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External Evidence Tests: Contemporary Testimony
Page 2: Confirmation by Non-believers

In some cases these contemporaries were not believers, such as the Jewish leaders or Pagans. Interestingly, writings from this group only validate the life of Christ and the New Testament. There is an extensive body of evidence to support the existence of Christ and confirm the accuracy of the New Testament. Some of the early writers substantiating the New Testament include Thallus, Suetonius, Phlegon (known only by references of Origen), Pliny the younger, and Origen. Origen, in his document Against Celsus, attempts to explain away the events during the crucifixion and death of Jesus,

"And with regard to the eclipse in the time of Tiberius Caesar, in whose reign Jesus appears to have been crucified, and the great earthquakes which then took place, Phlegon too, I think, has written in the thirteenth or fourteenth book of his Chronicles." 2

Besides some interesting references to an eclipse and earthquakes (Matthew 27:45,51), Origen clearly identifies Jesus as a known man who was crucified during the time of Tiberius Caesar. Another popular reference is that of Josephus, a Jewish historian born just a few years after Jesus died. In his book, The Antiquities of the Jews, finished in 93 AD Josephus writes,

"About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing amongst us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvelous things about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared." 3

Later in his writing Josephus also confirms the famine which is documented in Acts 11. Suetonius confirms the declaration of Claudius in Acts 18 to expel the Jews from Rome.

Confirmation by Believers - the Persecuted Christians -->

Origen. Against Celsus 2.33, from Roberts, Alexander, and Donaldson, James, eds. The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdsmans Publishing Co., 1973.
Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Loeb edition, vol. IX, 18.3.3. Translated by Lewis H. Feldman. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1965.

 Article info: 
By: Bill Smith
This article is adapted from Bill's book Firmly Rooted. Click here to learn how to get a copy.
 This Series: 
1 Contemporary Testimony
2 Confirmation by Non-believers
3 Confirmation by Believers - the Persecuted Christians

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