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free teaching series: Jesus and the Witness of the Outsiders (by Archbishop Dr. Uwe AE Rosenkranz, MA. MD, DD, PhD.)

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Craig A. Evans












Lexham Press, 2014

NT313: Jesus and the Witness of the Outsiders

Copyright 2014 Lexham Press

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Course Description

Jesus and the Witness of the Outsiders (NT313) examines various ancient sources that refer to Christ. The course focuses on the evidence from extrabiblical sources, and looks at what they reveal about the life of Christ and how Jesus was perceived by early non-Christian witnesses. It examines references to Jesus in Roman, Jewish, and other writings, and looks at where Jesus’ name was invoked in both Christian and pagan charms and incantations.


Course Outcomes

Upon successful completion you should be able to:

• List several early Roman writers who referred to Jesus
• Describe how Josephus referred to Christ in his writings
• List places where Jesus’ name was invoked in charms or incantations
• Describe how the early references to Jesus by non-Christian sources relate to the portrayal of Jesus in the Gospels
• Explain how these early references shed light on the origins of Christianity


Recommended Base Package

Logos Bible Software, Platinum Edition.
To download a Notes document that highlights the readings for this course, join the NT313 Faithlife group:


Course Outline

Introducing the Speaker and the Course

Unit 1: The Witness of Roman Writers
1. Tacitus and Suetonius
2. Pliny the Younger
3. Celsus and Lucian
4. Using Clippings to Document Ancient Non-Christian Witnesses to Christ
5. Mara bar Serapion
Unit 1 Quiz

Unit 2: The Witness of Jewish Writers
6. Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities
7. Using Timelines in Logos to Find Events in Jesus’ Life
8. Translations of Josephus and Rabbinic Literature
9. The Qur’an and Other Writings
10. Building and Searching a Collection of Ancient Non-Christian Witnesses to Christ
Unit 2 Quiz

Unit 3: Invocations of the Name of Jesus
11. The Greek Magical Papyrus
12. Silver Phylactery from Beirut
13. Magic Bowls
14. Curse Tablets and Lamellae
15. The “Jesus Cup”
Unit 3 Quiz

16. Relevance of These Witnesses



Course Exams

The final exam will cover everything in the course.
Objective exams will consist of multiple-choice and true or false questions. Use of a Bible or any other tool is not permitted for objective exams.








Introducing the Speaker and the Course



The Speaker

My name is Craig Evans. I am the Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College and Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, which is in eastern Canada.
I did my PhD at Claremont, and I had the privilege of studying under the late William Brownlee and John Trever. These are the two North American scholars who were in Israel in 1947–48 when the first cave containing Dead Sea Scrolls came to light. I have had a lifelong interest in the scrolls, in the land of Israel, and in archaeology. In the last twenty-some years my specialty has been the historical Jesus and the Gospels, and studying Jesus means also looking at all sources that relate to Him. That’s what this course is about. It’s about Jesus and the witness of outsiders, that is, what non-Christians—be they Greek or Roman or Jewish or others—what they say about Jesus and what we can learn from this outside testimony.


The Course

I think you will find the course very fascinating. It divides up into two parts, and the first part will look at Roman writers, Jewish writers, and a few other writers. But in the second part of this study we will look at invocations—that is, where Jesus’ name is invoked in pagan charms and incantations, and in Jewish ones, and who knows what else, where the name of Jesus as healer and as exorcist or power over evil spirits is invoked. I think you will enjoy it very much.





The Witness of Roman Writers

1. Tacitus and Suetonius
2. Pliny the Younger
3. Celsus and Lucian
4. Using Clippings to Document Ancient Non-Christian Witnesses to Christ
5. Mara bar Serapion





Tacitus and Suetonius



Learning Objectives

After this section, you should be able to:

• Describe the relevance of the Roman historian Tacitus’ reference to Christ
• Describe the relevance of the Roman historian Suetonius’ reference to Christ



In the early second century, two Roman writers—Tacitus and Suetonius—in passing talk about Jesus and Christian origins. Let’s see what they have to say.


