Hello I’m writing this question regarding to a conversation I have with someone online.
He claimed that there is no extra biblical evidence of Jesus which I found weird because this is something I knew was false since I know about Tacticus, Pliny the Younger, Josephus etc.
But apparently atheists have all sorts of proof that every extra biblical reference is false.
And when you google it there is a lot of confusion for me. Articles that claim Jesus did exist with all sorts of evidence, articles countering that, articles countering that. I just don’t really know what to believe at this point. I think the truth is of great importance here. For me at least I don’t want to be the one to be ignorant and believes in fairy tales obviously.
So all these articles are written with great confidence and everyone claims to be right. Which makes it really difficult for me what to believe. If Jesus existed shouldn’t that we common fact? Why is this a discussion? He wasn’t like a super famous man at the time but if he appeared to 500 people some of them should have written something down. My biggest problem is that everyone is biased on this. I don’t expect any answers here that could lead to thinking Jesus doesn’t exist.
I’m curious if anyone here has knowledge on the history side of this. And I want to know if there are others who have struggled with this.
How do you get to the truth in an honest way?
I don’t think only reading research from Christians is fair for example.
So those are my questions and I’ll paste the comment I got in this discussion below:
And I already told you that these references cannot be shown to be independent, or they are forgeries or interpolations.
If you want specifics for Pliny and Tacitus, here you go:
Pliny the Younger and Tacitus were close friends and Pliny is the likely source of Tacitus’ knowledge of Christians since we know that Tacitus asked Piny to supply information for his histories. [See Richard Carrier: On the Historicity of Jesus; Why We May Have Reason for Doubt – Chapter 8, p. 342]
Pliny the Younger, in letters to Trajan, admits he knew nothing of Christians until he, as Governor of Bithynia, had to interrogate some. Clearly, he only has second hand information from those people. We can therefore dismiss Pliny the Younger as an independent source of evidence for Jesus.
Pliny the Elder, eye witness to the Great fire of Rome in 64 CE, never mentions Christians in his writings. If he had, his nephew and adopted son (PtY) would not have told Trajan he’d no knowledge of them. [See Richard Carrier: On the Historicity of Jesus; Why We May Have Reason for Doubt – Chapter 8, p. 343]
Tacitus’ mention of “Christ” is the first ever extra biblical reference to a historical Jesus. Scholars are confident it dates to around 116 or 117 CE; Tacitus’ Annals.
There is a problem with the line: “Christ, 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.” As several scholars including [Richard Carrier], Josef Ceska, Earl Doherty, Erich Koestermann, Jean Rogué, Charles Saumagne, Roger Viklund and others have argued, this line is probably an interpolation, added sometime after the mid-fourth century. Before then, no one, Christian or otherwise, ever appears to have heard of this persecution event under Nero. Nor does anyone notice reference to Christians in Tacitus. [See David Fitzgerald “Jesus: Mything in Action” Chapter 18 and Richard Carrier (following the arguments of scholars before him who have argued the same), “The Prospect of a Christian Interpolation in Tacitus, Annals 15.44,” Vigilae Christianae 68, 2014, pp. 1-20.]
Considering just Origen alone, there are several passages where it’s almost certain he would have remarked upon this paragraph, even quoted it, had he known of it. [See Richard Carrier: On the Historicity of Jesus; Why We May Have Reason for Doubt – Chapter 8, p. 335]
Nero’s scapegoating is not mentioned when other second century Christians told stories of Nero persecuting Christians. _ [See David Fitzgerald “Jesus: Mything in Action” Chapter 18]_
There is strong evidence that Tacitus originally stated that followers of a Jewish instigator in Rome, Chrestus (who we learn about from Suetonius) were scapegoated by Nero. This is indicated by the single manuscript that contains this passage, Cornelius Tacitus Manuscript M.II, in the Laurentian library in Florence, Italy. That manuscript originally said the victimised group were “Chrestians,” not “Christians.” As subsequent investigations (including ultra-violet examination of the manuscript have confirmed, at some point a later scribe changed the word chrestianos to christianos. The evidence of tampering is unmistakable. [See: J. Boman, “Inpulsore Cherestro? Suetonius’ Divus Claudius 25.4 in Sources and Manuscripts,” Liber Annuus 61 (2011), Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, Jerusalem 2012, p. 355n2.]
*Tacitus was probably talking about a completely different group; and it is unlikely he ever wrote anything about “Christ”[Carrier, Fitzgerald]. *
The use of ‘Chresto’ to mean ‘Christo’, though a linguistic possibility, is nevertheless not a necessary conjecture, Chrestus being a common name at the time (likewise we need not posit a textual corruption). [See Stephen J. Boman, “Inpulsore Cherestro? Suetonius’ Divus Claudius 25.4 in Sources and Manuscripts,” Liber Annuus 61 (2011), Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, Jerusalem 2012, p. 355n2]
As Bart Ehrman points out for the Testimonium Flavianum, so Carrier and Brodie also point out that even if just for the sake of argument we allowed that the “Testimonium Taciteum” was entirely authentic, it still adds nothing to the discussion.
Why? Because nothing it contains says anything about “Christ” that wasn’t already available from Christians or the Gospels, the youngest of which was around twenty years old, the oldest was written around 57 years before. So even if every single factor listed above is mistaken, wrong or even an outright lie, (to be clear it is not) it makes no difference.
Bottom line: Tacitus cannot be seen as an independent source and therefore cannot be used as evidence, let alone proof, that Jesus exited.
Now, if you want an even more comprehensive dismantling of dearly held Christian beliefs over Titus Flavius Josephus, (born Yosemite ben Matityahu), do feel free to include him in your next attempt at providing ‘secular sources’.
So this is something someone actually sent to me.
The following article is a good example of atheists being really confident about the truth:
I find it hard to believe that the writers of these articles make all of this up, but someone has to be wrong.