Legends can be thought as one of two things: a mythical story about a fictional character or the history about a radical well known person. Jesus Christ is a well known legend who has been talked about throughout history, even until this day. The question stands whether Christ was real or not. The time frame was set back to zero for this revolutionist named Christ, yet it wasn’t for other known revolutionists. There are many religions that speak on behalf of Jesus’s existence. Back in the day, they would practice oral tradition too, in order to keep history flowing from generation to generation. The Bible is seen as biased but it was slowly being composed during the first century where it could be corrected by living witnesses. Also, many non-christian historians that lived around Jesus’s time have confirmed the existence of Jesus Christ. The only problem is that the historians that we have on record wrote about Jesus ten years and up after his death. Yet, “no serious scholar has ventured to claim that Jesus was a non-historical character” (Bettz, 1968). All the evidence gathered points to Jesus Christ actually stepping foot on this planet.
There are many different sources that talk about Jesus Christ’s being. The earliest Non-Christian sources are from Thallus, Mara Bar-Serapion, Josephus, and Tacitus. Thallus writes about some supernatural things that take place after Jesus’s death. “On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.” (Africanus, 221 CE). Thallus was not a “believer” of Christ, but he confirms what Bible records happens after Jesus’s crucifixion. If we had more of Thallus work on what was going on during that darkness we would have more information on the cause of the darkness that took place. Mara Bar-Serapion was another philosopher whose writings we have found. As Mara Bar-Serapion writes to his son a letter of encouragement, we see that Jesus is talked about in a realistic and influential way.
“What benefit did the Athenians obtain by putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as judgment for their crime. Or, the people of Samos for burning Pythagoras? In one moment their country was covered with sand. Or the Jews by murdering their wise king?…After that their kingdom was abolished. God rightly avenged these men…The wise king…Lived on in the teachings he enacted.” (Bar-Serapion, 70 AD).
Christ is being used as a set standard that Bar-Serapion wanted his son to follow and not as a fairytale character. Jesus is referred here to as a living and wise King of the Jews who was murdered by his own chosen people. Another person to call Jesus a wise man was Josephus who was a historian that was born four years after the crucifixion of Jesus and was an eyewitness to events that took place in the first century. Josephus writes “the Antiquities of the Jews” where there are three passages that speak on behalf of the Christians, one in which he writes about John the Baptist’s death, another where James, the brother of Jesus, is executed, and Jesus as the messiah. In the passage about Jesus, Josephus wrote
“Now around this time lived Jesus, a wise man. For he was a worker of amazing deeds and was a teacher of people who gladly accept the truth. He won over both many Jews and many Greeks. Pilate, when he heard him accused by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, (but) those who had first loved him did not cease (doing so). To this day the tribe of Christians named after him has not disappeared”. (Josephus, 93 AD).
Josephus is a Jewish historian that confirms through his writings that Jesus was crucified along with his followers throughout the first century. This is a huge statement for Josephus to make since he was a Jew and, as it is known, Jews don’t believe in Jesus being the Messiah. Yet another non christian historian named Tacitus confirms the walking of Jesus and his followers in the first century. Tacitus is one of the “most trusted ancient historians” due to “his analysis and examination of historical documents” as stated by J. Warner Wallace (2014). In the “Annals”, Tacitus writes
“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.” (116 AD).
Like the many previous examples, here Tacitus reports his findings of Jesus’s execution by King Pilate, as well as the persecution the christians received for their faith in believing Jesus to be the Son of Man. These are only but a few of the many documents that confirm Jesus to exist from non historian and historians from within the bible, as well as without the Bible. As a historian, according to google. one needs to be “an expert in or student of history, especially that of a particular period, geographical region, or social phenomenon.” Tacitus and Josephus, alongside other historians, would not have written what they put down until they made sure what they wrote was credible.
It can be difficult to believe that Jesus was alive on this planet due to the fact that many of the documents were written on paper long after Jesus’s death. Jesus died in 33 AD, according to Eddie Wrenn, whereas the earliest document written about Jesus is about 7 to 17 years after Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection. It makes it difficult to believe something existed when the evidence written was years after the known existence. The above documents that were used were as well written much after Jesus’s death: Africanus quotes Thallus work from 56 AD in his own work in 221 CE, Bar-Serapion letter was written in 70 AD, Josephus writes the “Antiquities of the Jews” in 93 AD, and, lastly, in 116 AD Tacitus writes the “Annals”. These people did not walk or see Jesus walk this Earth, rather they went to sources. Getting information from other sources without being able to prove it to be true is called “hearsay”, or rumors. According to Jim Walker, all sources from within and without the Bible that claim Jesus to be real are hearsay accounts. If Jim’s statement were true, there are still many more sources that point towards Jesus’s existence in the first century in comparison to other people that are thought to be alive too: like Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great. When it comes to Julius and Alexander, people have no problem saying that they existed though when it comes to Jesus there seems to be hesitation or doubt. Jim Walker as well states that
“Courts of law do not generally allow hearsay as testimony, and nor does honest modern scholarship. Hearsay does not provide good evidence, and therefore, we should dismiss it.” (2011).
This statement makes sense logically if it were only a couple of sources, yet there are several sources that confirm Jesus’s existence. . According to the Bible, Paul converts from being a Christian hunter to a Jesus follower in about 35 AD, which gives Jesus a lot of weight due to Paul being an evil person to a religious person in a few days. A person does not simply convert from a murderer to a compassionate guy through blind faith. Within the Bible there is James and Paul who wrote the earliest books from 40-58 AD, and John who writes the final book of the New Testament in the Bible between 95-96 AD. The New Testament would have been composed in the lifetime of the over 500 people that witnessed Jesus when he was alive, meaning either these people all had the same hallucination, or they saw something real. These eye witnesses would have furthermore corrected anything that was incorrect from the written accounts at once.
There is much evidence that points to Jesus’s existence on Earth, just as there is for Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar. Not only was Jesus claimed to be real from the Bible, but also from non biblical stand points. Thallus, Mara Bar-Serapion, Josephus, and Tacitus are four among many other sources that support the claim of Jesus being alive. The claims of these many sources came from pagans, non christian historians, and jews. These claims, apart from biblical accounts, gives more weight to Jesus being a true person, though they were written some time after Jesus known death. The Bible can be seen as an accurate document in which it is seen that Paul gets converted to Christianity, alongside with other persecutors of Jesus and his followers. Also, the many witnesses who would have been alive during the time of Jesus would have been alive during the time of the completion of the Bible; giving credibility to the Bible due to there being no known document that claims the Bible to have been wrong in the first century when it was written. To sum it all up, all the evidence found lead to Jesus existing once upon a time ago.