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Is There Any Historical Proof for the Existence of Jesus?

I'm an author of a book of essays. My poems, essays, and short fiction have appeared in magazines and anthologies.

Historians of the 1st and 2nd century apparently never heard of Jesus Christ.

Historians of the 1st and 2nd century apparently never heard of Jesus Christ.

1st and 2nd Century Historical Accounts of the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ

In an earlier article, Did Jesus Exist or Is It All a Myth, I wrote about how it is very odd that we have no eyewitness accounts of Jesus, his life, and his teachings. No one wrote a thing about him during his supposed lifetime. We don’t even have any accounts of Jesus from someone who knew someone who knew Jesus.

Christian apologists often cite the Epistles of Paul or the historians of the 1st and 2nd century CE Jospehus, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, and Suetonius as proof that the man we have come to know as Jesus Christ actually existed. Here is why their proof is no proof at all.

How Are Ancient Historical Documents Authenticated?

Scholars often refer to the known dates of historical events to determine when a document was written. If the author mentioned who was ruler at the time of his writing, or if he mentions an historical event for which the date is known, the reference can be used to discern the date of the document.

Linguistics also comes into play. The use of certain language and words can help pin down when a document was written.

Authorship can be determined by comparing the writing style of a particular document from a known writer with the writing style of newly found document ascribed to the same author. If they don’t match, the new document is probably a forgery.

Documents are also dated by archeologists based upon where they were found and what was found near them. Carbon dating is also used.

A detail of a painting of St. Paul by Rembrandt.

A detail of a painting of St. Paul by Rembrandt.

Do the Epistles of Paul (4 BCE-64 CE) Prove the Existence of Jesus Christ?

A Jew, Saul of Tarsus, later known as St. Paul, is considered the founder of Christianity. He changed it from a Jewish sect to a separate religion. He took on the mission of converting Gentiles to Christianity. He is not a historian, but his Epistiles contain the earliest mentions of Jesus Christ.

According to the story that Paul himself tells in the Epistles, he was a Pharisee (a Jewish sect of the time) whose job was to persecute the new Jewish sect of Christians who were becoming a threat to the authorities among the Jews and the Romans. So Paul knew about the early Christians, but that does not mean that he knew anything about the actual man known as Jesus Christ. He himself was not an eyewitness and he did not base his writings on anything told to him by eyewitnesses.

Paul reported that around 37CE, he had a revelation from God on the road to Damascus. According to his writings, he saw a blinding light, fell to the ground unconscious, heard voices, and became temporarily blinded. During this episode, Jesus appeared to him and spoke to him.

Some say his description is consistent with an epileptic seizure, (Epilepsy, at that time, was thought to indicate possession by a demon—perhaps Paul called his seizure a revelation to avoid the stigma of epilepsy.) Others suggest that Paul had a psychotic episode. It is also possible that Paul was affected by a fireball or meteor passing through the sky which accounts for the blinding light, being knocked to the ground, and temporary blindness.

The first of Paul’s Epistles was written fourteen years later around 52CE. (We have no earlier writings from him and know nothing about what he did for those 14 years.) Paul said that he met Peter and James, the brother of Jesus. However, he reports that he made no attempt to meet and talk with them or any of the other disciples. Just the opposite—there appears to have been a rift between Paul and the people who could have known Jesus. I think Paul and the early Christians had very different opinions about who Jesus was and what he taught.

Paul is quite insistent that he bases his ideas about Christ on his revelation and not upon any eyewitness account told to him.

For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

— Galatians 1:12

The early Christians believed that Christ was the Jewish Messiah and that he was sent to restore the Jews to power. He was put to death, but then resurrected, and he would return soon to complete his mission of freeing the Jews from Roman rule.

Paul mentions only Christ’s death, resurrection, and some post-death appearances. He does not mention any miracles, parables, or teachings of Jesus. There is nothing about healing the sick, driving out evil spirits, or raising the dead. He does not mention the virgin birth, the Sermon on the Mount, or the loaves and fishes that fed 5000 people. He doesn’t tell us anything that Jesus did during his lifetime; not even his final words on the cross. He doesn’t even give us historical references—no mention of Caesar Augustus, King Herod, or even Pontius Pilate.

So what exactly does Paul tell us? He tells us that there was a Jewish sect who thought that a person they called Jesus Christ was the promised Jewish Messiah and that this man died and was resurrected as was prophesized and that he, Paul, had a vision of this Christ. There is not much there that is of use to historians. Visions are not history.

Note: Only about half of the writings considered to be from Paul are now accepted by the majority of Biblical scholars as having actually been written by him. The others are considered forgeries.

Does the Jewish Historian Josephus (37-100 CE) Prove the Existence of Jesus?

The extant writings of the first century Romano-Jewish historian Flavius Josephus included two references to Jesus. The mentions occur in his work Antiquities of the Jews written around 93–94 CE, about 60 years after the date of Jesus’ death and about 50 years after Paul began to write about Jesus. There are three sentences referencing Jesus (Book 18, Chapter 3, Paragraph 3).This passage known as theTestimonium Flavianum. It is most likely a forgery—even most Christian scholars do not believe it to be true. It is believed to have been inserted into the text during the fourth century by a Catholic Church historian named Eusebius

Its placement interrupts the narrative that Josephus is writing. It doesn’t relate to the paragraph before or after, but those two paragraphs relate to each other.

Its brevity argues against it authenticity. Josephus wrote 20 volumes and covered his subjects, even the accounts of minor events, in great detail. Yet, all he has to say about Jesus Christ can be contained in three sentences? It strains credulity.

Older manuscripts of Josephus’ work do not contain this mention of Jesus and earlier church historians made no reference to this passage.

There is also a mention of “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James.” (Book 20, Chapter 9, paragraph 1) and a reference to John the Baptist (Book 18, Chapter 5, Paragraph 2).

  • Josephus tells us that James was stoned to death on the order of the High Priest Ananus. The mention of Jesus probably refers to the Jesus mentioned later in the same passage, "Jesus son of Damneus." The "who was called Christ" part was inserted into the text by some scribe. Prior to this insertion, this passage was never thought to be about Jesus Christ.
  • The story Josephus tells about John the Baptist may be authentic but it does not correspond to the story told in the Gospels. In Matthew 14:1-12, John the Baptist is beheaded on the order of King Herod at the request of a dancing girl who had been offered whatever she might ask for because her dancing had so pleased him; in Josephus, there is no dancing girl. Both accounts mentioned that Herod feared John the Baptist as a threat to his rule because John the Baptist was so popular with the people. (One of these two stories, if not both, must be wrong.) John the Baptist is estimated to have died in 28-29 CE.)

Some Christian apologists say that the very fact that Josephus and the Bible stories do not match is proof that the passages were written by Josephus. (A cleric fabricating text would have been more careful to make them match.) In any event, Josephus is not an eye-witness, nor does he have an eye witness report; if he actually wrote the passage he is telling the stories that he heard.

It should also be noted that there are many references to men with the name of Jesus in Josephus’ work—both Jesus and James were very common names. There is nothing else in the text to indicate that he is talking about the brother of Jesus Christ.

A bust of the historian Flavius Josephus.

A bust of the historian Flavius Josephus.

Does the Roman Historian Pliny the Younger (62-113 CE) Prove the Existence of Jesus?

