Do Any First Century Historians Mention the Jesus of Christianity?
"How well we know what a profitable superstition this fable of Christ has been for us."
- Pope Leo X (1513-1521).
Lately, much effort has been expended by the more educated Christians in trying to establish that first century historians mention Christ in their writings. This is really nothing new, but a reincarnation of earlier attempts.
Let us look into the possibility that first century historians wrote about him. If this is true, that would lend weight to the claim that he really walked the earth. But some caution needs to be exercised here. If there was positive proof that historians wrote about him, then that might substantiate his existence, but not his divinity. All it might do is indicate that a man of that name once lived. It might even mean less than that. It might show only what Christ's followers said about their leader, and may mean nothing in regards to the man himself.
Here is something to keep in mind as you read this article. Ask yourself this question. Could historic passages have been forged? Could the volumes of the historians have been tampered with? The answer is: yes they could have. Where were these historic volumes stored? In the local public library? In individuals' private homes? No. They were in the posession of the Church, who studied from them and made copies of them. In what form did these writings take? On a typeset page, bound like a modern book? No. The printing press was not invented for a further 1300 years. The fact that the Church could write means that the forgeries could have been made. The Church had the opportunity, the means, and the motive to forge historical documents.
This simple truth is widely admitted by Christian scholars. One case in point is our first example: Josephus Flavius, a famous historian. There are two alleged mentions of Jesus in his histories. The first of them, the more extensive and more famous one, is no longer quoted by Christian scholars. That is because they know it is a blatant Christian forgery. The second passage is still in use.
"Josephus, the renowned Jewish historian, was a native of Judea. He was born in 37 A. D., and was a contemporary of the Apostles. He was, for a time, Governor of Galilee, the province in which Christ lived and taught. He traversed every part of this province and visited the places where but a generation before Christ had performed his prodigies. He resided in Cana, the very city in which Christ is said to have wrought his first miracle. He mentions every noted personage of Palestine and describes every important event which occurred there during the first seventy years of the Christian era. But Christ was of too little consequence and his deeds too trivial to merit a line from this historian’s pen." (Remsberg, Ibid.)
But first things first. Josephus was not a contemporary historian. He was born in the year 37 C.E., several years after Jesus' alleged death. There is no way he could have known about Jesus from is own personal experience. At best, he could have recorded the activities of the new cult of Christianity, and what they said about their crucified leader. So, even if Josephus wrote about Jesus, it is not a credible source.
1.The first "Jesus Passage" is discussed below. The paragraph on Jesus was added to Josephus's work at the beginning of the 4th century, during Constantine's reign, probably by or under the order of Bishop Eusebius, who was known for saying that it was permissible for Christians to lie in order to further the Kingdom of God. This behavior is justified directly in the New Testament, where Paul writes in the 3rd Chapter of Romans: "For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory, why yet am I also judged as a sinner?"
“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; 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 [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 day” (Book IXVIII, Chap. iii, sec. 3).
For nearly 1600 years Christians have been citing this passage as a testimonial, not merely to the historical existence, but to the divine character of Jesus Christ. And yet a ranker forgery like this was never penned.
Its language is Christian. Every line proclaims it the work of a Christian writer. Lets see how:
A} “If it be lawful to call him a man.”
B} “He was the Christ.”
C}“He appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning, him.” These are the words of a Christian, a believer in the divinity of Christ. Josephus was a Jew, a devout believer in the Jewish faith-- the last man in the world to acknowledge the divinity of Christ. Not only that ,but Shameless Ambrose writing in 360 A. D. offers the following explanation, which only a theologian could frame:-
“If the Jews do not believe us, let them, at least, believe their own writers. Josephus, whom they esteem a very great man, hath said this, and yet hath he spoken truth after such a manner; and so far was his mind wandered from the right way, that even he was not a believer as to what he himself said; but thus he spake, in order to deliver historical truth, because he thought it not lawful for him to deceive, while yet he was no believer, because of the hardness of his heart, and his perfidious intention.”
Its brevity proves that its fake. Josephus’ work is voluminous and exhaustive. It comprises twenty books. Whole pages are devoted to petty robbers and obscure seditious leaders. Nearly 40 chapters are devoted to the life of a single king. Yet this remarkable being called Jesus Christ, the greatest product of his race, a being of whom the prophets foretold ten thousand wonderful things, a being greater than any earthly king, is dismissed with a dozen lines. Funny isn’t that?
