May 19, 2009

TACITUS pt.2 - THE EVIDENCE for JESUS in CONTEXT


We should keep in mind the evidence for the life of Jesus is actually quite astounding, considering his lack of social standing: “In fact, it is amazing and significant that Jesus shows up at all in the sources we have. Even a seemingly important “middle management” figure like Pontius Pilate, the decade-long governor of Judea, is mentioned by only a single pagan source, the Roman historian Tacitus”. [Bock, Studying the Historical Jesus, 46-48.]

It should be quite clear to any unbiased person that Jesus did exist. Furthermore, we can observe quite a few non-Biblcal corroborations to the Gospels concerning the basic facts about the life of Jesus. As Professor Jakob Van Bruggen so eloquently stated:

“Jesus did exist, and he was killed under Pontius Pilate. The latter fact seems not to have been derived from the Christians themselves, since Tacitus would have been more likely to use the term crucified* if he had taken his information from the Christians’ creed. In addition, his animosity toward the Christians was such that he would not have indiscriminately copied their own claims. Finally, Tacitus was a historian who had access to the state archives. It would not have been difficult for him to consult the reports that Pontius Pilate had sent to Rome. If those reports had given a completely different, nonreligious picture of Jesus, Tacitus would certainly not have failed to use this against the Christians. But the historian who was vehemently opposed to these followers of a new religion accepted the fact that their founder, Christ, was killed by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate and that at that time he had already become the object of superstitious veneration.”


SOURCE: Jakob Van Bruggen, Christ on Earth: The Gospels Narratives as History (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998), 28.

*NOTE: It is interesting that Tacitus says Nero had the Christians nailed to crosses, perhaps in an ironic mockery

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