On Christmas Eve, I heard a fellow standup comedian mention that there’s no historical proof of Jesus. Fair enough, faith is a big part of any religion. Maybe there was no historical Jesus, maybe he was a creature of myth, like Hercules, or Matlock. But Jesus only frollicking in the land of Honalee doesn’t take away from me the divinity of ”Do Unto Others as They Would Do Unto You” or whatever it is he said. Or She said.
But my curiousity is peaked. And since it’s the thick of the Christmas Season and Jesus’s observed birthday (1) (2) why not search the internet for some non-Biblical, historical accounts of Jesus’s life?
Boo-ya! Here’s what I’ve found:
There’s some cool excerpts from Roman-era historians who speak mostly of Jesus’s trial and early, hippy, anti-Roman Christians.
Here’s Pliny the Younger, a Roman stooge, declaring that he has the crazy Christians under his control in 112 A.D.
They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of food—but ordinary and innocent food. Even this, they affirmed, they had ceased to do after my edict by which, in accordance with your instructions, I had forbidden political associations.
This cool site also mentions that some believe Jesus to be referenced in the Talmud as Yeshu, a sorcerer who is hanged. I found this other site which seems to do a pretty good job of examining those passages and laying down the pro’s and con’s of Jesus’s alledged appearance in the Talmud: http://www.angelfire.com/mt/talmud/jesusnarr.html
I also found this little rundown of non-Christian accounts:
Lucian of Samosata is interesting in that he was a Greek satirist who mocked early Christians because they worshiped a lowly man and not a mythical god. He sort of seems like a pre-Christian fundamental Christian.
I wish I could find more contemporary accounts of Jesus instead of the chronicles of Roman squares being annoyed by early Christian hippies. But it looks like there might be a sliver of historical evidence that there was a real Jesus, whether he was the Christian Jesus or just a dude or another mystery altogether…