Non Biblical evidence of Jesus' existence

Hello all,

I’m a devout Catholic and I fully accept what the Church teaches. That being said…

A co-worker has challenged me to prove the existence of Jesus (at least as a regular man 2000 years ago), but not by using the Bible. I have been looking for a bit, but have been unsuccesful. Any ideas where I might go for that info?

thanks for any and all help or comments

Here’s a link:


There are early writers such as Bishop Ignatius of Antioch.Student to the Apostle John who was a student of Christ . around 107-11AD .You can get his writings . its not the Bible .

Also look up Pagan historians confirming his existence .They did not see him however historians then would have looked at arrest records and registrations . They dont go on here say . Now these documents today may not be found but then 2000 years ago they would have been able to be read . Most likely these pagan historians looked at his documents of registration and arrest record . This could really help you . Google the Pagan historians that confirm Christs existence .

Another thought: of all the ancient criticisms leveled against Christianity, I am unaware of any that were based on the notion that Jesus never existed.

Also, why is he insisting on non-biblical evidence? If Paul’s report of personal knowledge of Jesus’ brother James, of Peter and John and other Judean disciples is accurate, then Paul’s writings themselves are powerful indicators of Jesus’ existence.

Book recommendations:

-Jesus Outside the New Testament An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence by Robert E. Van Voorst
-The Historical Jesus Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ by Gary R. Habermas

Now, if he tries to argue that Jesus was a myth inspired by pagans:

-Shattering the Christ Myth by James Patrick Holding
-The Jesus Legend by Eddy and Boyd
-The Gospel and the Greeks by Nash

Both the Roman historians Tacitus (who reports that Jesus was crucified by pilate), and the Jewish historian Josephus mention Jesus.

NT Wright has said in a recent interview in the back of Flew’s There is a God that he actually isn’t aware of any New Testament scholars/historians who deny that Jesus really existed.

Well, lets just say he consider the bible a work of fiction.

Thank you all for the answers. It helps me out a great deal. :thumbsup:

Here are a few early non biblical historical references to Jesus.

Josephus, Jewish historian, Antiquities. 18.3, 18.64
Ancient sources:
Book XVIII “3. Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; (10) as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”

Cornelius Tacitus, (AD 55 - 117)The Annals (15.44) Ancient roman Historian and Politician
“Such indeed were the precautions of human wisdom. The next thing was to seek means of propitiating the gods, and recourse was had to the Sibylline books, by the direction of which prayers were offered to Vulcanus, Ceres, and Proserpina. Juno, too, was entreated by the matrons, first, in the Capitol, then on the nearest part of the coast, whence water was procured to sprinkle the fane and image of the goddess. And there were sacred banquets and nightly vigils celebrated by married women. But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.
Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man’s cruelty, that they were being destroyed.”

Lucian de Samosata, Greek, (AD 120-180) rhetorician (somewhat like a trial attorney). Politician, historian, itinerant lecturer.(The Death of Peregrine, 11-13, 16)
“It was now that he came across the priests and scribes of the 11 Christians, in Palestine, and picked up their queer creed. I can tell you, he pretty soon convinced them of his superiority; prophet, elder, ruler of the Synagogue–he was everything at once; expounded their books, commented on them, wrote books himself. They took him for a God, accepted his laws, and declared him their president. The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day,–the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. Well, the end of it was that Proteus was arrested and thrown12 into prison. This was the very thing to lend an air to his favourite arts of clap-trap and wonder-working; he was now a made man. The Christians took it all very seriously: he was no sooner in prison, than they began trying every means to get him out again,–but without success. Everything else that could be done for him they most devoutly did. They thought of nothing else. Orphans and ancient widows might be seen hanging about the prison from break of day. Their officials bribed the gaolers to let them sleep inside with him. Elegant dinners were conveyed in; their sacred writings were read; and our old friend Peregrine (as he was still called in those days) became for them “the modern Socrates.” In some of the Asiatic 13 cities, too, the Christian communities put themselves to the expense of sending deputations, with offers of sympathy, assistance, and legal advice. The activity of these people, in dealing with any matter that affects their community, is something extraordinary; they spare no trouble, no expense. Peregrine, all this time, was making quite an income on the strength of his bondage; money came pouring in. 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 are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on trust, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property.”

Lucian de Samosata continued…

(16) “Proteus now set out again on his wanderings. The Christians16 were meat and drink to him; under their protection he lacked nothing, and this luxurious state of things went on for some time. At last he got into trouble even with them; I suppose they caught him partaking of some of their forbidden meats. They would have nothing more to do with him, and he thought the best way out of his difficulties would be, to change his mind about that property, and try and get it back. He accordingly sent in a petition to the emperor, suing for its restitution. But as the people of Parium sent up a deputation to remonstrate, nothing came of it all; he was told that as he had been under no compulsion in making his dispositions, he must abide by them.”

