Roman Historians' mention of Jesus don't count?

I ran across this site earlier today while trying to look up some early non-christian sources that support the existence of Jesus. The author claims the ones we have don’t count because they are supposedly faked by the church. Can you help me refute this? truthbeknown.com/pliny.htm

I skimmed through the article; I didn’t read it thoroughly but I really didn’t see anything substantial in there. Just the author’s conjectures and “proofs from silence”. The author has attempted to proof something that exists is altered because another letter doesn’t mention the first. So if former President Bush passed a law and President Obama doesn’t mention it even though it is regarding a similar issue, then Bush didn’t really pass the law.

With things like this, the burden of proof is on the one making the claim.

Not that I am all educated in this feild but any one who says Jesus does not exist is wrong and easy to some degree to prove worng I begin

He says that christian lke money
T"hey have, however, but one God, and it is one and the self-same whom Christians, Jews and Gentiles alike adore, i.e., money.""

Sure thing Pal all those marty apostles and stuff that went around penniless being betean and all they had to do was say I don’t believe to make it stop where greedy okay

He says that christian fake passages in Josephus
“to interpolate, by pious fraud, a passage in Josephus”

I say that josephus the guy who spent time in the desert going monk before deciding to become a pharise or saducesee at the age of something like 16 Was the one historian who would be at least somewhat kind to the whole john the baptist monk clan Jesus followers. This is reflected in his at least somewhat non hatred acounts of Jesus in his histories not because latter christians inserted them

The letter Pliny purportedly wrote a letter in 110 CE to the Emperor Trajan
Im dont know anything about what ever god he is talking about but how many religions do you know in the middle east had female deacons that the letter talks about?

The whole fire in Rome nero event which arroding to him christian set fire to rome
“Oddly, this brief mention of Christians is all there is in the voluminous works of Tacitus regarding this extraordinary movement, which allegedly possessed such power as to be able to burn Rome.”
Of course not they where blaimed becuase their cheap mud boggs that they lived in could not burn so they became an escape goat so nero could continue on.

But i really am just a kid with no historical background so Im sure my replies can be defeated easillly

I just looked up in 5 seconds a way to defeat his whole pilate was (Pilate was not a “procurator” but a prefect) I have to assume some one long before him came around to answer that question considering these acounts have been around for 1000s of years

I like how her “What Are Acharya’s Credentials?” spends the first five paragraphs addressing the issue of credentials before she even starts providing any. Reminded me of that line from that movie- “Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges!”

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How many independent 3rd party historical attributions can we find about many of the Roman Emperors, or Alexander the Great, or King Arthur? But people believe in these to one extent or another.

What real proof do we have that Julius Cesar crossed the Rubicon?

sorry my orginial reply seems now to harsh im sorry

some of the wording is hurtful I m sorry I shoudl not have wriitten those exact words such as an okay ending or Im just a kid what do I know there was no need for sacarsm and such words

I was anrgy and let is show my wording was hurtful and wrong to do

That’s a very good question. Consider the Roman Emperor Nero, for example.

How many third-party historical attributions can we find about Nero? How many non-Romans (or non-Romans of the Senatorial class) wrote about Nero? He was, after all, the Emperor of the known world. We should expect to find scads of documents by scads of writers. Of course, the answer is ZERO.

How many ROMAN historians (of ANY class) do we have who wrote about Nero?

Before I answer my own question, consider this: For fourteen years (from AD 54 to 68), Nero Caesar was the flippin’ Emperor of the Roman Empire. With a reign spanning fourteen years, his reign was among the longest of the Roman Caesars. He was, without a doubt, the most powerful and influential man in the entire world for fourteen years. He ruled the greatest empire on earth for fourteen years. You have heard of him. All of your friends have heard of him. Everybody with a high-school education has heard of him. Are you following me so far? Good.

Can you cite anybody who actually knew Nero Caesar who wrote about him? What about someone who knew someone who knew Nero Caesar. Can you cite me such a name? What about someone - ANYONE - who even lived during Nero’s lifetime, who ever wrote about him? What about someone - ANYONE - who KNEW anyone who lived during Nero’s lifetime? The man was the EMPEROR of Rome for fourteen years! Surely there is SOMEBODY.

