[Karen] Welcome back to I Believe podcast, everyone! We are back in the next of our series of podcasts on the reliability of the Bible with our guest D. M. Johnson. If you missed the overview, please feel free to check that out on ibelievepodcast.com.

Again, we’ve invited back Bible enthusiast, amateur scholar and author D.M. Johnson to be with us today. Welcome back, Dave.

[Dave] Good to be back!

[Karen] In our overview cast, we introduced eight points, eight reasons actually pointing to the authenticity of the Bible and indicated that we would go into more depth on each one, the first of which was the existence of extra-biblical evidence, and sources that affirm the records of the sacred texts.

I want to say before we get into that evidence that it is really important for people to realize that we have 27 books and letters which make up the New Testament. These all date within the 1st century.

It is clear that some people are skeptical for a variety of reasons about the Bible and sometimes distrust something solely because it is in the Bible. Let’s address that first, and then we’ll move on to the extra-biblical evidence.

[Dave] Yes, you’re exactly right. The overwhelming number of all scholars in the world today—even the atheist and agnostic scholars—date the gospels within the 1st century, before 100 AD. So it’s possible for people to start out and just treat it [the Bible] like an ancient set of literature.

When you go through the extra-biblical evidence, it just underscores the fact that there is a lot of data outside the Bible that shows at least a historical coherence with the Bible. As we mentioned in our last podcast, we have facts from outside the Bible that give us a storyline which is congruent with the New Testament.

New Testament Figures Attested in Outside Sources

[Karen] So we’ll talk about the figures in the New Testament who are attested outside the Bible. OK, let’s dive in. I think, as you and I have agreed, that it would be good for our listeners to understand some of the misunderstandings and misinformation around these points we’re considering. And it would be helpful if we provide some solid context  about the author and the subject because a lot of times, without that context,  truth “falls into the street” as the scriptures themselves say—error can display as truth, right Dave?

[Dave]  Yes. I like the saying, “A text without a context is a pre-text for what you want to say.” It’s important as we do this [examine the evidence] we do it in that fashion [with context].


[Karen] Perfect. Let’s then start with Suetonius, the Roman historian who recorded the lives of the Caesars and historical events around their reigns.

Statue of Suetonius

[Dave] Yes. Suetonius is interesting. He’s living from 69-122 AD, and, as you mentioned, he served as a court official; he was an analyst who wrote down the histories of some of these leaders. He records the expulsion of the Christians—the Christian Jews, rather—from Rome. He actually says, “Because the Jews at Rome caused continuous disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from the city.” [1] He just has one remark in there, but most scholars believe this is a reference to Christ.

[Karen] Sometimes we see people, don’t we, who point to the particular spelling Suetonius used in this passage, as if that’s going to lay doubt on to whom [Suetonius was] refering. Can you address that?  [It is interesting that the name Jesus is not mentioned, and Christ is spelled c-h-r-e-s-t-u-s.]

[Dave] Yeah, it is interesting, and we do have a lot of people in the 1st century, I sometimes hear even Bart Ehrman say, “People back then couldn’t spell any better than we can today!” But we have some evidence, even back in that era, of church fathers like Tertullian telling people that they didn’t even know how to spell “Christians” correctly. There are also church apologists like Justin Martyr with misspellings in his writings. But the overwhelming scholarship on that passage is that it’s referring to Christ, to Jesus.

[Karen] Perfect. And do you want to speak to Tacitus at all?


[Dave] Yeah. Tacitus is a Roman historian of the 1st and 2nd century and he lived through the reign of about half a dozen Roman emperors. He was one of the greatest historians, and he verifies the Biblical account of the execution of Jesus at the hands of Pontius Pilate. Pilate, as you know governed from 26 AD-36 AD, during the reign of Tiberias Caesar. He [Tacitus] tells us some of the horrific things that happened to the Christians. He refers to them also as a “mischievous superstition.” He’s one of the references we have outside of the Bible that affirms to what happened to Christ [2].

