a big commotion.

Also, I guess, there is the debate that people may believe something to be true and may be willing to die for it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is true.
For example, we have people dying today as martyrs for their religion/beliefs…suicide bombers and such…for what they believe to be true.
Is what they believe actually true?
How would one prove or disprove it?
So, it may come down to…belief and faith.

If we had solid enough proof of what any of the martyrs–past and present and of different beliefs–believed, I suppose we’d probably all be one religion and there’d be none of the doubt or questioning that we have seen for thousands of years up to today.

It IS belief and faith! The proof is in the Bible. Agreed that people even today are dying for their belief in causes or religions that are not Christian, but are, in fact, an attack on Christianity. As Christians, we must stand firm in our belief and faith that Christ is the Messiah as prophesied, and that Mohammed or Buddha, or other “gods” were just men whose graves can be visited even today.

If one is questioning the fact that the Apostles were saints and martyrs in the name of Jesus Christ, then one needs to do more study of those other religions (or cults) and their beliefs. There is much literature and information available to put your questions to rest.

To me, it doesn’t matter whether there are manuscripts which depict the Apostles as martyrs or not. It is a given. It’s in the Bible.

Some people say the same about the Death Camps run by the Nazis, that know body died.
God forgive them, maybe if the Nazis had carted them off they would sing a different tune.

I checked the old, on-line Catholic Encyclopedia and here’s what it says about the first two Apostles I searched.

Matthias:

All further information [beyond the description of his selection as an replacement for Judas in Acts] concerning the life and death of Matthias is vague and contradictory.

Thomas:

This [the story of Thomas the doubter as recorded in the Gospel] exhausts all our certain knowledge regarding the Apostle but his name is the starting point of a considerable apocryphal literature, and there are also certain historical data which suggest that some of this apocryphal material may contains germs of truth.

It would appear then that even the church doesn’t have much confidence in some of the legends surrounding the 12 Apostles.

Don’t be confused. There is a big difference between someone willing to kill and be killed with the idea that this will bring some sort of gain or that it is God’s will, and someone who is willing to sacrifice his life either by committing some (or all) of his time to serve those in need, or by being willing to lay down his life so that others may live…someone who follows a God who said: “love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you…forgive seventy times seven or as many times as you want God to forgive you…and whatsoever you do to the least of your brothers, you have done it to me.”

When I see three million people gather for the Pope’s last Mass at world youth day, I wonder: why are they even there? What does that old man have to offer, besides membership in a church whose name, catholic, carries an endless amount of prejudice and hatred from the world, and whose moral code calls us to a life of self-sacrifice that is so not in line with this age we live in, filled with readily available comforts and pleasures of all sorts and shapes?

When I talk to a friend I recently made, who spent years of hard effort to get a degree, be admitted to medical school, become a physician, and then joined the religious order of the Camillians, taking vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and the fourth vow to serve the sick even at the risk of being contaminated and losing one’s life, and traveling constantly to places affected by natural disasters, sharing the burden of those populations…I wonder, why? Why do that? Why give up your life like that?

I believe there is something higher than him and than me that makes a man act on his faith, when his faith is about self-sacrifice, about giving up the good things to help those in need. Some may wonder: does that “higher something” exist? Does that Christ crucified that we preach really walk on this earth before and after his death? When I see those men and women in the eyes, I have all the evidence I need to keep moving forward in the desire to serve others and give up all selfishness and step out of all comfort zones. As Pope Francis just said not too long ago:

We cannot sleep peacefully while babies are dying of hunger and the elderly are without medical assistance.

And as for the commotion, I believe the history of mankind and the over 2 billion Christians who currently live are more than enough witness, for nothing else ever touched humanity and moved its history as much as Christ and the Catholic Church.

