Behold the Man!

(4th in a series of a presentation on The Apostles Creed)

Most societies today mark the calendar as being split B.C. (Before Christ), and A.D. (Anno Domini: Year of our Lord). There are many others that have their own calendars, as well. Those that leap to mind are the Chinese calendar and the Jewish calendar. No affront is intended for not mentioning all of the other types of calendars in existence. My point, here, is to focus on the existence of Jesus, the Christ. I will try to limit any talk about Jesus in this blog to what has been said, not in the Gospels, not by Christian writers, but by secular historians.

Flavius Josephus (c. 37-c. 100), was a Jew and Roman citizen who had the Flavians as his patrons. He wrote the Antiquities of the Jews, in 93 AD. In these works, that have come to be known as the Testimonium Flavianum, Jesus is mentioned. In its first passage is written:
Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, (if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works,)-1 a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was (called)-2 [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; (for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him.) And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this time. (Note: Please see below my explanations about why the red and blue words.)

Tacitus (c. 56–c. 117), writing c. 116, included in his Annals  -3 a mention of Christianity and “Christus”, the Latinized Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah”. In describing Nero’s persecution of this group following the Great Fire of Rome c. 64, he wrote:
Nero fastened the guilt of starting the blaze and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians [Chrestians] 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 Judaea, 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.

Consequently, scholars like Sanders, Geza Vermes, John P. Meier, David Flusser, James H. Charlesworth, Raymond E. Brown, Paula Fredriksen and John Dominic Crossan argue that, although many readers are accustomed to thinking of Jesus solely as a theological figure whose existence is a matter only of religious debate, the four canonical Gospel accounts are based on source documents written within decades after Jesus’ lifetime, and therefore provide a basis for the study of the “historical” Jesus. These historians also draw on other historical sources and archaeological evidence to reconstruct the life of Jesus in his historical and cultural context. -4,-5

Did the man Jesus walk this earth? Did He live in Judea?  Did He pose a stumbling block to those with political and religious power? Did His words create havoc with His fellow Jews, His family, His friends, His enemies? Was He crucified? All of these we know to be true. We know this, not because of solely relying on the words in the Gospels, but secular historians, also, directly point to these actions in their writings. So, we can prove He lived and died. Next, we can talk of why.              goto next segment>>

-1 Yellow words contained within parentheses are purported to be Christian additions to the original text.
-2 Red word contained within parentheses is an addition made to explain the claim of the Christ, and not propose that he is the Christ.
-3 Annals: Name derived from the fact that it dealt with the Roman Emperors on a year by year basis
-4  Crossan, John Dominic (1999). The birth of Christianity: discovering what happened in the years immediately after the execution of Jesus. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 10.
5 Wikipedia (Historicity of Jesus) was used as a major reference source for this posting.