Statue of Tacitus

[Karen] Thank you, that really does underscore the reality of that early persecution. The other thing I just can’t help thinking, as you mentioned Tacitus, is that one of the things we hear from the hyper-skeptic community, whenever people bring up the Jesus of history, is that they assume all these kinds of references are probably Christian insertions. But it’s very clear from what Tacitus said that this is not a Christian insertion. I mean, he’s basically—he refers to the movement, like you said, as a “mischievous superstition.” Now, Christians would obviously not say something like that.

[Dave] Right. One of the things people will try to do is say that somebody has tweaked with this [manuscript], or a Christian inserted it. But Christians certainly wouldn’t refer to their movement as a mischievous superstition.

It’s also interesting to just point out, if we can, that as we go through that [Tacitus’ writings], he talks about Tiberias, who is also mentioned in the Bible. He [Tacitus] mentioned Pontius Pilate, who is also mentioned in the Bible. So again, we’re seeing historical corroboration for what we see in the New Testament.

[Karen] Great. Let’s talk about another source, like Pliny the younger.

Pliny the Younger

[Dave] Yeah. Pliny is writing—we have some of his letters survived to us—and he’s writing in about the year 112 AD.  He was the governor of a Roman province in what would be modern-day Turkey. He writes, and I just want to read this quote, because it’s pretty interesting what he says here:

“They (the 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; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food—but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.” [3]

[Karen] That’s a pretty clear reference, it seems to me. There’s a lot we can glean from just that, right?

[Dave] There is. If you take that passage that we just read, and dissect it, it shows:

  • That Christians worshipped Jesus as divine;
  • They upheld a high moral code;

  • They met on a certain day of the week to worship Jesus;

  • Also, a lot of scholars looking at that feel that it points to a eucharistic, a sacramental-type meal.

[Karen] That’s powerful. Pliny was obviously no friend of the Christians and had no Christian agenda.  This information seems to illustrate the early church worshiping Jesus as well as some of the persecution they dealt with.

This data also debunks some of the things put forth by Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code that we talked about in the first podcast, where Brown asserted that Constantine basically invented the divinity of Christ. Here we see clearly from a non-Christian source in Pliny that people worshipped Christ centuries before Constantine or Nicaea.

So Dave, let’s move on to Mara Bar Serapion. Can you set up some context and then talk about the implications of these findings?

Mara Bar Serapion

[Dave] Yes. Serapion was in prison and penned a letter to his son. People have talked about what the meaning of the letter was, but in the letter he’s talking about these different people in history who have been persecuted. In the course of this, he’s also talking about these different theories, like Socrates—“What advantage did the Athenians gain from murdering Socrates?” He eventually says, “What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise king?” He goes on to say some other things, and then at the end he references that “wise king” again, “Because of the new law he laid down.” [4]

[Mara Bar Serapion’s complete statement appears below, with emphasis added]

“What else can we say, when the wise are forcibly dragged off by tyrants, their wisdom is captured by insults, and their minds are oppressed and without defense? What advantage did the Athenians gain from murdering Socrates? Famine and plague came upon them as a punishment for their crime. What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning Pythagoras? In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise king? It was just after that their kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise men: the Athenians died of hunger; the Samians were overwhelmed by the sea and the Jews, desolate and driven from their own kingdom, live in complete dispersion. But Socrates is not dead, because of Plato; neither is Pythagoras, because of the statue of Juno; nor is the wise king, because of the new law he laid down.”

[Karen] Just from this, from Serapian, we learn that Jesus was executed by the Jews, that he was considered wise and virtuous, and that he’s called a king. There are other [writers] describing those worshipping Christ as well, but that’s powerful just from that one source, like Lucian. Can you speak briefly about his [Lucian’s] remarks about Christians in his day?


[Dave] Yeah, Lucian is a Second-century Greek writer, a satirist, and he kind of speaks sarcastically about Christ and Christians. In the process—never at any point does he act like Christ was fictional—he confirms them [Christ and Christians] as actual people. He says:

“The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day — the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. . . . You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then 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.” [5]

Statue of Lucian

[Karen]  I mean, that’s compelling. We can glean these different historical nuggets from this [passage], which confirms what the early Christians  were doing, as well as Jesus being crucified.

[Dave] Yes, he points out that:

  • Jesus was worshipped by the Christians;

  • He introduced rites, or sacraments, if you want to call them that;

  • He was put to death;

  • And that the Christians  denied other gods after their conversions and they they followed the laws of Christ.

