Series - "Ancient Historical Evidence for Jesus of Nazareth" (pt.2)

As mentioned before, there are no less that 17 NON-CHRISTIAN HISTORICAL SOURCES that detail the life of the historical figure, Jesus of Nazareth. In the previous video about the ancient historical evidence for Jesus, Pastor J gave us an overview of some of those sources. Over the next few posts, we will be going more into detail on each of the 17.
 They are divided into 5 categories namely Ancient Historians, Government Officials, Other Jewish Sources, Other Gentile Sources and Gnostic Sources.

First we have the Ancient Historians: Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus and Thallus. Let’s look at each one in more detail.

Tacitus: Cornelius Tacitus
He was a Roman historian who lived (ca. 55 - 120A.D.) through the reigns of over half dozen Roman emperors. He has been called the "greatest historian" of ancient Rome.
Tacitus is best known for two works- the Annals (http://classics.mit.edu/Tacitus/annals.mb.txt) and the Histories (http://classics.mit.edu/Tacitus/histories.mb.txt)
Tacitus recorded at least one reference to Christ and two to early Christianity, one in each of his major works. The most important one is found in the Annals, written about 115 A.D.
Several facts are of interest in the writings. Tacitus had to receive his information from some source and this may have been an official record. It may even have been contained in one of Pilate's reports to the emperor, to which Tacitus would probably have had access because of his standing with the government. Of course, we cannot be sure at this point, but a couple of early writers do claim to know the content of such a report.

Suetonius
Another Roman historian who also makes one reference to Jesus and one to Christians in Gaius Suetonius Tranquillas. Little is known about him except that he was the chief secretary of Emperor Hadrian (117 - 138 A.D.) and that he had access to the imperial records.
The first reference occurs in the section on Emperor Claudius (41 - 54 A.D.). Writing about the same time Tacitus. The second reference from Suetonius is again to the Christians who were tortured by Emperor Nero.

Josephus
Jewish historian Flavius Josephus was born 37or 38 A.D. and died in 97 A.D. He was born into a priestly family and became a Pharisee at the age of nineteen. After surviving a battle against the Romans, he served commander Vespasian in Jerusalem. After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., he moved to Rome, where he became the court historian for Emperor Vespasian.
The Antiquities,( http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/josephus/index.htm#aoj) one of his major works, was written around 90 - 95 A.D. It makes two references to Jesus. The first is very brief and is in the context of a reference to James, "the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ". The second reference is easily the most important and the most debated:
"at this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. His conduct was good and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he has appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive".

Thallus
At least the death of Jesus was mentioned in an ancient history composed many years before
Tacitus, Suetonius or Josephus ever wrote and probably prior to the Gospels. Circa 52 A.D. Thallus wrote a history of the Eastern Mediterranean world from the Trojan War to his time. This work itself has been lost and only fragments of its exist in the citations of others. One such scholar who knew and spoke of it was Julius Africanus, who wrote about 221 A.D.In speaking of Jesus' crucifixion and the darkness that covered the land during this event, Africanus found a reference in the writings of Thallus that dealt with this cosmic report. Africanus wrote:
"On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of history, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun".
Africanus objected to Thallus' racialization concerning the darkness that fell on the land at the time of the crucifixion because an eclipse could not take place during the time of the full moon, as was the case during the Jewish Passover season.

In the next post we will be looking at the Government Officials: Pliny the Younger, Emperor Trajan and Emperor Hadrian. If you need more details on the writings of any of the historians mentioned above please email us, we will be glad to provide that for you.
I hope that this will help you in your search for the truth about Jesus of Nazareth.

See you guys next time, and remember, have Intelligent Faith!!

- Nelis