Tacitus and “Christus”

I begin with Tacitus. I’m referring to Annals book 15, chapter [44], written sometime between AD 110 and 120. “This name”—and here Tacitus is referring to the name Christian—“originates from ‘Christus’ ”—which is the Latin form of Christ—“who was sentenced to death by the procurator, Pontius Pilate, during the reign of (Emperor) Tiberius. This detestable superstition which had been suppressed for a while spread anew, not only in Judaea where the evil had started, but also in Rome where everything that is horrid and wicked in the world gathers and finds numerous followers.”
Well, most scholars agree this is an authentic passage. No Christian would have invented it and inserted it into Annals. Unfortunately, some of Tacitus’ History and Annals does not survive, and so we don’t have a fuller exposé of what he’s talking about here or this particular period of time.
But a couple of things ought to be noted. First of all, his very negative description of the Christian movement is not simply because he thinks poorly of Christians as such, but because Christians at this time are still very closely associated with the Jewish people or with the land of Judaea or Israel. Tacitus himself was an anti-Semite, and he wasn’t afraid to express himself very critically and negatively of the Jewish people.
But he is aware at the beginning of the second century that Christians have been named after Christ—Christ, of course, or “Christus,” the Latin equivalent of the Greek Christos, which in turn translates Mashiach, the Hebrew word that means “one who is anointed.” So, he actually knows that and talks about it. The other thing that’s important is he recognizes that it’s Pontius Pilate. Jesus wasn’t executed by the Jewish people; he was executed by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judaea in the time of Emperor Tiberius. All of that, historically, is correct.
However, Tacitus does make one little mistake. He anachronistically reads the rank of governor as procurator back into the time of Pilate. Prior to the year 44 the governors in Judaea were prefects. And we actually have proof of that now, thanks to the Pilate Stone that was unearthed at Caesarea Maritima in 1961. There, the Pilate Stone refers to Pontius Pilatus, Praefectus Iudaea.


Suetonius and “Chrestus”

Now let’s turn to the testimony of Suetonius. He says this in his Life of Emperor Claudius 25.4, also written sometime between AD 110 and 120. “Emperor Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome”—we think that’s in the late 40s—“who, instigated by Chrestus”—Chrestus, this time, spelled with an “e,” not an “i”—“never cease to cause unrest.”
Scholars debate this passage, as they should. Is it a reference to Christ—it seems to me it probably is—or is it in reference to someone who actually has the proper name Chrestus? Some slaves in the first century had that as a name. It basically means useful. So, is it Christus, one who’s anointed—Jesus Christ—or is it Chrestus, some person named Useful? But we don’t know of anyone else that caused disturbances in the 40s. We suspect that the disturbances involved the Jewish people, perhaps controversies between Jews who believed in Jesus and Jews who did not. In any case, our sources are a bit thin and we’re not sure.
But I should add a note. Just because he referred to Christ—if he is indeed referring to Christ—and spelled it not C-H-R-I-S-T-U-S but C-H-R-E-S-T-U-S, that should not put us off on the possible identification with Jesus Christ. We see even in Christian manuscripts, in Greek, Christianos—Christian spelled with an iota (ι), as we would expect. And yet we also have Chrestianos spelled with the letter eta (η). The Greek eta (η) can be transliterated in Latin as an “e.” Likewise with Christos, in some Christian manuscripts it’s Chrestos. So, the actual spelling in Suetonius does not determine whether or not he is referring to Jesus Christ.




