I once posted a question on a religious discussion board asking people who do not believe in Jesus Christ to inform me of the one greatest fact or example that convinces them Jesus never existed. The better majority of the dozens of responses I received were the same: There is no evidence of Jesus outside the Bible. If Jesus really existed, you’d think other people would have written about him other than his disciples. All good points, but sadly all these people have been misinformed, or not informed at all. There are in fact many accounts of Jesus written by people outside of the Bible. In fact, there is so much evidence that Jesus did exist that the over whelming majority atheists and secular scholars do not doubt He existed, but instead doubt what was written of Him; His divinity and supernatural powers.
I am reminded of an organized debate at a college campus in which an atheist and Christian were debating the authenticity of the Gospel accounts. At the end of the debate both representatives took questions from the audience. One woman stood up and claimed there is no evidence Jesus existed in the first place. Even the atheist told her that there is no doubt Jesus existed as a real man, and that there is plenty of evidence to support that fact. It is actually one of the few things skeptics and Christians can agree on; Jesus did in fact exist as a real person in history.
v Thallus (historian A.D. 52) spoke of Christ’s crucifixion.
v Cornelius Tacitus (“greatest historian of Rome” A.D. 64-116) wrote of Jesus suffering under Pontius Pilate.
v Gaius Suetonius (Roman historian A.D. 120) Wrote of Jewish disturbances during Christ’s trial.
v Emperor Trajan (AD 53 to AD 117) wrote a letter to Pliny the Younger acknowledging Christians and authorizing the execution of Christians for not recanting their belief in Jesus Christ.
v Emperor Hadrian (A.D. 117-138) Acknowledged Christians worshipping Jesus Christ
v Lucian of Samosatata (Greek satirist A.D. 170) referred to Christians worshiping a crucified man that is their law giver.
v Mara Bar- Serapion (first century Syrian writer A.D. 70) said Jews executed their “wise king” but his teachings live on in his followers
v Phlegon (A.D. 140) wrote of Jesus suffering.
v Plinius Secundus (A.D. 112) wrote Christians believe of Jesus being deity.
v Julianus Africanus (A.D. 221) wrote of Christ’s death during Passover.
v Josephus (AD 37) “greatest Jewish historian” wrote of Jesus Christ’s existence.
v Suetonius (A.D. 120) wrote of emperor Nero’s punishment of Christians
- The Babylonian Talmud reads that they “hanged Yeshu.”
- “Hanged” refers to crucifixion, since Jews outside of Rome did not know of crucifixion.
- Yeshu, when translated to Greek, means Jesus.
- The passage also says that he was a Nazarene killed on the eve of Passover. Which coincides with the gospel’s accounts of Christ’s death.
Jesus and His disciples:
- Another Talmudic passage says; “Yeshu had five disciples.”
- Although the numbering is off, the disciples fled after Christ’s death, so the Jewish leaders may never have known the exact count. What is important is that the Jews acknowledged he had disciples.
- The Talmud also referred to Jesus as Jeshu, and in some cases; Jeshu ben Pandera.
- This was actually in mockery of the Greek speaking Christians that called Jesus, “Son of the Virgin,” which in Greek, virgin is Parthenos. So, as a play on words, the Jews called Jesus, Jeshu ben Pandera, or “Son of the Leopard.”
- In another passage Mary was referred to as: “the descendant of princes and governors played the harlot with carpenters.”
- The reference to “princes and governors” is speaking of the royal lineage of Mary to King David, Solomon, etc.
- The reference to “carpenters” is of course speaking of Joseph, who was a carpenter.
- The reference to “harlot” was of course an insult to Mary, as a way to rationalize the “virgin birth.”
As you can see there is plenty of evidence outside the Bible that Jesus did in fact exist as a real person in history. When you then add all the gospel accounts of Jesus to this you have more than enough evidence (in the ancient) to prove Jesus was a real man that existed during this time. To believe Jesus never existed, you might as well believe that Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Alexander the Great, and Napoleon never existed as well.
“We have better historical documentation for Jesus than any other founder of any other ancient religion.”
Edwin Yamaachi, Historian.