It sounds a lot like the New Testament when you put those bullets together.

[Karen] It sure does. What about witnesses surrounding the events of the death of Jesus?

All scripture is God-breathed 2 Timothy 3:16

Witnesses of Jesus’ Death

[Dave] You know, it’s interesting because all of scholarship cedes that Jesus was executed. And they’ll talk about these different sources that we have for that. But there are some interesting things as well that you can put out there. We have a couple of accounts that are sometimes dismissed by people who are skeptics, but apologists look at them and ask the skeptics to at least consider these sources.

There are two writings: one by Thallus and one by Phlegon. These are both written relatively early. Thallus is at 52 AD; Phlegon is thought to have lived from 80-140 AD. Some time later, a historian named Julius Africanus quotes Thallus—and the writings of Thallus survive only through these quotes by Africanus later. But it’s interesting, I’ll just read here for a minute:

“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. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.” [6]

[Dave] So he’s quoting him [Thallus] there, and he goes on to say that this [darkness] couldn’t have been an eclipse of the sun; there was a full moon because it was Passover.

And Phlegon is also referenced by Africanus, and he talks about that it [Jesus’ crucifixion] was at the time of Tiberias Caesar, that there was a full moon. It’s interesting because Phlegon really talks about the darkness in a way that just really echoes the New Testament, right down to the sixth hour to the ninth hour.

Thallus talks about an unexplained earthquake and darkness, he attributes it to an eclipse, and basically we have Africanus saying that there was a full moon at the Jewish Passover, it [the darkness] couldn’t have been that [an eclipse]. We don’t know all of what Thallus said, because it doesn’t survive, but it is interesting [7].

If these statements from Thallus, if they were referring specifically to Jesus’ crucifixion, we can take away a few other things. It might have been known in the Mediterranean region in the 1st century this account, and that there was at least news of this darkness in the land. It might have been people were talking about it and trying to explain. And so the nonbelievers were trying to explain it [the darkness] away by some other natural means.

[Karen] I think it’s powerful, those two [writings] together. Obviously some will still refute this, saying that the references of Thallus and Phlegon didn’t explicitly reference Jesus, but it’s interesting to note, I think you’ve already said it well, that their description fits in perfectly with the Biblical account. We can look at Matthew 27, which talks about an earthquake at Jesus’ death. All of the synoptic Gospels have their respective accounts of the darkness that was so compellingly described there. Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19 describe Jesus’ death and the events immediately following. We hear that there was darkness over the land from that 6th to 9th hour, as you just mentioned, it seems too much of a coincidence to just ignore that.

[Dave] That’s right. It’s interesting, if you think about it, that, you know, Thallus didn’t mention Jesus specifically by name. But it just points to the fact—a lot of skeptics will say that religious or spiritual people just start out where they want to end up and then try to find confirmation. You want to find facts that point [to your conclusion]. I think that maybe that’s true in some cases.

But it’s also true of people who are hyper-skeptical. They start out saying, “Nope, this can’t be this because it didn’t do this”; but if you just look at history comprehensively, and look at the evidence, and treat the New Testament with not a negative bias or a positive bias, I think the facts fall in line.

Evidence from Josephus

[Karen] Let’s move on to Josephus, Dave. It is interesting to me the level of scrutiny and attack the critics focus around especially one of the passages from Josephus.

Painting of Josephus

If anyone listening isn’t familiar with him, Josephus was a Romano-Jewish scholar and historian born in Jerusalem. His works just have so much material about groups and customs and individuals, including, of course, Jesus.

And yet we know and want to underscore that even many liberal scholars who are not Christian—textual critics—affirm that there is a core nucleus of material about which Josephus recorded. I’d like to read a passage from Josephus and then have you address some the controversy which surrounds it:

[Below, first appears a disputed version of Josephus’ writings. Second appears the version more widely accepted by scholars.]

“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 to this day.” [8]

“Now around this time lived Jesus, a wise man. For hw was a worker of amazing deeds and was a teacher of people who gladly accept the truth. He won over both many Jews and many Greeks. Pilate, when he heard him accused by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, [but] those who had first loved him did not cease [doing so]. To this day the tribe of Christians named after him  has not disappeared.” [9]

Can you speak to the controversy that surrounds Josephus?