Suggested Reading

Pontius Pilate LBD
Suetonius, Divus Claudius 25 LCE
Commentary on Acts 18:1–2 NAC:A


See Also

Tacitus: The Executed Christ JONT:IAE
Suetonius: The Instigator Chrestus JONT:IAE
Tacitus DNTB
Suetonius DNTB
Greco-Roman Authors on Jesus and Early Christianity: Tacitus and Suetonius ATNTS:GBL





Pliny the Younger



Learning Objectives

After this section, you should be able to:

• Explain the relevance of Pliny the Younger’s comments about Christians
• Describe what “meal” Pliny the Younger likely referred to and who would have participated in it
• Provide an option for the “song” Pliny the Younger referred to


Pliny and Christian Behavior

Roman governor Pliny Jr.—his father was the famous naturalist who died because he got a little too close to Vesuvius when it erupted in the year 79—well, he went on to become a politician and he served under Emperor Trajan as governor in Asia Minor. He wrote a number of letters to Trajan and Trajan wrote back many times, too, and these letters have been preserved.
In his tenth collection of letters, letter 96—we date it to around AD 110—in passing Pliny talks about the Christians that he interrogates. In talking about the Christians, he describes Jesus very briefly. He says this: “(Christians, followers of a gross superstition,) sing a hymn in honor of Christus, as in honor of a god.” And here this time he spells Christus, C-H-R-I-S-T-U-S.
Now, what is interesting about this is the larger context of the passage. He talks about these Christians that he has arrested and interrogated. He’s discovered that they get up early in the morning before sunup; that they gather together and sing a song; that they take vows not to steal anything, not to embezzle, not to commit fornication; and then after singing their song to one Christus as though he’s a deity or a god, they partake of a meal, and an innocent one at that.
What is he talking about? Just a few thoughts: who gets up that early? Who would find it necessary to get up before daylight in order to assemble together and have a worship service? Very likely, slaves, and the way they are treated by Pliny Jr., the governor, would suggest that indeed they were people who were not citizens—Roman citizens—but non-citizens and probably servants. Of course their vow not to steal anything or not to embezzle property entrusted to them also fits with the identification of these people as servants. In other words, they had property entrusted to them by their masters. When the Christians gathered together—these Christian slaves—they promised not to do what lots of slaves did: stealing things, fornicating, and other things like that.


Pliny and the Christian Meal

Then Pliny wants to make it clear to Emperor Trajan that, whatever he may have heard, whatever the rumors may suggest, the eucharistic meal—and that’s what he’s referring to when the Christians gather together and break bread and remember Jesus’ death as taught by Jesus Himself in the Gospels and also by Paul in 1 Cor 11—that the meal is an innocent meal.
What in the world is he talking about? Well, the words of institution suggested that eating the bread and drinking the cup really meant eating the body of Jesus and drinking His blood. There were pagan critics of the Christian movement that chose to interpret it that way and accuse Christians of being cannibals.
When you combine that with Christian compassion for unwanted children and sick people and so on who were left, really, in the open to die—and this would include newborn infants, usually girls, who were unwanted and were left out exposed to the elements—Christians would take them in and care for them. This is really the beginning of the orphanage. Of course it would then become a very tempting cheap criticism to suggest that these early Christians were interested in taking in unwanted infants because they wanted to eat them. This was a gross way of misrepresenting the Christian practice of the Lord’s Supper.
However, when Pliny examined these Christians—and many of them were examined really under torture—he discovered they did no such thing, and so he writes to Trajan to tell him that it’s an innocent meal.


Pliny and the Christian Song

Let me just conclude with a suggestion. What’s this song they sing to one Christ as though he’s a god? I wonder if it is Phil 2:5–11, or at least a part of it, the Christ hymn in Philippians that Paul himself quotes when he says to the Philippians, “Have this attitude in you, which was in Christ Jesus, who emptied himself.” Let me read a little bit of that, beginning in verse 6. “Though he was in the form of God he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.” That’s exactly what the Roman emperors wanted to do, was to grasp, seize, harpazō divinity. But to go back to Phil 2:7, “But Jesus emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of humans, and being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.”
Did you know that the Romans referred to crucifixion as servile supplicium, slave’s death? Isn’t that interesting? In Philippians 2 Paul is talking about Jesus who played the role, took on the form of a servant, and died a servant’s death on the cross. I can see how Phil 2 would be very meaningful to Christian slaves in the first and second centuries and how they would like to sing that song, how they could identify with the incarnation. Jesus who emptied Himself of the very honors that the Roman emperors desired so to have, including equality with God Himself. Jesus empties Himself, takes on the form of a servant, even to the point of dying a servant’s death on the cross.
I could see how the early Christian slaves could really identify with that, and find that is a very comforting and very encouraging song to sing when they gathered together before their work shift got underway.




