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Alleged historical evidence for Jesus

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posted on Apr, 7 2008 @ 05:50 AM
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Greetings all,

Many claims about Jesus and the evidence for him are made.

Being interested in history, I have checked this evidence, and present the results here as a list of writers or documents who are claimed to be evidence for Jesus, along with analysis of how significant they are.

I DID the "legwork", here are the facts :


JOSEPHUS (c.96CE)

The famous Testamonium Flavianum (the T.F.) in the Antiquities of the Jews is considered probably the best evidence for Jesus, yet it has some serious problems :
* the T.F. as it stands uses clearly Christian phrases and names Christ as Messiah, it could not possibly have been written by the devout Jew Josephus (who remained a Jew and refused to call anyone "messiah" in his book which was partly about how false messiahs kept leading Israel astray.),
* The T.F. was not mentioned by any of the early Church fathers who reviewed Josephus.
* Origen even says Josephus does NOT call Jesus the Messiah, showing the passage was not present c.200CE.
* The T.F. first showed up in manuscripts of Eusebius, and was still absent from some manuscripts as late as 8th century.
* The other tiny passage in Josephus refers to Jesus, son of Damneus. The phrase "so-called Christ" may have been a later addition by a Christian who also mis-understood which Jesus was refered to.

An analysis of Josephus can be found here:
www.humanists.net...

In short - this passage is possibly a total forgery (or at best a corrupt form of a lost original.)
But, yes,
it COULD just be actual evidence for Jesus - late, corrupt, controversial but just POSSIBLY real historical evidence.


TACITUS (c.112CE)

Roughly 80 years after the alleged events (and 40 years after the war) Tacitus allegedly wrote a (now) famous passage about "Christ" - this passage has several problems however:
* Tacitus uses the term "procurator", used in his later times, but not correct for the actual period, when "prefect" was used.
* Tacitus names the person as "Christ", when Roman records could not possibly have used this name (it would have been "Jesus, son of Joseph" or similar.)
* This passage is paraphrased by Sulpicius Severus in the 5th century without attributing it to Tacitus, and may have been inserted back into Tacitus from this work.

This evidence speaks AGAINST it being based on any Roman records -
but
merely a few details which Tacitus gathered from Christian stories circulating in his time (c.f. Pliny.)
So,
this passage is NOT evidence for Jesus,
it's just evidence for 2nd century Christian stories about Jesus.


PLINY the Younger (c.112CE)

About 80 years after the alleged events, (and over 40 years after the war) Pliny referred to Christians who worshipped a "Christ" as a god, but there is no reference to a historical Jesus or Gospel events.
So,
Pliny is not evidence for a historical Jesus of Nazareth,
just evidence for 2nd century Christians who worshipped a Christ.
www.earlychristianwritings.com...


SUETONIUS (c.115CE)

Roughly 80-90 years after the alleged Gospel events, (about 75 years after the war) Suetonius refers to a "Chrestus" who stirred the Jews to trouble in Rome during Claudius' time, but:
* this "Chrestus" is a Greek name (from "useful"), and is also a mystic name for an initiate, it is not the same as "Christos"
* this Chrestus was apparently active in Rome, Jesus never was.
So,
this passage is not evidence for Jesus,
it's nothing to do with Jesus,
it's evidence for Christians grasping at straws.
www.earlychristianwritings.com...



IGNATIUS (107CE? 130-170CE?)

The letters of Ignatius are traditionally dated to c.107, yet:
* it is not clear if he really existed, his story is suspicious,
* his letters are notoriously corrupt and in 2 versions,
* it is probable that his letters were later forgeries,
* he mentions only a tiny few items about Jesus.
So,
Ignatius is no evidence for Jesus himself,
at BEST it is 2nd century evidence to a few beliefs about Jesus.
www.earlychristianwritings.com...



QUADRATUS (c.125CE)

Quadratus apparently wrote an Apology to Hadrian (117-138), but:
* we have none of his works,
* it is not certain when he wrote,
* all we have is 1 sentence quoted much later.
So,
Quadratus is uncertain evidence from about a century later.
www.earlychristianwritings.com...


THALLUS (date unknown)

We have NO certain evidence when Thallus lived or wrote, there are NONE of Thallus' works extant.
What we DO have is a 9th century reference by George Syncellus who quotes the 3rd century Julianus Africanus, who, speaking of the darkness at the crucifixion, wrote: "Thallus calls this darkness an eclipse".
But,
there is NO evidence Thallus made specific reference to Jesus or the Gospel events at all, as there WAS an eclipse in 29. This suggests he merely referred to a known eclipse, but that LATER Christians MIS-interpreted his comment to mean their darkness. (Also note the supposed reference to Thallus in Eusebius is a false reading.)

Richard Carrier the historian has a good page on Thallus:
www.infidels.org...

