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Are there any written reports of Jesus in the Roman or Hebrew literature of his time?


Two near-contemporary Roman sources give evidence of Jesus. Suetonius, in the Life of Claudius, talks about a Chrestus who caused public distrubances—possibly a reference to Christ. Tacitus, in Annals, reports that a Christus, after whom Christians are named, was killed by Pontius Pilate under the reign of Tiberius. The Jewish historian Josephus notes the death of "James, the brother of Jesus," but only later Christian interpretation added the phrase "who was called the Christ." Not overwhelming evidence, but enough to corroborate the gospels and convince most people that a Jew named Jesus did live in the first century.

For more on the life and times of Jesus, see Christian History issue 59.

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