Ancient Historians on Jesus Christ: World’s Most Elaborate Conspiracy Theory, or… Not?
God born into the flesh of man; died to pay the price of sin, for those who believe in and yield their lives to him; resurrected to overcome that separation from God above; and ascended back to Heaven till he returns — true or false? That is the crux of it, pardon the Passion season pun.
It has been said the life of Jesus, from a small town in the middle of the world called Nazareth, is the most well documented of ancient history. We have more historical detail and validation of his biography than, for example, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, or Genghis Khan.
Further, he is the subject of the most extensive study of any human, ever since. And the most “extreme” view of him is actually the shared eyewitness view of his followers and the contemporaries they convinced, now generation upon generation. They corroborate his own attestations with courtroom consistency.
Beyond that, in the most mutually corroborative accounts, the Bible’s four Gospels (i.e., “Good News” in Ancient Greek) he is shown to have fulfilled Old Testament prophecies spread over hundreds, even thousands of years. Many of these were regarded as confounding mysteries… until he solved them by bringing them to pass. That is, if one believes all the documentation is not an astoundingly vast and intricate work of conspiracy concocted right under the noses of Jesus’ contemporary skeptics and powerful opposers.
Yet beyond this, one of the often cited proof points of Christian apologists is the historic accounting of so many people so consistently willing to die for sake of this story, their confession. And these were renown for seeking to uphold the morality and ethics taught in the Bible, martyrs including those original eyewitnesses, Jesus’ disciples and chroniclers.
Must all this testimony be further corroborated by less interested historians of approximately that time, to dare be believed? J. Warner Wallace has briefly summarized just such accounts in a single article, “Is there Any Evidence for Jesus Outside the Bible?” His site is called Cold Case Christianity.
Wallace suggests the decision of what to believe about Jesus is not unlike the same kind of evaluation concerning two much more recent happenings.
Two well documented historical events with a rich set of evidences. In spite of this, both events have been interpreted in a variety of ways. It shouldn’t surprise us then to find the historical records of Jesus Christ might also experience the same type of scrutiny and diverse interpretation. Did Jesus truly live, minister, died and rise from the grave as the Gospels record or was it an elaborate conspiracy? One thing we know about the Kennedy assassination and the World Trade Center attack: regardless of interpretation, there were eyewitnesses to the events, and the events did truly occur. In a similar manner, the ancient evidence related to Jesus reveals there were eyewitnesses and He did exist in history. Is there any evidence for Jesus outside the Bible? Yes, and the ancient non-Christian interpretations (and critical commentaries) of the Gospel accounts serve to strengthen the core claims of the New Testament.
He refers to historians, Thallus (52AD), Tacitus (56–120AD), Mara Bar-Serapion (70AD), Phlegon (80–140AD), Pliny the Younger (61–113AD), Suetonius (69–140AD), Lucian of Samosata: (115–200 A.D.), Celsus (175AD). He also cites the Talmudic references of Medieval Jewish writings. Not all were kindly disposed to Jesus of Nazareth being the Bible’s Messiah.
What does Wallace conclude? I will let you look into that at will, but my careful suggestion as a Jesus Truther, don’t take too long.
“Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?” — Jesus, Luke 12:57.