[Dave] Yes, the controversy—it’s interesting we touched on this in the overview podcast, about how many copies we have and close they are [to the event]. So there’s a couple of different variations of this passage. In another variation, when you look at it, there are some differences. For instance, when it talks about Jesus: “If it be lawful to call him a man,” and things like that which really sound like a Christian person putting some reverence and respect around Christ. Josephus wouldn’t have done that.

If you look at scholarship, it’s really interesting because there are some scholars who believe this whole thing [passage] is an insertion. There are also some scholars who believe the entire thing [passage] is genuine. But most scholars believe that what you read is what was there [in the original]. There are some other phrases which appear to have been added in, and we can tell that we have a core nucleus.

The reason that scholars have come to that conclusion—most of them, not all; there are some who believe that it’s totally genuine and others who think it’s a total insertion—but really there are no surviving copies of Josephus that don’t have that reference [to Jesus] in some form. In fact, we have some from other areas of the world that don’t have those extra phrases which people think are dubious Christian pieces put on there. So that’s where most scholars have come to [the consensus] that there’s a core nucleus here and at least the fact the Jesus was there and that he died.

[Karen] So if we assume the scholars are right, and we dismiss the disputed words in Josephus’ first passage, we really learn that:

  • Jesus lived in the first century.

  • That he performed wonderful works—miracles, we could say.

  • Some believed Jesus to be the Christ.

  • He was a teacher.

  • He had many followers.

  • He was tried by Pilate.

  • He was crucified.

  • He was the founder of Christianity.

I mean, those are some core tenets right there.

[Dave] There are. And it’s also important to talk for a minute if it’s really convenient for people to try to dismiss Josephus. But most scholars point out that Josephus also referenced Jesus having a brother named James [10]. He also references John the Baptist [11]. And so he also  says some other things that tie to Jesus in passages that aren’t disputed. If I look at those passages for a minute, and I give the facts that we learn from those passages:

  • We learn that Jesus has a brother named James.

  • James was accused of being a breaker of the law.

  • Herod had John killed.

  • James, the brother of Jesus, had others who were with him who stood accused as well.

  • James died as a martyr.

  • Others were put to death with James.

  • There was John, who was called the Baptist.

  • John the Baptist taught the Jews to exercise righteousness and virtue towards one another.

  • John the Baptist taught the Jews to have piety towards God and come to baptism.

  • Herod feared the great influence that John would have over the people.

These are not facts I’m getting out the New Testament. These are facts we can get from these sources that corroborate the events of the New Testament.

[Karen] Thank you. So many spiritual and physical evidence of the authenticity and reliability of those accounts [in the Bible], as you said.

Norms of Historical Documentation

So Dave, there’s also something interesting about Josephus himself, too. Isn’t it true that our principal information about Jewish Palestine in the days of Jesus comes from the writings of Josephus. How often is Josephus mentioned in the sources of his day? Never.

This obviously doesn’t cause people to doubt the existence of Josephus; it isn’t even expected that he would necessarily be mentioned elsewhere. When this view is adopted by hyper-skeptics (that Jesus would have been expected to be mentioned exhaustively by historians of his day), it is made out of ignorance and emotion, not by looking at the norms of the day in terms of what was documented. Can you speak to that myth and debunk it for us?

[Dave] Yes. I’d just like to paraphrase what Bart Ehrman said. He wrote a book called Did Jesus Exist.  Here’s the same author who we talked about, who caused so much angst over the Biblical transmission. He also wrote a book called Did Jesus Exist, and put forth very compelling arguments for the existence of Jesus, which then of course made some of the mythicist and atheists upset. He talked about—and I was really impressed with what he said—it’s a myth that the Romans took detailed accounts of everything.

For instance, what do we NOT know about Pontius Pilate: Josephus reports Pilate ruled from 26-36. You could easily argue he was the most influential figure to Roman Palestine for that time. What Roman record do we have from this 10-year period? What about his major accomplishments? His itinerary, the decrees he passed, the laws he issued, the prisoners he put on trial, the death warrants he signed, his scandals, his interviews, his judicial proceedings: we have none. It’s just interesting.

