Did Jesus really exist? (Part 3)

Jesus’ death, as well as His life, is recorded by ancient historians.  And an interesting occurrence during his death is covered in these documents. When Jesus was being crucified, the Bible records a darkness covered the land from noon until 3:00 PM. Luke 23:44-45 says, “It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining.”

Thallus, a first century historian, wrote about this event, but only fragments of his writings exist in the citations of other writers. Julius Africanus, around 221 AD, is one who recorded this. “Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away this darkness as an eclipse of the sun—unreasonably as it seems to me (unreasonably, of course, because a solar eclipse could not have taken place at the time of the full moon, and it was at the season of the Paschal full moon that Christ died)” Although the fact of the crucifixion and the darkness were not in question, Thallus sought another explanation for the darkness—a natural one, not a supernatural one. Likewise Julius Africanus also cites Phlegon, another secular authority who dismissed the darkness at the crucifixion as an eclipse. “Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth–manifestly that one of which we speak.”

Jesus’ crucifixion was also documented by the first century Roman historian Tacitus. “Christus, the founder of the name (Christians), was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also.” This is exactly what the Bible records. Mark 15:15 says, “Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.”

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