Do We Have Proof That Jesus Is Real?
Did you know that we can learn about Jesus Christ even without opening a Bible? Yes, His account can be found in historical non- and even anti-Christian sources! Can we find proof that Jesus is real?
According to dictionaries, Jesus is a Greek name, and it means ‘God saves’; it is ‘Joshua’ in Hebrew. It was the most common and ordinary name in those days. Christ is actually not His last name, rather a title given to Him. Yes, He didn’t have any last name as we do now. The Greek word ‘Christ’ translates to Hebrew “Messiah,” which means “the anointed one.”
In 2013, Time magazine’s “Who’s Biggest? The 100 Most Significant Figures in History” calls Jesus the most influential guy in all ages. But still, many people question his authenticity and call His account a myth.
Here are nine non-biblical accounts giving a proof that Jesus is real.
He fiercely opposed Christianity in the second century. With this, he found a proof that Jesus is real by explaining why He was able to perform miracles. His rebuttal explaining away the miracles just affirmed that these really happened. This was one of his arguments:
Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain powers which Egyptians pride themselves on possessing. He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god. (1)
Cornelius Tacitus (Annals)
Born in AD 56, he was a prominent orator, senator and proconsul of Asia under Emperor Vespasian. He’s one of the greatest Roman historians. In one of his significant works, he notes:
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. (2)
He also mentioned about Nero’s persecution of the early Christians:
Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. (3)
What a proof that Jesus is real indeed!
Flavius Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews)
This Jewish historian, who was born around AD 37, reported another proof that Jesus is real:
At this time there was a wise man named Jesus. His conduct was good, and [he] was known to be virtuous. (4)
He also mentioned about the sibling of the Christ:
So he assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned. (5)
Also, about the Messiah’s Jewish and Gentile disciples:
And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon discipleship. (6)
Further, he talked about the crucifixion of the Man under Pontius Pilate:
Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. (7)
He also captured the reaction of His disciples when He died:
[Jesus’ disciples] reported that He had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion; and that he was alive…. (8)
These alone are more than much proof that Jesus is real!
Author of History of the World, he also quoted another early historian who confirmed the darkness during Jesus’ crucifixion. Also, the excerpt affirms a proof that Jesus is real because He lived during the reign of Tiberius Caesar:
Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth. (9)
Lucian of Samosata
Another proof that Jesus is real comes from Lucian, a Greek satirist in the second century. One of his critic objects were the Christians, which further affirms details about Jesus’ followers:
The Christians, you know worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rights, 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. (10)
Pliny the Younger
He was a well-known author, orator, and administrator, who authored a collection of detailed letters that give a close-up view into the Roman Empire’s working, giving another proof that Jesus is real. This is an excerpt in his letter to Emperor Trajan:
They [Christians] were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up. (11)
We find “Isa Ibn Maryam” in this Islamic holy book. “Isa” is Jesus, and “Ibn Maryam” means “son of Mary.” According to the book, he’s a prophet and Muhammad’s precursor. He came from a virgin birth and performed miracles and guided the children of Israel. But the book claims that the crucifixion never happened:
And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah’s messenger – they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so to them; and those who disagree concerning it are in doubt of it; they have no knowledge of it except pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain. (12)
But Allah took him up to himself. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise.” (13)
It’s very unusual for an Islamic material to give proof that Jesus is real?
As the official secretary of Emperor Hadrian (AD 121), he documented the following as a proof that Jesus is real:
Because the Jews at Rome caused constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus (Christ), he expelled them from Rome. (14)
Nero inflicted punishment on the Christians, a sect given to a new and mischievous religious belief. (15)
This Samaritan historian lived during the time of the Messiah. Like the majority of ancient literature, most of his works has been lost. These included his three-volume history of the Mediterranean region. Good thing, some historians were quoted by other historians like Sextus Julius Africanus and Theophilus of Antioch. In AD 221, Julius Africanus restated Thallus’ account of Jesus’ crucifixion:
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. (16)
See? All these give proof that Jesus is real. He is not only a character of the Bible but also of history. He indeed walked on this earth.
Origen, Contra Celsum, 1.28
Tacitus, Annals, 15.44
Tacitus, Annals, 15.44
Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 18.3.3
Ante-Nicene Christian Library, eds. Roberts and Donaldson, vol. 9, 188. (Cited in J. Warner Wallace, Cold Case Christianity.)
Lucian, The Death of Peregrine, 11-13
Pliny the Younger, Book 10, Letter 96
Quran surah 4.157
Quran surah 4.158
C. Suetonius Tranquillus, Divus Claudius, 25.4
Suetonius, The 12 Caesars, Nero Claudius Ceasar, XVI
Ante-Nicene Christian Library: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325, eds. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, vol. 9, Irenaeus, Vol. II— Hippolytus, Vol. II— Fragments of Third Century (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1870), 188. (Cited in J. Warner Wallace, Cold Case Christianity.