So,
Thallus is no evidence for Jesus at all,
merely evidence for Christian wishful thinking.


PHLEGON (c.140)

Phlegon wrote during the 140s - his works are lost. Later, Origen, Eusebius, and Julianus Africanus (as quoted by George Syncellus) refer to him, but quote differently his reference to an eclipse. There is no evidence Phlegon actually said anything about Gospel events, he was merely talking about an eclipse (they DO happen) which LATER Christians argued was the "darkness" in their stories.
So,
Phlegon is no evidence for Jesus at all -
merely evidence for Christian wishful thinking.


VALENTINUS (c.140CE)

In mid 2nd century the GNOSTIC Valentinus almost became Bishop of Rome, but:
* he was several generations after the alleged events,
* he wrote of an esoteric, Gnostic Jesus and Christ,
* he mentioned no historical details about Jesus.
So,
Valentinus is no evidence for a historical Jesus.
www.earlychristianwritings.com...


...




posted on Apr, 7 2008 @ 05:50 AM
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...

POLYCARP (c.155CE)

Polycarp wrote in mid 2nd century, but :
* he is several generations after the alleged events,
* he gives many sayings of Jesus (some of which do NOT match the Gospels),
* he does NOT name any evangelist or Gospel.
So,
Polycarp knew sayings of Jesus,
but provides no actual evidence for a historical Jesus.
www.earlychristianwritings.com...


LUCIAN (c.170CE)

Nearly one-and-a-half CENTURIES after the alleged events, Lucian satirised Christians, but :
* this was several generations later,
* Lucian does NOT even mention Jesus or Christ by name.
So,
Lucian is no evidence for a historical Jesus, merely late 2nd century lampooning of Christians.


GALEN (late 2nd C.)

Late 2nd century, Galen makes a few references to Christians, and briefly to Christ.
This is far too late to be evidence for Jesus.


NUMENIUS (2nd C.?)

In the 3rd century, Origen claimed Numenius "quotes also a narrative regarding Jesus--without, however, mentioning His name" - i.e. Numenius mentioned a story but said nothing about Jesus, but by Origen's time it had become attached to Jesus' name.
This not any evidence for Jesus, it's just later wishful thinking.


TALMUD (3rd C. and later)

There are some possible references in the Talmud, but:
* these references are from 3rd century or later, and seem to be (unfriendly) Jewish responses to Christian claims.
* the references are highly variant, have many cryptic names for Jesus, and very different to the Gospel stories (e.g. one story has "Jesus" born about 100BC.)
So,
the Talmud contains NO evidence for Jesus,
the Talmud merely has much later Jewish responses to the Gospel stories.



MARA BAR SERAPION (date unknown)

A fragment which includes -
"... What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King?",
in the context of ancient leaders like Socrates.
It is NOT at all clear WHEN this manuscript was written, nor exactly who it is referring too, but there is no evidence it is Jesus.



In short,
* there are no Roman recods of Jesus,
* there is no contemporary evidence for Jesus,
* the claimed evidence is very weak - late, forged, suspect or not about Jesus at all.
* the T.F. is probably the best "evidence", but it is at best corrupt, at worst forged.




Iasion



posted on Apr, 7 2008 @ 02:43 PM
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wow, that's some really good legwork there.
many of these sources have been individually critiqued on here several times over different thread, but it's nice to have it all in one spot for quick reference

starred and flagged.



posted on Apr, 7 2008 @ 03:18 PM
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People are missing the whole point of that story. Its a metaphor!!! It has nothing to do with a man, Its about spiritual enlightenment. It was put to death thousands of years ago and the only way to God or salvation is for spiritual enlightenment to return to the earth. In other words until that time that we finally wake up and smell the coffe so to speak, man will never be free. Ignorance and Freedom can not coexist.



[edit on 4/7/2008 by XcLuciFer]



posted on Apr, 8 2008 @ 06:34 AM
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Originally posted by Iasion
THALLUS (date unknown)

We have NO certain evidence when Thallus lived or wrote, there are NONE of Thallus' works extant.
What we DO have is a 9th century reference by George Syncellus who quotes the 3rd century Julianus Africanus, who, speaking of the darkness at the crucifixion, wrote: "Thallus calls this darkness an eclipse".

...

PHLEGON (c.140)

Phlegon wrote during the 140s - his works are lost. Later, Origen, Eusebius, and Julianus Africanus (as quoted by George Syncellus) refer to him, but quote differently his reference to an eclipse. There is no evidence Phlegon actually said anything about Gospel events, he was merely talking about an eclipse (they DO happen) which LATER Christians argued was the "darkness" in their stories.