There is a short passage in the works of the Roman historian, Pliny the Younger, sometimes cited as evidence for the existence of Jesus. In 110 CE, Pliny, who was proconsul of Bithynia, a province in Asia Minor, wrote a letter to the Emperor Trajan concerning a group of mystics, “Christiani,” who were causing trouble and would not renounce “Christos” as their god or bow down to the image of the Emperor.

The “Christiani” was described as a group worshiping Serapis –a Graeco-Egyptian god introduced during the 3rd century BCE on the orders of Ptolemy I of Egypt as a means to unify the Greeks and Egyptians in his realm. If so, “Christos” may have been the god Serapis, and not a man who had been crucified in Judea. The god Serapis—was called not only Christos but also "Chrestos," centuries before the purported birth of Jesus.

“Christ” is a tile meaning “Lord”; there is nothing in the letter to indicate that “Christos” refers to the man we today call Jesus of Nazareth.

But we have even another reason to doubt the authenticity of this letter—it is very similar to a letter allegedly written by Tiberianus, Governor of Syria, to Trajan, which has been exposed as a forgery. Pliny's letter is not quoted by any early Churchman—it is quite likely a 5th century forgery.

The only argument in favor of it being genuine is the same as for Josephus—how could the Church be so bad at forgery?

A detail of a sculpture of Pliny the Younger.

A detail of a sculpture of Pliny the Younger.

Does the Roman Politician and Historian Tacitus (C. 56-120 CE) Prove the Existence of Jesus Christ?

Tacitus wrote in his history, Annals, (written around 107 CE,) that the Roman Emperor Nero (37-68 CE) blamed the burning of Rome during his reign on "those people who were abhorred for their crimes and commonly called Christians." The passage in Annals (Book 15 Chapter 44.) states that these fire-setting agitators were followers of a certain "Christus" or “Christos,” who, in the reign of Tiberius, "was put to death as a criminal by the procurator Pontius Pilate.” The passage ends, “Those who confessed to being Christians were at once arrested, but on their testimony a great crowd of people were convicted, not so much on the charge of arson, but of hatred of the entire human race.”

There are many reasons to believe that this passage was not written by Tacitus. It was probably done in the fifth century by a churchman and known forger, Sulpicius Severus (363 CE to 425 CE). This text is present almost word-for-word in the Chronicle of Sulpicius Severus, mixed in with obviously false stories. Severus could not have obtained his material from Tacitus because because neither Christian apologists nor pagan historians prior to, or contemporary with, Severus mention this passage. It may have later been inserted into Tacitus by other copyists.

There are many other reasons to doubt the authenticity of this passage.

  • There is no other mention of Christians in Tacitus’s voluminous writings. In fact, the word “Christians” was not in use in Rome during the time of Nero. The sect was called “the Nazarenes” or other names. They were not considered to be a group separate from the Jews.
  • There is no other evidence that Nero, who ruled from 54 CE to 68 CE, persecuted Christians. Tacitus never mentions this persecution in his other writings.
  • Pontius Pilate was a prefect, and not a procurator, and Tacitus would surely have known that. (However, some say Pilate held both titles or that procurator was the term used in the time of Tacitus and it meant the same thing as prefect..)
  • The passage refers to vast multitudes being convicted. At that time there were not vast multitudes of Christians in Judea.
  • Some linguistic scholars say that this passage is not written in the style of Tacitus. (However, the passage is too short for a definitive analysis.)

Moreover, even if this was written by Tacitus, it still proves nothing about the existence of Jesus Christ. Tacitus mentions "Christos" tangentially only in the context of explaining the origins of Christians. He was probably only reporting what he had heard from Christian sources and, thus he is not providing independent evidence. When Tacitus used records as his sources, he usually cited them.

Does the Roman Historian Caius Suetonius (C. 70-130 CE) Prove the Existence of Jesus Christ?

Suetonius wrote a set of biographies of twelve successive Roman rulers (from Caesar to Domitian) titled, De Vita Caesrum. Other works by Suetonius concern the daily life of Rome and describe the politics and oratory of the time. He also wrote biographies of famous writers, poets, and historians.

The passage in Suetonius's Life of Claudius, written around110 CE, states that the Emperor Claudius "drove the Jews out of Rome, who at the suggestion of Chrestus were constantly rioting."

Claudius reigned from 41-54 CE. Christ was purported to have been crucified around 30 CE, so the agitator called Chrestus who was causing trouble in the 50’s CE could not have been the supposed preacher of the 20’s CE. Furthermore Chrestus does not refer to the word “Christ,” but to the Greek word for “good” or “useful.” It was a common proper name at the time especially for slaves. Suetonius was clearly talking about the Jews being expelled from Rome, not the Christians.

In his Life of Nero, Suetonius blames Nero for the fire. However, he also makes an isolated comment that refers to "Christiani," whom he calls "a race of men of a new and villainous, wicked or magical superstition," who "were visited with punishment." Could this be another forgery? Even if it is authentic, it refers only to a Jewish sect, and not to an actual person.

A detail from the an illustration of Suetonius from the Nuremberg Chronicle.

A detail from the an illustration of Suetonius from the Nuremberg Chronicle.

Do We Have ANY Proof From 1st and 2nd Century Historians of the Existence of Jesus Christ?

These oft-cited historians and their supposed isolated passages that Christian apologists cite as references to Jesus Christ do nothing to prove his existence. What they do prove is that the early church was quite fond of forgery, and at the same time, quite bad at it.

Even if the passages were authentic, it would prove nothing except that these first century historians were aware of a Jewish sect who were followers of someone they called Christ or Christos.

It turns out that there is a person who was in exactly the right place and time to witness the events in Judea in the first half of the first century CE. He was the leader of the large Jewish community of Alexandria. Although he lived in Egypt, he spent time in Jerusalem as an ambassador of the Egyptian Jews to the Romans. He had family and social ties to Judea and to Herod and other rulers in the region. He was Philo of Alexandria, sometimes called Philo Judaeus (c 25 BCE--50 CE).

Philo was a prolific writer who often wrote about religious philosphy. He is noted for his attempts to blend Hebraic and Hellenistic philosophy. His works were preserved by the early Catholic Church because his philosophy was thought to be consistent with the ideas of Christianity. Yet Philo says not a word about Jesus, not a word about Christianity, and not a word about any of the events described in the New Testament. In all this work, Philo makes not a single mention of his alleged contemporary, Jesus Christ. He does not mention him as a Jewish revolutionary dangerous to the rule of Rome, as a Messiah to the Jewish people, of as the son of God who could perform miracles.

As Nicholas Carter writes in his book The Christ Myth: "No sculptures, no drawings, no markings in stone, nothing written in his own hand; and no letters, no commentaries, indeed no authentic documents written by his Jewish and Gentile contemporaries, Justice of Tiberius, Philo, Josephus, Seneca, Petronius Arbiter, Pliny the Elder, et al., to lend credence to his historicity."

The only history we have for Jesus Christ comes from the Bible, especially the Gospels. However, the Gospels are not eyewitness accounts and were not written by the disciples whose names they bear. But that is a subject for another article.

Questions & Answers

Question: Jesus may have been an agitator, trying to create a new religion, or he may have only been a myth. There is no evidence to support gods have ever existed, except in the minds of their believers. What real evidence proves Jesus' existence?

