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Tacitus (Non-Christian Historian) Wrote about Jesus Christ

Posted by FactReal on April 8, 2012

HISTORICITY OF JESUS
The Roman historian and senator Cornelius Tacitus (c. AD 55 – c. AD 120) wrote about Jesus Christ, His execution, and Nero’s persecution of Christians in first century Rome.

Tacitus’s book The Annals is one of the earliest secular historical records to mention Christ. Tacitus referred to the execution (crucifixion) of Jesus as the “extreme penalty.”

Tacitus’s book The Annals, Book XV, Chapter 44:
Here Tacitus makes a rather unsympathetic reference to Jesus and the early Christians:

And there were sacred banquets and nightly vigils celebrated by married women. But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians 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 Pilatus, 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 centre 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. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.

Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man’s cruelty, that they were being destroyed.

Sources: MIT; Perseus; Scribd, page 208.

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