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Evidence for Jesus- examined

  • Flavius Josephus (AD 37?-101?) 

    "At this time there was a wise man called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. Many people among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified, and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive. Accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have reported wonders. And the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day" (Antiquities 20:200) 

    • Many problems abound here. Firstly, this is the Arabic translation of the text. Many consider this a more accurate translation, it does not in anyway change the fact that it is an interpolation. I'm using it to show that even if we ignore that faulty greek translation which is not as accurately translated, this passage STILL does not appear until 300 years later when Eusebius, in the 4th century, cited all the "evidences" of Christianity obtained from Jewish and pagan sources. Eusebius, who admitted to forging multiple works, as well as lying for the sake of his beliefs, as Gibbon recounts: "I have repeated whatever may rebound to the glory, and suppressed all that could tend to the disgrace of our religion" 

      The text Gibbon speaks of is as follows:

(Chp. 31, Book 12 of Prae Paratio Evangelica). Which is also verified by Robert Ingersoll, "The great religious historian, Eusebius, ingenuously remarks that in his history he carefully omitted whatever tended to discredit the church, and that he piously magnified all that conduced to her glory." Ibid., Vol. 1, p. 293" Apparently Eusebius was the first to use this passage because it didn't exist during the 2nd and 3rd centuries. The passage is not found in the early copies of Josephus. Are we to assume it magically appeared there? Please. If it had been authentic you would have heard more about the passage during the centuries prior when the early chruch fathers were struggling to gather any pagan articles on such a person as Jesus. Instead their silence is deadly to this argument. The early Christian fathers such as Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen were acquainted with Josephus' works they would have quoted this passage had it existed. Chrysostom often referred to Josephus and it's highly unlikely he would have omitted the paragraph had it been extant. Photius did not quote the text though he had three articles concerning Josephus and even expressly stated that Josephus, being a Jew, had not taken the least notice of Christ. Neither Justin in his dialogue with Trypho, the Jew, nor Origen against Celsus ever mentioned this passage. Neither Tertullian nor Cyprian ever quoted Josephus as a witness in their controversies with Jews and pagans and Origen expressly stated that Josephus, who had mentioned John the Baptist, did not recognize Jesus as the messiah (Contra Celsum, I, 47). In Origen's own words, Contra Celsus, BOOK I., Chap XLVII : I would like to say to Celsus, who represents the Jew as accepting somehow John as a Baptist, who baptized Jesus, that the existence of John the Baptist, baptizing for the remission of sins, is related by one who lived no great length of time after John and Jesus. For in the 18th book of his Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus bears witness to John as having been a Baptist, and as promising purification to those who underwent the rite. Now this writer, although not believing in Jesus as the Christ, in seeking after the cause of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, whereas he ought to have said that the conspiracy against Jesus was the cause of these calamities befalling the people[...] The passage also interrupts the narrative. Immediately before it Josephus tells of a rising of the Jews due to bitter feeling at the conduct of Pilate, and its bloody suppression by the ruling power. The words immediately following the passage are: "Also about this time another misfortune befell the Jews" and we are told of the expulsion of the Jews from Rome by Tiberius on account of the conduct of some of their compatriots. What is the connection between the reference to Jesus and these two narratives? That there must be some connection if Josephus wrote the passage about Jesus goes without saying in view of the character of the writer. Josephus was always careful to have a logical connection between his statements and from a rational standpoint there is no occasion whatever to put the passage about Jesus in the connection in which we find it. It's so obvious, even the Catholic Encyclopedia states it as a forgery!

(The following is from a debate) 


"Festus was now dead, and Albinius was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some other, and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned" (Ant., Bk. 20.9). 
Also what about Josephus account of John the Baptist?

Please, you honestly think this is something new? You can see where imaginations fly here, just like when reading the Talmud, one looks and see "Jesus" and immediately thinks it must be Jesus of Nazareth. (A very blind assertion as Jesus and James were very common names, as I showed above) Allow me to put you in your place once again. 

And please, if you're going to quote Josephus get the quote right, "...Astherefore Ananus was of such a disposition, he thought he had now a good opportunity, as Festus was not dead, and Albinus was still on the road; so he assembled a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as law-breakers, he delivered them over to be stoned" (Antiquities, Josephus, 20.9). 

With respect to the "James, the brother of Jesus, the Christ" in Antiquities... 

James as a Forgery 

  • Remember there are good reasons to suspect the passage by Josephus is another Christian also appeared only in Eusebius' work. Keep in mind, this is the same Eusebius who forged the works as stated above, as he was writing he had more then ample time to edit in this little bit. 
  • The only usually undisputed allusion to Jesus in Josephus is actually only a passing reference in the context of the trial of James. James is identified, not as James son of (whoever) as one would normally expect but as brother of Jesus. While this passage is more likely to be authentic than the one above, it is not without problems. Origen knows and cites this passage, and is unaware of the Testimonium Flavianum above, providing some evidence for its presence in the Antiquitiesbefore its Christian reworking. On the other hand, Origen's version contains the unlikely addition in which Josephus also says that it is as punishment for the execution of James that Jerusalem and the temple are destroyed. The possibility suggests itself that even Origen's Josephus has undergone Christian reworking, simply of a different variety, in which, perhaps, the insulting Testimonium has been expunged, and James has been introduced as a pious Jewish hero."

Who Was James? 

  • James (the one mentioned by Paul as the bishop of Jerusalem) NEVER acknowledged Jesus as his "brother". Jesus NEVER acknowledged James as his "brother". The Gospel of Thomas, one of the gospels rejected by the framers of the Bible, tells us Jesus did not recognise James as his brother. One can see why they didn't consided the GofT to be "inspired by God"! 
  • After the death of Jesus, when the Apostles scattered over the world, James the Lesser (St. James the Lesser/Just) remained behind as Bishop of Jerusalem. History supposedly has two accounts of the death of James the Lesser. According to Josephus, St. James was stoned to death in 62 A.D, but Hegesippus, a second century ecclestiastical historian, claims that James was thrown from the pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Pharisees and clubbed to death when the fall didn't kill him. (So just how was he killed? Who do you believe?) 
  • The question is who was James? This is not a cut and dried issue among Christians. Was he a half-brother of Jesus? A cousin?, A "brother in spirit?" Jesus never claimed James as his "brother" nor did James ever claim to be Jesus's brother. So who the hell was "James," Christians don't agree!

Which James? 

  • There is a dirty little secret that Christians doesn't bother to tell you is that there are various theories about James and the brothers of Jesus, who they were , who their mother was , who their father was , what relation might they have had to the Twelve, and what sense one can make of the multiple persons named "James" in the N.T. In other words, some Christians have hinged their"proof" on a person whose identity and parentage are much disputed! You might say that the Bible's cup"runneth over with Jameses"(60 of them!) 
  • What Christians have neglected to tell us is that there are many different theories exist pertaining to the brother of Jesus. Let's ignore the minor theories and go for the two major theories that dominate the Christian culture........ 

  • The eastern view maintains that Mary was a virgin not only at the time of the birth of Jesus, but remained so throughout her entire life. The bottom-line is that Joseph had the 4 alleged brothers with another woman prior to Mary and brought them to the marriage. 
  • The western view is stricter because it claims that BOTH Mary and Joseph remained virgins throughout their entire lives. "These 'brothers' are merely cousins that seem to come onto the scene."
Of course Jesus may also have had half-brothers and half-sisters via Mary and Joseph, the most common assumption among Protestants. The point is that the Bible is NOT clear about the parentage of any siblings.

