- Born to priestly family in A.D. 37. Commanded Jewish troops in Galilee during rebellion. Surrendered, and earned favor of Emperor Vespasian. Wrote 20 books of Antiquities of the Jews. Refers to John the Baptist (killed by Herod) and to James, the brother of Jesus (condemned to death by stoning by the Sanhedrin). Passage about Jesus:
"And there arose about this time Jesus, a wise man, if indeed we should call him a man, for he was a doer of marvelous deeds, a teacher of men who receive the truth with pleasure. He led away many Jews, and also many of the Greeks. This man was the Christ. And when Pilate had condemned him to the cross on impeachment by the chief men among us, those who loved him at first did not cease; for he appeared to them on the third day alive again, the divine prophets having spoken these and thousands of other wonderful things about him, and even now the tribe of Christians, so named after him, has not yet died out."
(Note: We know from Origen and others that Josephus was not a Christian, so this text may have suffered some corruption from emendations by Christian scribes. It may be that the "if indeed we should..." phrase is original, a tongue-in-cheek reference to Christian belief. The phrase "the truth" (alethe) may have originally been "strange things" (aethe). Also, such phrases as "they say" or "supposedly" may have been piously deleted by scribes. Still, it seems certain that Josephus did refer to Jesus as a miracle-worker crucified under Pontius Pilate.)
Early Gentile Writers
(Referred to by Christian apologists in 2nd century)
- Wrote a history of Greece and Asia Minor in A.D. 52. Julius Africanus (221 AD), commenting on Thallus, said: "Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away the darkness [during the crucifixion] as an eclipse of the sunâ€”unreasonably, as it seems to me [since the Passover took place during a full moon.]"
Official Roman records of the census, and Pontius Pilate's official report to the Emperor.
- Justin Martyr wrote his "Defense of Christianity" to Emperor Antonius Pius, referred him to Pilate's report, preserved in the archives. Tertullian, writing to Roman officials, writes with confidence that records of the Luke 1 census can still be found.
â€” Greatest Roman historian, born 52 A.D., wrote a history of the reign of Nero in 110 A.D. "...Christus, from whom they got their name, had been executed by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate when Tiberias was emperor; and the pernicious superstition was checked for a short time only to break out afresh, not only in Judea, the home of the plague, but in Rome itself, .. " (Annals 15:44)
â€” AD. 120. - In his Life of Claudius: "As the Jews were making disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome."
Pliny the Younger
â€” Governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor, wrote the emperor in A.D. 112 about the sect of Christians, who were in "the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day, before it was light, when they sang an anthem to Christ as God." â€” AD. 120.
For more information on non-biblical and non-Christian resources for Jesus and Christianity, visit these websites.