It's quite amusing to see how the Church has tried to make it appear that the darkening of the sun which occured while Jesus was hanging on the cross, was a solar eclipse. For Jesus was crucified just before the full moon at Passover. Leviticus 23:5 "The Lord's Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month." The Jews counted the months from new moon to new moon, meaning that the fourteenth day would be the day of the full moon. At full moon the moon is on the oposite side of the earth from the sun, so it is impossible that the darkness was an eclipse. Besides the gospel says the darkness lasted several hours. An eclipse lasts but minutes.



posted on Apr, 8 2008 @ 06:47 AM
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Excellent post, though I would have preferred it without comments like 'wishful thinking'. True or not it will get some snarling reactions-people will ignore the information and focus on that alone.

However, logically there could have been a Jesus doing some of the things in the bible (I am not Christian mind you) and was canonized as more than another street prophet.



posted on Apr, 9 2008 @ 01:54 PM
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reply to post by Iasion
 


hello there

Not being funny but you can use this argument about anyone who wrote anything about anyone from anytime?

how do we (in this day and age) know that Francis drake did and was and all that etc etc????

same problems same holes

with respect

Its a crude argument, sorry!

The arguments you can now put forward for the pros of biographers/historians for drake and anyone else can also be applied to your historians you have dismissed in your OP

Many Thanks


David



posted on Apr, 9 2008 @ 02:12 PM
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What I find strange with people claiming there is no evidence of the historical Jesus outside the bible. There is plenty. But they are all scripture. For instance there are more than thirty gospels saying Jesus lived, citing historical referances. That Josephus or the Romans didn't write about Jesus isn't really strange. There were hundreds of cults at the time, similar to the Jesus movement. Jesus was a mere rabbi, a teacher, healer and a prophet. What other radical rabbis did Josephus write about at the given time?

Or how about this: The head physican of Pilate, a truely important man back in those days, or the leader of the Roman garnison of Jerusalem under Pilate's command. Where can I find historical evidence of them? Nowhere as far as I know. What makes Jesus so important for history that anyone would write about him. He was one out of many at his time.

Or what about Mozart and Shakespeare? No historical evidence of their existance. They were simply not ionteresting among their contemporaries. There's a bunch of stories, but no birthplace, no deathcertificate. Or what about the Norwegian kings? You can read about them in Snorre Strulasson's works. If I said I didn't believe the sagas, would that mean they didn't exist?

[edit on 9/4/2008 by Neo Christian Mystic]



posted on Apr, 9 2008 @ 02:15 PM
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reply to post by drevill
 


That's actually a horrible argument. For many ancient historical figures, we have writings from numerous first-hand eye witnesses and/or writings of the people themselves. Their lives and acts are confirmed from multiple trusted sources. There is no such evidence for Jesus. That is precisely why I am no longer a Christian. I was a Christian for many years, but my own research led me to the same conclusion. I had to be intellectually honest with myself and admit that I was following a lie.

Ask any secular historian about this. If the events in the Gospels were true, there would be mountains of real evidence to show for it. The evidence just isn't there. The only reason Christianity was more than a footnote in history is because of Constantine, who, for political reasons, allied himself with the local Christian factions who were already gaining influence. That skyrocketed the popularity of Christianity at the time.



posted on Apr, 9 2008 @ 02:20 PM
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reply to post by Neo Christian Mystic
 


Stories written decades after the fact by largely anonymous authors does not amount to actual evidence.



posted on Apr, 9 2008 @ 02:42 PM
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Some of the "relevant" historians mentioned in this post wrote about things centuries before their time, and many people lived centuries after Anno Dominae. Josephus was born in 37 AD, seven years after Jesus had left. The Talmud (Mishnah) was written in 300 AD. I don't see your point. Why would any of the given historians be a better source?



posted on Apr, 9 2008 @ 02:46 PM
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reply to post by Neo Christian Mystic
 


Mozart? Are you for real? Mozart's existence can't be debated. That's absurd.



posted on Apr, 9 2008 @ 02:48 PM
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Originally posted by Neo Christian Mystic
What I find strange with people claiming there is no evidence of the historical Jesus outside the bible. There is plenty. But they are all scripture. For instance there are more than thirty gospels saying Jesus lived, citing historical referances. That Josephus or the Romans didn't write about Jesus isn't really strange. There were hundreds of cults at the time, similar to the Jesus movement. Jesus was a mere rabbi, a teacher, healer and a prophet. What other radical rabbis did Josephus write about at the given time?

Or how about this: The head physican of Pilate, a truely important man back in those days, or the leader of the Roman garnison of Jerusalem under Pilate's command. Where can I find historical evidence of them? Nowhere as far as I know. What makes Jesus so important for history that anyone would write about him. He was one out of many at his time.