Naming the Jameses 
  • Let's keep it simple and concentrate on just 4 of these "Jameses" and use their "common" names to keep them straight. If you explore the literature you will come across the appellations for James:
    • 1) James the Great
    • 2) James the Lesser (Little)
    • 3) Jame the Just
    • 4) James, son of Alphaeus
  • Now the plethora of James is just one problem (I've only listed a minimum ) The second one is that the Catholic Church and many Protestant sects don't agree on just "who" the "Jameses" are! Now if you really want to know just how contentious the "James" situation is go here and read more scenarios of how Jesus came by a half-brother (a true blood-brother because Mary is hypothesized to have been married to or inpregnated out of wedlock by a number of different candidates for the father of "James&quotEye-wink
  • Essays on James the Brother of Jesus 

  • The real truth is that James, the alleged brother of Jesus is a shadowy figure of unknown and highly disputed pedigree (is he a cousin/brother, a step-brother, a true half-brother?). Realize what MacDowell et al have done is attached the historicality of another shadowy, disputed figure (Jesus) to that of an individual whose existence is not certain. He then uses a DISPUTED passage from Josephus as an extra-biblical source to claim that this James (a cousin/brother? or a step-brother, or is he a half-brother?) and Jesus are both true historical figures. 
  • Read the case against the authenticity of the "James" passage 
  • Here is what another historian says about the James passage: 
    Josephus on Jesus

There is also this to consider concerning the "James" Passage: (From another debate) 

gdon wrote:
I'm replying here to a thread that Rook made in the Gnostics thread here
Rook_Hawkins wrote:
Your arguments are as follows as far as I can see: 

1. Paul believed in a historical Christ yet is only said to have met James later in life, several years after his conversion. Further, ths passage on James has been disputed here, so it is hardly non-vague as to a literal or metaphorical reading (especially depending on which versions you use...only the Darby and one other version have it stated as "the Brother of Christ" while all others have it as "the lords brother" which can be taken more metaphorically. And the darby translation sucks when it comes to translations - atleast this is what McDowell and Stuart declare, as well as other apologetics and such.) 

Error: This is non-sequitor. Simply put: Paul never met Jesus so Paul can never be used as evidence for a Jesus as he is hearsay. The only passage which might oppose the hearsay is James, but as I discussed it;s shadowy and quite frankly if Paul met James he would not have disagreed with his teachings, as James was supposedly Jesus' brother! So if James had been the brother of Christ, and the apostle, Paul should have taken James' word for it directly. It would make more sense that James was NOT the brother of Jesus, and just another James (there are 60 James in the NT together, 59 minus this one. Which one was it?) after all it was a common name. And brother is used quite a lot to refer to a metaphorical brother. So no evidence here. Sorry.

According to Josephus, James "the brother of Jesus, him called Christ". As Kirby says, if the reference is valid, it is enough to establish a prima facie case for the existence of a historical Jesus. Of course, this doesn't PROVE there was a historical Jesus, but, as Kirby says, it is reasonable evidence in terms of normal historical inquiry.

We know THAT Josephus claims this to be the brother of Jesus, but how this relates to the Gospels is really vital here. If there were no NT then there would be no argument here about a historical Jesus. You want to prove that this proto-Jesus factor existed but ALL your sources are claiming a supernatural Gospel Jesus...and not this proto-Jesus who was just a man. 

You irrationally are trying to seek a Jesus that does not exist in literature by using the mythos of Jesus as a basis while pulling from sources that claim a mythos of Jesus existed. Celsus is the only one that has NOT seemed to use the mythos in his works, and Celsus wrote several decades AFTER Jesus' mythos was already construed emensely. So his construction of a proto-Jesus is merely that of decades of exaggeration and plays on words and hearsay and oral tradition. That's it. Lots of people alive today - intelligent people - think Jesus was real, and do so simply because the majority thinks so. 

Apparently mainstream thinking at the time of Celsus was that he was a real person, and Celsus would have felt no reason to debate that fact as his attacks on jesus lay squarely on the mythos personae which whether a proto-Jesus existed or not mattered little. HIS intent was not to disprove a proto-Jesus but instead to disprove the mythos that was erringly applied to this figure named Jesus. 

Once again...opinions do not push facts, merely push opinions. 

Further, the key phrasing in your statement is "IF." Quite frankly I don't see this vague reference that is still somewhat disputed as conclusive of anything. And I hope you agree. 

However if we're going to speculate, such as you are doing, lets look at the entire segment and do some constructive speculating. 

Would it not also be reasonable to assume that Jesus, son of Damneus, was given the High Priesthood because his brother James was killed unlawfully by Ananus? James and Jesus in the bolded passage are not known as to where they come from, what laws were broken, nor does it discribe who they were fathered by. In Jewish tradition and law, and as is common in Josephus' works, the fathers name is always mentioned to establish geneology, in fact, it also establishes bloodline. The very issue that it does not establish it at that particular point might be because he establishes later in the underlined text. 

It would also explain why the king replaces him a few years later due to the suspicious nature of the other preists in the Sanhedrin and what's this? He replaces him with another Jesus, son of Gamaliel. It woulkd seem almost as if the Jesus before was not as qualified as the other preists started distructing each other even to the point where they threw stones at one another. 

Further the statement in this translation, done by a Christian source, as it stated as "who was called Christ" instead of "who was called THE Christ." The absense of such a word bothers me, as if Josephus had felt people were talking about their savior, he might have considered to make this Christ stand out a bit more using "the" to accentuate oneness. Unfortunately that isn't implied so I have to go about reasonably to assume this Jesus, perhaps the son of Damneus, was called "the annoited" as he was given the High-Preisthood. 

MORESO, Josephus described Ananus, the High Priest responsible for the death of James in the Antiquities, as the following: "...a bold man in his temper, and very insolent." 

What's also worthy of note is that Josephus did not mention the death of James in his Jewish Wars, if he felt they were so important to mention them at all – and his description of Ananus in Wars is rather different to what is found in Antiquities of the Jews, describing him as: "...a venerable, and a very just man; and besides the grandeur of that nobility, and dignity, and honour, of which he possessed, he had been a lover of a kind of parity, even with regard to the meanest of the people; he was a prodigious lover of liberty, and an admirer of democracy in government; and did ever prefer the public welfare before his own advantage, and preferred peace above all things; he was thoroughly sensible that the Romans were not to be conquered." 

In fact, Josephus also wrote the following about Ananus in Wars: "I should not mistake if I said that the death of Ananus was the beginning of the destruction of the city (Jerusalem), and that from this very day may be dated the overthrow of her wall, and the ruin of her affairs, whereon they saw their high priest, and the procurer of their preservation, slain in the midst of their city." 

He seems to completely forget that the whole reason Ananus was removed from power was because James was supposedly slaughtered unjustly, and that was why Jesus, son of Damneus replaced him. To me this smacks of foul play. Now we have another question...why would such an important moment to whom Josephus considers to be a "venerable and very just man" be excluded from the another book with contents concerning the same man? This is not only a question, it's a refutation. 

It seems rather odd that as in one book he claims that Ananus was insolent, yet in another he attributes the very fall of the city to the death of Ananus. This should raise a few red flags as to something being "rotten in the state of Denmark." If not I would re-adjust your honesty measurement readings. 

To complete this point Ananus is said to have stolen the position as High-Preist and did things against the will of the people in the disputed passage, where in Wars he makes it quite clear his intent was to do nothing but the will of the people he cared about. Another glaring contradiction between these two accounts. 

It would also be noteworthy of the other forgery in Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, passage 2:10 that was made into some sort of relevance to Acts 12:23. The authentic passage is in Antiquities 19:346. 

As for the other accounts of James' death, Eusebius' (260-340) History of the Church preserved the accounts of two early church fathers on the death of James: 

Does anybody notice any discrepencies in the commentaries on James' death? Go can say it...we know. The problem many people take here is that A says one thing...B says two things, the one that matetrs contradicts A...and C says all three in one while contradicting both A and B in the process. The problem MOST people will make ehre to assume that C is the most correct as it incorporates all three supposed incidents into one. The problem is this is just unreasonable. 

