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Non-Christian Evidence for Jesus

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Lesson

There is a belief that any and all Christian evidence is tainted, and so only non-Christian evidence should be investigated. Not only is this falacious (“silly and nonsensical”), and there is non-Christian evidence that tells us a surprising lot about Jesus.

Outline

I. IS ALL CHRISTIAN EVIDENCE NECESSARILY TAINTED?

II. GRECO-ROMAN SOURCES

A. Thallus

B. Pliny the Younger

C. Suetonius

D. Tacitus

E. Lucian of Samosata

F. Mara bar Serapion

III. JEWISH SOURCES

A. Talmud

1. Calling oneself “God” or “Son of Man”

2. Details of the trial of bar Kochba

3. A sorcerer who led Israel astray

4. Son of Pandera/Panthera (“virgin”)

5. Hanged on Passover Eve

B. Josephus

1. Information about John the Baptist

2. James, “brother of Jesus, the one-called Christ”

3. The Testimonium Flavianum

IV. WHY NOT MORE INFORMATION?

A. Summary of these sources

B. Historians wrote on the rich, kings and queens, military people, those of official religious or educational influence

C. Nobody knew this religion would become so well-known

D. We have about what we would expect