Answer: There is no evidence to support the claims that Jesus existed as a living being on Earth. This article gives the details to support this statement. There are no contemporaneous writings or other evidence to support the claim that he did. There are a few mentions of Christians, but none that mention the man now known as Jesus Christ or any of the supposed events of his life.

The New Testament is just a collection of stories written long after the supposed events took place. And even the writers of the New Testament make no claims of first or even second-hand reports. Additionally, many of the stories about Jesus sound suspiciously similar to older stories in the Jewish tradition and the stories told about Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Persian gods.

I don't understand why so many think that Jesus, as portrayed in the New Testament Bible stories, was trying to start a new religion. He was trying to reform Judaism. It was Paul and later writers who created a new religion that came to be called Christianity.

If you believe that Jesus existed because "the Bible tells you so," then you must also believe in Zeus and Athena and the rest of Greek mythology because Homer wrote about them in The Odyssey. He reports these happenings as true events.

The existence of Jesus Christ cannot be proven either true or false. It cannot be proven true because there is no evidence and it cannot be proven false because there could always be some new evidence found. The best we can do is say that, based on all the information that we have now, it is far more likely that Jesus did not exist. Richard Carrier, in his exhaustively researched book (cited in the article), says that his best guess puts the odds for the existence of Jesus at 1 in 12,000.

Question: Why do we measure time by BC and AD?

Answer: BC means "before Christ” and AD is short for "anno domini," the Latin words for “in the year of the lord” (sometimes states as “in the year of our Lord.” These terms are based upon the calculation of the year of the birth of Jesus Christ. There is no "Year 0". At the time of the introduction of AD, AD 1 was generally assumed to be the year in which Jesus was born. Today modern scholars place the supposed birth of Jesus Christ as somewhere between 4 BC and 7BC. (Note BC is placed after the number, but AD is placed before the number.)

Before the new numbering system was adopted, the years in the Roman Empire were usually counted based on who was the emperor, king, or pharaoh or on a significant event. So the year would be "in the fifth year of the reign of [ruler]."

Adding to the confusion, other civilizations used different methods. For instance, the Hebrew calendar (still in use today) uses the term “Anno Mundi“ which means “in the year of the world." It counts the years from the beginning of the creation of the earth as calculated through scripture.

In A.D. 525, a monk named Dionysius Exiguus of Scythia Minor introduced the A.D. system. At that time the year in Rome was based on the reign of the 51st emperor of Rome, Diocletian. In this new system, "Anno Diocletiani" 247 was followed by "Anno Domini 532”. Dionysius devised this new system because he wished to diminish the memory an emperor who had been a persecutor of Christians.

The term "Before Christ" was not used until much later. Two centuries after Dionysius, the Venerable Bede of Northumbria published his "Ecclesiastical History of the English People" in 731. The years prior to AD 1 were numbered to count backward to indicate the number of years an event had occurred “before Christ” or “B.C.”

The use of the B.C./A.D. nomenclature became widespread in the ninth century after Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne adopted the system for dating acts of government. By the 15th century, all of Western Europe had adopted the B.C./A.D. system. In 1988, the International Organization for Standardization set BC/AD as an internationally accepted way to represent dates.

Today you may see BCE (Before the Common Era) and CE (Common Era) to indicate dates. The use of "common era" instead of A.D. first appears in the 17th century (in German). The use of CE came a little later—in the 18th century (in English). These new terms were used to maintain historical accuracy because scholars do not agree on the date of the supposed birth of Jesus Christ. It also has the advantage of being sensitive to non-Christians. BCE and CE are the terms I prefer to use.

Question: I see a lot of religious egos, always putting words in God's mouth. They, preachers and the sort, never discuss the minimum part of the historical evidence for Jesus; they don't tell the entire story. I think the Church is a sham, but I do believe in a source of who we are, and from where we come. Does this thought process have value?

Answer: Think of it this way; you already know that a lot of what you were taught about Jesus and God is not true. It should not be so hard to think about any of it as truth. This may seem like a radical idea, but after a time, it will feel so natural that you will wonder why you ever believed any of it in the first place.

You asked about the value of religion. I discussed the pros and cons of religion in another article that I wrote:

It is an excellent question because many people are in the same position vis-vis religion as you are.

© 2015 Catherine Giordano

I welcome your comments.

Samdon on January 05, 2020:

I have only one doubt why there is someone like Jesus to save some people, eventhough they are already chosen by God. If Jesus wasn't true then there is no point of creating such stories. Use some thinking parts,it may help you to arrive conclusion.

How do you know that athiesm is true?

Do you believe in logic?

If anyone believes in logic, then he can't be a athiest. Because the absurd idea ever told was INTELLIGENCE COMES FROM RANDOMNESS.

Tim on June 17, 2019:

Even if Tacitus' & Josephus' writings are 100% uncorrupted, they both devote surprisingly few words to this individual, who allegedly did so many amazing feats - including the raising of the dead! You'd think there would be entire volumes written about him! Yet it's just a sentence here and a sentence there, mainly concerning his execution. If even 10% of the gospels were true, there should have been many people writing about his deeds. Yet we know much more about minor Roman characters than we do about Jesus.

... on June 03, 2019:

Do DNA testing on the Relikt’s

Ismail Moosa on March 24, 2019:

How on earth can saying that there are dragons on the moon equate with claiming there is a God? I don't know if I'm not understanding correctly. Positing that a God exists is attempting to solve an obvious question which is where did everything come from. If you deny that an intelligent being did not do this then you are almost certainly suggesting that this existence appeared out of nothing, and that life, through abiogenesis, somehow sprung(over millions of years, i know) into the consciousness we know ribaat. Whereas if i say there are no dragons on the far side of the moon it does have a remotely similar connotation.

Mark De Guzman on March 21, 2019:

I agree that there is no concrete evidence like a relic that can prove Jesus existence, but there are parallel accounts or written testimony like the Dead Sea and Qumran scrolls and Lamaist monastery in Tibet can prove it. Why no relics? It's written that he ascended into heaven, with the material components of his physical body transformed into a spiritual body -- in other words he is an immortal like those Hindu and Taoist immortals who don't leave a trace. Some Buddhist priest left behind only the hair and their teeth, incomplete process of attaining eternal life.

Joe L on February 21, 2019:

Some of the points you make here are very good. You must really research your topics to be this knowledgable. Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't the Talmud mention Jesus nearly a dozen times? And if I remember correctly, it mentions Jesus with hate and anger, yet not disproving him. Why would a Jewish source mention a man with contradicting beliefs, if he were not real?

Damian10 on January 21, 2019:

Hi Catherine

Hope you are well. I wrote a book entitled The Bible is Great!

Was released on Friday.

Guess we will see what God has in mind


Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on October 03, 2018:

Dave J: You have hit on the problem with religion. A charismatic leader can get people to believe anything if it is what they want to believe.

Dave J on October 01, 2018:

All religious tales have one thing in common. There's a god that reveals or enlightens a few, then leaves the burden on them to spread the word about his existence. This is exactly what's required for something imaginary to work.