The association to this could be made while using the "witness to a car accident" analogy. Person A says two people were in the car while person B says they say 3. If an officer were to go by the logic implied being used earlier, he would have to go with 3, because 3 is a higher variable, and therefore probably the most right. Right? Wrong. What if person B saw a shadow? Or what if they were just lying? What if Person A and B were both lying, or both miscounted? It's hard to say, and thus we have to rely on outside sources to verify the claims. Unfortunately, the officer has the ability to actually count heads of the cars involved in the accident, and we do not get that luxery. So we are greatly dependant on reliable sources for which none exist, leaving this scenario of ours - James' death - a complete and utter bag of vagueness and inconsistency. 

Some people might take Josephus' account to be the more accurate, as the dating of the siege in Josephus is more accurate historically. The problem here is just because historical information is reliable in the same section as one that is being tested does not make the tested subject any more reliable. It just makes things more complicated. And complication is something you don't want nor need when trying to acquire the validity of a source. Especially a source which, as stated earlier, had trends that include sloppyness, vagueness and a faulty distribution of names, numbers and data. Especially when we have another factor involved - copiest errors - which throws the whole schmeal into a larger pile of complicated ooze that has to be sifted through, and for which no sifting materials exist. 

So here we are. Which account is most accurate and which account is most likely? 

Personally, it would seem more likely that the error in all this is the person who copied the texts. It is easy, when the works were included in the TF, and when Eusebius already had the works of Clement and Hegesippus around to snippit in a few works here and there that made their accounts appeal more to tradition. Why not, when the man himself had already done so earlier? Once more...vagueness. Uncertainty. Contradiction. Misinterpretation. Reformulation. Words that devise and detail the flaws in using the TF, or any references from Josephus to a proto-Jesus simply do not work out well for those using them.

With regard to the mentions by Josephus of John the Baptist. How is this evidence for Jesus? This is evidence for the existence of John the Baptist.
Suetonius talks about Jesus Suetonius: "Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he (the emperor, Claudius) expelled them from Rome" (The Life of Claudius, Sec. 25.4). (1) Suetonius wrote in the year 115 CE, so this is FAR from a contemporary account. He doesn't cite or list sources and Christianity would have been decently established by this time.(2) Surely no one will contend that Christ was inciting riots at Rome 15 years after he was supposedly crucified at Jerusalem. And why would Jews be led by Jesus to begin with? But by citing this you are assuming this is the case.(3) This passage contains no evidence for the historicity of Jesus, even if we substitute "Christus" for "Chrestus." Christus is merely the Greek-Latin translation of "anointed" and the phrase "at the instigation of Christus" could refer to a group of people just as much as it could have meant one person. This is reminiscent of the name Theophilus mentioned in the beginning of Acts and Luke, (whom the narrator/author of the books are addressing the prose too) which simply means "lover/friend of God." Which can apply to many people instead of one singular person (maybe even a congregation of people).(4) "Chrestus" was not only a familiar personal name, it was also a name of the Egyptian Serapis or Osiris, who had a large following at Rome, especially among the common people. Hence "Christians" may be either the followers of a man named Chrestus, or of Serapis. Historians know what evil repute the Egyptian people, which consisted mainly of Alexandrian elements, had at Rome. While other foreign cults that had been introduced into Rome enjoyed the utmost toleration, the cult of Serapis and Isis was exposed repeatedly to persecution. The lax morality associated with their worship of the Egyptian gods and the fanaticism of their worshippers repelled the Romans, and excited the suspicion that their cults might be directed against the State.(5) Vopiscus said, "Those who worship Serapis and the Chrestians,.... They are a turbulent, inflated, lawless body of men." Is it not possible that the reference to Chrestus and the Chrestians has been too hastily applied to Christos and Christians? The "Chrestians," who were detested by the people for their crimes,..., are not Christians at all, but followers of Chrestus, the scum of Egypt, the apaches of Rome, a people on whom Nero could very easily cast the suspicion of having set fire to Rome.(6)The name in the text is not "Christus" but "Chrestus," which by no means is the usual designation of Jesus. It was a common name, especially among Roman freedman. (Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares, book 2, letter 8, section 1; "What! Do you suppose that I meant you to send me an account of gladiatorial matches, of postponements of trials, of robberies by Chrestus, and such things as, when I am at Rome, nobody ventures to retail to me?&quot Hence, the whole passage may have nothing whatever to do with Christianity.(7)As one source mentioned it, "Thus much we seem to learn from both passages: but the most enlightened men of that age were singularly ill-informed on the stupendous events which had recently occurred in Judea, and we find Suetonius, although he lived at the commencement of the first century of the Christian aera, when the memory of these occurrences was still fresh, and it might be supposed, by that time, widely diffused, transplanting Christ from Jerusalem to Rome, and placing him in the time of Claudius, although the crucifixion took place during the reign of Tiberius." (Suetonius: The Lives of the Twelve Caesars; An English Translation, Alexander Thomson. Philadelphia. Gebbie & Co. 1889.) What is interesting to note here is that if these events had recently just happened (in the Gospels or anything similar) you'd think those who wrote about it would have written about these events and got them down as they remembered them. Apparently this isn't the case.(8 ) From Suetonius, "He suppressed all foreign religions, and the Egyptian and Jewish rites, obliging those who practised that kind of superstition, to burn their vestments, and all their sacred utensils. He distributed the Jewish youths, under the pretence of military service, among the provinces noted for an unhealthy climate; and dismissed from the city all the rest of that nation as well as those who were proselytes to that religion, under pain of slavery for life, unless they complied. He also expelled the astrologers; but upon their suing for pardon, and promising to renounce their profession, he revoked his decree." (Lives of the Caesars; Tiberius, 36) What is important to note here is that Tiberius (not just Claudius) also revoked the Jews religious rites and expelled them from Rome. (This is also mentioend in Acts) As this is the case, and upon reading Cicero, it could have easily been in Seutonius' interest to apply the name "Chrestus" to the instigator of the Jewish expulsion. (Read also Josephus, Ant.18:5.)


    Many people will assert to no end the people that are listed are all that is needed to prove the existence of Jesus. In fact, like GO, many hold on for dear life to the very people who have been shown time and time again to be false witnesses. 

    NONE are contemporary accounts, all are at least second or third hand accounts, MOST are more. None depict Jesus as the man mentioned in the Bible. 

    The most damning evidence against Jesus is not what WAS said, but what WASN'T said. No contemporary source ever wrote or mentioned Jesus. 

    Justus of Tiberius was a native of Christ's own country, Galilee. He wrote a history covering the time of Christ's reputed existence. This work perished, but Photius, a Christian scholar and critic of the 9th century, was acquainted with it and said, "He (Justus) makes not the least mention of the appearance of Christ, of what things happened to him, or of the wonderful works that he did." (Photius,Bibliotheca, Code 33). 

    Further in later Codices, Photius had to add in bits of information into Antiquities, since both he and Origen were stoutly against Eusebius' tampering with the documentation. He does not add in the Jesus passage from Testimonium, and in fact makes an effort to state that his mentions of Jesus are interjections just so the reader knows of the time frame from which Josephus speaks and that he is discussing. 

    Philo was born before the beginning of the Christian era and lived until long after the reputed death of Christ. He wrote an account of the Jews covering the entire time that Christ is said to have existed on earth. He was living in or near Jerusalem when Christ's miraculous birth and the Herodian massacre occurred. He was there when Christ made his triumphal entry in Jerusalem. He was there when the Crucifixion with its attendant earthquake, supernatural darkness, and resurrection of the dead took place--when Christ himself rose from the dead. Yet, these events were not mentioned by him. 

    Under the reign of Tiberius the whole earth, or at least a celebrated province of the Roman empire, was allegedly involved in a preternatural darkness of three hours. Yet, Seneca and Pliny the Elder, who recorded all the great earthquakes, meteors, comets, and elipses they could find and who lived during the period of Jesus, failed to mention the event. 

