Is There Any Evidence Outside of The Bible For the Events Surrounding the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ?
As we celebrate Easter, we are subject yet again to the onslaught of "historical" specials detailing the "real" facts surrounding Christianity. Surprisingly, there are still those out there who believe Christ Himself did not exist - a retelling of pagan myths.
So how can we verify the existence of Christ outside of the Bible? Is there any historical evidence?
The answer is a resounding YES! There are many pieces of evidence for the existence of Jesus of Nazareth and for his crucifixion by the Romans. Let's focus on one particular ancient historian - Tacitus.
Tacitus was a Roman historian and senator (AD 56 - 117). He served under Emperor Vespasian (who laid siege to Jerusalem). In his Annals of AD 116, he wrote about the fire of Rome during the reign of Nero and described the following:
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 - (Annals 15:44)
It is clear that Tacitus is no friend of the Church. In fact, he is a sympathizer with persecution. But here, he outlines several historical facts for us.
1. Tiberius was Emperor during the time of Christ's death
2. Christ was crucified by Pontius Pilate in Judea
3. Nero persecuted Christians and blamed the fire in Rome on them to defer suspicions away from himself
4. Christians taught that Jesus rose from the dead (the superstition)
5. Rome became a center for the Christian faith and was spreading throughout the world from there
The basic picture painted by Tacitus is one painted by the Nicene creed.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
Tacitus shows that indeed Christ lived and died by Pontius Pilate on a Roman Cross and his followers preached that He was resurrected.
This is but one piece of evidence in a tremendous cumulative case that points to Jesus being the risen Son of God.