Series - "Ancient Historical Evidence for Jesus of Nazareth" (pt.7)

This will conclude our look at the historical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth. We will be looking at Other Lost works.

Acts of Pontius Pilate
The contents of this purportedly lost document are reported by both Justin  Martyr (ca. 150 A.D.) and Tertullian (ca. 200 A.D.). Both agree that it was an  official document of Rome. Two types of archives were kept in ancient Rome. ?The  Acta senatus were composed of minutes of the senatorial meetings. These  contained no discussions of Christ or Christianity as far as is known. The  Commentarii principis were composed of the correspondence sent to the emperors  from various parts of the empire. Any report from Pilate to Tiberius would  belong to this second group.

Justin Martyr reported around 150 A.D. in his First Apology that the details of  Jesus’ crucifixion could be validated from Pilate’s report”

And the expression, “They pierced my hands and my feet,” was used in reference  to the nails of the cross which were fixed in His hands and feet. And after he  was crucified, they cast lots upon his vesture, and they that crucified Him  parted it among them. And that these things did happen you can ascertain the  “Acts” of Pontius Pilate.

Later in the same work Justin lists several healing miracles and asserts, “And  that He did those things, you can learn from the Acts of Pontius Pilate.”

Justin Martyr relates several facts, believing them to be contained in Pilate’s  report. The chief concern is apparently Jesus’ crucifixion, with details such as  (1) his hands and feet being nailed to the cross and (2) the soldiers gambling  for his garments. But it is also asserted (3) that several of Jesus’ miracles  were also included in Pilate’s report.

Tertullian even reports that Tiberius  acted on the report:

Tiberius accordingly, in whose days the Christian name made its entry into the  world, having himself received intelligence from Palestine of events which had  clearly shown the truth of Christ’s divinity, brought the matter before the  senate, with his own decision in favour of Christ. The senate, because it had  not given the approval itself, rejected his proposal. Caesar held to his  opinion, threatening wrath against all accusers of the Christians.

Tertullian’s account claims (4) that Tiberius actually brought details of  Christ’s life before the Roman Senate, apparently for a vote of approval. The  Senate then reportedly spurned Tiberius’ own vote of approval, which engendered  a warning from the emperor not to attempt actions against Christians. As noted  by Bruce, this incident, which Tertullian apparently accepts as accurate, is  quite an improbable occurrence. It is difficult to accept such an account when  the work reporting it is about 170 years later than the event, with seemingly no  good intervening sources for such acceptance.

It should be noted that the Acts of Pilate referred to here should not be  confused with later fabrications by the same name, which may certainly have been  written to take the place of these records which were believed to exist.

The last reference to be discussed in this chapter is that of Phlegon, whom  Anderson describes as “a freedmen of the Emperor Hadrian who was born about A.D.  80.” Phlegon's work is no longer in existence and we depend on others for  our information.

Origen records the following:
Now Phlegon, in the thirteenth or fourteenth book, I think, of his Chronicles,  not only ascribed to Jesus a knowledge of future events (although falling into  confusion about some things which refer to Peter, as if they referred to Jesus),  but also testified that the result corresponded to His predictions.

Origen adds another comment about Phlegon:
And with regard to the eclipse in the time of Tiberius Caesar, in whose reign  Jesus appears to have been crucified, and the great earthquakes which then took  place, Phlegon too, I think, has written in the thirteenth or fourteenth book of  his Chronicles.

Julius Africanus agrees on the last reference to Phlegon, adding a bit more  information: "Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full  moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth to the ninth hour."

From Phlegon we therefore learn the following items: (1) Jesus accurately  predicted the future. (2) There was an eclipse at the crucifixion from the sixth  to the ninth hours, (3) followed by earthquakes, (4) all during the reign of  Tiberius Caesar. (4) After his resurrection, Jesus appeared and showed his  wounds, especially the nail marks from his crucifixion.

This concludes our look at the Historical Evidence for Jesus of Nazareth. With so much evidence out there, it is almost impossible to not believe that there was a man named Jesus that he did miraculous works, died on the cross and was seen by his followers.

Have Intelligent Faith!!

- Nelis