Mara bar Serapion (Letter to his son – currently at British Museum), late 1st-3rd century

“What are we to say, when the wise are dragged by force by the hands of tyrants, and their wisdom is deprived of its freedom by slander, and they are plundered for their superior intelligence, without the opportunity of making a defence? They are not wholly to be pitied. For what benefit did the Athenians obtain by putting Socrates to death, seeing that they received as retribution for it famine and pestilence? Or the people of Samos by the burning of Pythagoras, seeing that in one hour the. whole of their country was covered with sand? Or the Jews by the murder of their Wise King (Christ, Jesus), seeing that from that very time their kingdom was driven away from them? For with justice did God grant a recompense to the wisdom of all three of them. For the Athenians died by famine; and the people of Samos were covered by the sea without remedy; and the Jews, brought to desolation and expelled from their kingdom, are driven away into Every land. Nay, Socrates did “not” die, because of Plato; nor yet Pythagoras, because of the statue of Hera; nor yet the Wise King (Christ, Jesus), because of the new laws which he enacted.”

Talmud (Sanhedrin 43a), late 2nd century

There is a tradition (in a Barraitha): They hanged Yeshu on the Sabbath of the Passover. But for forty days before that a herald went in front of him (crying), “Yeshu is to be stoned because he practiced sorcery and seduced Israel and lead them away from God. Anyone who can provide evidence on his behalf should come forward to defend him.” When, however, nothing favorable about him was found, he was hanged on the Sabbath of the Passover.
Ulla commented: “Do you think that he belongs among those for whom redeeming evidence is sought? Rather, he was a seducer [of whom] the All-merciful has said: ‘Show them no pity… and do not shield them.’ (Deut 13.8b NRSV) In Yeshu’s case, however, an exception was made because he was close to those who held [political/religious] authority.”

I was going to add Josephus, but it’s listed above. Thanks for the question. A lot of sources here, I learned something today. :slight_smile:

P.S. Justin Martyr’s two apologies around the year 150 to a Roman ruler, talk about the Mass and about the Eucharist. In it of course, he talks about Jesus, the Apostles, the heretics of his day.


As a point of interest, since it was brought up…

*There were many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him. Among them were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. (Matthew 27:55-56)*Mary the mother of Jesus was at the foot of the cross. A different Mary, the mother of James and Joseph, was looking on from a distance. Two different Mary’s = not Jesus brother.

The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him. (Matthew 10:2-4)

We have:
*]Mary, the mother of Jesus at the foot of the cross.
*]Mary the mother of James and Joseph looking at the crucifixion from a distance.
*]One apostle named James, whose brother was John and who’s father was Zebedee
*]A second apostle named James who was the son of Alphaeus.
Paul speaks of James, an Apostle, who is the “Brother” of Jesus.

*Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to confer with Cephas and remained with him for fifteen days. But I did not see any other of the apostles, only James the brother of the Lord. (Galatians 1:18-19)*If the James whom Paul met is an Apostle, then he cannot be Jesus’ brother because one of the Apostles named James was the son of Zebedee and the other Apostle named James was the son of Alphaeus. Neither apostle had a father named Joseph.

I apologize if I come across as a bit brusque but we’ve been over it time and time again. Brother = brethren, kin, cousin, second cousin, son of the sister of his mother, etc. There was no word for cousin in ancient Aramaic.


Ask your co-worker to prove that Winston Churchill existed.

No matter what he says, just say things like, “How do you know that recording wasn’t someone else’s voice” or “How do you know that really isn’t someone else in that picture and the real Winston Churchill had died of throat cancer several years before” or “How do you know that the British didn’t make all that up?”

Ask your co-worker to prove that King Henry VIII existed or Isaac Newton or that men really landed on the moon. Claim that President Obama is really a big fat guy and they just use trick photography to make him look skinny. Has your co-worker ever really seen Obama in person? Can he prove that he’s not realy some big fat guy?

Tell your friend at work that you will even let him use the Bible if he thinks it will help.


PS: No offense meant to big fat guys. I’m getting up there myself. :wink:

Jesus did not have brothers.And both men named James are brothers of someone else .James the brother of John and James the brother of Jude . Mary remained a virgin .

I would have him do his own research. If he is doubting that the most influential man in all of history didn’t exist he is beyond pagan. Even the devils know of Jesus

Thank you all for posting this information. My teenaged son is trying to make a stand for evidence of Christ on Facebook, and is getting a lot of the same things thrown at him. These are great resources!

Interesting, I will certainly read it.
Wouldn’t be nice to have like a “notebook of links” with pages dedicated to various subjects, where we can eventually add links also with date and other information? Somebody will have to maintain it.

Personally, I believe there was a historic Jesus, but the Josephus account is quite controversial. For those who may be interested in this facet of the search, I’m including a link to some of the many discussions on this issue. Scroll down on the page and you will see them.

One more that I found to be quite good and impatial:

Here is a reference to the history of Jesus.

May God bless and keep you. May God’s face shine on you. May God be kind to you and give you peace.

Originally Posted by edwest2 View Post
Here’s a link:


Nice link Ed.

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