Or what about Mozart and Shakespeare? No historical evidence of their existance. They were simply not ionteresting among their contemporaries. There's a bunch of stories, but no birthplace, no deathcertificate. Or what about the Norwegian kings? You can read about them in Snorre Strulasson's works. If I said I didn't believe the sagas, would that mean they didn't exist?

[edit on 9/4/2008 by Neo Christian Mystic]


hello

i stand by point though

there were millions of people that did wonderous things no doubt where is the historical evidence for them.

this to me is a boon for Christians, for by faith and faith comes from hearing the word.

It doesnt come from photos etc and masses of secular evidence.

that said, again i stand by my comments fully

all the best

david



posted on Apr, 9 2008 @ 02:53 PM
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Originally posted by Neiby
reply to post by Neo Christian Mystic
 


Mozart? Are you for real? Mozart's existence can't be debated. That's absurd.


Then show me some evidence of his birth, life and death. Find me a respected contemporary historian who writes about him. You'll find none. There are actually theories about Mozart never existing. That it was the Masons who wrote the music. Same with Shakespeare. According to some, Masons wrote the books.



posted on Apr, 9 2008 @ 03:01 PM
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reply to post by Neo Christian Mystic
 


It would be a complete waste of time. We know about Mozart. We know his family. We know where he lived; we have a letter from his father wrote announcing WAM's birth; we know of his baptismal record; we know where his family traveled; we know of other people (like Haydn) who knew the Mozart family; we know about his wife and her family; we have seen portraits of him and his family; we know the people who interacted with him and his family...the list of evidence just goes on and on. It's a pointless distraction from the argument at hand.

[edit on 9-4-2008 by Neiby]



posted on Apr, 9 2008 @ 03:25 PM
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All the so called evidence is biased. What if I don't believe you. Where are the historians I asked for? What if I believe that Mozart is a myth? Not that I do, but what if? You'd be stuck with the exact same dilemma as a Christian would concerning this. We also have letters from his family, writings from influential people like Joseph of Arimathea. We even have copies of letters to this day supposedly written by Jesus himself. Good luck in proving Mozart wasn't just a myth. Pie Ieso...



posted on Apr, 9 2008 @ 03:36 PM
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reply to post by Neo Christian Mystic
 


We obviously disagree about the very meaning of the word "evidence". I'm not going to waste my time discussing this with you any longer. The "evidence" you ask for is meaningless. There are dozens of books on Mozart. He was quite famous at the time and was well-known in Europe. It is childish to even assert the contrary to try to distract from the question at hand.

Besides, you make my point for me. Let's assume that your assertion is true. Let's assume that we can't prove that something like Mozart existed despite the huge amount of historical evidence. People don't change their lives for Mozart, yet you would ask us to change our lives and spiritual beliefs for someone who has even less evidence for his existence?



posted on Apr, 9 2008 @ 03:48 PM
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Quite a few, me included would say Mozart made a great impact on their lives. You still haven't cited any indipendent referance to Mozart other than that we have a bunch of books written about him. When were they written? And saying he was famous and revered by his contemporaries... Why did he end up in a mass grave without as much as a plate or stone saying he rested there? What about his family? Why didn't they make sure his funeral would be of a more fitting kind to his stature? Show me the historian who writes about him.



posted on Apr, 9 2008 @ 03:54 PM
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reply to post by Neo Christian Mystic
 


...we have no writings from the family of jesus
we have no portraits of jesus from his time
we have no independent evidence that corroborates what the bible says about his life
we have no legal records
we have no writings from jesus

however, we have legal documents concerning mozart. we have portraits painted of mozart for mozart and the documentation to prove it.
etc.

and you're changing the issue. i've heard this argument used before (but never with an example as absurd as mozart), and it's always been shot down



posted on Apr, 9 2008 @ 04:08 PM
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Originally posted by madnessinmysoul
reply to post by Neo Christian Mystic
 


...we have no writings from the family of jesus


Oh yes we have. Jude and James were brothers of Jesus. Their letters are even included the Bible.


we have no portraits of jesus from his time


Which would have been very strange if it existed. Jewish Law doesn't permit such portraits, read the ten commandments


we have no independent evidence that corroborates what the bible says about his life


What about the gnostics and the copts?


we have no legal records


Why would we have? He was a Jewish outcast in a Roman society. Can you find legal records for Pilate's servant? You won't even find the name...


we have no writings from jesus


Yes we do. Some even argue that Jesus himself wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews included in the Bible. Try The Corespondance between Jesus and Abgar


however, we have legal documents concerning mozart. we have portraits painted of mozart for mozart and the documentation to prove it.
etc.

and you're changing the issue. i've heard this argument used before (but never with an example as absurd as mozart), and it's always been shot down


Show me his birth- and death certificates then! Or any legal document proving his existance. And again. Where is the mention from a respected historian?

[edit on 9/4/2008 by Neo Christian Mystic]




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