Information about the life of Jesus …

Examination of the following ten historical sources (outside the Bible) reveals information about the life of Jesus that conforms to, and even corroborates, the four New Testament Gospel accounts and also the book of Acts.

  • Tacitus (ca. AD 55-120): Roman historian, Annals
  • Suetonius (ca. AD 120): Roman historian, Life of Claudius
  • Josephus (AD 37-97): Jewish historian, Antiquities
  • Pliny the Younger (AD 112): Roman governor, Epistles X
  • Jewish Talmud (commentary on Jewish law, completed AD 500)
  • Toledoth Jesu (reflects early Jewish thought, completed fifth century AD)
  • Lucian (second century AD): Greek satirist
  • Thallus (ca. AD 52): Samaritan-born historian, Histories
  • Mara Bar-Serapion (ca. AD 73): Letter
  • Phlegon (ca. AD 80): historian, chronicles (mentioned by Origen)

These ancient sources draw the following portrait of Jesus and of early Christians:

  • He was a provocative teacher, a wise and virtuous man from the region of Judea.
  • He reportedly performed miracles and made prophetic claims.
  • The Jewish leaders condemned him for acts of sorcery and apostasy.
  • He was crucified by the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate at the time of the Jewish Passover, and during the reign of the Emperor Tiberius.
  • Jesus’ followers, called Christians, reported that he had risen from the dead.
  • The Christian faith had spread to Rome where Christians were charged with crimes and met horrific persecution.
  • First-century Christians worshiped Jesus Christ as God and celebrated the Eucharist in their services.
  • While at times the Romans ridiculed the followers of Christ as morally weak, these disciples were often known for their courage and virtue.

Brief and, at times, cryptic statements about Jesus made by ancient non-Christian authors do not prove the claims of the gospel. Yet nothing in them conflicts with what’s recorded about Jesus in the Gospels. And these extrabiblical, historical sources are consistent with and confirm the historicity of the gospel message.

Kenneth Richard Samples, from Without a Doubt, kindle location 992

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