2. Another problem is that it interrupts and interfere with the narratives as Section 2 of the chapter containing it gives an account of a Jewish sedition which was suppressed by Pilate with great slaughter. The account ends as follows:
“There were a great number of them slain by this means, and others of them ran away wounded; and thus an end was put to this sedition.” Section 4, as now numbered, begins with these words:
“About the same time also another sad calamity put the Jews into disorder.”
The one section naturally and logically follows the other. Yet between these two closely connected paragraphs the one relating to Christ is stuffed just like a Chicken Roll or a Hamburger ; thus making the words, “another sad calamity,” refer to the advent of this wise and wonderful being(Jesus).
3. Another problem is that the early Christian fathers were not acquainted with it either. Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen all would have quoted this passage had it existed in their time. The failure of even one of these fathers to notice it would be sufficient to throw doubt upon its genuineness; the failure of all of them to notice it proves conclusively that it is spurious, that it was not in existence during the second and third centuries.
As this passage first appeared in the writings of the ecclesiastical historian, Eusebius, who openly advocated the use of fraud and deception in furthering the interests of the church, as he is known to have mutilated and perverted the text of Josephus in other instances, and as the manner of its presentation is calculated to excite suspicion, the forgery has generally been charged to him. In his “Evangelical Demonstration,” written early in the fourth century, after citing all the known evidences of Christianity, he thus introduces the Jewish historian: “Certainly the attestations I have already produced concerning our Savior may be sufficient. However, it may not be amiss. if, over and above, we make use of Josephus the Jew for a further witness” (Book III, p. 124).
4. Chrysostom and Photius both reject this passage. Chrysostom, a reader of Josephus, who preached and wrote in the latter part of the fourth century, in his defense of Christianity, needed this evidence, but was too honest or too wise to use it. Photius, who made a revision of Josephus, writing five hundred years after the time of Eusebius, ignores the passage, and admits that Josephus has made no mention of Christ.
Modern Christian scholars generally concede that the passage is a forgery. Dr. Lardner, one of the ablest defenders of Christianity, adduces the following arguments against its genuineness:
“I do not perceive that we at all want the suspected testimony to Jesus, which was never quoted by any of our Christian ancestors before Eusebius. Nor do I recollect that Josephus has anywhere mentioned the name or word Christ, in any of his works; except the testimony above mentioned, and the passage concerning James, the Lord’s brother. It interrupts the narrative. The language is quite Christian. It is not quoted by Chrysostom, though he often refers to Josephus, and could not have omitted quoting it had it been then in the text. It is not quoted by Photius, though he has three articles concerning Josephus. Under the article Justus of Tiberias, this author (Photius) expressly states that the historian [Josephus], being a Jew, has not taken the least notice of Christ. Neither Justin in his dialogue with Trypho the Jew, nor Clemens Alexandrinus, who made so many extracts from ancient authors, nor Origen against Celsus, has ever mentioned this testimony. But, on the contrary, in chapter xxxv of the first book of that work, Origen openly affirms that Josephus, who had mentioned John the Baptist, did not acknowledge Christ” (Answer to Dr. Chandler).
Bishop Warburton declares it to be a forgery: “If a Jew owned the truth of Christianity, he must needs embrace it. We, therefore, certainly ,conclude that the paragraph where Josephus, who was as much a Jew as the religion of Moses could make him, is made to acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, in terms as strong as words could do it, is a rank forgery, and a very stupid one, too” (Quoted by Lardner, Works, Vol. I, chap. iv).
The Rev. Dr. Giles, of the Established Church of England, says: “Those who are best acquainted with the character of Josephus, and the style of his writings, have no hesitation in condemning this passage as a forgery, interpolated in the text during the third century by some pious Christian, who was scandalized that so famous a writer as Josephus should have taken no notice of the gospels, or of Christ, their subject. But the zeal of the interpolator has outrun his discretion, for we might as well expect to gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles, as to find this notice of Christ among the Judaizing writings of Josephus. It is well known that this author was a zealous Jew, devoted to the laws of Moses and the traditions of his countrymen. How, then, could he have written that Jesus was the Christ? Such an admission would have proved him to be a Christian himself, in which case the passage under consideration, too long for a Jew, would have been far too short for a believer in the new religion, and thus the passage stands forth, like an ill-set jewel, contrasting most inharmoniously with everything around it. If it had been genuine, we might be sure that Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Chrysostom would have quoted it in their controversies with the Jews, and that Origen or Photius would have mentioned it. But Eusebius, the ecclesiastical historian (I, ii), is the first who quotes it, and our reliance on the judgment or even honesty of this writer is not so great as to allow our considering everything found in his works as undoubtedly genuine” (Christian Records, p. 30).