    Paul shows absolutely no knowledge of Jesus of Nazareth or the Gospel events. G.A. Wells notes : "These letters have no allusion to the parents of Jesus, let alone to the virgin birth. They never refer to a place of birth (for example, by calling him 'of Nazareth&#39Eye-wink. They give no indication of the time or place of his earthly existence. They do not refer to his trial before a Roman official, nor to Jerusalem as the place of execution. They mention neither John the Baptist, nor Judas, nor Peter's denial of his master. (They do, of course, mention Peter, but do not imply that he, any more than Paul himself, had known Jesus while he had been alive.) These letters also fail to mention any miracles Jesus is supposed to have worked, a particularly striking omission, since, according to the gospels, he worked so many... Another striking feature of Paul's letters is that one could never gather from them that Jesus had been an ethical teacher... on only one occasion does he appeal to the authority of Jesus to support an ethical teaching which the gospels also represent Jesus as having delivered. " 

    As Dennis McKinsey, author of The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy, wrote once, "Many writers, such as Renan, have attempted to write his biography but failed, failed because no materials for such a work exist. If Jesus was an historical person, how is it that not only does the Talmud never mention him but Paul's Epistles do not tell a single special fact about the life of Jesus? Read the other Epistles of the NT. Nowhere in any of the early Christian documents do we find even the slenderest reference to the mere man Jesus, the historical personality as such, from which we might infer that the author had a close acquaintance with him. His life, as described in the gospels, seems to have been entirely unknown to the authors. His speeches and sayings are hardly ever quoted and where this is done, as in the Epistle of James or the Book of Acts, they are not quoted as sayings of Jesus." 

    And lastly, Christians contend all of the following pre-Christian sun-gods are mythological: Hercules, Osiris, Bacchus, Mithra, Hermes, Prometheus, Perseus, and Horus. Yet, all: (1) allegedly had gods for fathers and virgins for mothers; (2) had their births announced by stars and celestial music; (3) were born on the 25th of December (Solstice); (4) had tyrants trying to kill them when they were infants; (5) met with violent deaths; and (6) rose from the dead. 

    In the end, any reasonable person has to look at the evidence against Jesus, in fact, in light of him, and see that he could not possibly have existed. No contemporary evidence, no mention of him except in forgeries so obvious only those ignorant to the facts will use them as some sort of evidence, and what is there is lacking anything substantial, only blind assertions, rationalizations and outstretched hands grasping for straws; can even barely twist them to mean Jesus. 

    As Celsus stated, "I could continue along these lines, suggesting a good deal about the affairs of Jesus' life that does not appear in your own records. Indeed, what I know to be the case and what the disciples tell are two very different stories... [for example] the nonsensical idea that Jesus foresaw everything that was to happen to him (an obvious attempt to conceal the humiliating facts)." (62).

    "The men who fabricated this geneaology [of Jesus] were insistent on on the point that Jesus was descended from the first man and from the king of the Jews [David]. The poor carpenter's wife seems not to have known she had such a distinguished bunch of ancestors." (64). 

    "What an absurdity! Clearly the christians have used the myths of Danae and the Melanippe, or of the Auge and the Antiope in fabricating the story of Jesus' virgin birth." (57). 

    "After all, the old myths of the greeks that attribute a divine birth to Perseus, Amphion, Aeacus and Minos are equally good evidence of their wondrous works on behalf of mankind- and are certainly no less lacking in plausibility than the stories of your followers." (59). 

    And lastly, one of my favorites: "One ought first to follow reason as a guide before accepting any belief, since anyone who believes without testing a doctrine is certain to be deceived." (54). 

    Indeed...and here we witness the most the only evidence he can bring up is mentioned ONLY in Eusebius' work, and as Gibbon states, "In this general view of the persecution which was first authorised by the edicts of Diocletian, I have purposely refrained from describing the particular sufferings and deaths of the Christian martyrs. It would have been an easy task. From the history of Eusebius, from the declamations of Lactantius, to collect a long series of horrid and disgusting pictures ...[snip] But I cannot determine what I ought to transcribe, till I am satisfied how much I ought to believe. The gravest of the ecclesiastical historians, Eusebius himself, indirectly confesses that he has related whatever might redound to the glory, and that he has suppressed all that could tend to the disgrace, of religion. (178) Such an acknowledgement will naturally excite a suspicion that a writer who has so openly violated one of the fundamental laws of history has not paid a very strict regard to the observance of the other; and the suspicion will derive additional credit from the character of Eusebius, which was less tinctured with credulity, and more practised in the arts of courts, than that of almost any of his contemporaries. [etc]." (Gibbon, Edward, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Encyclopedia Britannica reprint, 1990, ISBN 0-85229-531-6. Volume I, chapter 16, p.232.) 

    On Josephus, we have the following: 
    • Justin Martyr (circa C.E. 100-165) but never once quoted this passage -- even in the face of charges that Christians had "invented some sort of Christ for themselves" and that they had accepted "a futile rumor" (Dialogue with Trypho 8; circa C.E. 135).
    • Origen (circa C.E. 185-254), who in his own writings relies extensively upon the works of Josephus, does not mention this passage or any other passage in Josephus that mentions Christ. Not even when he is in dialogue against Celsus' accusations!
    • Jerome (circa C.E. 347-420) cites Josephus 90 times, but never once cites the Testimonium.

    Since Eusebius, everybody quotes the Josephus passage as though it were actual, but before, not one church father or scribe or even a monk mentions this passage in ANY form, not even those who used Josephus' works frequently! It smells of something...rotten in Denmark. 

    And after 2,000 years, with all the research and field time, no evidence physical or otherwise can be brought up to effectively prove the existence of Jesus. Not even a slipper, or a cup...only a forged passage, a few references to Chrestians and Christians in later centuries, and the Bible which has enough holes to make a back door screen jealous.



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Tacitus (A.D. c.55-A.D. c.117, Roman historian) mentions "christus" who is Jesus 

Tacitus: "But neither the aid of man, nor the liberality of the prince, nor the propitiations of the gods succeeded in destroying the belief that the fire had been purposely lit. In order to put an end to this rumor, therefore, Nero laid the blame on and visited with severe punishment those men, hateful for their crimes, whom the people called Christians. He from whom the name was derived, Christus, was put to death by the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius. But the pernicious superstition, checked for a moment, broke out again, not only in Judea, the native land of the monstrosity, but also in Rome, to which all conceivable horrors and abominations flow from every side, and find supporters. First, therefore, those were arrested who openly confessed; then, on their information, a great number, who were not so much convicted of the fire as of hatred of the human race. Ridicule was passed on them as they died; so that, clothed in skins of beasts, they were torn to pieces by dogs, or crucified, or committed to the flames, and when the sun had gone down they were burned to light up the night. Nero had lent his garden for this spectacle, and gave games in the Circus, mixing with the people in the dress of a charioteer or standing in the chariot. Hence there was a strong sympathy for them, though they might have been guilty enough to deserve the severest punishment, on the ground that they were sacrificed, not to the general good, but to the cruelty of one man." (Annals XV, 44) 

It would be utterly ridiculous to use this, but still, some do. 