Stone with ancient writings about Pilate

An ancient stone with writings about Pilate.

We have a fragmentary inscription about Pilate, we have some coins, things like that. We wouldn’t expect that from Jesus. But we have nothing from his [Pilate’s] hand. I thought it was interesting that Ehrman pointed this out, of all people.

We have more information about Pilate than almost any other governor of Judea in Roman times, so it really is a modern myth to say we have extensive Roman records from antiquity that would have mentioned someone like Jesus. He was not in the aristocratic class. So it’s actually remarkable that we do have what we have about Jesus. As Ehrman put it, what are the chances that a lower-class Jewish teacher would be mentioned? You know, almost none. As he puts it, it [Jesus’ existence] is barely relevant to the conversation, but we still have people who are still emotionally invested in wanting to say that Jesus didn’t exist.

[Karen] Thank you. So as you said, it is actually remarkable and amazing, considering Jesus’ social and economic class, that he was mentioned as many times as he was.

Early Christian Writers

I know we have some sources which are not in the Bible whose authors were Christian. I want to go over these, but I would like to know what you say to those who would simply dismiss authors due to being biased Christians? I think you addressed it a little bit before.

[Dave] It’s important to acknowledge that everybody has bias. Every person has bias, and I think people need to challenge their bias. But to just dismiss somebody based on their bias is wrong.

Craig Blomberg and other scholars have pointed out that we have a whole lot of records from the Jewish Holocaust, from the Jews, because they were there. Do they have bias? Yes, they do. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t experience what they experienced. So if we’re just being intellectually honest with ourselves, we need to come at things understanding that people have bias, and look at it in that way. But if we look at what we see from these early church fathers, it is quite remarkable.

Papius, Polycarp, Ignatius, and Clement

I’ll just go through them and kind of summarize:

We have Papius who was there early in the church, in the 1st and 2nd century [12].

We have Polycarp [13], we have Ignatius [14], and we have Clement [15].

These church fathers—if we just look at the first three, Polycarp, Ignatius, and Clement, we have nine epistles that cite and quote Paul almost 100 times. They cite 12 of the 13 epistles that are attributed to Paul. They cite the Gospels well over 100 times.

This gives us 200 citations from roughly around 100 AD from the New Testament. For people to try to “late date” the Gospels, this [these epistles] is one of the reasons that even the skeptics will admit that these [the Gospels] are from the 1st century, because we have such a good record of people who are quoting from the New Testament and treating it as scripture at the time.

[Karen]  Thank you. I think  at the very least shows an early awareness of the New Testament documents and not the Gnostic texts we sometimes hear about. So that’s another side note which reinforces that, the canonical vs. Gnostic Gospel discussion we were having before.

[Dave] That’s exactly right. We have solid evidence for the four gospels in the Bible, that they were used very, very early on. In fact, one of the church fathers said they were as sure as the four points of the compass. So it wasn’t like they had all of these Gospels and they were throwing some in the fire and putting in some because they [the Gospels] said what the fathers liked—no. These were the four early, historical accounts that people thought were authored by the Apostles and went back to Christ.

[Karen] Great. And I think it’s also telling that a lot of this evidence comes from letters going back and forth between different individuals.

Justin Martyr

Let’s talk about some examples where we had an early person who was defending Christianity and maybe someone who was opposed to it. Maybe Justin Martyr, can you speak to him first, Dave?

[Dave] Yeah. Justin wrote some letters defending Christianity. He was probably the first real, vocal apologist outside of the New Testament. We see a lot of his writings. He lived from 100-165 CE. We have three of his letters which are pretty much unanimously accepted to be authentic. He defends the Christians, he speaks of his conversion, he speaks of Jesus, and talks a lot about His different teachings. One of his sayings that I find really important: “We have not believed empty fables, or words without any foundation.” [16] So he goes on to defend the different things the Christians  were believing.

[Karen] You’ve got to love it. And let’s talk about somebody who we know had an agenda against Christianity, like Celsus, who wrote not just a letter but an entire book attacking Christianity. Can you highlight some of his content?


