Tacitus on Jesus



Twenty-three years after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ the Roman historian Tacitus was born in 56 AD. In, The Annals of Imperial Rome, Tacitus wrote about major historical events of that time including the following which refers to the time of Nero and the burning of Rome:

“But neither human resources, nor imperial munificence, nor appeasement of the gods, eliminated sinister suspicions that the fire had been investigated. To suppress this rumour, Nero fabricated scapegoats – and punished with every refinement the notoriously depraved Christians (as they were popularly called). Their originator, Christ, had been executed in Tiberius’ reign by the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate. But in spite of this temporary setback the deadly superstition had broken out afresh, not only in Judea (where the mischief had started) but even in Rome. All degraded and shameful practices collect and flourish in the capital.”

Tacitus then goes on to write in The Annals of Imperial Rome about the horrific persecution and torture of Christians in Rome during the reign of The Roman Emperor Nero. For those who dispute the existence of Jesus Christ outside of biblical texts, one must ask why they refuse to accept the broad consensus of scholarly opinion on the historical accounts provided by Tacitus or Josephus?



What Tacitus describes as ‘depraved Christians’ most likely refers to his limited understanding of the Eucharist as a Christian sacrament.



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