Canon Farrar, who has written the ablest Christian life of Christ yet penned, repudiates it. He says: “The single passage in which he [Josephus] alludes to him is interpolated, if not wholly spurious” (Life of Christ, Vol. I, p. 46).
The following, from Dr. Farrar’s pen, is to be found in the “Encyclopedia Britannica”: “That Josephus wrote the whole passage as it now stands no sane critic can believe.” “There are, however, two reasons which are alone sufficient to prove that the whole passage is spurious-- one that it was unknown to Origen and the earlier fathers, and the other that its place in the text is uncertain.” (Ibid)
And if a belief in Jesus as a slain and returning Messiah had been long on foot before the fall of the Temple, how comes it that Josephus says nothing of it in connection with his full account of the expectation of a coming Messiah at that point?
By every test of loyal historiography, we are not merely forced to reject the spurious passage as the most obvious interpolation in all literature. For that silence, no tenable reason can be given, on the assumption of the general historicity of the gospels and Acts.
4. Josephus declares by his own account tells that(Life, § 2), he began at the age of sixteen to "make trial of the several sects that were among us" --the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes-- and in particular he spent three years with a hermit of the desert named Banos, who wore no clothing save what grew on trees, used none save wild food, and bathed himself daily and nightly for purity’s sake. Thereafter he returned to Jerusalem, and conformed to the sect of the Pharisees.
Seeing, however, that the sect of Judas is stated to have begun to give trouble in the procuratorship of Gessius Florus, when Josephus was in his twenties, it is quite intelligible that he should say nothing of it when naming the sects who existed in his boyhood, and that he should treat it in a subsidiary way in his fuller account of them in the ANTIQUITIES.
On what theory, then, are we to explain the total silence of Josephus as to the existence of the Sect of Jesus of Nazareth, if there be any historical truth in the gospel story? It is of no avail to suggest that he would ignore it by reason of his Judaic hostility to Christism. He is hostile to the sect of Judas the Galilean. There is nothing in all his work to suggest that he would have omitted to name any noticeable sect with a definite and outstanding doctrine because he disliked it.
But that is all that can be claimed. The fact remains that in the LIFE, telling of his youthful scarch for a satisfactory sect, Josephus says not a word of the existence of that of the Crucified Jesus; that he nowhere breathes a word concerning the twelve apostles, or any of them, or of Paul; and that there is no hint in any of the Fathers of even a hostile account of Jesus by him in any of his works, though Origen makes much of the allusion to James the Just, also dismissible as an interpolation, like another to the same effect cited by Origen. There is therefore a strong negative presumption to be set against even the forlorn hypothesis that the passage forged in Josephus by a Christian scribe ousted one which gave a hostile testimony.
Also two more Jesus we have historically mixed & blended into one. Mr. George Solomon of Kingston, Jamaica, noting the general incompatibility of Josephus with the gospel story and the unhistorical aspect of the Gospels, constructed an interesting inference. It may be summarized thus: -
1. Banos is probably the historical original of the gospel figure of John the Baptist.
2. Josephus names and describes two Jesuses, who are blended in the figure of the gospel Jesus: a) the Jesus (WARS, VI, v, 3) who predicts "woe to Jerusalem"; is flogged till his bones show, but never utters a cry; makes no reply when challenged; returns neither thanks for kindness nor railing for railing; and is finally killed by a stone projectile in the siege; and b) Jesus the Galilean (LIFE §, 12: 27), son of Sapphias, who opposes Josephus, is associated with Simon and John, and has a following of "sailors and poor people," one of whom betrays him (9 22), whereupon he is captured by a stratagem, his immediate followers forsaking him and flying. Before this point, Josephus has taken 70 of the Galileans with him (5 14) as hostages, and, making them his friends and companions on his journey, sets them "to judge causes." This is the hint for Luke’s story of the seventy disciples.
3. The "historical Jesus" of the siege, who is "meek" and venerated as a prophet and martyr, being combined with the "Mosaic Jesus" of Galilee, a disciple of Judas of Galilee, who resisted the Roman rule and helped to precipitate the war, the memory of the "sect" of Judas the Gaulanite or Galilean, who began the anti-Roman trouble, is also transmuted into a myth of a sect of Jesus of Galilee, who has fishermen for disciples, is followed by poor Galileans, is betrayed by one companion and deserted by the rest, and is represented finally as dying under Pontius Pilate, though at that time there had been no Jesuic movement.
