Hot! Quick Fact: “Non-Christian Sources For Jesus”


Although it might sound strange, some critics have made the bold claim that Jesus never even existed. They claim that because the New Testament documents are biased and therefore cannot be trusted, and that since there are also no non-Christian sources which mention him, that we cannot reliably conclude that Jesus actually existed. However, aside from whether or not the New Testament documents are trustworthy, did you know that there are actually several non-Christian sources which mention Jesus around the same time period as the New Testament?

Facts

As mentioned above, there are actually several non-Christian (some could even be considered anti-Christian) sources that mention Jesus. From ancient historians (Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus, Thallus), to government officials (Pliny the Younger, Emperor Trajan, Hadrian), to Jewish sources (Talmud, Toledoth Jesu), gentile Sources (Lucian and Mara Bar-Serapion), gnostic sources (The Gospel of Truth, The Apocryphon of John, The Gospel of Thomas, The Treatise on Resurrection), and even some lost sources (The Acts of Pontius Pilate and Phlegon), the evidence for Jesus outside of the New Testament is far from nonextant.

Furthermore, of the numerous non-Christian sources for Jesus, ten of them that mention him were written within 150 years of his life (note that only nine sources exist which mention Tiberius Caesar, the Roman Emperor at the time of Jesus, within that same time period). But these sources do not merely serve to confirm his existence, but they also happen to give us valuable insights on who Jesus was, what type of life he led, etc. In fact, using only the ten known non-Christian sources mentioned above, all of the following can be established about Jesus (note that all are consistent with the New Testament documents):

1. He lived during time of Tiberius Caesar.
2. He lived a virtuous life.
3. He was a wonder-worker.
4. He had a brother named James.
5. He was acclaimed to be the Messiah.
6. He was crucified under Pontius Pilate.
7. He was crucified on the eve of the Jewish Passover.
8. Darkness and an earthquake occurred when he died.
9. His disciples believed he rose from the dead.
10. His disciples were willing to die for their belief.
11. Christianity spread rapidly as far as Rome.
12. His disciples denied the Roman gods and worshiped Jesus as God.

Conclusion

So, regardless of whether or not the New Testament can be trusted, there are several non-Christian sources which confirm the existence of Jesus. As such, the theory that Jesus never existed is plainly unreasonable. After all, how could sources which are entirely non-Christian in nature just happen to coincide with the New Testament records on all of these critical points if the ultimate focal point of those records never even existed?


1 Geisler, N. L., & Turek, F. (2004). I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (220–223). Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.

2 Geisler, N. L. (1999). Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Baker reference library (381–385). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.

4 Comments

  1. While I personally agree that it is somewhat unreasonable to question the historicity of Jesus’ existence, I think it goes a bit far to say that the appearance of references to Jesus in extra-Christian records “confirm the existence of Jesus.” Many of these documents would have been a recitation of what Christians at the time of the writing were saying about Christ, not sources independently verifying what the Christians were saying.

    Again, this is not to suggest that there isn’t reasonable evidence in extra-Christian literature to conclude that the existence of the person of Jesus was an historical fact. Rather, it is simply a reminder that we have to be very careful about how we apply modern assumptions of “proof” and “verification” to ancient literary sources and events.

  2. thanx a ton for this information……..i believe Jesus was,is and vil b there forever,but this information is goin to help me while preaching to my non christian friends…Praise the lord.

  3. It is true it is just the writing that will prove to be the proof of the existence of Jesus. There is no other way to have it referred to some other books. Now, that doesn’t mean the existence is questionable but it is just that just the lack the evidence other than writings has led to make some think this way. It is just the reason that they require, while for th staunch believers it is of no matter for their faith in the Almighty.

  4. Indeed. To be more specific, Tacitus mention Christ in (Annals 15:44). Also Josephus in (Antiquities of Jews book 18 chapter 3 number 3) he mention several events as quote in this article.

    Keep it up.

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