Did Jesus Walk?:A Quest For Answers

So last night i found myself randomly asking myself,amongst a dozen other questions,if did Jesus really walk? I don't really know how i got to asking myself that but my curiosity refused to simmer down so i perused the one place which has answers to everything,the internet.

Ok now before i lay out my findings,i should explain my exact curiosity and the question i wanted to find an answer to. What i wanted to find out was not if Jesus exists as the omnipotent and ever-present Messiah or if there is a God. That is a whole different thing,in my opinion. Want i wanted to know was if history or ,recognizes the existence of Jesus in the form of either writings or archaeological findings.

Now one might say that the gospels of Christianity featured in the Bible offer an instant answer to my curiosity but the reason they were not my first point of reference was that,well,like the name implies,they are gospels of Christianity so they are obviously going to be inclined to painting a picture of the affirmative so to factor out this obvious bias,i had to look for other sources.

The first prehistoric mention of Jesus i came across, before the first gospel of Paul, was made by Jewish historian Flavius Josephus on his books Jewish Antiquities, which detailed the history of Jewish people. Before getting into Josephus' mentions of Jesus,it is important to note that he was born in 37 AD, about 5 or so years after the crucifixion of Jesus which happened around 30-33AD. The books themselves were written around 93AD.

The aforementioned dates are important because they explain a few things,the first being that Josephus's account of Jesus was what he heard from people who were there during his life and not his because obviously he was not alive during the life of Jesus. The second importance they foster is that, because he was born soon after the death of Jesus,he was present during the start of Christianity after the crucifixion and hence his "sources" were people who were alive during the life of Jesus.

The fact that the books were written about 60 years after the crucifixion however casts a shadow of doubt into the credibility and accuracy of the information provided by Josephus' sources but this does not mean their accounts should be thrown out the window. I myself will choose to give them the benefit of the doubt.

On the entire 20 volumes of Jewish Antiquities,Josephus mentions Jesus twice. The first instance does not directly mention Jesus but rather is a narration of an event where a man called "James" was unlawfully executed. Josephus describes the man as "brother of Jesus-who-is-called-the-Messiah". This mention tells a very important story,that being that according to Josephus' recounts,there once existed a man called Jesus who was referred to as the Messiah whose brother James was unlawfully executed.

Atheists have argued that the above recount has the following loopholes and possible interpretation. They existed a first century man called James who was born with the title "James The Just" and was known as "Brother Of The Lord",Lord in this case meaning the title and not Jesus. They argue that because Josephus books were kept and preserved by Christians,they could have changed that account of Josephus from him referring to James as "Brother of The Lord" to "Brother of Jesus who is called the Messiah" in order to make it conform to their narrative of the existence of Jesus. In short,they say Josephus was referring to James the Just by his "Brother of The Lord" title and was not literally implying that he was the brother of a man called Jesus.Below is the full quote of the passage: 

"Ananus… convened the judges of the Sanhedrin and brought before them a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, and certain others. He accused them of having transgressed the law and delivered them up to be stoned."

The second mention of Jesus by Josephus is less vague but it is much more controversial. Most Christian scholars agree that the passage may have been severely altered by early Christians but they do not however say that the entire passage was made up. They also do not mention which parts exactly might have been added in,removed or exaggerated. The following is the full passage from Jewish Antiquities:

"About this time, there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing amongst us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvelous things about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared"

Like aforementioned,this passage offers a more clear description of Jesus but because of its questionable authenticity,which has been pointed out by Christian scholars,it fails to standout as a definite proof of the existence of a man called Jesus and hence makes it hard to consider it concrete evidence.It is however important to mention that because Josephus was a Pharisee,he had no reason,unlike the authors of the gospels,to paint Jesus in a good light and refer to him as the Messiah so if the doubt of authenticity of the text did not exist,it would have offered an unbiased view of Jesus as the Messiah.

The second non-Christian mention of Jesus comes from Cornelius Tacitus,a Roman historian who wrote Annals Of Rome . Whilst chronicling the burning of Rome,he mentions Jesus in the passage below:

"Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called "Chrestians" by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind."

