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Thread: Is Jesus Historical? What Do The Romans Say About Him?

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    Is Jesus Historical? What Do The Romans Say About Him?

    Great summary of our sources. The Jesus Myth was popular over a century ago but it's fringe at this point among academics. Unfortunately, it has some Internet popularity. Enjoy.


    Is Jesus Historical? What Do The Romans Say About Him? - YouTube
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    Thank you. The guy makes good points. My only thought is that "relatively" contemporary isn't quite contemporary. Since Josephus was not yet born when the Jesus story came about, he could only rely on stories passed on to him. Most of the stories of that era were verbal since few people were literate. Unfortunately, we don't know the source of those stories, so we don't know if they were extraneous.

    One thing toward the beginning of the video, he mentions that the Romans were disgusted by the early Christians who believed the sacrament was the actual blood and body of Christ. That wasn't just an "early" belief. It's still an RCC belief today, known as "transubstantiation." That belief has a long history in other, prior religions and beliefs, and it may be associated with the idea that by eating the dead god/man, one is somehow closer to enlightenment.

    It would be nice if we had an actual contemporary extraneous source, writings from someone such as Strabo, Livy, Seneca the Younger, Philo of Alexandria, Pliny the Elder...

    But, we don't. Of course, that doesn't mean Jesus didn't exist, it just means no historian or scribe that lived at the same time Jesus is said to have lived mentioned Him. So many documents are lost to time that it's possible something did exist that no longer does.

    But, the story is a nice one, after all, and it offers people comfort and hope so that's not all bad. The Christmas season is just around the corner, and it's one of my favorite times of the year. If the story brings out a feeling of giving and charity, it's worth something.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FindersKeepers View Post
    Thank you. The guy makes good points. My only thought is that "relatively" contemporary isn't quite contemporary. Since Josephus was not yet born when the Jesus story came about, he could only rely on stories passed on to him. Most of the stories of that era were verbal since few people were literate. Unfortunately, we don't know the source of those stories, so we don't know if they were extraneous.

    One thing toward the beginning of the video, he mentions that the Romans were disgusted by the early Christians who believed the sacrament was the actual blood and body of Christ. That wasn't just an "early" belief. It's still an RCC belief today, known as "transubstantiation." That belief has a long history in other, prior religions and beliefs, and it may be associated with the idea that by eating the dead god/man, one is somehow closer to enlightenment.

    It would be nice if we had an actual contemporary extraneous source, writings from someone such as Strabo, Livy, Seneca the Younger, Philo of Alexandria, Pliny the Elder...

    But, we don't. Of course, that doesn't mean Jesus didn't exist, it just means no historian or scribe that lived at the same time Jesus is said to have lived mentioned Him. So many documents are lost to time that it's possible something did exist that no longer does.

    But, the story is a nice one, after all, and it offers people comfort and hope so that's not all bad. The Christmas season is just around the corner, and it's one of my favorite times of the year. If the story brings out a feeling of giving and charity, it's worth something.
    *It would be nice if we had an actual contemporary extraneous source*

    Unfortunately, no eye witnesses, just Mathew, Mark, Luke, John and the apostle Paul and likely others. The belief during those times was Christ would return any moment so any eye witnesses felt no need to record their experiences for posterity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hanger4 View Post
    *It would be nice if we had an actual contemporary extraneous source*

    Unfortunately, no eye witnesses, just Mathew, Mark, Luke, John and the apostle Paul and likely others. The belief during those times was Christ would return any moment so any eye witnesses felt no need to record their experiences for posterity.

    That's why an extraneous source would be so valuable. The only accounts we currently have are from Christian authors, which put us in a position of circular logic--the Bible is true because the Bible says it's true.


    A contemporary extraneous source need not be an eyewitness--just someone who recorded events that were said to be happening at the time they were happening--someone who was not a Christian author. It does seem odd that since other events were recorded during that era, even potentially innocuous events, by the historians and philosophers I previously named, that none of them saw fit to mention Jesus. The closest, Tacitus and Josephus, were not even born yet when Jesus was alive. They heard the stories from others--secondhand.

