Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Tacitus - What can we say?

This post continues on from this one.

Tacitus said "Christ" not "Jesus"

Another objection to the Jesus reference from Tacitus said that that he mentions "Christ" that suffered under Pilate who's followers were Christians, he didn't mention the name "Jesus". Besides the fact that it is a know thing that the followers of Jesus are/were called Christians (Acts 11:26) we need to remember that Tacitus was a Roman, who had no anticipation for a Jewish Messiah (or in Greek "Christ"). It was very common for the disciples of Jesus to add "Christ" after his name (Matthew 1:1, 18 Mark 1:1, Acts 2:38, 3:6, 4:10, Romans 1:4, 3:22, 1 Peter 1:1-3, 1 John 2:1, Hebrews 13:8 (to name just a few)). The fact that "Jesus Christ" is talked about so much could have appeared to Tacitus as perhaps a last name or title that Jesus had. It has been anodically mentioned in some people's testimonies (John Dickson comes to mind) that some people even today think that "Christ" is Jesus' surname.

Another reason why Tacitus mentions "Christ" and not "Jesus" is to easily explain the name the followers took up. He says the people Nero had a go at were Christians, who got their name from Christ who suffered under Pilate. That quick definition of who the Christian were wouldn't have so easily worked out if he said the Christians get their name from Jesus. It is easier for him to say Christians get their name from Christ.

So what can we say?

Tacitus is quite a reliable historian who says the following:

1. Jesus was known as Christ
2. Jesus lived during the reign of Tiberius
3. Jesus suffered an "extreme penalty" by Pontius Pilate
4. His followers took on the name Christians
5. His followers started in Judea
6. His followers made it to Rome
7. His followers were persecuted under Nero

Anything else?


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