What Does History Say About Jesus?




Does history prove that Jesus actually existed?

There are 3 categories of ancient sources that talk about Jesus.

  1. Opposition Sources produced documents that show them to be enemies of Jesus or the Christian religion. 

  1. Neutral Sources mention Jesus for documentation purposes but are not for or against him. 

  1. Affiliated Sources produced documents that represent allegiance to Jesus or Christianity. 

Here are a few Opposition sources from ancient history and some of the things they claimed. 

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OPPOSITION SOURCES

Tacitus in Annals. 
Jesus existed, was called Christ, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate.

Galen in various writings. 
Christ existed, 
was a teacher like Moses, his followers, “drew their faith from parables.” 

Celsus in True Discourse. 
Jesus existed, was the illegitimate child of adultery, and had miraculous powers that he learned from Egyptian magicians. 

Rabbinic Writers  in the Talmud. 
Jesus existed, had disciples, was from Nazareth, and was executed publicly. 

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Here are a few Neutral sources from ancient history and some of the things they claimed.



NEUTRAL SOURCES

Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews 
Jesus existed 
had a brother named James 

Suetonius in Lives of the Twelve Caesars 
Jesus existed 
was called Christ 
and had Jewish followers in Rome

Mara Bar Serapion in a letter to his son 
Jesus existed 
was called a wise king 
was executed unjustly

Phlegon in Chronicles 
Jesus existed 
had disciples 
predicted the future


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Here are a few affiliated sources from ancient history and some of the things they claimed. 



AFFILIATED SOURCES

Paul in 13 biblical writings 
Jesus existed
appeared to him
raised from the dead

John in 5 biblical writings  
Jesus existed 
did miracles 
raised from the dead

Peter in 3 biblical writings
Jesus existed
taught about the kingdom of God
and raised from the dead.

Luke in 2 biblical writings
Jesus existed 
had a large following
and raised from the dead

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Although there are many more, these 13 ancient sources represent a cross section of what was believed about Jesus by a range of writers during his own century and shortly after. 

Placing all of these claims on a diagram will help to show the pattern. 

They didn’t agree on much but they did agree on at least one thing, that 

All of the ancient historical sources that reference Jesus whether affiliated, neutral, or opposition agree on this one fact!


Jesus existed. 


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