Import jQuery

7 things we know about Yeshua from non-Biblical sources

Intellectually dishonest atheists and anti-missionaries will claim there is no evidence outside of the New Testament for the historical Jesus.

The reality is, multiple witnesses attest to the person of Jesus in Israel in the 1st century, with followers from Israel and eventually the nations worshiping him as both Messiah and God.

The Great Cloud of Witnesses blog has assembled a nice list of early evidence of Messiah and his followers outside the New Testament, supplemented here with quotations.

  1. Yeshua was executed in Judea during the period when Tiberius was emperor (A.D. 14-37) and Pontius Pilate was governor (A.D. 26-36).  Tacitus [Annals 15.44.2-5]
    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. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man's cruelty, that they were being destroyed.
  2. The movement spread from Israel to the nations. Tacitus [Ibid.]
  3. His followers worshipped him and sang hymns to him “as to a god.” Pliny [Letters from Bithynia, c. A.D. 110]
    They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of food--but ordinary and innocent food.
  4. He was called “the Messiah.” Josephus [Antiquities 20.197-203—an undisputed passage]
    Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned.
  5. In Roman lingua franca, Yeshua’s followers were called “Christians.” Tacitus, Pliny [see above]
  6. They were numerous in Bithynia and Rome. Tacitus, Pliny [see above]
  7. His brother was James. Josephus [see above]

Problematic for the atheist and anti-missionary, these historical, often secular accounts of Jesus align with the New Testament’s record.

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