What is important to note about the above passage is that Tacitus details the death of Jesus as described by the Christian gospels and being a Roman,just like Josephus,he had no reason to give that depiction of Jesus. It is important to also note that the Annals Of Rome was written before the gospels so one cannot argue that Tacitus' account was influenced by the Christian gospels.

However, atheists argue that ,like Josephus,Tacitus was not born during the life of Jesus so his account is just mere hearsay which cannot be corroborated and because his book was written in 120AD,almost a century after the crucifixion of Jesus, the accuracy and legitimacy of his sources is also sketchy.

Other minor mentions of Jesus by prehistoric historians include one by Roman governor Pliny The Younger who wrote,before Tacitus and hence before the gospels,that:

"Christians would sing hyms to a man called Christ as if he was a god"

Another mention was by another Roman historian Suetonius who writes that:

"Emperor Claudius had expelled Jews from Rome who were making constant disturbances at the instigation of a man called Chrestus"

All the above accounts were made by people who had no reason to be biased to Jesus and hence assert his existence,unlike the writers of the gospels, so it would not be wrong to say their accounts would hold more weight to a neutral person.Although some of the accounts have questionable legitimacy and accuracy,it is amazing that some of them detail important elements of Jesus life as they were detailed by the gospels like how Tacitus mentions his crucifixion (way before the gospels were written),a factor which can be taken as corroborative evidence of the gospels.

Although the deity-like image of Jesus chronicled by the gospels and other New Testament texts cannot be proved,the existence of a man called Jesus seems very likely from the aforementioned sources.

Archaeologically,it is impossible to establish the existence of Jesus because he was of the peasant class and unlike the royals,no historic record of him was written down until almost a century after his death when the first gospel of Paul was written. So to say that the absence of archaeological evidence of his existence is the evidence of his absence would be rather absurd.

Atheists argue that the fact that there is so few evidence about the existence of such a supposedly important figure who performed multiple miracles including waking up the dead is a slam dunk rebuttal of the Christian "myth" of Jesus and God in general. They say that the fact that one has to look so hard to find chronicles of this supposed great man is proof of the "fakeness" of his entire existence. They offer the following analogy as an explanation:

"Imagine that someone has claimed that the USA had carried out atomic weapons tests on a particular Caribbean island in 1943. Would the lack of reports of mushroom-cloud sightings at the time be evidence of absence, or absence of evidence? (Remember, the Caribbean during the war years was under intense surveillance by many different factions.) Would it be necessary to go to the island today to scan its surface for the radioactive contamination that would have to be there if nuclear explosions had taken place there? If indeed, we went there with our Geiger-counters and found no trace of radioactive contamination, would that be evidence of absence, or absence of evidence? In this case, what superficially looks like absence of evidence is really negative evidence, and thus legitimately could be construed as evidence of absence. Can the negative evidence adduced above concerning Jesus be very much less compelling?"

On this post,i shied away from using the gospels and other Christian texts as reference because as aforementioned,a neutral would consider them to be biased to the affirmation of the existence of Jesus. I rather cited historians and people who had no reason whatsoever to be favorable to the "Christian agenda".

It is important to note that the cited people wrote their works way before the gospels were written so they could not possibly have been influenced by them. It is also of worthy to note that Christianity,after the years which the crucifixion of Jesus would have taken place, did not have that much leverage to influence the works of those men when they wrote them as it was still a relativley new movement.

The fact that some of the work like Josephus' was kept and preserved by Christians over the years ,however, casts a shadow of doubt over the authenticity of their work which corroborates the existence of Jesus.

What do you think?Do you consider the absence of evidence to be evidence of absence or do you think that the aforementioned prehistoric citations,although most cannot be substantiated, provide enough evidence to support the existence of Jesus?Leave me a comment below!!


  1. Wow. I am quite impressed by this research. I have never came across such writings. But today I can gladly say I learnt something new about Christianity. Writings before the Gospels. Just so interesting.

    1. it is so interesting i also learnt so much when going through the writings


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