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  #1  
Old 27th October 2010, 04:39 PM
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Historians at Jesus' Time

Hi, historians at Jesus' time strangely enough do not mention anything about Jesus. The only things we have are later, like Josephus etc. Atheists back me into a corner over this. How in bible it says he was known far and wide, but no historians of the time said anything about him.
Is it true that the early historians didn't say anything about the Jews or christians either? If that is true, that could be a major point that historians just weren't interested in Jesus and the movement in early christianity.
Was it because Jesus was condemned to die as slaves did, and was probably little interest to roman historians? I need alot of info on this if anyone knows anything.
Thanks,
Erik
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Old 27th October 2010, 05:05 PM
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History is rarely written up until after it happens, and is always written up by people with an interest in it. By the standards of first century Palestine what we have on Jesus is quite extraordinary - four gospels, a whole heap of letters and other documents, and some marginal notes in other writers. That's way more documentation than you get on Tiberius Caesar, emperor of the known world at the time of Jesus' death.

The problem isn't lack of documentation, the problem is a lack of understanding of the realities of 1st century history.
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Old 27th October 2010, 05:18 PM
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Historians at Jesus' Time

Historians study the past; Jesus, when alive, was "current events". There were no newspapers, reporters, blogs, no other media during that time. News spread by word of mouth.

Historians gather information from official documents, letters, writings, first person accounts, etc. Jesus wrote nothing, and his disciples likely wrote nothing during his lifetime. The only document would have been a record of a death sentence and crucifixion, one of many that occurred. No news there.

No one interviewed Jesus or followed him around taking notes of what he said and did with the idea of writing a book, or reporting it. And as he was only one of many itinerant preachers and miracle workers in the area, who would have noticed? And anyone from Rome or the Greek world traveling in Palestine, hearing a story about a miracle working preacher who was the son of God, they would have not been surprised or impressed. They would have heard it all before.

Jesus and his disciples only became "parties of interest" after he died, when trouble developed and Christianity was seen as opposition to Roman rule and Roman gods. That's when things started to be recorded and reported.

Also, who were the historians? You mention one, and there were likely few others. And their interests were limited to their own world, be it Roman, Jewish or Greek. Even if there had been a "historian" around at the time of Jesus to record what was happening, why would they if they were Christians? They would have believed that the Kingdom of God was imminent, so why bother.

Jesus was known "far and wide" but that term is misunderstood. His fame or notoriety during his lifetime was limited to the very small area of Israel and Judea.

A good place to start is with a book detailing the early history of Christianity and the environment in which Jesus operated. You can find them in book stores and libraries.
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Old 27th October 2010, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by thedeterminator View Post
Hi, historians at Jesus' time strangely enough do not mention anything about Jesus. The only things we have are later, like Josephus etc. Atheists back me into a corner over this.
Ask them whether they know any historians who were actually alive and writing history during the years when Jesus was alive and doing ministry. (30-33 A.D., as best we can tell.) I'm not aware that there was any Jewish historian actually producing history during those years, nor any significant attempt to record what took place in Judea prior to Josephus. There may have been active Roman historians, but I don't think there was any paying attention to the events in that part of the world.

How in bible it says he was known far and wide, but no historians of the time said anything about him.
The Gospels do say that his fame spread after he performed miracles. However, fame is a relative concept. In a culture like that of the first century, someone might have been well known in one area without becoming famous worldwide. Galilee at the time was a poor, backwater region; you can think of it as the Arkansas of the Roman Empire. So it's reasonable that most literate and urban people would not have paid much attention to events there.

Another tack is to compare it to other ancient historians. The most famous is the Greek Herodotus, whose book The Histories covers the war between Greece and Persia, including well-known events such as the Battle of Marathon and the last stand at Thermopylae. Herodotus wrote his work 40 years after the fact, which is, according to the best estimates, about the same length of time as between the ministry of Jesus and the writing of the Gospels.
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Old 28th October 2010, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by thedeterminator View Post
Hi, historians at Jesus' time strangely enough do not mention anything about Jesus.
That's because historians deal with things in the past and not contemporary things.

Is it true that the early historians didn't say anything about the Jews or christians either? If that is true, that could be a major point that historians just weren't interested in Jesus and the movement in early christianity.

Was it because Jesus was condemned to die as slaves did, and was probably little interest to roman historians? I need alot of info on this if anyone knows anything.
First of all, what about the Bible? There are numerous historical accounts of both the Jews and early Christianity.

