Why I Believe the Bible #14 (Extra-Biblical Evidence for the Bible)
In addition to the evidence of Jesus prophesied in the Old Testament and presented in the New Testament, there are a number of references to Jesus in other ancient literature. This is made all the more remarkable by the fact that the amount of literature from the time period following Jesus’ life. For example, it is said that all the writing of the world between 50 A.D. and 60 A.D. which are still in existence would fit on a bookshelf between bookends one foot apart. Furthermore, Jesus’ life was not spectacular that you would expect other people to write about him. He lived in a small town and ministered for only three years mostly in rural regions. Despite all this, there are ample examples of people writing about Jesus and Christianity following his death.
The following are a few examples:
- Pliny the younger wrote to Emperor Trajan around 112 A.D. to ask about the proper test for Christians prior to their execution. Pliny was the Roman governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor. Pliny mentions the habit of Christians including on a certain day and singing hymns to Christ.
- Julius Africanus referred to to the writing of Thallus around A.D. 52 which mention the darkness the fell over Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ death.
- Josephus was a Jewish historian working for the Roman Empire in the first century. He mentioned Jesus a number of times.
- Cornelius Tacitus, who lived from A.D. 64 to 116 referred to followers of Christus and their believe in the resurrection as “pernicious superstition.”
- Lucian of Samosata, around A.D. 170, was a Greek scientist who wrote about Christians, Christ, the Crucifixion and other Martyrs. He referred to the “novel beliefs” of Christians.
- The Jewish Talmud compiled during the late first and second centuries makes mention of Jesus hanging on the cross, Jesus and the names of 5 disciples, healings performed in the name of Jesus and scoffs at the claims of a virgin birth.
- Cornelius Tacitus was a Roman historian who mentions Christ in his Annals written around A.D. 110.
- Suetonius, who was the Chief Secretary to Emperor Hadrian, indentified Christ and referred to the “mischievous and novel superstition” of the resurrection.
- The writing of Phlegan around A.D. 140 were referred to by Julius Africanus and Origen. In those writings, Phlegan referred to the earthquake and eclipse at the time of Jesus’ death as well as Jesus’ prophecies.
- Mara Baar-Serapian was a Syrian philosopher around A.D. 70 who compared Jesus to Socrates and Plato.
These extra-biblical writings dispel any notion that Jesus was a myth and confirm several of the Biblical claims about Jesus.