You cannot cite any such source. And, notice that I have not imposed some idea that the sources must NOT be Roman citizens (as some insist on non-Christian historians who wrote about Jesus, because, apparently, Christian historians who write about Jesus are presumed to be unreliable, but Roman historians who write about Nero are presumed to be reliable, even though there WERE no such Roman historians).

The “most contemporary” historian to write about the Emperor of the Roman Empire for fourteen years wrote about 100 years after Nero’s death. The next closest “contemporary” authors (all of - ahem - two of them) wrote fifty years later (about 150 years after Nero’s death). 150 years after the death of the most powerful man in the world, we have all of three historical accounts. All written by Romans. All were of the Senatorial class.

The scant three authors who wrote about Nero between 100-150 years after his death were Tacitus, Suetonius and Cassius Dio, who were all members of the Roman Senatorial caste. I have no idea who was the first non-Roman historian to write about Nero, but I think I am safe in assuming that it was a LONG time later.

Now consider Jesus. He was Emperor of nothing. He was a member of a conquered race living in a conquered land. He was one of MANY ragtag preachers (Acts 5:34-37 describes the testimony of a Pharisee named Gamaliel who testified on behalf of the Apostles, while citing the failed ministries of other such “teachers” such as Theudas and Judas the Galilean). Jesus attracted a small dedicated following of only twelve men (Gamaliel says that Theudas had 400). His ministry was largely ineffective, as he was condemned by a crowd of his own countrymen in favor of an acknowledged criminal. He was sentenced to a slave’s death by a Roman governor - the cruelest death that the Roman Empire could devise - scourging and crucifixion. He hung on the Cross naked. When he was taken down, he did not even have a grave, but was buried in a donated grave. His execution took only three hours, and the Roman soldiers who executed him were home in time for supper.

In the 150 years after the death of Jesus, how many historians wrote about his life and activities? At least 65 (and I refer to authors, not writings - if we count according to writings, it numbers into the mid-500’s). And some were primary witnesses (such as St. John).

They were all Christians. And Nero’s scant three historians were all elite Romans (who wrote exactly three accounts, none of which were contemporary, - not 500+).

Nero was the Emperor of the Roman Empire for fourteen years. Jesus was the head of twelve Apostles for some three years before being executed by the very Empire that Nero would soon come to rule. And, yet, the ratio of historians is staggeringly unbalanced. 65 to 3 (or 500+ to 3, depending on how you count “sources”).

AND, I might add - while these 65 historians were all Christian, they did not all start out that way. In fact, few of them were born into Christian families. The Apostles were all Jews. At least two of the Gospel writers (Mark and Luke) were Gentiles (and the Evangelist Matthew was unlikely the same person as the Apostle Matthew). St. Paul made a name for himself by persecuting early Christians.

NONE of the scant three “early” historians of Nero were EVER anything other than Roman citizens of the Senatorial class.

The website linked in the OT was created by Acharya s. She is a proponent that Christ was based on ancient figures like Horus etc. Achraya s has made claims that are not accurate.

Evidence for Jesus and Parallel Pagan “Crucified Saviors” Examined

All About Horus
An Egyptian Copy of Christ?

thedevineevidence.com/jesus_similarities.html

As R.A. Lafferty wrote, lots of pagan religions claimed they worshipped a son of God. We are different because only Christians worship God the Son.

The claim that Roman historians recorded the darkness at noon on the day of Jesus’ death is indeed of dubious authenticity (the one I looked into a few years ago turned out to exist today only in a Byzantine author’s citation of an early Christian writer who claimed to have read such a pagan account.) Other references, while authentic, aren’t of much value because they appear to be reports of what Christians said about themselves. There is no reason to think that they are founded on any independent knowledge about Christian origins.

I do not know of any reliable pagan source that testifies to the life of Jesus independently of Christian sources.

Edwin

The idea that only “non-Christian sources” should be considered, can only be described as nutty, to put it charitably.

That being said, there are several contemporaneous or near-contemporaneous sources (and for that period, even a 50 year gap in reporting is equivalent to the immediacy of receiving a text today, in historical terms) that do suggest that this was a known event and a subject of some wonder even at that late date. Thallus (who from context was a pagan), wrote a 3-volume history circa A.D. 52 that we know only in quotation, and referenced the event in his 3rd volume but claimed it must have been an eclipse, an idea that was disparaged by Julius Africanus, who knew both his astronomy and his theology. That may be the one you looked at earlier, but historians frequently use quoted non-primary sources.