I often wondered if I could switch roles with the apostle Paul or Peter. If I had the burden to prove to them that Christianity is real, one would try to imprison me and the other, who couldn't even be convinced witnessing a ressurrection, would laugh in my face.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on August 08, 2018:

Ray: You cay Jesus obviously existed, yet there is no proof of this at all. There is proof that Christianity existed, but no proof that that an actual person who came to be called Jesus Christ existed. I think it is obvious that Jesus was never more than a myth.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on August 08, 2018:

Al: You have just paraphrased the famous "Pascal's Wager." I wrote an article about why this reasoning is not only illogical but also foolish.

Ray on August 04, 2018:

Come now, Jesus obviously existed as a historical figure.

Al on August 02, 2018:

I believe in Jesus as the Son of God. By believing I have nothing to lose, but If I don't believe and it is real I have everything to lose.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 25, 2018:

Oswald: It's true that over time a story tends to grow and more more details tend to get added to it. It is how myths grow. I think we might call the story of Jesus Christ an "urban legend."

Oswald on July 25, 2018:

If you tell a people the same thing over & over again they will believe anything & think it's true, and the first story never comes back the same !

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 01, 2018:

Aqua V 179: Human senses often give us the wrong answer. Some may say there must be a maker because in our everyday world there is always cause and effect. On a quantum and astronomical scale that does not hold true. If you posit that there must be a maker, then there must also be a maker for this maker. It is an infinite regression.

People can believe what they want to believe but that doesn't make it true. I try to only believe things for which there is evidence, with no exception for religion. There is no evidence for God or Jesus, and plenty of evidence to suggest that no gods exist.

If I told you there are dragons on the dark side of the moon, I doubt that you would believe me. You would ask for evidence and refuse to believe me unless I produced solid evidence. Why should it be any different with God or gods?

Aqua V 170 on June 30, 2018:

Cosmic reality is unquestionable. The fact that we are "aware" of that portion of the universe that can be sensed in any number of ways confirms the existence of a "maker" of sorts. Humans by natural instinct have historically sought for the origin of this tangible, audible and seeable reality. To date our efforts remain unfruitful and we are left with our opinions as to the means and reasons for our existence. Religion has, through supernatural based superstition, constructed many stories offering explanations ranging from the most elaborate events to the very simplistic. All of these stories share a common thread, absence of proof. That makes all of them a matter of opinion. Professed belief is a choice one makes based on what they are told and things they are exposed to during the early years of life. What makes one true and the rest false? The believer of course or should I say the "professing believer" for genuine belief is rarely exemplified in the lives of the professing believer which only serves to confirm the opinion based foundation of all religions. Finally, it seems to me that those who seek to live an honest life, be helpful to those in need when they have the opportunity and treat their fellow occupants of this planet in the same way they themselves would prefer to be treated will accomplish all they can in the way of love and understanding. The rest, . . . it all a matter of opinion.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 11, 2018:

Free Thinker: The apologists say there is no clear evidence because God wants us to believe based on faith, not evidence. I say, if that is true, God plays childish games and a God who plays childish games is no god at all..

Free Thinker on May 11, 2018:

Why would not an all powerful god make it plainly know to the world that Jesus Christ was real , leaving plenty of evidence so there would be no doubt? But if you don’t believe, the Bible teaches you are going to an Eternal never ending hell! God is love?

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on April 07, 2018:

Phyllis Jack: HOw do you know there were people who were followers of Jesus Christ? Because the Bible says so? Who wrote the Bible? The Church.The whole point of the article is that no independent historian or person ever wrote a word about Jesus or his followers.

Phyllis jack on April 05, 2018:

So you said there's no eyewitness??

Matter of a fact, there was eyewitness. Peopls who watch him perform miracles.

People who stayed with him and listen to him. Also think about it Albert Einstein exist and same with jesus.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on April 04, 2018:

I was never a believer. Even as a child, it didn't make send to me. i thought everyone was just pretending to believe. It was probably in my 30's that I began to call my self an atheist. I have been doing independent study my whole adult life.

Don on April 03, 2018:

Thanks Catherine. Two questions you certainly don’t need to answer if you don’t want to :)

How long have you been studying this? We’re you a believer at one point?

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on April 03, 2018:

Don: So far as I know there are no reliable mentions confirming the existence of Jesus Christ in any documents outside of the Bible and church documents.

Don on April 02, 2018:

Thank you for this coherent and crisp synthesis Catherine.

From the research I’ve done, it does seem to be a narrow cast of usual suspects that come up when evangelists are pointing to sources outside the scriptures. Your additional details about those sources is appreciated.

I’ve found it even more difficult to find any reference outside the scriptures of the resurrection. I can believe that Jesus existed and was put to death, that doesn’t require belief in the supernatural and maybe his impact at the time was not newsworthy enough to capture the attention of those who were recording historical events? That seems plausible to me.

But believing in the resurrection requires belief in the supernatural. Are you aware of any writings other than scripture that record this event? I haven’t seen any.

Thanks again.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on March 30, 2018:

Jasoni: I agree that at first Christianity was just another mystery cult. By an accident of history, Christianity supplanted all the others.

Jasoni on March 29, 2018:

Nicely put article, Catherine, and these comments are a gold mine. I've been an avid dabbler in Jesus historicity for twenty years. Conclusion: no such.

Some movement happened, though, something that became big enough for the Roman Emperor to put himself in front of it in the early fourth century.

My theory is that the Greco-Roman mysteries rose as the state gods (talking the Roman Empire, here) declined. Say 300 BC to 200 AD. Christianity seems to have lots in common with the mystery cults, most interestingly, parishioners re-enacting scenes from their gods' lives and deaths and resurrections. Where it differs is that the cults were exclusive and hidden while, after a certain point, certain branches of christianity were open and public. Another difference: the final mystery in the cults was that the parables and gods were just made-up and the truth was inside you all along. Christian sects which taught that were stamped out as the Roman state steered early christianity to catholicism.

In this light, the gospels might be considered the playbook, each of a different sect, filled with rules, lessons, and scenes to play out. Each gospel for a different community, each community rarely communicating with others. Thus the gospels' similarities with wide discrepancies.

Paul then becomes an early unifier. Went from a state infiltrator, spying on these cults, to a convert who becomes a control freak, pushing a bunch of disparate religious communities into a single entity. If the story he told is true, he would have known what Rome did to cults it didn't like.

Absolutely none of this requires Jesus to have existed.

Currently reading: Through the Eye of a Needle by Peter Brown. Dry, but tons of details covering the conversion of wealthy Roman families to christianity from 350 to 550. Church became rich, Roman economy in turmoil, then the barbarians came.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on March 27, 2018:

Mike Hunt: Jesus was a Jewish myth, not an actual Jew because no such person existed.

Mike Hunt on March 27, 2018:

Was Jesus a jew?

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on March 27, 2018:

Ram: The early Church did everything possible to preserve documents rleated to Jesus. As for the Romans, perhaps that would have destroyed positive accounts, but they would have no reason to destroy negative account. I'm sure if Jesus had existed there would have been both viewpoints written by historians.

Ram on March 27, 2018:

Your article is very interesting. But one thing during 4th century there were so many Manu scripts put on fire by church/Roman authorities. Now it is really difficult to find the existence of jesus. Thanks for your research

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on March 25, 2018:

Ken Idesian: I can't allow any more of your comments because I have a limit of two per person and a quick check shows you have already had three.Also, you included a link to a website with incorrect information and I don't allow that either. But to briefly respond, you make the common error of using the Bible to prove the Bible.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on March 23, 2018:

Mark Hauer: Thank you for your comment. I agree that in this case the absence of evidence means that there is a strong probability that no such person as Jesus ever existed.