  • (1) It is extremely improbable that a special report found by Tacitus had been sent earlier to Rome and incorporated into the records of the Senate, in regard to the death of a Jewish provincial, Jesus. The execution of a Nazareth carpenter would have been one of the most insignificant events conceivable among the movements of Roman history in those decades; it would have completely disappeared beneath the innumerable executions inflicted by Roman provincial authorities. For it to have been kept in any report would have been a most remarkable instance of chance.
  • (2) The phrase "multitudo ingens" which means "a great number" is opposed to all that we know of the spread of the new faith in Rome at the time. A vast multitude in 64 A.D.? There were not more than a few thousand Christians 200 years later. The idea of so many just 30 years after his supposed death is just a falsehood.
  • (3) The use of the Christians as "living torches," as Tacitus describes, and all the other atrocities that were committed against them, have little title to credence, and suggest an imagination exalted by reading stories of the later Christian martyrs. Death by fire was not a punishment inflicted at Rome in the time of Nero. It is opposed to the moderate principles on which the accused were then dealt with by the State.
  • (4) The Roman authorities can have had no reason to inflict special punishment on the new faith. How could the non-initiated Romans know what were the concerns of a comparatively small religious sect, which was connected with Judaism and must have seemed to the impartial observer wholly identical with it.
  • (5) Suetonius says that Nero showed the utmost indifference, even contempt in regard to religious sects. Even afterwards the Christians were not persecuted for their faith, but for political reasons, for their contempt of the Roman state and emperor, and as disturbers of the unity and peace of the empire. What reason can Nero have had to proceed against the Christians, hardly distinguishable from the Jews, as a new and criminal sect?
  • (6) It is inconceivable that the followers of Jesus formed a community in the city at that time of sufficient importance to attract public attention and the ill-feeling of the people. It isn't the most popular way to convert and bring people into their religion.
  • (7) The victims could not have been given to the flames in the gardens of Nero, as Tacitus allegedly said. According to another account by Tacitus these gardens were the refuge of those whose homes had been burned and were full of tents and wooden sheds. Why would he risk burning these by lighting human fires amidst all these shelters?
  • (Cool According to Tacitus, Nero was in Antium, not Rome, when the fire occurred.
  • (9) The blood-curdling story about the frightful orgies of Nero reads like some Christian romance of the Dark Ages and not like Tacitus. Suetonius, while mercilessly condemning the reign of Nero, says that in his public entertainments Nero took particular care that no lives should be sacrificed, "not even those of condemned criminals."
  • (10) It is highly unlikely that he mingled with the crowd and feasted his eyes on the ghastly spectacle. Tacitus tells us in his life of Agricola that Nero had crimes committed, but kept his own eyes off them.
  • (11) Some authorities allege that the passage in Tacitus could not have been interpolated because his style of writing could not have been copied. But this argument is without merit since there is no "inimitable" style for the clever forger, and the more unususal, distinctive, and peculiar a style is, like that of Tacitus, the easier it is to imitate. Moreover, as far as the historicity of Jesus is concerned we are, perhaps, interested only in one sentence of the passage and that has nothing distinctively Tacitan about it.
  • (12) Tacitus is assumed to have written this about 117 A.D., about 80 years after the death of Jesus, when Christianity was already an organized religion with a settled tradition. The gospels, or at least 3 of them, are supposed to have been in existence. Hence Tacitus might have derived his information about Jesus, if not directly from the gospels, indirectly from them by means of oral tradition. This is the view of Dupuis, who wrote: "Tacitus says what the legend said." In 117 A.D. Tacitus could only know about Christ by what reached him from Christian or intermediate circles. He merely reproduced rumors.
  • (13) In no other part of his writings did Tacitus make the least allusion to "Christ" or "Christians." Christus was a very common name, as was Jesus, in fact Jospehus lists about 20 in the time Jesus was supposedly said to have existed.
  • (14) Tacitus is also made to say that the Christians took their denomination from Christ which could apply to any of the so-called Christs who were put to death in Judea, including Christ Jesus.
  • (15) The worshippers of the Sun-god Serapis were also called "Christians." Serapis or Osiris had a large following at Rome especially among the common people.
  • (18) The expression "Christians" which Tacitus applies to the followers of Jesus, was by no means common in the time of Nero. Not a single Greek or Roman writer of the first century mentions the name. The Christians who called themselves Jessaeans, Nazoraeans, the Elect, the Saints, the Faithful, etc. were universally regarded as Jews. They observed the Mosaic law and the people could not distinguish them from the other Jews. The Greek word Christus (the anointed) for Messiah, and the derivative word, Christian, first came into use under Trajan in the time of Tacitus. Even then, however, the word Christus could not mean Jesus of Nazareth. All the Jews without exception looked forward to a Christus or Messiah. It is, therefore, not clear how the fact of being a "Christian" could, in the time of Nero or of Tacitus, distinguish the followers of Jesus from other believers in a Christus or Messiah. Not one of the gospels applies the name Christians to the followers of Jesus. It is never used in the New Testament as a description of themselves by the believers in Jesus.
  • (19) Most scholars admit that the works of Tacitus have not been preserved with any degree of fidelity.
  • (20) This passage which could have served Christian writers better than any other writing of Tacitus, is not quoted by any of the Christian Fathers. It is not quoted by Tertullian, though he often quoted the works of Tacitus. Tertullian's arguments called for the use of this passage with so loud a voice that his omission of it, if it had really existed, amounted to a violent improbability.
  • (21) Eusebius in the 4th century cited all the evidence of Christianity obtained from Jewish and pagan sources but makes no mention of Tacitus.
  • (22) This passage is not quoted by Clement of Alexandria who at the beginning of the 3rd century set himself entirely to the work of adducing and bringing together all the admissions and recognitions which pagan authors had made of the existence of Christ Jesus or Christians before his time.
  • (23) Origen in his controversy with Celsus would undoubtedly have used it had it existed.
  • (24) There is no vestige or trace of this passage anywhere in the world before the 15th century. Its use as part of the evidences of the Christian religion is absolutely modern. Although no reference whatever is made to it by any writer or historian, monkish or otherwise, before the 15th century (1468 A.D.), after that time it is quoted or referred to in an endless list of works including by your supposed historian.
  • (25) The fidelity of the passage rests entirely upon the fidelity of one individual (first published in a copy of the annals of Tacitus in the year 1468 by Johannes de Spire of Venice who took his imprint of it from a single manuscript) who would have every opportunity and inducement to insert such an interpolation.
  • (26) In all the Roman records there was to be found no evidence that Christ was put to death by Pontius Pilate. If genuine, such a sentence would be the most important evidence in pagan literature. How could it have been overlooked for 1360 years?
  • (27) Richard Carrier explains that we are actually missing three years in Tacitus, "We are enormously lucky to have Tacitus--only two unrelated Christian monasteries had any interest in preserving his Annals, for example, and neither of them preserved the whole thing, but each less than half of it, nd by shear luck alone, they each preserved a different half. And yet we still have large gaps in it. One of those gaps is the removal of the years 29, 30, and 31 (precisely, the latter part of 29, all of 30, and the earlier part of 31), which is probably the deliberate excision of Christian scribes who were embarrassed by the lack of any mention of Jesus or Gospel events in those years (the years Jesus' ministry, death, and resurrection were widely believed at the time to have occurred). There is otherwise no known explanation for why those three years were removed. The other large gap is the material between the two halves that neither institution preserved. And yet another is the end of the second half, which scribes also chose not to preserve (or lost through negligent care of the manuscript, etc.)."
  • (28) Suetonius doesn't mention this event in his histories.
  • (29) And lastly, the style of the passage is not consistent with the usually mild and classic language of Tacitus



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  1. Lucian (circa 120-after 180) mentions Jesus



    1. Lucian, (175 CE), refers to "the man who was crucified in Palestine because he introduced this new cult into the world."Regardless of the fact that this is NOT AN EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT BUT WRITTEN 120 YEARS AFTER THE SUPPOSED DEATH OF JESUS, nowhere in any of his writings does Lucian mention the man's name, or the cult he brought into the world. This is aSPECIAL PLEADING argument by Christians, we are too ASSUME he is talking about Jesus. Except that THOUSANDS of people were crucified in Palestine, and many of these men were known to start new religions, especially around the time of Lucian. Palestine covers an area roughly hundreds of miles from north to south and east to west, it spreads from north of Damascus to the far south, past Masada and the Dead Sea. The ONLY thing this proves is that a man was killed because he started a cult.



      As translated by H.W. Fowler and F.G. Fowler, The Christians . . . worship a man to this day--the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. . . . [It] was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.


      This is a pseudo-translation. The real (And FULL) translation is as follows:


      1. "These deluded creatures, you see, have persuaded themselves that they are immortal and will live forever, which explains the contempt of death and willing self-sacrifice so common among them. It was impressed on them too by their lawgiver that from the moment they are converted, deny the gods of Greece, worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws, they are all brothers. They take his instructions completely on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods and hold them in common ownership. So any adroit, unscrupulous fellow, who knows the world, has only to get among these simple souls and his fortune is quickly made; he plays with them."