Phlegon of Tralles, another non-Christian, wrote in his 2nd century Olympiades that “In the 4th year of the 202nd Olympiad, there was a great eclipse of the Sun, greater than had ever been known before, for at the 6th hour the day was changed into night and the stars were seen in the heavens. An earthquake occurred in Bythinia and overthrew a great part of the city of Nicæa.” The 202nd Olympiad ran from 29 A.D. to 33 A.D. Although he offers a naturalistic (but unlikely) explanation, he also references the earthquake described at the time of the Crucifixion. The time frame seems about right.

Tertullian wrote in the second century to those who were skeptical of the event that “At the moment of Christ’s death, the light departed from the sun, and the land was darkened at noonday, which wonder is related in your own annals, and is preserved in your archives to this day,” so it seems likely that there were other reports that did not survive, but which Tertullian felt secure in citing. Thus, it does not appear that these references would have been later interpolations,

The Crucifixion accounts could well be the use of literary style of an apocalyptic nature. It could be a lyrical description of localized event, such as a haboob dust storm (I’ve experienced those, and it can seem like it’s suddenly dark night outside in the middle of the day. It’s more than a little terrifying). Those are common, and probably would not have been reported widely unless associated with an event such as this. Eclipses have been claimed as a possible source, but that’s unlikely based on what we know of eclipses at the time. A supernatural event - a darkening felt by those nearby due to the death of the Incarnation of God, or the physical darkening of the sky and physical upheaval - seems like a more reasonable belief to me.


Of course it is. But the problem is that Christians try to use non-Christian sources to provide a more “objective” basis for believing the Gospel accounts, and the nature of the evidence doesn’t support that tactic very well. I agree that the argument against the authenticity of the Gospels from the alleged “silence” of pagan historians is also bogus.

That being said, there are several contemporaneous or near-contemporaneous sources (and for that period, even a 50 year gap in reporting is equivalent to the immediacy of receiving a text today, in historical terms) that do suggest that this was a known event and a subject of some wonder even at that late date. Thallus (who from context was a pagan), wrote a 3-volume history circa A.D. 52 that we know only in quotation, and referenced the event in his 3rd volume but claimed it must have been an eclipse, an idea that was disparaged by Julius Africanus, who knew both his astronomy and his theology. That may be the one you looked at earlier, but historians frequently use quoted non-primary sources.

This is the example I had in mind. We don’t actually have Julius Africanus’ full text either–we have a quotation of him by a much later Byzantine historian. Neither do we have a direct quotation from Thallus–just Africanus’ summary of what Thallus said. So we have a Byzantine quoting Africanus alleging that Thallus spoke of the darkness. I don’t say that this is worthless, but it’s a fairly slender basis on which to allege, as I’ve seen done, that we have solid non-Christian confirmation. My biggest problem is that Christians using this argument typically skip the fact that we know Thallus and Phlegon only from Christian sources. If we’re talking to people who mistrust Christian sources and don’t believe the Gospel testimony, we need to be honest and say that these pagan sources are also known to us only through the testimony of Christian authors. Of course, if you really want to be skeptical, you can argue that even Tacitus could have been an invention of the Renaissance, and so on. So what we really need to do is have a better conversation about critical historical method and the fact that you can’t simply line up a list of utterly reliable sources and throw all the others out.

William Lane Craig has a good discussion of Thallus which I found very helpful. I’ve probably tended to dismiss Thallus too quickly in the past owing to the overly confident way I’ve seen him used.

Tertullian wrote in the second century to those who were skeptical of the event that “At the moment of Christ’s death, the light departed from the sun, and the land was darkened at noonday, which wonder is related in your own annals, and is preserved in your archives to this day,” so it seems likely that there were other reports that did not survive, but which Tertullian felt secure in citing. Thus, it does not appear that these references would have been later interpolations,

That’s an interesting point. However, early Christians also appealed to alleged accounts of Jesus by Pilate, and to Tiberius’ attempt to deify Jesus. These are generally regarded with some skepticism even by modern Christian scholars. So I think we need to be careful resting too much weight on such a vague appeal to “your archives.”

For me it comes down to the conclusion that our best evidence for Jesus comes from the Gospels. It’s nice that we have these other possible corroborations, but they really don’t add much.

Edwin

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