This is not true. As I posted out before there are historical records from the Jewish historian Josephus as to the martyrdom of the disciples. What many historians are not sure is the specific year as to the deaths of st peter and Paul. Paul, given that he was a Roman citizen is the one with the best supported historical accounts from eusebius of Caesaria to clement of Rome. What happens here is that people who are determined to undermine the church are going to be looking to find the fifth leg of the dog anywhere just for the sake of it.

Again, the point of the debate that there are not enough writings about Jesus is sincerely far.away from.smart. that is like saying why there aren’t more records from the troy war or from any event that occurred in a remote place where most people didn’t know how to read or write: because there was no technology back then, no newspapers, no internet no printed press no nothing! The only source for.most of the life in the middle east back then was Josephus and guess what, he records Jesus. So that claim is silly.

And just like someone else mentioned that so called debate is the same as saying that Jews didn’t have to be afraid during Hitler times or that no Jews were killed which again many do too argue that Jews weren’t killed during Hitler’s time.

I’m aware that some people think that Josephus wrote about the death of a James, who may or may not have been one of the 12 Apostles, but I haven’t heard or read anywhere else that he wrote about any others. Can you cite the passages where Josephus does that? Thanks in advance.

I’m aware that some people think that Josephus wrote about the death of a James, who may or may not have been one of the 12 Apostles, but I haven’t heard or read anywhere else that he wrote about any others. Can you cite the passages where Josephus does that? Thanks in advance.
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If you can’t produce the evidence for your claim above, I think you have an obligation to retract it – if for no other reason than to prevent others who might be reading this tread from thinking that such evidence actually does exist.

Josephus talks about James’ death in either book 19 or book 20 of Antiquities. These books should be very easy to google online, and do a search for James. He was executed, along with other unnamed Christian leaders by the Sanhedrin in A.D. 62.

I referenced the passage in Josephus’s Antiquities (20. 9) that mentions a James previously. Here’s the passage.

And now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus… Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned.

Without even going into the debate as to whether the words “who was called Christ” were a later addition or not and the significant impact that such an addition might have on the passage, there’s no indication that: 1) the James mentioned here was one of the 12 apostles, 2) he was martyred for the Christian faith, 3) he was killed along with other Christian leaders. All of that has to be read into the text. More crucially, it does not even come close to supporting the other poster’s claim that Josephus references the deaths of the 12 Apostles. As far as I can tell, he does not do that here or anywhere else.

Some posters in the thread have implied that skeptics of the martyrdoms of the 12 Apostles are being unreasonable in their skepticism – going even so far as to compare them to Holocaust deniers. However, when one looks at the actual evidence for those martyrdoms – even from Christian sources – that criticism appears to be unfounded (to put it charitably).

This is exactly the reason why I refused to respond.Steve 53. Arguing with him is useless and waste of time. As I said the person who insist in believing that it is not true and it didn’t happen, no matter how many proof you put in front of them.to show it happened, they are going to still come.out with any excuse to argue its validity. You can’t reason with someone who chooses not to believe so is useless. I knew cornbread that all that you wanted was to argue that there is no historical evidence just because you don’t believe in it and that you just wanted to bring up your skeptic point up. However the fact that you don’t believe in something and that your personal understanding something is that something not there, doesn’t mean that your personal understanding and beliefs are correct and this is exactly what happens with all other skeptics.

The problem is that you haven’t put any “proofs” in front of me. You claimed that Josephus wrote about the deaths of the 12 Apostles. Your inability and/or unwillingness to support that claim with specific documentary evidence is not something that can be written off to an alleged obstinate hyper-skepticism on my part.

This is a catholic forum, if you are not catholic and do not believe in the catholic faith and you are the one.coming into a catholic forum, then I don’t have to put any proof in front of you. The proof is out there very clearly, if you don’t want to believe that is your problem but don’t come to a catholic forum to tell me is not true and to prove you anything (when there is clear proof) because all you are is a skeptic trying to push your skepticism into others. I did support my claim, however again you are here just to push your anti catholicism any way you can so I am not losing my time with you.

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