      More on this below.

      Lucian does not name specifically the crucified figure as Jesus Christ. This whole argument is now bunk because it depends on Special Pleading. The plea is that we accept that Lucian is talking about Jesus of Nazareth, but clearly it isn’t certain.

      He does speak a LOT about Christians, in fact he ridicules them! He believes rather thoroughly that Christianity is a scam. Lucian satirized the Christians in his Passing of Peregrines (From which your quote derives) a story of a philosopher sage who at one point becomes a leader of the Christians to take advantage of their gullibility. His last statement says it all, “So any adroit, unscrupulous fellow, who knows the world, has only to get among these simple souls and his fortune is quickly made; he plays with them.”

      In fact, when he states, “It was then that he learned the wondrous lore of the Christians, by associating with their priests and scribes in Palestine. And—how else could it be?—in a trice he made them all look like children, for he was prophet, cult-leader, head of the synagogue, and everything, all by himself. He interpreted and explained some of their books and even composed many, and they revered him as a god, made use of him as a lawgiver, and set him down as a protector….” He is speaking of his character he concocted, the sage philosopher, who the Christians worshiped and took on as their God, and who was better then all their (the Christians) scribes and priests.

      What is more amusing about your non-researched speculation is that you seem to think Lucian has some sort of knowledge concerning the existence of Jesus, where in fact it’s just not true. Even other Christian’s admit to such.

      As Jeffery Jay Lowder, author of Josh McDowell’s “Evidence” for Jesus: Is It Reliable?, writes concerning Lucian, “Nevertheless, given that Lucian's statement was written near the end of the second century, it seems rather unlikely that he had independent sources of information concerning the historicity of Jesus. Lucian may have relied upon Christian sources, common knowledge, or even an earlier pagan reference (e.g., Tacitus); since Lucian does not specify his sources, we will never know.Just as is the case with Tacitus, it is quite plausible that Lucian would have simply accepted the Christian claim that their founder had been crucified. (Take into account that Lowder is making the same plea. He also believes in the historicity of Christ)

      He states, in his conclusion as well, “Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, and Lucian are not independent witnesses to the historicity of Jesus.” Regardless of what references are made AFTER the fact, he’s not an eye-witness ergo he CANNOT be used to prove the existence of Jesus. He wasn’t even a CONTEMPORARY!

      So we have two main problems associated with Lucian:

      1. 1. Lucian was NOT a contemporary or eye-witness.
      2. 2. Lucian does NOT mention Jesus OR the cult this man who was crucified in Palestine started.


      The whole argument for Lucian is bunk. And the fact that it’s only a slight mention, if but two sentences, really doesn’t help your case.


      Some Christian once wrote:
      ...but Lucian clearly was talking of who the Christians worshipped.


      So it proved the Christians worshipped somebody. Who’s arguing that point? This is irrelevant.


      Some Christian once wrote:
      He was also describing the teachings of Christianity(brothers at the time of conversion) and the conversion involved the denial of Greek gods and living according to His teaching.


      This is as I stated above Lucian’s reference to the Christians reaction to HIS CHARACTER, Peregrines! This is a failure on your part, because you probably just went to some Christian site, copied the butchered text, and pasted it as if that was all Lucian wrote in his entire life. Where in fact these statements you claim are applied to Jesus are actually about a man named Peregrines who, “for a time in his early life went over to Christianity, practicing it to the point of imprisonment under a very tolerant administration, and after returning to Cynicism became in his old age so enamoured of Indic ideas and precedents that he cremated himself at Olympia, just after the games of A.D. 165, even as Calanus had done at Susa in the presence of Alexander the Great and as Zarmarus had done at Athens, after initiation into the mysteries, in the presence of Augustus.” - H.M. Harmon (Lucian of Samosata : The Passing of Peregrines)

      It should be noted too, that Josephus talks a lot about crucifixion in his works. In the 120 years that passed between Jesus' supposed existence and Lucian, thousands upon thousands were crucified in Palestine. In fact, in just one year, multitudes numbering 500 in one day, sometimes more, were sent to be crucified during the seige in 70 CE.

      "...before they died, and were then crucified before the wall of the city. This miserable procedure made Titus greatly to pity them, while they caught every day five hundred Jews; nay, some days they caught more: yet it did not appear to be safe for him to let those that were taken by force go their way, and to set a guard over so many he saw would be to make such as great deal them useless to him. The main reason why he did not forbid that cruelty was this, that he hoped the Jews might perhaps yield at that sight, out of fear lest they might themselves afterwards be liable to the same cruel treatment. So the soldiers, out of the wrath and hatred they bore the Jews, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest, when their multitude was so great, that room was wanting for the crosses, and crosses wanting for the bodies." (War 5: Chapter 11)

      To claim that the one man who was crucified is your savior is incredulous. So many myth's were flying around the time of Lucian it is impossible really to name them all. So many "saviors" crucified. And since Christ more have followed. Whether they be of the Chrestians and Christians, or of false prophets that are known to us such as Alexander and his followers (Also written by Lucian).

      Incidentally...Alexander was claiming to be the son of Zeus (hm) and he was a sage, and an oracle. He preformed miracles that Lucian mocked.

      "As a matter of fact, this trick, to a man like you, and if it is not out of place to say so, like myself also, was obvious and easy to see through, but to those drivelling idiots it was miraculous and almost as good as incredible."

      "Well, as I say, Alexander made predictions and gave oracles, employing great shrewdness in it and combining guesswork with his trickery. He gave responses that were sometimes obscure and am­biguous, sometimes downright unintelligible, for this seemed to him in the oracular manner. Some people he dissuaded or encouraged as seemed best to him at a guess. To others he prescribed medical treatments and diets, knowing, as I said in the beginning, many useful remedies."

      "By now he was even sending men abroad to create rumours in the different nations in regard to the oracle and to say that he made predictions, discovered fugitive slaves, detected thieves and robbers, caused treasures to be dug up, healed the sick, and in some cases had actually raised the dead. " (sound familiar yet?)



  2. The Talmud Mentions Jesus



    1. PULEASE!!! As I posted before in the other forum:


      Lets take a look at some of the most commonly quoted. (Thanks to Dennis McKinsey)

      The first comment worthy of note is found in Sanhedrin 43a of the Talmud, which states,


      On the eve of the Passover Yeshu (The Munich manuscript adds the Nasarean) was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, 'He is going forth to be stoned because he has practised sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Anyone who can say anything in his favour, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.' But since nothing was brought forward in his favour he was hanged on the eve of the Passover.... Do you suppose that he was one for whom a defence could be made? Was he not a Mesith (enticer), concerning whom Scripture says, Neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him (Deut. 13:9)? With Yeshu however it was different, for he was connected with the government (or royalty, i.e., influential). Our Rabbis taught: Yeshu had five disciples, Matthai, Nakai, Nezer, Buni, and Todah.
      Although difficult to imagine, this anemic passage is a reference to Jesus, according to some commentators. Reliance upon passages as weak as this can't help but dissipate respect for apologetic scholarship. Obvious inadequacies are:



      1. (1) It says Yeshu, not Jesus.
      2. (2) Even if Yeshu and Jesus were identical words, it was not an unusual name. On the contrary, it appears rather frequently in ancient Jewish literature. Josephus records the following out of 28 high priests in the 107 years from Herod to the destruction of Jerusalem: Jesus, son of Phabet; Jesus, son of Damneus; Jesus, son of Gamaliel; Jesus, son of Sapphias; Jesus son of Thebuthus.
      3. (3) Jesus was crucified, not hanged.
      4. (4) Jesus was not stoned, at least not according to the biblical record.
      5. (5) The New Testament says nothing about a herald going forth for forty days before the execution occurred.
      6. (6) Jesus had no connection with the government. At least nothing within the Gospels would lead one to believe that he lived among royalty or the influential class.
      7. (7) Nowhere in the New Testament was Jesus charged with sorcery or leading Israel astray. The New Testament record tells of three accusations against Jesus:
        1. (a) blasphemy,
        2. (b) claiming to be the Son of God, and
        3. (c) assuming the role of King of the Jews. But he was never charged with practicing sorcery nor of leading Israel astray. Any attempt to apply this part of the Talmud to Jesus is doomed to failure.


