From Phlegon we therefore learn the following items: (1)Jesus accurately predicted the future. (2)There was an eclipse at the crucifixion from the sixth to the ninth hours, (3)followed by earthquakes, (4)all during the reign of Tiberius Caesar.

(5)After his resurrection, Jesus appeared and showed his wounds, especially the nail marks from his crucifixion.

Synopsis: Jesus and Ancient Christianity

When the combined evidence from ancient sources is summarized, quite an impressive amount of information is gathered concerning Jesus and ancient Christianity. It is our purpose in this section to make a brief composite picture of the historical data. We have investigated a total of seventeen sources that present valuable material with regard to the historical Jesus and early Christianity. As noted above, not all of these records are equally good documents, but even minus the questionable sources, this early evidence is still very impressive.^90 Few ancient historical figures can boast the same amount of material.

85 See Anderson, Witness of History, p. 19.

86 Origen, Contra CelsumXIV in the Ante–Nicene Fathers.

87 Ibid., XXXIII.

88 Julius Africanus, XVIII.

89 Origen, LIX.

90 Sources that have raised various kinds of doubt are the Toledoth Jesu, the four Gnostic works and the Acts of Pilate, which make up approximately one-third of the total number of documents studied in this chapter.

The Life and Person of Jesus

According to the sources that we have investigated above, the ministry of Jesus, the brother of James (Josephus), was geographically centered in Palestine (Tacitus, Lucian, Acts of Pilate). Jesus was known as a wise, virtuous and ethical man (Josephus, Mara Ben-Serapion), who was reported to have both performed miracles (Acts of Pilate) and made prophecies that were later fulfilled (Phlegon, cf. Josephus). A result of his ministry was that he had many disciples, from both the Jews and the Gentiles (Josephus, Talmud).

Of the sources which we studied, the Gnostic works, in particular, comment on the person of Jesus. They relate that on one occasion he asked his disciples who they thought he was (Gospel of Thomas). Although there were varied answers to this question, these works agree that Jesus was both God and man. While he was a flesh and blood person (Gospel of Truth, Treatise on Resurrection), as indicated by the title “Son of Man” (Gospel of Thomas), he is also said to be the Son of God (Treatise on Resurrection, Gospel of Truth, Gospel of Thomas), the Word (Gospel of Truth) and the “All” (Gospel of Thomas).

As pointed out earlier these Gnostic works are somewhat questionable sources for the historical Jesus because of their late and theological character. However, some secular sources for the historical Jesus report similar beliefs. They assert that Jesus was worshiped as deity (Pliny, Lucian), and that some believed he was the Messiah (Josephus) and even call him “King” (Mara Bar-Serapion). At the very least, that these beliefs were held by certain persons is a matter of historical record. The Teachings of Jesus