Evidence from 5 early Pagan (Gentile) writers that Jesus did exist in the first century.


  1. Thallus writing around 52 A.D. argued that the abnormal darkness alleged to have accompanied the death of Christ was a purely natural phenomenon and coincidence (a fragment preserved by Julius Africanus). See Mark 15:33
  2. Mara Bar-Serapion writing around 73 A.D. was writing to his son from prison and mentions some historical men Socrates, Pythagoras and Christ. “… What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death? … What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning Pythagoras? …What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King? …Socrates did not die for good; he lived on in the teaching of Plato. Pythagoras did not die for good; he lived on in the statue of Hera. Nor did the wise King die for good; he lived on in the teaching which he had given.” (manuscript in the British Musem). (Please note that the date of this writing is in question and could have been written as late as the third century.)
  3. Cornelius Tacitus writing around 112 A.D. was considered one the greatest historians of Rome. He wrote about the reign of Nero (54-56 A.D.) and how he used the Christians as scapegoats for the great fire of 64A.D. It had been rumored that Nero started the fire in order to gain glory by rebuilding the city. Cornelius says, “ Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had it origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus
  4. Pliny the younger writing around  112 A.D. wrote a letter to the Emperor Tragan telling him information he extracted from Christians by torture. “They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light when the sang an anthem to Christ as God, and bound themselves by a solemn oath not to commit any wicked deeds.
  5. Suetonius writing around 120 A.D. he wrote about the life of Claudius and how expelled all the Jews from Rome by Imperial decree. “As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome.” See Acts 18:1-2.


Evidence from 2 early Jewish sources.


  1. The Talmud (Jewish writings between 70 and 200 A.D.) contains many references to Christ. All of these references are hostile to the cause of Christ, but they help establish the existence of Jesus. According to these writings Jesus of Nazareth was a transgressor in Israel who practiced magic, scorned the words of the wise, led the people astray, and said he had not come to destroy the law but to add to it. See Mat. 5:17ff.
  2. Flavius Josephus (Sometime after 70 A.D.) not only writes about Jesus he also writes about many of the people we learn about in the Word of God such as Pilate, Quirinius of Syria, the Caesars, the Herods, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, Annas, Caiaphas, Felix, Festus, Jesus brother James, and of John the Baptist death. Notice what he says about Jesus.
    ”And there arose about this time Jesus, a wise man, if indeed we should call him a man; for he was a doer of marvelous deeds, a teacher of men who receive the truth with pleasure. He won over many Jews and also many Greeks.”

    ”This man was the Messiah. And when Pilate had condemned him to the cross at the instigation of our own leaders, those who had loved him from the first did not cease. For he appeared to them on the third day alive again, as the holy prophets had predicted and said many other wonderful things about him. And even now the race of Christians, so named after him, has no yet died out.”
    Note: Some have tried to say that these quotes were inserted by the church however, every single copy of Josephus writings that we have today contain these two quotes which gives strong evidence that they were not inserted by the church.


From these Pagan and Jewish sources we learn that Jesus was real and it also shows the New Testament to be a reliable historical source. The only source we can learn about the life of Christ is found in the New Testament documents.


The apostolic fathers (those who sat at the feet of the apostles or at the feet of those who did) writing between 90 and 160 A.D. offer proof that the New Testament was written by the end the first century because they quote almost the entire New Testament. This also shows how they viewed the New Testament documents as being true. 


None of the original writings of the New Testament exist, nor do the originals of many classic histories that are consider accurate by scholars. Instead we have manuscripts of these early writings. Manuscripts are copies letter for letter of the original. The closer the manuscript is to the original in time the more accurate it is considered to be. Notice the chart below as we compare classical histories to the New Testament.


Classical Histories

New Testament

  • Caesar’s Gallic Wars (58- 50 B.C.) 9 or 10 good manuscripts. Oldest manuscript 9th century 800 year gap from original
  • The Roman History of Livy (59 B.C.) 35 manuscripts. Oldest manuscript 4th century 300 year gap from original
  • Histories of Tacitus (100 - 115 A.D.) 2 manuscripts. Oldest manuscript  9th century 800 year gap from original
  • The Annals of Tacitus (100 A.D.) 12 manuscripts, Oldest manuscript 11th century 900 year gap from original
  • The History of Thucydides 460 – 400        B.C. 8 manuscripts. Oldest manuscript 900 A.D. 1300 year gap from original.

Written approximately between 45 – 96 A.D.

It has around 5,000 manuscripts in whole or in part. This does not include the fragments or numerous quotes of these documents from early Christian writers. The oldest manuscripts are dated at 350 A.D. with only about a 250 year gap from the original.


Note: If the New Testament was a secular writing as on the left scholars would deem it as one the most reliable and accurate documents  in existence. But, since it involves miracles and the existence of God they question its validity even though it has less of a gap in years from the original and has thousands more copies than these classical histories on the left which they consider accurate. 


The evidence is overwhelming that the New Testament is indeed a reliable source of history as recorded by first century eyewitnesses. We have no reason to doubt their testimony that Jesus is the Son of God and all the miracles they recorded did in fact take place.