    Then, there is also the train of thought that Thomas Jefferson followed--that Jesus was a real person, a leader, but that no supernatural things occurred. The Jefferson Bible, which is Thomas Jefferson's rewriting of the New Testament, leaves out things like turning water into wine, healing, raising the dead, etc. It ends with Jesus' body being placed in the tomb and the rock rolled into place. That's it.

    Again, none of that proves He didn't exist--no one can prove a negative--but it opens the door to other possibilities.
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    Why was Jesus important to the Roman Empire?



    To the Romans, Jesus was a troublemaker who had got his just desserts. To the Christians, however, he was a martyr and it was soon clear that the execution had made Judaea even more unstable.
    The Roman Empire: in the First Century. The Roman Empire ...

    www.pbs.org/empires/romans/empire/jesus.html


    "Now, there is a village in the land of the Jews, thirty-five stadia from Jerusalem, in which Jesus Christ was born, as you can ascertain also from the registers of the taxing made under Cyrenius, your first (Roman) procurator in Judea."


    Concerning the crucifixion itself, Justin wrote, in his First Apology recorded around 150, that the details surrounding the event could be ascertained by an official report written by Pontius Pilate. Pilate was the official overseer or Prefect of the Romans, over Judea, from 26 to 36 A.D.


    Justin, later in his Apology, discusses several of Jesus' miracles and asserts that they, too, were recorded by Pilate in official reports. We can safely assume that if Justin (along with Tertullian, who lived c. 155 to 240 A.D., and others) challenged their readers regarding the written records of the Romans related to Christ that they were not bluffing.


    A Roman historian named Gaius Suetonius Tranquillas, who was the chief secretary of Emperor Hadrian and who had access to the imperial records, mentions Jesus in a section he wrote concerning the reign of Emperor Claudius. He refers to Christ using the variant spelling of "Chrestus."


    It should be noted that most records written by the Romans, of any kind, have long since perished, especially if they were recorded on papyrus, vellum, or other materials that are easily perishable.


    Not only did the records of the Romans fade from existence due to age, some were destroyed in the chaos caused by barbarian invasions starting in the third century and by the military excursions of the Vikings and Magyars in medieval Europe. Even monasteries, which were often the only significant places that housed any handwritten manuscripts, were often torched by pagan barbarians during a raid.


    There exists at least one confirmed written record by the ancient Romans that links the city of Nazareth (the hometown of Jesus) to an official edict. The Nazareth stone, found in the city in 1878 A.D. and dated to about 41 A.D., records Caesar's imperial decision that those in the city should not disturb the graves of the dead and threatens punishment to those who do!....snip~


    What did the Romans write about Jesus? (biblestudy.org)




    While the wealth of Christian writing pointing to Jesus’ existence is accepted by most historians, there is also a long-established record of non-Christian evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was a historical figure who lived 2,000 some years ago.




    The historical record that confirms the existence of Jesus includes writing from both Roman and Jewish historians, rabbinical literature, and anti-Christian commentators who lived during Christianity’s earliest days:



    2. Tacitus (A.D. 56-120)
    Scholars point to the Roman historian Tacitus for confirmation that the crucifixion of Jesus actually took place. Writing in his Annals, he records the death of Jesus at the hands of Pontius Pilate:



    3. Pliny the Younger (A.D. 62-11)
    The writings of a Roman governor in Asia Minor, Pliny the Younger, establish that early Christians worshiped Jesus as a god. Here he is, summing up what he learned after interrogating Christians:



    5. Satirist Lucian, born (c. AD 125 – 180)
    The pagan author Lucian of Samosata, while ridiculing Christians, accepted that Jesus actually existed:



    6. Philosopher Celsus (2nd century)
    The 2nd-century Greek philosopher Celsus, while arguing against Christianity, also accepted that Jesus existed. Here he writes that Jesus performed his miracles through sorcery:


    Here’s the historical evidence from non-Christian sources that Jesus lived and died (aleteia.org)





    Last edited by MMC; 10-02-2021 at 09:18 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister D View Post
    Great summary of our sources. The Jesus Myth was popular over a century ago but it's fringe at this point among academics. Unfortunately, it has some Internet popularity. Enjoy.