Mark Hauer on March 22, 2018:

Catherine, your knowledge of the historicity, or lack of it, regarding Jesus Christ is remarkable. I have read other accounts over the years and yours is top notch, both thorough, understandable and believable. Like you, I have not seen any proof anywhere of the existence of the Jesus Christ we all "learned about". If his authenticity were argued in a court of law the case would be thrown out for lack of evidence. For me, the lack of contemporary evidence is most damning. For a man who was feared by Roman officials, gave sermons to throngs of loyal followers, performed miracles and rose from the dead, it's odd that no one wrote about it. There were many well-educated scribes, historians and philosophers during the life of Jesus. Thank you for posting your findings.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on March 21, 2018:

Ken Idesian: No one can prove the existence or non-existence of Jesus. Riachard Carrier wrote in his book "On the Historicity of Jesus, that the probability of Jesus' existence ranged from 1 in 12,000 to 1 in 3. Either way, the odds favor non-existence.

Ken Idesian on March 19, 2018:

Thanks for your comments Catherine. Not a scholar myself, just sorting through some of the most skeptical scholars, who have or are currently now studying this from a historical standpoint, (I suppose this would be the 2nd or 3rd big movement in an attempt to find the historical Jesus). It's a wonder Christianity still exists as many torturous paths theologians have subjected it to (Newtonian machine, etc.). I don't think we can know much of anything with 100% certainty as it relates to historical events, unless something has endured into the present (i.e. the pyramids) Just like what someone attributes to Alexander the Great or Socrates saying would have to be put into context, and then surmised. But there aren't accounts of Alex or Socrates walking around after they we're brutally executed, fully restored to a renewed body, saying "See ya in heaven, if you believe in me." In fact, I think Christianity stands alone on this count.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on March 19, 2018:

Ken Idesian: How do you know Paul met the brother of Jesus and some of his other followers. Because he says so? Where is the verification of this. And why does Paul not report on what these supposed eyewitnesses said about Jesus? Instead Paul says that he releis on revelation.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on March 19, 2018:

Ken: There is a history of Christianity, but no history of Jesus. First century historians and Roman records do not mention Him. The Bible is not history. We don't even know who wrote it.

Ken Idesian on March 18, 2018:

Furthermore, it appears your claim, in the second paragraph about Paul, to wit, "he did not base his writings on anything told to him by eyewitnesses." There is a critical scholarly accepted account that Paul validated what he had been verbally preaching up to that point based solely on his contact with whom he thought was the risen Jesus. In 35 CE, he spent 15 days with both Peter and Jesus' brother, James, fact-checking his message with these two eyewitnesses. Later, in 48 CE, he spends more time with them, this time with John added, corroborating his teachings with the "pillars of the church", again, eyewitnesses of Chirst's life, death, and claiming to have seen him after death. Acts have summary pithy preaching from Peter that align with Paul's messaging as well, indicating Paul didn't act independently. Has your research led you to the writings of Polycarp, Papias, Ireneaus, Athenagoras of Athens, Orign, Tertullianus, or Justin Martyr?

Ken on March 18, 2018:

"The wealth of manuscripts (5500 coherent copies vs 10 at most of ancient classical Greek and Roman texts), and above all, the narrow interval of time (as early as the end of II CE -- Helmut Koester, History and Literature of the Early Christianity, two vols. (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1982), II:16-17) between the writing and the earliest extant copies make it by far the best attested text of any ancient writing in the world." -- John A. T. Robinson, Can we Trust the New Testament? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 36.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on November 21, 2017:

Q. Do a google search. You will find many other articles that show that no contemporaneous historians or writers had a word to say about Jesus.

Q on November 20, 2017:

Paladin that is exactly what I am looking for. I am trying to find historians that wrote down the events of the days of Jesus. More specifically that show that many people did write during that time and that they did so not mentioning Jesus. I look forward to pulling up those writer documents. Thanks!

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on November 17, 2017:

Thanks again for your historical research.

Paladin_ on November 16, 2017:

Yes, that's what my research has also told me (though my information suggests that all the names I listed were contemporaries of Jesus (during his supposed lifetime), not the second century). Nevertheless, given Q's comments, I thought it would be more productive for him to discover that on his own.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on November 16, 2017:

Paladin: Thank you for providing resources of authors from the 1st and 2nd century. My research has shown me that these authors said nothing about a person that we now call Jesus Christ.

Paladin_ on November 15, 2017:

Q, while I recommend checking out Catherine's hub for resources, I'd also like to recommend a few authors who lived during the supposed time of Jesus of Nazareth -- Strabo, Philo, Seneca the Elder, Seneca the Younger, Livy, Ovid and Velleius Peterculus.

There are other, more famous authors who people routinely cite, such as Tacitus and Josephus, but they both came AFTER Jesus' supposed time. Of course, that doesn't diminish their authenticity, as they were certainly much closer to the time period then we are, and had access to 'fresher' resources. But since you asked for writers from his time, I've narrowed my list exclusively to his contemporaries.

The good thing about ancient authors is that you can usually get their writings (often their ENTIRE collected works) in a Kindle eBook for one or two bucks on Amazon. I've built a pretty awesome research library this way!

Good luck in your search!

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on November 15, 2017:

Q: I commend you for your interest in searching for truth. It can be very difficult to give up the beliefs you have held since your earliest years. I cannot point you to any evidence of the existence of Jesus (or any other deity) because there are none. Please take a look at my essay. "Is There Any Historical Proof for the Existence of Jesus?" Here is the link:

Q on November 13, 2017:

Catherine: I am a current member of the LDS church, though I can say that for the most part I am no longer connected to the beliefs that I held so dear to my heart for 37 years. Through this journey I have had to start from scratch on what it is that I do and do not believe. I have like I said for the most part moved from my mormon beliefs. But what I'm finding is a belief in God in general seems to be the next thing on the chopping block. But I don't want to be emotional and just throw the baby out with the bath water. So with that said I was hoping that you could help me with something. I am having a hard time finding other historian and scribe writings from the time of Jesus. Are there records that show other writings during the time of Jesus that can substsanciate that historians and scribes of that time and region did keep records that we still have today? My angel with this is that if there are records of that time about really anything, that it would just be another nail in the coffin to the fact that we can find nothing recorded of Jesus and his many miracles but that we can find other writings from authors that did keep things in a written form

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on October 12, 2017:

Ash: It sounds like you saw my post on social media. I only post to atheist groups on facebook. So it looks like you have joined some atheist groups on facebook. I commend you for wanting to learn more than just what your parents have taught you. Just this morning I saw this comment to one of my facebook posts: "It is a shame that children are taught what to think before they are taught how to think."

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on October 12, 2017:

Ash: Your comment is very interesting. You start by asking for respect for all beliefs, then you condemn my beliefs and tell (warn?) me I should not express (post) them. Also, wherever did you get the idea that Christianity began with cave paintings? The purported date of Christ's birth was 40,000 years after those paintings were done. Since you are only 12, I will say to you, keep an open mind, and read things once in a while that disagree with what you think you know.

