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This early description of the first Christians documents several facts: the first Christians believed Jesus was GOD, the first Christians upheld a high moral code, and these early followers met regularly to worship Jesus. This expulsion took place in 49AD, and in another work, Suetonius wrote about the fire which destroyed Rome in 64 A.

Weighing up the evidence for the Historical Jesus - The University of Sydney

Nero blamed the Christians for this fire and he punished Christians severely as a result:. There is much we can learn from Suetonius as it is related to the life of early Christians. From this account, we know Jesus had an immediate impact on His followers: They were committed to their belief Jesus was God and withstood the torment and punishment of the Roman Empire. Jesus had a curious and immediate impact on His followers, empowering them to die courageously for what they knew to be true.

Lucian of Samosata: A. Lucian was a Greek satirist who spoke sarcastically of Christ and Christians, but in the process, he did affirm they were real people and never referred to them as fictional characters:. You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.

All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property. From this account we can add to our description of Jesus: He taught about repentance and about the family of God. Celsus AD This is the last hostile, non-Christian account we will examine although there are many other later accounts in history. Celsus was quite antagonistic to the claims of the Gospels, but in his criticism he unknowingly affirmed and reinforced the Biblical authors and their content.

His writing is extensive and he alludes to 80 different Biblical quotes, confirming their early appearance in history. In addition, he admits the miracles of Jesus were generally believed in the early 2nd century:. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard. Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain magical powers which Egyptians pride themselves on possessing.

He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god.

What Did Jesus Look Like?

Celsus admits Jesus was reportedly born of a virgin, but then argues this could supernatural account could not be possible and offers the idea Jesus was the illegitimate son of a man named Panthera an idea borrowed from Jews who opposed Jesus at the time. But in writing this account, Celsus does confirm several important claims: Jesus had an earthly father who was a carpenter, possessed unusual magical powers and claimed to be God. Hostile Non-Biblical Jewish Accounts In addition to classical pagan sources chronicling the life of Jesus and His followers, there are also a number of ancient hostile Jewish sources describing Jesus.

These are written by Jewish theologians, historians and leaders who were definitely not sympathetic to the Christian cause. Their writings are often very harsh, critical and even demeaning to Jesus. But there is still much these writings confirm:. Josephus was born just four years after the crucifixion. He was a consultant for Jewish rabbis at an early age, became a Galilean military commander by the age of sixteen, and he was an eyewitness to much of what he recorded in the first century A. Under the rule of Roman emperor Vespasian, Josephus was allowed to write a history of the Jews.

This history includes three passages about Christians, one in which he describes the death of John the Baptist, one in which he mentions the execution of James and describes him as the brother of Jesus the Christ , and a final passage which describes Jesus as a wise man and the messiah.

There is much legitimate controversy about the writing of Josephus, because the first discoveries of his writings are late enough to have been re-written by Christians who were accused of making additions to the text. For he was a worker of amazing deeds and was a teacher of people who gladly accept the truth.

He won over both many Jews and many Greeks. Pilate, when he heard him accused by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, but those who had first loved him did not cease doing so. From this text, we can conclude: Jesus lived in Palestine, was a wise man and a teacher, worked amazing deeds, was accused by the Jews, crucified under Pilate and had followers called Christians.

Did Jesus Exist? Searching for Evidence Beyond the Bible

Sanhedrin 43a; cf. Shabbat Shabbat b. Sanhedrin a; cf. Berakhot 17b. They brought Matthai to to trial. They brought Nakai. Sanhedrin 43a; the passage continues in a similar way for Nezer, Buni and Todah. Let anyone who knows anything in his favor come forward and plead for him. Sanhedrin 43a. From just these passages mentioning Jesus by name, we can conclude the following: Jesus had magical powers, led the Jews away from their beliefs, had disciples who were martyred for their faith one of whom was named Matthai , and was executed on the day before the Passover.

It is completely anti-Christian, to be sure. The Toledot Yeshu contains a determined effort to explain away the miracles of Jesus and to deny the virgin birth. In some places, the text is quite vicious, but it does confirm many elements of the New Testament writings.


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He lived at Bethlehem, in Judah. Near his house dwelt a widow and her lovely and chaste daughter named Miriam. Miriam was betrothed to Yohanan, of the royal house of David, a man learned in the Torah and God-fearing. At the close of a certain Sabbath, Joseph Pandera, attractive and like a warrior in appearance, having gazed lustfully upon Miriam, knocked upon the door of her room and betrayed her by pretending that he was her betrothed husband, Yohanan.


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  • Even so, she was amazed at this improper conduct and submitted only against her will. Thereafter, when Yohanan came to her, Miriam expressed astonishment at behavior so foreign to his character. It was thus that they both came to know the crime of Joseph Pandera and the terrible mistake on the part of Miriam… Miriam gave birth to a son and named him Yehoshua, after her brother. On the eighth day he was circumcised.

    When he was old enough the lad was taken by Miriam to the house of study to be instructed in the Jewish tradition. One day Yeshu walked in front of the Sages with his head uncovered, showing shameful disrespect. At this, the discussion arose as to whether this behavior did not truly indicate that Yeshu was an illegitimate child and the son of a niddah. Moreover, the story tells that while the rabbis were discussing the Tractate Nezikin, he gave his own impudent interpretation of the law and in an ensuing debate he held that Moses could not be the greatest of the prophets if he had to receive counsel from Jethro.

    This led to further inquiry as to the antecedents of Yeshu, and it was discovered through Rabban Shimeon ben Shetah that he was the illegitimate son of Joseph Pandera. Miriam admitted it. After this became known, it was necessary for Yeshu to flee to Upper Galilee. After King Jannaeus, his wife Helene ruled over all Israel. Whoever learned the secret of the Name and its use would be able to do whatever he wished.

    Therefore, the Sages took measures so that no one should gain this knowledge. Lions of brass were bound to two iron pillars at the gate of the place of burnt offerings. Should anyone enter and learn the Name, when he left the lions would roar at him and immediately the valuable secret would be forgotten. Yeshu came and learned the letters of the Name; he wrote them upon the parchment which he placed in an open cut on his thigh and then drew the flesh over the parchment.

    As he left, the lions roared and he forgot the secret. But when he came to his house he reopened the cut in his flesh with a knife an lifted out the writing. Then he remembered and obtained the use of the letters.

    The Case For Christ

    He gathered about himself three hundred and ten young men of Israel and accused those who spoke ill of his birth of being people who desired greatness and power for themselves. They therefore, brought to him a lame man, who had never walked. Yeshu spoke over the man the letters of the Ineffable Name, and the leper was healed. Thereupon, they worshipped him as the Messiah, Son of the Highest.

    When word of these happenings came to Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin decided to bring about the capture of Yeshu. They sent messengers, Annanui and Ahaziah, who, pretending to be his disciples, said that they brought him an invitation from the leaders of Jerusalem to visit them. Yeshu consented on condition the members of the Sanhedrin receive him as a lord.

    Evidence of Jesus

    He started out toward Jerusalem and, arriving at Knob, acquired an ass on which he rode into Jerusalem, as a fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah. Yeshu went to Upper Galilee. Therefore she sent Annanui and Ahaziah to fetch him.