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Josephus

Born to priestly family in A.D. 37. Commanded Jewish troops in Galilee during the rebellion. Surrendered, and earned the favor of Emperor Vespasian. Wrote 20 books of Antiquities of the Jews.

His works refer to John the Baptist (killed by Herod) and to James, the brother of Jesus (condemned to death by stoning by the Sanhedrin).

He referred to Jesus in his Antiquities 18:63. The standard text of Josephus reads as follows:

“About this time lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man.  For he was the achiever of extraordinary deeds and was a teacher of those who accept the truth gladly.  He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks.  He was the Messiah.  When he was indicted by the principal men among us and Pilate condemned him to be crucified, those who had come to love him originally did not cease to do so; for he appeared to them on the third day restored to life, as the prophets of the Deity had foretold these and countless other marvelous things about him, and the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day.”  (Josephus—The Essential Works, P. L. Maier ed./trans.).

Many suspect that the passage in a text above wasn’t written by that was not written by Josephus. Josephus was said to not believe that Jesus was the Messiah or affirmed his resurrection.  In 1972, however, Professor Schlomo Pines of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem announced his discovery of a different manuscript tradition of Josephus’s writings in the tenth-century Melkite historian Agapius, which reads as follows:

“At this time there was a wise man called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous.  Many people among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples.  Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die.  But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship.  They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive.  Accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have reported wonders.  And the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day.”

Here, clearly, we see that a Jew could have written this without conversion to Christianity.

Thallus

Thallus—wrote a history of Greece and Asia Minor in A.D. 52. Julius Africanus (221 AD), commenting on Thallus, said:

“Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away the darkness [during the crucifixion] as an eclipse of the sun—unreasonably, as it seems to me [since the Passover took place during a full moon.]”

Pontius Pilate

Official Roman records of the census, and Pontius Pilate’s official report to the Emperor. Justin Martyr wrote his “Defense of Christianity” to Emperor Antonius Pius, referred him to Pilate’s report, preserved in the archives. Tertullian, writing to Roman officials, writes with confidence that records of the Luke 1 census can still be found.

Tacitus

Tacitus—Greatest Roman historian, born c. 52-56 AD, wrote a history of the reign of Nero in 110 A.D.

“…Christus, from whom they got their name, had been executed by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate when Tiberias was emperor; and the pernicious superstition was checked for a short time only to break out afresh, not only in Judea, the home of the plague, but in Rome itself, .. ” (Annals 15:44)

Suetonius—AD. 120.

In his Life of Claudius:

“As the Jews were making disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome.”

Pliny the Younger

Governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor, wrote the emperor in A.D. 112 about the sect of Christians, who were in….

“the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day, before it was light, when they sang an anthem to Christ as God.”

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