Posts Tagged ‘Early Christian Evidence’

English: folio 150 recto of the codex, with th...

English: folio 150 recto of the codex, with the beginning of the 1. Epistle to the Corrinthians (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1CO 15 includes an early spoken creed.

1. The timing of the writing is too early for gospels to be a legend.

The books of the Bible were written around 30 years after the death of Jesus, with some of the main ones being as early as 20 years after. The latest book in the New Testament—Revelation—was still written only 50–60 years after Jesus’ death. That is just too quick for a full-blown myth to spring up and displace the true story.

People often respond by saying, “Well, maybe parts of the New Testament were written in the first century, but it was different than it is now. The divinity of Jesus and the resurrection were later additions.” The problem here is that the earliest records of Christianity all contain the resurrection teaching. So in 1 Corinthians (written around 54 A.D.), Paul quotes a hymn about Jesus’ death and resurrection. Less than one generation from Jesus’ death, and there are songs circulating popular enough for Paul to reference in one of his letters—songs about the resurrection.”

— Pastor J.D. Greear

via Four Reasons the Gospels Could Not Be Legends | J.D. GREEAR.

simul iustus et peccator,


English: The healing of the paralytic : wall p...

English: The healing of the paralytic : wall painting in the baptistry of the domus ecclesiae in Dura Europos. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is still not uncommon for the historical existence of Christ to be denied, in spite of significant testimony from Jewish, Christian, and Roman sources.


“[O]n the question of the existence,” notes R. Scott Appleby, professor of church history at Notre Dame, “there is more evidence of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth than there would be for many other historical people who actually existed. Not only did Jesus actually exist, but he actually had some kind of prominence to be mentioned in two or three chronicles.”(3)

In addition to the massive archives provided by each of the four gospel writers, the life of Jesus of Nazareth and the extent to which he created a stir far beyond the land of his birth are chronicled by Christian and non-Christian writers alike. Jewish historian Flavius Josephus is considered by scholars to be the most important non-Christian source on Christ’s existence. Also archived in history are the writings of Pliny the Younger, who in the early second century described a policy of executing Christians who refused to curse Christ, as well as Tacitus, another historian of the same period who wrote that Jesus was executed under the authority of Pontius Pilate.— Jill Carattini

via A Real Person | RZIM.


simul iustus et peccator,

Eric (McDreamy) Dane…(only to my beloved)


Tacitus (Photo credit: Nick in exsilio)

“Tacitus (ca. 56 AD-ca. 120 AD)

Like Suetonius, Tacitus was also a Roman historian. He is best known for his Annals which records events from the death of Roman emperors Augustus to Nero in 14-68 AD.6 In Annals 15.44, Tacitus makes a reference to Jesus:

Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.7

This reference reveals many things about this Christus (Latin for “Christ”): he was executed under Pontius Pilate while Tiberius was emperor (14-37 AD), and a group of people—who were named after him—formed a following based on “a most mischievous superstition” surrounding this figure. This corroborates what the New Testament records about Jesus of Nazareth.

However, this passage has its own challenges. For one, skeptics often charge that this passage was a later Christian insertion. Early Christian apologists would have certainly mentioned such a helpful passage, yet it isn’t quoted until the 4th century by Sulpicius Severus.8 Furthermore, even if this passage is genuine, its accuracy is questionable. Tacitus refers to Pontius Pilate as a “procurator.” However, his actual title was “prefect,” and Tacitus would have known this.9

Pilate, Washing His Hands

Pilate, Washing His Hands (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

Still, the first charge is unlikely. If this passage were a later Christian insertion, we should expect to see Christianity presented in a more glowing way. Tacitus does nothing like it. Instead, Christ is executed under the authority of Pontius Pilate for what the readers would have understood to be a crime against Rome.10 Also, Christianity is said to be an “evil” based on “a most mischievous superstition,” which only adds to the already shameful state of Rome. Moreover, Tacitus calls Christians chrestianoi, which may be derogatory given his occasionally belittling use of the -ianoi suffix.11 In today’s language, it would be like calling Christians “Jesus freaks.” Such a negative view of Christianity makes the first charge weak.

As for Pilate’s title, Tacitus was probably just reading the political environment of his own time into the event he was describing: “Until Claudius in 41 C.E. gave each provincial governor from the equestrian class the title “procurator of the emperor” (procurator augusti), the Roman governor was called a “prefect” (praefectus).”12 Regardless, this minor mistake doesn’t change the historical core that someone named Christ was executed under Pontius Pilate.13 Thus, the second charge ultimately amounts to nothing.”– Steve K.

via Jesus in Extra-Biblical Sources – Apologetics Canada.

simul iustus et peccator,



“The early pre-Markan burial narrative mentions the empty tomb. This source pre-dates Mark, the earliest gospel. The source has been dated by some scholars to the 40s. For example, the atheist scholar James Crossley dates Mark some time in the 40s. (See the debate below)

The empty tomb story is part of the pre-Markan passion story and is therefore very old. The empty tomb story was probably the end of Mark’s passion source. As Mark is the earliest of our gospels, this source is therefore itself quite old. In fact the commentator R. Pesch contends that it is an incredibly early source. He produces two lines of evidence for this conclusion:

(a) Paul’s account of the Last Supper in 1 Cor. 11:23-5 presupposes the Markan account. Since Paul’s own traditions are themselves very old, the Markan source must be yet older.

(b) The pre-Markan passion story never refers to the high priest by name. It is as when I say “The President is hosting a dinner at the White House” and everyone knows whom I am speaking of because it is the man currently in office. Similarly the pre-Markan passion story refers to the “high priest” as if he were still in power. Since Caiaphas held office from AD 18-37, this means at the latest the pre-Markan source must come from within seven years after Jesus’ death. This source thus goes back to within the first few years of the Jerusalem fellowship and is therefore an ancient and reliable source of historical information.”-Wintery Knight

via What are the arguments for the historicity of the empty tomb?