Ash. on October 12, 2017:

look here, I am 12 years old. Merely a child.A child who grew up under the christian belief. Sure, people might think that Christianity is a myth, like I think Buddhism is a myth too. But religion gives hope and faith in someone and something. Like how Christians have faith in God and Jesus. god and Jesus are both role models. That means that other people should respect other people's beliefs. JEAN DE LA VERRIERE. (plus most the people in the comments) As a christian, this article and all the comments were are very offending to me. This is the same thing as extinguishing the faith of children in their parents. But, have you ever thought where the Bible comes from? it comes from writings on cave walls, scripts, etc. Like our history is based on scrolls and scripts. So before writing an article on religion, Mrs. Giordano, please think about other people. Like people who believe in that religion and people who don't. OK?

P.S Just as you know, this was an over extended comment about, I despise your article and the comments. Think twice before posting your writing on social Media.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on September 16, 2017:

JEAN DE LA VERRIERE: Thanks for your comment. I'll go even further than saying that there is no proof for the existence of Jesus; I'll say that the evidence we do have mostly serves as support the thesis of his non-existence.

JEAN DE LA VERRIERE on September 15, 2017:

I am an historian,,,,and there is not a single proof of jesus that was ever found in 2000years !!!! This is a made up story on a rebel jew boy !!! And the stupid tourists picked it up and MADE UP THEIR STORY !!!!

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 28, 2017:

Stan, I agree with you. Children are predisposed to believe what their parents tell them. If they first encountered religion as adults, for instance, in a college course, very few would believe any of these stories.

stan on May 26, 2017:

If Christianity was not taught to children until they were 18 or more, there would be very little chance of them actually believing anything about the mythical Jesus Christ. Believing in Jesus is down to brain washing of little children as they are growing up and this type of brain washing applies equally to all the other religions of the world.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on April 25, 2017:

John Welford: The Christian principles that tell people to "love thy neighbor" and the like are great. However, these teachings are not unique to Christianity and are followed by many non-Christians.These teachings are good teachings whether or not the person called Jesus Christ actually existed. The teachings were known long before the first century.

John Welford from Barlestone, Leicestershire on April 25, 2017:

An excellent article that is certainly thought-provoking. I have just read a review of a book that points out that Jesus would have been far from unusual in his day - Palestine was full of magicians and tricksters, but all but one of them did not have the advantage of a publicity machine named Paul.

However, I would be loath to dismiss the thought that if a guy went around telling people that love is better than hate then he did not deserve an audience. There is nothing wrong about living by Christian principles even if their origin cannot be proved.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on December 10, 2016:

Greg T: I try to be objective and fair when I write about religion. If you ask a Buddhist who follows the actual teachings of Buddha about the afterlife, he won't have anything to say. Buddha did not teach about an afterlife--he taught a philosophy for living in the here-and-now. Reincarnation and stuff like that were added by some Buddhist sects. See some of my essays about Buddhism for more information on this.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on December 10, 2016:

Jack Hiki: Paul is generally accepted as an actual historical person. However, there is no good evidence to show that Jesus or any of his disciples actually existed.

Greg T on December 10, 2016:

The author also writes about the similarities between Jesus and Buddha. She'd make a great world religions teacher at a secular school but that's only because the narrative has to be one of co-existence. No religion is superior. Funny thing is, you ask a Buddhist, Hindu, Jew, Mormon, Muslim, Scientologist, and Christian about the afterlife (based on their leader's teachings) and you'll have 7 different answers. We can all be wrong but we can't all be right.

Jack Hikl on December 09, 2016:

Where you go wrong is that you have overlooked the evidence that neither Paul nor Peter existed either.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on December 09, 2016:

Paladin: Yes, it is a very sensational article, but not much to back it up. If it were true, every major newspaper and magazine would be reporting it so if you can't find sources that strongly suggests it is bogus. "The Daily Mail" is a British tabloid. From what I have heard, it is not too different from "The National Enquirer" in America--sensationalism and celebrity gossip.

Paladin_ on December 09, 2016:

It would be a great help if the blog entry linked in Charlie's comment offered links citing the 'evidence,' so we can begin to examine it for ourselves...

Charlie on December 09, 2016:

The media has given this very little play. I fear you might have a bias, you may not be acknowledging to yourself, based on your last sentence. I appreciate your article though.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on December 09, 2016:

Charlie: It seems like every year there is some new stunning revelation that proves the existence of Jesus Christ. The media give it lots of play because it what their readers want to hear. Then a year or two later, the news comes out, quietly this time, that it was a forgery or a scam. This case will be no different.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on August 21, 2016:

Nudely: There are a few of us skeptics here. I will take a look at your hub. I too have come across information about geographical errors in the Bible. Among all the other types of errors. And, I have also learned that the "gospels" were written using literary devices more common to fiction than biography.

Nudely on August 21, 2016:

Three cheers for your column!

I've just submitted a shorter, more tongue-in-cheek Hub on the same subject: Jesus, Jesus, Wherefore Art Thou Jesus? In trying to discover "wherefore"--i.e., for what reason--that Jesus existed, I show that although Micah predicts the Messiah's (Jesus'?) birth in Bethlehem, scholars are loath to agree. They say Nazareth more likely. But a first-century Nazareth is as diaphanous a concept as a historical Jesus! So how about Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee since that's his HQ later in his ministry? THE SEA OF WHAT, did you say??? Do you mean Lake Genessaret or Lake Tiberias? Oh, yeah, that one, but Mark invents a new name for it. Strangely, there's no mention, in Mark, of places historically located on Lake Tiberias, and places WHICH ARE mentioned that weren't recognized by the likes of Philo and Josephus! So, what exactly is Mark writing, then... fiction? I link to a video by Ken Humphreys that discusses the Book of Mark in its entirety... Knowing the Unknowable. Sure enough, Humphreys proves (to my satisfaction) that the Book of Mark, the prototype "gospel" upon which all the other Gospels are modeled, is immersed in literary techniques that writers of fiction adopt.

So glad to see that there are other like-minded skeptics on the Hub!


Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on August 14, 2016:

Thomas Baxter: The reason you have difficulty with your personal genealogical search is most likely that none of your relatives were important people or did important things, so know one took any note of them. The Romans kept very good records of taxes, census, and trials. If Jesus was on any of those lists, historians of the 1st century would have written about it), especially as this new religion of Christianity was becoming popular. And if Jesus actually did any of the miracles that are claimed for him in the Bible, it would surely have been noted and observed at the time. The early church would have surely commented on, and preserved, these writings.

Thomas Baxter on August 14, 2016:

Considering the level of illiteracy of the pre 20th Century world, I would not expect any particular person not a member of the elite to ever have anything written about them. I worked as heir tracing and was attaboyed when I could find a birth or obit that referred to collaterals, our target and that was for 20th Century folks that had something. No mention was made of tax roles and I can easily believe there weren't any. But that was one of the main reasons writing was invented. Tax collectors had lists of folks who owed money. Do any censuses exist? Got a capitation tax, got to have a capitation. Also, executions. Did anyone submit to Rome lists of criminals executed/enslaved in the last month with a list of names? Certainly not for slaves but for subjects.

Damian from Naples on July 09, 2016:

I am sure those references you cite are correct. I just believe that our sense of mostly everything is a human sense. That would include any and all human representation of time. I wish that I could say that I was some kind of special person or Godly person but that simply would not be true or accurate. I think He basically believes me to be a knucklehead like one of the stooges or like Fred Sanford called his son, "The Dummy". Still, I have felt His love and He has shown Himself to a wretch like me.