4. The Christian movement, thus mythically grounded, grows up after the fall of the Temple. Paul’s "the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost" (1 Thess. ii, 16) tells of the destruction of the Temple, as does Hebrews xii, 24-28; xiii, 12-14. This theory of the construction of the myth out of historical elements in Josephus is obviously speculative in a high degree; and as the construction fails to account for the central myth of the crucifixion it must be pronounced inadequate to the data.
The very fact that he confuses Jesus the robber captain who was betrayed, and whose companions deserted him, with Jesus the "Mosaic" magistrate of Tiberias, who was followed by sailors and poor people, does not exclude the argument that traits and symptoms of one or the other, or of the Jesus of the siege, may have entered into the gospel mosaic.
Given the clear and undeniable forgery of this Josephus passage, no one, including any Christian, can say that the Christian Church cannot and did not forge historic documents. The fact that Christians do not generally use this passage is testimony to the fact that the guilt of the Church has been recognized. Given all this, what reason do we have for supposing that the second alleged mention of Jesus by Josephus is any more reliable? And if this first passage has been "retired", how long will it take before we see the inevitable demise of the second?
The Second "Mention of Jesus" By Josephus
"But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper and very insolent; he was also of the sect of Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all of the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity. Festus was dead, and Albinus 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 others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned" (Josephus, Antiquities, Book XX, chap. ix, sec. I).
This passage is probably genuine with the exception of the clause, “who was called Christ,” which is undoubtedly an interpolation, and is generally regarded as such. Nearly all the authorities that I have quoted reject it also. It was originally probably a marginal note.
The fact that the Early fathers, who were acquainted with Josephus, and who would have hailed with joy even this evidence of Christ’s existence were not cited , while Origen expressly declares that Josephus has not mentioned Christ, is conclusive proof that it did not exist until the middle of the third century or later
. Now some of the most prominent Jews living at this time were named Jesus. Jesus, the son of Damneus, succeeded Ananus as high priest that very year; and Jesus, the son of Gamaliel, a little later succeeded to the same office.
To identify the James of Josephus with James the Just, the brother of Jesus, is to reject the accepted history of the primitive church which declares that James the Just died in 69 A.D., seven years after the James of Josephus [see the above quote] was condemned to death by the Sanhedrim. Whiston himself, the translator of Josephus, referring to the event narrated by the Jewish historian, admits that James, the brother of Jesus Christ, “did not die till long afterward.”
The brief "Discourse Concerning Hades", appended to the writings of Josephus, is universally conceded to be the product of another writer-- "obviously of Christian origin"-- says the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Following is a list of important Christian authorities who studied and/or mentioned Josephus but not the Jesus passage:
- Justin Martyr (c. 100-c. 165), who obviously pored over Josephus's works, makes no mention of the TF.
- Theophilus (d. 180), Bishop of Antioch--no mention of the TF.
- Irenaeus (c. 120/140-c. 200/203), saint and compiler of the New Testament, has not a word about the TF.
- Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-211/215), influential Greek theologian and prolific Christian writer, head of the Alexandrian school, says nothing about the TF.
- Origen (c. 185-c. 254), no mention of the TF and specifically states that Josephus did not believe Jesus was "the Christ."
- Hippolytus (c. 170-c. 235), saint and martyr, nothing about the TF.
- The author of the ancient Syriac text, "History of Armenia," refers to Josephus but not the TF.
- Minucius Felix (d. c. 250), lawyer and Christian convert--no mention of the TF.
- Anatolius (230-c. 270/280)--no mention of TF.
- Chrysostom (c. 347-407), saint and Syrian prelate, not a word about the TF.
- Methodius, saint of the 9th century--even at this late date there were apparently copies of Josephus without the TF, as Methodius makes no mention of it.
- Photius (c. 820-891), Patriarch of Constantinople, not a word about the TF, again indicating copies of Josephus devoid of the passage, or, perhaps, a rejection of it because it was understood to be fraudulent.
Conclusion:- Jesus Christ the famous Christian Messiah is popular for more than just one reasons. Like he is famous for being a product of fictitious imagination and forgery by Chruch fathers so that dumb Christians might believe their Fables and Myths.
Secondly, he is supposed to be the mixture of addition two more Jesus . So he has just turned out to be a “Three-Some Jesus”.
Thirdly, Jesus was Non-existing Figure that was carved out by earlier Chruch fathers for Profit –making business and to establish the Theocracy of Chruch. Jesus never existed , not at least the Jesus whom we all know through New Testament and The Bible.