who was Jesus in history

Who is This Jesus?

Dave Sterrett is a speaker and author with Josh McDowell on several books as well as the most recent I Am Second book.

His book Why Trust Jesus? from Moody books was a great read, and I wanted to share a portion with you about the historical Jesus. Sometimes we don't connect the Christ of our salvation with the man who actually walked the face of the earth in Church history. Dave writes:

"Harvard professor Simon Greenleaf, the best authority on the law of evidence in the nineteenth century, said, "All that Christianity asks of men on this subject is that the testimony of the Gospels be sifted as if it were given in a court of justice."

We have good evidence about Jesus from what early non-Christians said about Him. Flavius Josephus, the most prolific Jewish historian of the first century, worked for the Roman emperor Domition as a professional historian. Josephus recorded major historical events, including the destructions of Jerusalem in AD 70, and authored several major works, including Antiquities of the Jews, which was completed in AD 93. Josephus, who was not a Christian, wrote:

At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. Many people from among the Jews and other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah concerning who the prophets have recounted wonders.

Michael Wilkins and J.P. Moreland conclude that, even if we did not have any Christian writings like those of the apostles and early church fathers, "we would be able to conclude from such non-Christian writings as Josephus, the Talmud, Tacitus, and Pliny the Younger that:

-Jesus was a Jewish teacher
-Many people believed that he performed hearling and exorcisms
-He was rejected by the Jewish leaders
-He was crucified under Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius
-Despite this shameful death, his followers, who believed that he was still alive, spread beyond Palestine so that there were multitudes of them in Rome by AD 64
-All kinds of people from the cities and countryside - men and women, rich and poor, slave and free - worshiped him as God by the beginning of the second century

Dr. Norman Geisler and Frank Turek have noted:

Including Josephus, there are ten known non-Christian writers who mention Jesus within 150 years of his life. By contrast, over the same 150 years, there are nine non-Christian sources who mention Tiberius Caesar, the Roman emperor [of the known world] at the time of Jesus. So discounting all the Christian sources, Jesus is actually mentioned by one more source than the Roman emperor. If you include the Christian sources, authors mentioning Jesus outnumbered those who mentioned Tiberius 43 to 10!" (p. 108-109).


Dave's book Why Trust Jesus? is available here