Reasonability and rationality do not really describe God. They do not now and they probably never will. Sometimes I wonder with the state of the world why did He give us a free will? Just to show us how bad that we are. I think in Genesis He says I am sorry I ever created man in the first place. I guess so!

Paladin_ on July 09, 2016:

Damian, I hope you are well, too! :-)

There is, indeed, a reference in 2 Peter about a day being equal to a thousand years for God. However, that has absolutely no relevance to the New Testament quotes regarding Jesus' supposed return, because nobody -- including Jesus -- offers a date or year, anyway.

Jesus repeatedly states that he will return within the lifetimes of those to whom he's speaking, and that "this generation shall not pass" before he comes back. And there are other references throughout the NT that we are in the "end times." These words are all spoken to people who died 2,000 years ago!

Paladin_ on July 09, 2016:

Sorry, but according to the New Testament, Jesus (as well as others) repeatedly asserted that he would be coming back in the lifetimes of those hearing his voice -- TWO THOUSAND YEARS ago!

He didn't come back two thousand years ago. He didn't come back ONE thousand years ago. He's not coming back now. End of story.

TeamSTM from AnyWhere In The World on June 05, 2016:

Jesus is Real, He is Alive and He is Coming Soon to Get His Bride! Amen

Hope in Jesus is Life and we can go to God because of Christ Jesus. Oh Praise Jehovah God for His Son, Yesuha Hamashiach!!

Damian from Naples on February 04, 2016:

You should look into the study of Margaret Barker, an English historian dedicated mostly to the Old Testament but also to new archaeological findings dating back to the time of Jesus. Codices have been found which indicate the turmoil between the Romans and the Jews during reigns dating back to both Titus and Nero later on. In addition there are some metallic images of a long haired, bearded man with thorns around his head. Several caves have been discovered dating to this time period. One such cave shows a house with a wall that had a cross on it in 70 AD. Several of these findings seem to indicate a following of the Messiah long before the time of Nero. Certainly these items need to be exported and researched.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on February 02, 2016:

lawrence01: Please show me an independent source outside of this passage in Tacitus for the claim that Nero persecuted Christians. I looked and I could not find it. What I did find was a few discussions about how there is no other source to confirm this event.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on February 02, 2016:


Sorry I didn't see your question before. As for the word 'Pernicious' what I was meaning is that the early Christian monks often tried to portray Christians in a good light (take a look at the forgeries they did produce to 'prove' the primacy of Rome over Antioch and Alexandria in the sixth century) and would be unlikely to use such harsh wording forgeries (they didn't need to convince people of anything).

Paladin's right about the fact that Tacitus isn't wasn't any "specific accusation" but the fact they were 'Christians' was enough of a slur

As far as I'm aware it is pretty extensively documented that Nero used the Christians as the 'scapegoats' for the fire of Rome so I'd love to see some info to the contrary.


Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on February 02, 2016:

Zeus Hera: Thank you for your enthusiastic approval of my essay.

Zeus Hera on February 02, 2016:


Thumbs up! This is outstanding, I love it. Thanks for excellent article.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on January 29, 2016:

Paladin: It is possible that Nero didn't persecute anybody--The whole idea rests on one passage in Tacitus which is probably a forgery. I think that the fifth-century Christians were in love with the idea of martyrdom. It made them feel important to have the whole non-Christian world persecuting and denigrating them. It strengthened the group identity.

I don't think Nero scapegoated real Christians or even people he falsely identified as Christians. I couldn't find any real evidence that Nero punished anyone. I did find evidence that "fiddling while Rome burned" stuff was false. He wasn't even present when the fire happened.

Paladin_ on January 29, 2016:

I feel I should clarify the aspect of the Tacitus reference that deals with Nero's accusations of Christianity. He wasn't making any specific accusations against Christians, per se. Rather, he had selected a group of scapegoats to blame for the fire in Rome, and decided to make their position even more tenuous by accusing them of being Christians (who, apparently, had a rather bad reputation at the time).

In other words, accusing these particular people of being Christians was simply a slur -- against them, not the Christians.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on January 29, 2016:

lawrence01: To your point about the word pernicious. Are you saying that Tacitus was well-enough educated to use the word, but a 4th century monk and leader of the Church would not have been as well educated. Also remember, we are dealing with an English translation.

Damian from Naples on January 29, 2016:

Thank you for that. I woke up at 4 AM with nightmares. I am bothered by the fact that I believe what Tacitus writes is true. Not partially but pretty much entirely. One criticism I have had for non believers is they sometimes seem to extrapolate certain things out of context. I do not want to be selective in that way. So it has to go both ways or it becomes a form of censorship. There is no fairness in that.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on January 29, 2016:


Christians were accused of 'cannibalism' regarding the Lords Supper from the second century onwards. Justin Martyr (circa 150) refutes it.

The Romans did it as a 'fear tactic' trying to tell people that these Christians 'drink blood and eat flesh in secret rituals'

Hope this helps clear things up.


Damian from Naples on January 29, 2016:


Was hoping you could also shed some light on another issue I am having with the Tacitus passage. I hope I am mistaken but it almost seems undeniable that he is talking about these followers of Cristos perhaps participating in a cannibalistic ritual hence Nero being able to fasten the guilt. Eat the body and drink the blood. Did they not understand that this was symbolic. Do this in my memory. My body and blood given once and for all. It is almost like when it is supposed to be symbolic they take it as literal and vice versa when it is supposed to be literal they take it as merely symbolic. It is supposed to be a message of love. I am failing to see the love in any of that. Really struggling with this cannibal thing if that indeed is the reference to their rehenceable acts.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on January 28, 2016:

Catherine I was replying to your comment above that seemed only to refer to Tacitus talking about 'christians' which he didn't. We've talked before about the Tacitus reference and show that he is widely accepted as being authentic.

As for my point it still stands that Tacitus knew the history and knew the history, he would have known what happened and he would have known that Jesus was 'reputed' the fact that he says 'was executed' means he accepted it as historical record.

To take up a point you make in the hub I really doubt that a 5th Century monk would have used words like 'pernicious' and the church leadership would never have allowed it! (take a look at the forgeries that do exist and you'll see what I mean)

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on January 28, 2016:

Paladin: I provided a link in the hub in the seciton on Tacitus so to the appropriate book of Annals so people could read the quote in context.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on January 28, 2016:

lawrence01: I addressed the issue of Tacitus in the hub. Please read the section on Tacitus. I have nothing else to add.

Paladin_ on January 28, 2016:

To those who are curious about the Tacitus reference, I'll provide a textual quote here. Just to clarify, I won't make any declarations about the veracity or legitimacy of the quote, but I will note that the actual reference is more of an aside, where Tacitus is explaining why Nero chose to accuse his chosen scapegoats (for starting the Rome fire) of being "Christian":

"...Christus, the founder of the name, had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilatus, and the pernicious superstition was checked for a moment, only to break out once more, not merely in Judaea, the home of the disease, but in the capital itself, where all things horrible or shameful in the world collect and find a vogue..."

I honestly don't know if the quote's an interpolation (as is widely presumed in the case of Josephus's reference) or not. But there it is, for people to examine...