      Another passage relied upon is found in section 55b of the Sanhedrin in the Talmud and states, "The blasphemer is punished only if he utters [the Divine] name.... The whole day [of the trial] the witnesses are examined by means of a substitute for the divine name, Thus, 'May Jose smite Jose.'" This is vagueness at its worse. The suggestion is made that the first "Jose" represents God. But it is unlikely that even for illustrative purposes the rabbis would allude to Jesus as a divinity. And did God ever smite Jesus?

      A footnote to Sanhedrin 67a says, "In the uncensored editions of the Talmud there follows this passage.... 'And thus they did to Ben Strada in Lydda, and they hung him on the eve of Passover." Although cited by apologetic sources, this clearly isn't much to go on either. As we all know, according to the biblical account Jesus was crucified, not hanged, and he was killed in Jerusalem, not in Lydda, near the coast. The names aren't even the same.

      Another passage that is sometimes cited is found in Sanhedrin 106b and is interpreted by some apologists in such a manner as to equate Balaam with Jesus of Nazareth. It says,


      Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, [did the children of Israel slay with the sword]. A soothsayer? But he was a prophet! R. Johanan said: At first he was a prophet, but subsequently a soothsayer. R. Papa observed: This is what men say, 'She who was the descendant of princes and governors, played the harlot with carpenters....! Rab said: They subjected him to four deaths, stoning, burning, decapitation and strangulation. A certain man said to R. Hanina: Hast thou heard how old Balaam was? He replied: It is not actually stated, but since it is written, Bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their day, [it follows that] he was thirty-three or thirty-four years old. He rejoined: Thou has said correctly; I personally have seen Balaam's chronicle, in which it is stated, 'Balaam the lame was thirty years old when Phinehas the Robber killed him.
      Believe it or not, that nebulous maze of disjointed monologue is used as a reference to Jesus of Nazareth. Apparently some Christian apologists just couldn't resist the temptation when they read such emotionally charged words as "prophet," "she/carpenters," "subjected/deaths," "slain by Israel," and "thirty-three." The discrepancies between the life of Balaam and Jesus are numerous.



      1. (a) Balaam was slain with a sword, while Jesus died by crucifixion.
      2. (b) The father of Jesus was not named Beor, nor was he a soothsayer.
      3. (c) One would be hard pressed to find biblical support for allegations that Jesus died by stoning, burning, decapitation and strangulation. Incidentally, how could he have died by all four methods? In order to make sense, "and" should have been translated as "or".
      4. (d) If "she" is referring to the mother of Jesus, this passage is saying she was a harlot with many carpenters (plural).
      5. (e) If Jesus is Balaam, then the passage is implying Jesus is bloody and deceitful.
      6. (f) When did Jesus keep a chronicle, especially one relating his age or death?
      7. (g) Jesus was never lame, and certainly not for thirty years.
      8. (h) The names Jesus and Balaam are quite different.
      9. (i) And finally, Jesus was not killed by someone named Phinehas the Robber.
      It doesn't take a great deal of wisdom to see that apologists are stretching interpretation to the limits on these.


      A short little comment found in the footnotes of Sanhedrin 107b says, "In the uncensored editions there follows here, 'and not like R. Joshua b. Perahjah, who repulsed Jesus (the Nazarene) with both hands." The problem with this sentence is that only the Munich manuscript adds (the Nazarene).

      Another footnote in Sanhedrin 107b says, .


      ..When King Jannai slew our Rabbis, R. Joshua b. Perahjah (and Jesus) fled to Alexandria of Egypt. On the resumption of peace, Simeon b. Shetach sent to him.... He arose, went, and found himself in a certain inn, where great honour was shewn him.... He (Jesus) thinking that it was to repel him, went, put up a brick, and worshipped it. 'Repent,' said R. Joshua to him. Jesus replied, 'I have thus learned from thee: He who sins and causes others to sin is not afforded the means of repentance.' And a Master has said, 'Jesus the Nazarene practised magic and led Israel astray.'
      Although hard to realize, this is the more intelligible part of the entire passage. Again, one can see how desperate some apologists are to find something in the Talmud that can substantiate the alleged existence of Jesus of Nazareth. The attraction of "fled to Egypt," an "inn," "Jesus the Nazarene," "led Israel," and "sin/repentance" were more than they could resist. The problems with this are readily apparent.



      1. (a) Jesus was not a rabbi when he fled to Egypt.
      2. (b) The New Testament says nothing about Jesus fleeing to Alexandria, Egypt.
      3. (c) When did Jesus ever worship a brick? The worship of bricks is known in the Hermes cult, and is not Christian.
      4. (d) According to apologetic theology, Jesus neither sinned nor caused others to sin.
      5. (e) Jesus was not a contemporary of King Jannai.
      6. (f) while the Munich, Florence, and Karlsruhe manuscripts and the early printed editions of the Talmud mention Yeshu, only the Munich text adds "the Nazarene."
      That's about as coherent as these passages can be rendered.


      Another passage of equal clarity is found in Abodah Zarah 17a which says,


      I was once walking in the upper-market of Sepphoris when I came across one [of the disciples of Jesus the Nazarene] Jacob of Kefar-Sekaniah by name who said to me.... To which I made no reply. Said he to me: Thus was I taught [by Jesus the Nazarene], 'For the hire of a harlot hath she gathered them and unto the hire of a harlot shall they return.' They came from a place of filth, let them go to a place of filth.
      Again, the power of imagination appears to have been overwhelming.



      1. (a) How does the mere mention of a disciple of Jesus prove that Jesus lived?
      2. (b) The reference to Jesus only occurs in the Munich manuscript.
      3. (c) And nowhere in the Gospels can one find the quote that was attributed to Jesus.


      A final passage from the Mishnah itself, as opposed to the Gemara, is found in Yebamoth 49a, which says,

      "I found a roll of genealogical records in Jerusalem, and therein was written, 'so-and-so is a bastard [having been born] from [a forbidden union with] a married woman,' which confirms the view of R. Joshua."

      Some people actually see Jesus in this. The problems are:



      1. (a) Jesus was born in Bethlehem, not Jerusalem.
      2. (b) Although technically speaking, Jesus was a bastard since his parents were not married, one is hardpressed to understand how apologists would want to use a passage that is so derogatory toward him.
        To skirt this difficulty some writings say, "A certain person was illegitimately born of a married woman." The word "illegitimate" is a euphemism. In addition, "a certain person" could apply to thousands of Middle Eastern people, and Mary was not married.


      In summary, the Talmud has no independent tradition about Jesus; all that it says of him is merely an echo of Christian and Pagan legends, which it reproduces according to the impressions of the second and later centuries. The Talmud has "borrowed" its knowledge of Jesus from the Gospels. When Josephus is excluded from the Jewish witnesses to the historicity of Jesus, there remains only the question of whether or not there may be some other evidence in the other Jewish literature of the time, in the Talmud, for instance. The answer is no.



  3. Pliny the Younger mentioned Christ


    Pliny: "I have laid down this rule in dealing with those who were brought before me for being Christians. I asked whether they were Christians; if they confessed, I asked them a second and a third time, threatening them with punishment; if they persevered, I ordered them to be executed.... They assured me that their only crime or error was this, that they were wont to come together on a certain day before it was light, and to sing in turn, among themselves, a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and to bind themselves by an oath--not to do anything that was wicked, that they would commit no theft, robbery, or adultery, nor break their word, nor deny that anything had been entrusted to them when called upon to restore it.... I therefore deemed it the more necessary to extract the truth by torture from two slave women whom they call deaconesses. But I found it was nothing but a bad and excessive superstition.... the sacred rites which had been allowed to lapse (by them--Ed.) are being performed again, and flesh of sacrificed victims is on sale everywhere, though up till recently scarcely anyone could be found to buy it."

