The Historicity of Jesus: Ancient Pagan Sources

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my previous post, I argued for the historicity of Jesus by examining the Jewish historian Josephus’ writings. In this post, I will look at pagan Greco-Roman authors as sources for the historical Jesus, drawing again from Robert E. Van Voorst, Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), pp. 19-74. Van Voorst lists seven pagan – i.e. non-Christian and non-Jewish – sources.

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Josephus on Jesus: Evidence for Jesus’ Existence?

Antonio Ciseri's depiction of Pontius Pilate p...
Antonio Ciseri's depiction of Pontius Pilate presenting a scourged Christ to the people Ecce homo! (Behold the man!). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As Christians celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus during Good Friday and Easter, I want to briefly deal with the claims of skeptics that Jesus never existed as a real person and was a mythical fiction by the early Christians. Of course, skeptics will not accept the New Testament documents as reliable witnesses to the historicity of Jesus. Fine, I can understand their logic that the New Testament documents are biased. Thankfully, there are non-Christian ancient documents that mentioned Jesus that we can turn to. There are, at least, seven ancient Classical or Greco-Roman authors who mentioned Jesus that scholars have attested as authentic. And there are various ancient Jewish writings as well, the most famous being the Jewish historian Flavious Josephus. Obviously I don’t have space to look at all of these documents in detail with you. For this blog post, I will look at Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities.

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