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on January 28, 2016:


Doesn't Tacitus say in the reference that Jesus was 'executed' under Pilate? If Pilate was governor and Jesus was executed under him (it doesn't say 'reputed' or 'supposed' or any other reference to doubt on Tacitus' part) then we have to accept that Tacitus was reporting on an event for which they had records at the time and they knew to be true!

It's only when we get to the resurrection we get words like 'reputed to have' thus they accepted Jesus lived and died but not rose from the dead!

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on January 28, 2016:

Damian10: I think you are correct in saying the titles pro-consul and prafect could be used interchangeably. However, a reference to Christians does not prove that Christ existed as a man.

Damian from Naples on January 28, 2016:

Sorry but still stuck on the Tacitus reference. I do not feel that there is any evidence whatsoever to doubt the relevancy of this reference. This is a NON Christian Reference. He was only authoring history as he understood it. Prefect stopped being used in 46 AD.

"[these] equestrian governors were originally called Praefecti (a new inscription [was discovered, which was published in volume 104 of Revue Archeologique] 1963, shows that Pontius Pilate was called Praefectus Judaeae)."

The term Procurator is the more general term; Prefect is the more narrow meaning within Procurator.

So, all Prefects are Procurators, but not all Procurators are Prefects.

This means that the Gospels (and Josephus, and Tacitus) were correct in using the term.

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on January 27, 2016:

The pyramids have been arbitrarily dated. Some say longer than your source of 2500 BCE. At any rate, they are much older than any gospels.

Like i said, jesus/god should have been able to preserve his own words whether portable or not. Was he less intelligent than other builder/engineers?

He must have been very short sighted to have overlooked every opportunity to provide valid proofs to future generations of mere humans.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on January 27, 2016:


I just looked up the reference you sent and it's dealing with the 'apparent contradiction between Acts 9 and 22 with regard to the others hearing the voice!

Acts 9 tells us that they heard the sound when Jesus spoke to Paul but in Acts 22 Paul says that they didn't hear his voice! The conclusion the article comes to is that they heard a sound but to them they couldn't make out the words! Nothing about Schizophrenia in the article.

I did find a reference to Paul and Schizophrenia when I Googled it on '' but the article was defending Paul and wasn't too kind to the idea he had schizophrenia.

However it did say that it's due to a misunderstanding of Romans 7 verses 14 to 25 and talking of the dual nature of the believer where the old self is fighting against the new 'self' that Paul does go into a lot. The struggle against the old nature when we try to be like Christ and take on his nature which can sound really strange to some.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on January 27, 2016:


Thanks for the references. I'll have a read.

As for the Pyramids they were built around 2,600 BC (The great pyramid of Cheops) granted there are older pyramids in Sudan but the oldest is the Step Pyramid at Sakkara and if memory serves me right it was built for Djoser around a hundred years before. It was built by Imhotep who sounds remarkably like Joseph (but too early I would say!).

As for the Mayan pyramids tgey are old vut I'm not familiar with them.

The Jews knew all about carving in stone, they also knew it wasn't very portable, something that as shepherda they valued very much!

As for Jesus knowing how to write, as a carpenter cum builder (the word is better translated as builder) he woyld have known and Eusebius (the first church historian) tells of some letters written by Jesus but they lack the authenticity the gospels have and haven't survived (three hundred years of persecution does that!).

What we do have has survived largely with reputation intact and is precisely what you'd expect from such a group.


Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on January 27, 2016:

Lawrence01 - The Paul/Saul reference is in regard to the voices he heard on the road to Damascus and here is one reference -


"As for the 'Jesus gospels not lasting a lifetime'"

No, I am talking about the fact that not ONE single example of writing by Jesus himself actually exists!

Was Jesus illiterate? Did he not know his sermons needed to be factually/permanently/preserved ???

One would think that the incarnate god, or son of god would be able to read and write - and do so in a more permanent, verifiable manner.

The pyramids contain writing that has lasted for some 10,000 +/- years. Sumerian writing even longer some say. Mayan writing has lasted as long as biblical "scrolls".

If they knew of a way to preserve writing, surely the Jews would at least have known that writing on STONE can exist far longer than writing on papyrus or even copper. And Jesus should have known to keep verifiable records that would outlast his lifetime. Seriously!

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on January 27, 2016:


Writing was invented around 3,100 BC in Sumer. Egypt is known to have used some form of pictographics before then but so did the Israelites (Hebrew is pictographic still). Hieroglyphics can first be found from around 2,800 BC but not before! They started to decline around the time of the Islamic conquests around 650 AD.

The earliest parts of the Bible that we have are the dead sea scrolls that date from around 100 BC to 70 AD and show an astonishing accuracy to the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) for the fact that them and the earliest copy of the Septuagint are a thousand years apart!! This goes to speak to the care taken by the scribes when copying such important documents. We might not like what they say, or even believe what they say, but to attack the quality of the work done by the scribes when we have evidence of the care they took would be just plain wrong!

I can appreciate your frustration, but no one questions whether what the ancient Egyptians and Sumerians wrote was what they wrote at the time and what they believed so why would we question other ancient documents that can be verified in the same way?

As for the 'Jesus gospels not lasting a lifetime' here we are with the evidence that says they've lasted twenty nine lifetimes (if a lifespan is to be counted as 70 years) and we all agree that what we have written in our Bibles was written a few decades after his life, surely it's not beyond the realm of belief that the oral traditions lasted one lifetime especially when the fact was that most of the participant were still alive when they were written?

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on January 27, 2016:

Yes, this is what bothers me the most about the bible. The Egyptians had a system of writing that lasted 10,000 years, but the Jesus gospels didn't last one lifetime. One would think that the incarnate person of god himself ( or his son) would have made sure that his message was preserved for all time.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on January 27, 2016:


Sorry about the reference to the Holocaust, it was the first thing that came to mind where I know that there are some who are trying to re-write history (I've come across them on websites and having been to the camps it makes me see red when I come across them).

You are right about oral tradition being the weakest form of evidence, but that doesn't take into acount the care taken by many who pass the oral tradition on, also many scholars actually think that many of Jesus's sayings were written down long before they were put into the gospels and may have been written down as early as the day he said them, there's no actual surviving documents so it's purely speculative but should not be discounted as a possibility.

Paladin_ on January 27, 2016:

To be fair, with regard to the Holocaust, there is actually tons of documentation, both by the Nazis who committed the crimes and by those who liberated the camps. So the reliance on oral tradition is largely unnecessary.

As for oral tradition, it's actually the weakest and most unreliable form of evidence, as anyone who's ever played "telephone" can tell you. Even first-hand 'eyewitness' testimony is somewhat unreliable (as any lawyer can tell you), undermined by the fallibility of human recollection and colored by personal biases. And when that testimony is passed down second-hand, third-hand or more, the potential for mistranslation or alteration increases exponentially.

As I understand it, there are absolutely NO first-hand accounts in the New Testament of Jesus' existence. At best, there are second-hand accounts, recorded (at the very earliest) decades after the events they supposedly describe. And when miracles and supernatural events are thrown into the mix, the legitimate case for skepticism grows stronger and stronger.

As for Paul's supposed schizophrenia, I hadn't heard of that either. So I'll be interested to see what information arises.

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on January 27, 2016:

I shall have to research where i heard it from, but it was probably Lady Guinevere or from my biblical scholar source in Colorado Springs. I will ask and get back to you.