    Why anyone would quote this passage is hard to understand:

    1. (1) It proves nothing in regard to the existence of Jesus, but only affirms the existence of Christians.
    2. (2) If the passage is referring to Christians, then it is also saying Christians sold the flesh of their sacrificial victims.
    3. (3) Roman laws accorded religious liberty to all. Before Constantine there was not a single law opposed to freedom of thought.
    4. (4) Trajan was one of the most tolerant of Roman emperors.
    5. (5) Pliny is universally conceded to have been one of the most humane of men. That Pliny would have tortured two women is highly unlikely. The person and character of women in Pagan Rome were held in high esteem.
    6. (6) The letter implies Bithynia had a large Christian population which is improbable at that early date.
    7. (7) The passage implies Trajan was not acquainted with Christian beliefs and customs even though Christians were quite prominent in his capital.
    8. (Cool For Christians to be found in so remote a province as Bithynia before acquiring notoriety in Rome is unlikely.
    9. (9) Pliny says they sing a hymn to Christ as to God which Christians in Pliny's time would consider blasphemous since Jesus was no more than a man to them. His divinity was not established until 325 A.D.
    10. (10) This letter is found in only one ancient copy of Pliny.
    11. (11) The German literati, the most learned, say the epistle is not genuine.
    12. (12) The genuineness of this correspondence of Pliny and Trajan is by no means certain. The tendency of the letters to put the Christians in as favorable a light as possible is too obvious not to excite some suspicion. For these and other reasons the correspondence was declared by experts to be spurious even at the time of its first publication in the 16th century.
    13. (13) The undeniable fact is that some of the first Christians were among the greatest forgers who ever lived. This letter was first quoted by Tertullian and the age immediately preceding him was known for fraudulent writings. Tertullian and Eusebius, the people infavor of the passage's genuineness, were by no means the most reliablesources




    1. Sherwin-White observes, "Modern scholars have taken no very coherent line about this. Some regard the letters as entirely fictitious, written for the books in which they appear... Others speak of the letters being written up for publication from simpler originals..." (11) With regard to the letters concerning Christians (10.96-97), for S-White "it is hardly necessary to defend the genuine character of these two letters," since the letters were known to Tertullian (691) and "this type of theory, like the notion that Tacitus' account of the Neronian affair is a forgery, raises greater difficulties than it solves..." (692). Keresztes observes that "the genuineness of the correspondence on the Christians, especially that of Pliny's letter, has been questioned, or even completely rejected by many scholars."



    2. Further, assuming the letters to be authentic, there is no agreement among scholars regarding when the various books of letters were compiled, or when they were published, or whether they were published separately, one by one, or in groups, or some separately and some in groups, or all at once. According to S-White, for example, "the evidence points to three or four separate publications: I-II together or separately, III-VI or VII together, VII or VIII-IX together." (52)



    3. The only thing scholars must agree about is that the collection of letters from Pliny's time in Bithynia and Pontus could not have been compiled by Pliny (since he died there), although no one knows who collected and published them, or when (or why).



    4. Wilken writes of Pliny, "No mention is made of Christians in any of his other letters" (Wilken, 16)



    5. According to S-White (80f.), Pliny arrived in Bithynia in September 109 and died sometime between January and September 111. Radice (15) places his mission in Bithynia-Pontus between 111 and 113 (also Wilken). It is generally thought that Pliny spent the first year in Bithynia, and traveled further east to Pontus only after September 110. Pliny's itinerary in Pontus is puzzling: he seems have gone first to Sinope, then east to Amisus, and back- either by sea, or by passing through Sinope again-to Amastris, before returning to Bithynia. His letter to Trajan concerning Christians must have been written sometime between September 110 and January 111 (when he ceased writing letters), and stands between a letter written from Amisus (on the eastern border of Pontus) and another written from Amastris, about 100 miles west of Amisus, on the way back to Bithynia. But we are not told where Pliny was when he wrote the letter.



    6. We do not know, therefore, where the letter was written, nor do we know whether the problem Pliny encountered arose in Amisus, Amastris, or somewhere else. "The city where the trouble first arose cannot be determined" (S-White, 693; cf. Wilken, 15). Wilken tells us (15) that Pliny no doubt assumed "that Trajan would know where he was." But how would Trajan have known this? And even if he knew where the letter was written from, how would he have known in what city the problem arose? - which might not be unimportant, since Amisus was a self-governing city with significant freedom to determine its own way of life (Wilken, 14). In any case, it is strange that, particularly in a letter of such length and detail, dealing with such an important subject (as he emphasizes in his letter), Pliny makes no mention of where the trouble arose.



    7. Nor does Pliny explain how the trouble arose. The nature of the actual charges brought against the Christians is obscure.



    8. Wilken:
      1. Keresztes states:
        1. The utter silence of Pliny in the details of the reasoning behind the execution, the actual laws broken, the orders in which they were sentenced and the utter failure by him to explain the reasoning behind the disturbances speak to it being written by a hand other then Pliny, and most likely written by Tertullian or somebody prior to him.



        2. The fact that nowhere else in his entire collection of 121 letters do we see a single mention of Christians is defeating to the non-forgery case. It's only seen in this one letter, and the letter itself appears only, it seems, for the Christians when they needed it and not before.



      2. Thallus Circa AD 52, eclipse of the sun



        1. From Bede's apologetic web site :
          The two sources are Thallus (quoted by Julius Africanus in about 220 AD) who wrote a history of the Eastern Mediterranean in about 50 AD. He mentions the darkness and calls it an eclipse of the sun. This is astronomically impossible as an eclipse cannot take place at a full moon. Another source, Phlegon from around 80 AD, also mentions the darkness, saying it took place at a full moon during the reign of Tiberius Caesar. Origen and Africanus quote him.



          1. 1. Be aware that we don't have Thallus' writings, only comments from Julius Africanus in the 3rd Century CE. The earliest manuscript of Africanus' work was done by George Syncellus in the 9th Century CE.
          2. 2. Julius goes on to criticise him for saying this because a solar eclipse is impossible during a full moon. Even Bede (a Christian apologist) notes this is impossible because an eclipse can't take place during a full moon. For more on the dynamics of solar eclipses go HERE. However there was an eclipse in November of 29 CE, which may have been the one that Thallus referred to. Note the date of the only recorded solar eclipse occurred 4 years PRIOR to the date Christians give for the death of Jesus.
            Both F.Jacoby and R.T.France note that this does NOT in any way prove Thallus mentioned Jesus at all - it seems that it was Julius, nearly 2 centuries after Thallus alleged wrote about it, who made the connection.
          3. 3. The supposed identification of Thallus depends entirely on a misreading of Josephus, which even the author F.F.Bruce admits is "doubtful. Dr. R.T.Frances (a conservative Christian) also rejects this dating of Thallus.
          4. 4. Josephus mentions .. "allos Samareus genos" which has to be amended to read "Thallos" to support this identification. All Josephus mentions is that "Thallos" loaned money to Agrippa. This is very non-specific because even if Josephus had said "Thallos", there is no way to be sure that this is in fact the historian Thallus because during that time Thallos was a common name (the "which Thallus? problem")


          Remember that we are looking for historians who mention Jesus to confirm that a historical personage existed BUT:

          1. Thallus (even if we had any of his work which no longer exists) does NOT mention Jesus, only that a "darkness occurred).
            1. Also remember that Julius who supposedly mentions Thallus' report characterizes it as a solar eclipse which could not have possibly occurred on the date in question because of full moon.
            2. The only documented solar elipse even close in both time and place to the time/place of Jesus' death occurred in November 24, 29 CE, a date PRIOR to the time given by Christians (33 CE)


          Thallus provides no evidence of anything about Jesus.



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