Fourth and Fifth Historical Records of Jesus

January 2, 2008 at 12:06 am 2 comments

The fourth and fifth independent records of the existence of Jesus were written in about 120 AD by Gaius Suetonius, who was a Roman historian who worked for Pliny and various Emperors, and in the first or second century AD by Thallus, a pagan historian. Here is what Jesus-mythologists have noted about these two claims: >>>

SUETONIUS, c 120 ad

Gaius Suetonius was a Roman historian who worked for Pliny and various Emperors. His many works ranged from the academic Grammatical Problems and Lives of the Grammarians to the more populist Greek Terms of Abuse and Lives of Famous Whores.

In about 120 ad, in his major work, Lives of the Caesars, he says of the Emperor Claudius that:

As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome.

Now, Chrestus may be a misspelling of Christus, but it is also the correct Latin version of a different Greek name. So this passage means one of two things: either

  • There were Christians in Rome at the time of Claudius, causing trouble in the name of their Christ, whose name was misspelled by an expert in linguistics; or
  • There was a Jew in Rome called Chrestus, directly causing trouble.

Either way, the passage proves nothing about the historical accuracy of Jesus as a person.

THALLUS, 1st or 2nd Century ad

This is the weakest claim by far. George Syncellus, a ninth-century Christian, was writing about the gospel story that the earth went dark when Jesus died. He quoted Julian Africanus, a third-century Christian, as having written:

Thallus calls this darkness an eclipse of the Sun in the third book of his Histories.

Thallus was a pagan historian who lived in either the first or second century ad. But there are three problems with this claim:

  • The alleged original document does not exist.
  • Nobody else who quoted Thallus before the ninth century had ever mentioned this.
  • Even if Thallus had said this, his alleged quote does not even mention Jesus.

Surely an all-powerful God could have inspired his defenders to come up with a better argument than this?


To repeat what I wrote in my first post on this topic, taking all of the five references together, the most that can be said about the life of Jesus is this.

  • During the reign of Tiberius, Pontius Pilate may have executed a criminal called Jesus. I believe that this probably happened; Jesus was a common name and the Romans executed many criminals.
  • If he existed, this Jesus was not a major figure, as nobody other than his followers wrote about him for over half a century.
  • Whether or not he existed, his name became the symbol of a religious movement that spread to at least Rome and Asia Minor.
  • There is no independent record, in all of recorded history, of any of the following: his alleged bloodline from Abraham and David, his alleged virgin birth, his parent’s alleged flight from Herod, his alleged baptism by John the Dipper, his alleged preaching to large multitudes, his alleged miracles (walking on water, reviving corpses etc), the nature of his trial or his death, or his alleged return from being dead to being alive again.

Entry filed under: Ireland, Religion.

The Third Historical Record of Jesus Quiz – Father Jack’s Ejaculations

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. paul  |  January 5, 2008 at 11:36 am

    I couldn’t find an e-mail address for you so I thought I’d post this here, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Daniel C Dennett dicuss atheism. Enjoy if you’ve got a couple of hours to spare.

  • 2. uli  |  January 11, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    also see Robin Lane Fox

    The unpublished version -truth and fiction in the bible. Pretty much discounts most of the book as a confirmable historical document and the figure of JC himself. Now as for for Brian of Gallilee..


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A blog by Michael Nugent

Welcome to my blog about living in the maddest country on earth. Please feel free to leave a comment.

I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohemians football club in the 1970s.


Bionic Bohs

As mentioned above, if you like Irish football and/or cultural nostalgia, I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohs in the 1970s.

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