    Is Jesus Historical? What Do The Romans Say About Him? - YouTube

    Saw this video a few weeks ago and thought to post it. I think he does a good job of summarizing the case. But then I've never had trouble accepting the historicity of Jesus.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FindersKeepers View Post
    Thank you. The guy makes good points. My only thought is that "relatively" contemporary isn't quite contemporary. Since Josephus was not yet born when the Jesus story came about, he could only rely on stories passed on to him. Most of the stories of that era were verbal since few people were literate. Unfortunately, we don't know the source of those stories, so we don't know if they were extraneous.

    One thing toward the beginning of the video, he mentions that the Romans were disgusted by the early Christians who believed the sacrament was the actual blood and body of Christ. That wasn't just an "early" belief. It's still an RCC belief today, known as "transubstantiation." That belief has a long history in other, prior religions and beliefs, and it may be associated with the idea that by eating the dead god/man, one is somehow closer to enlightenment.

    It would be nice if we had an actual contemporary extraneous source, writings from someone such as Strabo, Livy, Seneca the Younger, Philo of Alexandria, Pliny the Elder...

    But, we don't. Of course, that doesn't mean Jesus didn't exist, it just means no historian or scribe that lived at the same time Jesus is said to have lived mentioned Him. So many documents are lost to time that it's possible something did exist that no longer does.

    But, the story is a nice one, after all, and it offers people comfort and hope so that's not all bad. The Christmas season is just around the corner, and it's one of my favorite times of the year. If the story brings out a feeling of giving and charity, it's worth something.
    I think you're conflating two different things. The truth of the "Jesus story", as you call it, isn't the topic of the video. We're not talking about whether the sayings, miracles etc. recorded in the Gospels really happened. That's an important distinction we need make. That said, much if not most of our knowledge of ancient personages does not come from strictly contemporary sources and why would anyone be chronicling the affairs of an obscure Galilean preacher on the frontier of the Roman Empire? Why would a Strabo, Livy, Seneca the Younger, Philo of Alexandria or Pliny the Elder be writing about Jesus? He was a nobody outside a small geographical area until his movement grew and became large enough to make some kind of impression outside Judea and on the Roman state. And even then it was only a small one. Yes, it would be nice to have such a contemporary source (I don't know what you mean by extraneous in this context) but I fail to understand why it's important. It's simply more plausible, from a strictly historical perspective, that there was an apocalyptic preacher named Jesus of Nazareth who lived in Judea during the reign of Tiberius than it is to believe he's a mythical figure. Again, what he did and who he really was isn't the question.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris View Post
    Saw this video a few weeks ago and thought to post it. I think he does a good job of summarizing the case. But then I've never had trouble accepting the historicity of Jesus.
    I honestly don't understand why anyone would. It's one thing to believe the Gospels accounts have strong mythological elements. It's quite another to deny the historicity of the man they are based on.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister D View Post
    I honestly don't understand why anyone would. It's one thing to believe the Gospels accounts have strong mythological elements. It's quite another to deny the historicity of the man they are based on.
    I have no doubt a man named Jesus lived about the time it is said Jesus lived.

    Messiahs were a dime a dozen and many were executed by the Romans.

    I read the Christian Bible in at least three different versions because I believed it was important to understand the Bible if I wanted to understand western civilization. From that perspective it does not matter if Jesus was a son of god.

    I do wonder why people cling to the KJV as it is outdated and has been for many decades. It would help a great deal to have better, current translations used by the bulk of the people.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MisterVeritis View Post
    I have no doubt a man named Jesus lived about the time it is said Jesus lived.

    Messiahs were a dime a dozen and many were executed by the Romans.

    I read the Christian Bible in at least three different versions because I believed it was important to understand the Bible if I wanted to understand western civilization. From that perspective it does not matter if Jesus was a son of god.

    I do wonder why people cling to the KJV as it is outdated and has been for many decades. It would help a great deal to have better, current translations used by the bulk of the people.
    The NIV.
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