[Dave] Yes, he did. We know about Celsus through a church father named Origen—kind of like in the situation with Thallus; we only knew about him because of Julius Africanus. Here we have situation with Celsus: we know about him through Origen, who was writing back a response [17]. We know that Celsus talked about and made reference to:

  • The Virgin birth;

  • To the wise men;

  • To the slaughter of the infants;

  • The flight to Egypt;

  • Christ’s baptism;

  • The election of his disciples;

  • The healing of the blind;

  • The denial of Peter;

  • The death;

  • And the resurrection.

And of course he was an enemy to Christianity, and he perverts and abuses all of these things. But it’s interesting he tried to dismiss the miracles of Jesus by saying maybe he learned sorcery in Egypt, and different things like this. But he was an enemy who was out there.

[Karen] He [Celsus] knew He [Jesus] was a real, historical person.

[Dave] Right, he did.

[Karen] There are also over 30 people who are mentioned in the New Testament who are also mentioned outside the New Testament in a variety of non-Christian sources. Can you address that a little bit?

[Dave] Yes, we have well over 30 people who are mentioned outside the New Testament in non-Christian sources. So in addition to Jesus, as we mentioned before, there are:

  • Herod

  • Caiaphas

  • Herod Philip

  • John the Baptist

  • James the brother of Jesus.

A lot of people don’t know this. We have things from inscriptions, things from Josephus, from Tacitus, from Pliny and Suetonius, who we talked about before. It actually surprises a lot of people that we have so many people who are attested outside the New Testament as well as inside the New Testament.

Contours with the New Testament

If I could just talk about these contours quickly, and review them; I think it’s key. These are from the sources we’ve already gone over. I just want you to think, if you’re listening, about these things that we’re compiling—not from one source, but it’s really a mosaic of all the sources which were around at the time; facts from outside the New Testament. And you tell me, you think to yourself as you’re listening, “Does this sound like the New Testament?”

  • Jesus was the founder of the Christian faith.

  • Jesus lived in Judea.

  • He was a teacher.

  • There was a John who was called the Baptist.

  • Herod had John killed.

  • John the Baptist taught the Jews to exercise righteousness and virtue towards one another.

  • Jesus had a brother named James.

  • Jesus performed miracles and was a healer.

  • Jesus was crucified during the reign of Tiberias Caesar under the rule of Pontius Pilate.

  • There was an earthquake and darkness at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion.

  • The followers of Jesus believed He had been raised from the dead.

  • The followers of Jesus met on a certain day of the week to worship Him.

  • Christians had conflicts with Rome due to their beliefs.

  • Christians were tortured and killed because they wouldn’t deny Christ.

If you just look at these extra-Biblical sources, we can paint a portrait that is much congruent with the New Testament. Again, we have all of these people mentioned outside the New Testament who give us additional corroboration.

[Karen] I think it’s powerful. And we will post charts [18] for our listeners at ibelievepodcast.com with a transcript listing these 32 people, as Dave said, who were mentioned outside the New Testament in non-Christian sources. You can see the pattern, the corroboration there and study it for yourself.

Thanks so much, Dave, for being with us.

[Dave] It was good to be here.

[Karen] Again, we invite our listeners to go to the Bible itself, and to read it and inquire. Check out these sources again, and ask questions; we’d love to hear from you, if you have any questions. This is part 2 in a series on the reliability of the Bible as a source of divine truth.

We hope that you will engage the discussion on Facebook or other social media. Send in some questions or comments to ibelievepodcast.com.

The next part in the series will be discussing manuscript evidence behind the New Testament. We hope that you’ll join us for that and come prepared. We hope that you’ll join us.

May you be blessed in your own spiritual journey as well.

Additional Episodes:

8 Points to Consider: The Authenticity of the Bible {Overview}

3 Fallen Notions About the Fall

Find us on:                                                                      Or call: 185KNOWGOD1

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For a quick reference to these sources with common objections and answers, please consult this article: http://thedevineevidence.com/jesus_history.html.

1. Suetonius, Life of Claudius. 25.4.

2. Tacitus, Annals. 15.

3. Pliny’s letter to Emperor Trajan.

4. Letter of Mara Bar Serapion.

Van Voorst, Robert E (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 0-8028-4368-9 pages 53-56.

Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of Current Research edited by Bruce Chilton, Craig A. Evans 1998 ISBN 90-04-11142-5 pages 455-457.

5. Lucian, The Death of Peregrinus. 11-13.

6. Julius Africanus, Chronography. 18:1.

7. Julius Africanus, Chronography. 18:1.

8. Josephus, Antiquities. 18.3.3.

9. John Meier, Marginal Jew. 1:16.

10. Josephus, Antiquities. 20.9.1.

11. Josephus, Antiquities. 18.5.2.

12. Eusebuis, Church History.

13. Polycarp, Letter to the Philippians. Tertullian, De Praescriptione Hereticorum 32.3. Iranaeus, Adversus Haereses III.3.

14. All of the 7 letters of Ignatius.

15. Clement, Letter to the Corinthians.

16. Letters of Justin Martyr.

17. Origen against Celsus.

18. chart referencing 32 persons mentioned in the New Testament as well as outside sources


NT Citation

Non-Christian Sources

Jesus Many citations Tacitus, Pliny the younger, Josephus, Suetonius, Lucian, Celsus, Mara Bar-Serapion, The Jewish Talmud
Aggripa I Acts 12:1-24 Philo, Josephus
Agrippa II Acts 25:13-26;32 Coins, Josephus
Ananias Acts 23:2;24:1 Josephus
Annas Luke 3:2; John 18:13,24; Acts 4:6 Josephus
Aretas 2 Cor. 11:32 Josephus
Bernice (wife of Agrippa II) Acts 23:13 Josephus
Caesar Augustus Luke 2:1 Josephus and others
Caiaphas Matt. 26:57;John 18:13-14;John 18:28;Acts 4:6 Ossuary, Josephus
Claudius Acts 11:28;18:2 Josephus
Drusilla (wife of Felix) Acts 24:24 Josephus
Egyptian false prophet Acts 21:38 Josephus
Erastus Acts 19:22 Inscription
Felix Acts 23:24-25;14 Tacitus, Josephus
Gallio Acts 18:12-17 Inscription
Gamaliel Acts 5:34;22:3 Josephus
Herod Antipas Matt. 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29;Luke 3:1; 23:7-12 Josephus
Herod Archelaus Matt. 2:22 Josephus
Herod the Great Matt. 2:1-19; Luke 1:5 Tacitus, Josephus
Herod Philip I Matt. 14:3; Mark 6:17 Josephus
Herod Philip II Luke 3:1 Josephus
Herodias Matt. 14:3; Mark 6:17 Josephus
Herodias’s daughter (Salome) Matt. 14:1-2 Josephus
James (Brother of Jesus) Matt. 13:55; Acts 21:18; Gal. 1:19;1 Cor. 15:7 Josephus
John the Baptist Matt. 11:11-12;Mark 6:14;Mark 6:24-25;Luke 7:20 Josephus
Judas the Galilean Acts 5:7 Josephus
Lysanias Luke 3:1 Inscription, Josephus
Pilate Several Inscription, coins, Josephus, Philo, Tacitus
Quirinius Luke 2:2 Josephus
Porcius Festus Acts 24:27-26:32 Josephus
Sergius Paulus Acts 13:6-12 Inscription
Tiberius Caesar Luke 3:1 Tacitus, Suetonius, Paterculus, Dio Cassius, Josephus
*This is not an exhaustive compilation of non-Christian references. There may be additional citations of these New Testament figures in these and/or other non-Christian sources.

Habermas, Gary. The Historical Jesus. Joplin, MO: College Press Publishing Company, 1996. 189-90.

Bruce, FF. Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974. 13.

Turek, F. and Geisler, N. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004. 270.

About karenrose
Living out a great season of my life, thanks to Jesus Christ, and two wonderful daughters, a great life's work. Loving this opportunity to share faith online... I'm a single Mom, convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, second-gen Italian, from the East coast originally. Love the fine arts, dance, frozen yogurt, temples, scriptures, writing, jazz, helping others reach their potential, king salmon, ....and not in that order. God is good. I feel it deeply when people have a misconception of Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ, His Son, that lessens or cheapens Them and blinds one's ability to feel His presence or to trust in an ultimately good eternal end to life's circumstances.

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