Second, you've got to remember that while every one knows about Jesus now and we see how significant those events were, when Jesus was crucified, He was, in the eyes of the Romans, a nobody. It wouldn't have made the front page in the Rome Inquirer. It would most likely have been filed on page 6 under a story about the dangers of chiseling tablets and while driving your chariot.
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Old 28th October 2010, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by thedeterminator View Post
Hi, historians at Jesus' time strangely enough do not mention anything about Jesus. The only things we have are later, like Josephus etc. Atheists back me into a corner over this. How in bible it says he was known far and wide, but no historians of the time said anything about him.
In addition to the other good posts thus far, don't forget that we do have first century accounts of Jesus: Matthew, Mark, Luke, (Q, so many think), John, Paul, and James. Dismissing those is extremely bias, not to mention bad history.

I'm a little attached to a thesis Richard Bauckham has too. His idea is that the stories in the gospel accounts often come attached with the name of the stories originator (in other words, an eyewitness). For example, in Luke 8 there are several stories that Jesus tells around Galilee. Bauckham believes that here, as in many other places, Luke specifically names the source(s) of the stories:

8:2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and disabilities: Mary (called Magdalene), from whom seven demons had gone out, 8:3 and Joanna the wife of Cuza (Herod’s household manager), Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their own resources.

(see, Bauckham, Richard. "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses")

Is it true that the early historians didn't say anything about the Jews or christians either? If that is true, that could be a major point that historians just weren't interested in Jesus and the movement in early christianity.
What historians? There were about 3 other than the New Testament. Tacitus, Josephus, and Suetonius are really the only major historians of the period. Two of those are concerned with Roman history, not a backwoods Roman outpost in Judea, much less the even more remote Galilean Jews. It's not as if there were hundreds or thousands of historians writing as there are today. However, those historians do give a passing reference.

And it would be correct to say that the earliest Christian movment wasn't of real interest to most Romans. But that changed rather quickly, especially with Nero blaming a fire in Rome on Christians (and I would include the expulsion of Jews from Rome by Claudius to be due to Christians).
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Last edited by Yekcidmij; 28th October 2010 at 09:39 AM.
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Old 28th October 2010, 09:37 AM
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Pete wrote: "We did not follow cleverly invented stories, but that we were eyewitnesses to His Majesty."
The sudden explosion of Christianitylynee the Younger, Roman Governor of Bythania and Asia Minor 112A.D. " The Christians were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light when the sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ as to a God. He also refered to Christianity as "an eccesive and contagious superstition". It was acknowledged that it was spreading.

Cornelius Tacideus 55-120A.D. He was not a Christian and was concidered the greatest historian of the time. " Nero fastened the guilt and afflicted the most exquist torture
on a class hated for their abomination called Christians by the populus. Christus,(talking about Christ) from whom the name had it's origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tyberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition, thus check for the moment, again broke out, not only in Judea, the first source of evil, but even in Rome."

Julieus Africanus 221A.D. found a reference in the writings of Thalus who wrote a history of the Eastern Mediteranian around 52A.D. Who was trying to explain the darkness that covered the land during Jesus' crucifixtion as solar eclipse that wouldn't make sense when it was know that a solar eclipse couldn't take places during a full moon that was during the pass-over season.

Flaveus Josepheus 37-97A.D. a Jewish and Roman historian said this:
" At this time, there was a wise man who was known called, Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and die and those who had become his deciples did not abandon his dicipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixtion and that he was alive. Accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah concerning who the Prophets have recounted wonders."

How could Christianity spread when Jesus predicted He would rise from the dead if he didn't? He would have been exposed as a fraud and no one would have followed Him on pain of death or tortue for a known lie as the diciples did. WHAT DID THEY HAVE TO GAIN IF IT WAS A HOAX?
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Old 28th October 2010, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Yekcidmij View Post
(and I would include the expulsion of Jews from Rome by Claudius to be due to Christians).
Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome. (Suetonius, Claudius 25.1-5)

What is interesting about this is that (1) "Chrestus" appears to be a variant spealling of "Christus" or "Chrestos", or it's possible that considering the insignificance of the early Christian movement, Suetonius didn't really understand who "Chrestus" was and so he just didn't spell it correctly. (2) This is further enhanced by a mention of this same event in Acts:

18:1 After this Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. 18:2 There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to depart from Rome.

It certainly appears to me that two of the earliest and most influential Christians were a part of the same group that had been expelled from Rome by Claudius. Given this, it certainly seems that the "Chrestus" who was instigating the disturbances in Rome were probably Jews who were doing things in the name of Christ. This would also be an indication of a christian church in Rome by AD 41.
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Old 28th October 2010, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by thedeterminator View Post
Hi, historians at Jesus' time strangely enough do not mention anything about Jesus.
There is no reason why they should. There was no CNN in these days, and Jesus public life did not last very long. It would seem that the biggest impact of his ministry occurred after the resurecton.

In any case one would exempt his contemporaries to write about him, and they did. Four independent accounts of his life and then remainder of the NT as built on that.
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Old 28th October 2010, 11:33 AM
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