Suggested Reading

Early Christian Worship: A Letter of Pliny the Younger to Trajan the Emperor LBD
Persecution: Opposition from the Romans NBDTE


See Also

Pliny the Younger, Epistles 10.96–97 L12
Pliny the Younger: The Christ of Christian Worship JONT:IAE
Pliny the Younger DNTB
Greco-Roman Authors on Jesus and Early Christianity: Pliny the Younger ATNTS:GBL





Celsus and Lucian



Learning Objectives

After this section, you should be able to:

• Describe Celsus’ explanation for the source of Jesus’ power
• Explain the relevance of Lucian’s mockery of Christians


Celsus and Jesus’ Miracles

I should mention also a couple of very harsh critics of the early Christian movement. That would be Celsus and Lucian. Celsus was writing toward the end of the second century and he criticizes Jesus, especially as he is described in the Gospels, and is very critical of various aspects of the Gospels’ stories about Jesus. Now, along the way he says this in his work. It was originally titled True Doctrine or True Word. None of it survives except as quotations in Origen’s work called Contra Celsum, that is, Against Celsus or A Reply to Celsus. So in a variety of places, Celsus refers to Jesus as a wonder worker or miracle worker. I think that is interesting.
Let me just read one of them. This is from 1.6. According to Celsus, Jesus “was brought up in secret and hired himself out as a workman in Egypt, and after having tried his hand at certain magical powers he returned from there, and on account of those powers gave himself the title of God.” That’s an interesting tradition. It surely reflects a knowledge that as an infant Jesus spent some time in Egypt, and it also reflects the reputation—it’s a dubious one—the reputation that Egypt had in antiquity, namely, it was the capital of magic. You want magic, you go to Egypt. You purchase incantations and charms, formulas and ingredients from Egypt. They’re the ones that really know how to deal with magic.
So then how do we explain Jesus’ remarkable power as a healer and as an exorcist? “It’s easy,” says Celsus. “Jesus went to Egypt. Don’t the Christians themselves admit that?” So, he went to Egypt and, of course, he hired himself out in secret. He didn’t let the Egyptians know, in other words, who he really was, that he is Jewish and so on, and he then learns all kinds of secrets. He learns all about magic and that kind of thing. In fact he even gets some special formulas that he hides within his body. Anyway, so much for the Celsus tradition.


Lucian and Jesus’ Crucifixion

What about Lucian? Lucian mocks a fellow named Peregrinus, a con man who, for a time, associated with the Christians. And, of course, he goes on with great exaggeration to say that [Peregrinus] not only belonged to a variety of different cults and religions, but when he was a Christian, he was even one of their priests for a little while. In fact he even suggests that [Peregrinus] wrote some of their sacred books. He is almost beginning to sound like a character out of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code.
But in any case, here is what Lucian says in a text called Peregrinus, section 11. “Christians still worship the man who was crucified in Palestine, because he introduced this new cult into the world.” It’s an interesting statement. In fact, he says anaskolopizō for crucify instead of stauroō or anastauroō, which is the usual word for “crucifixion” that we encounter in the New Testament and early Christian writings. His knowledge of what happened to Jesus seems to be independent of Christian scriptures.



So we have here two sharp critics, literary people, philosophically trained, somewhat, who are critical of the early Christian movement and yet they know two things about Jesus—and they’re accurate in that—that Jesus was well known as a healer; a miracle worker; an exorcist, and he was known, of course, for having been crucified, and somehow His crucifixion was linked to the beginning of His movement.




Suggested Reading

Origen, Against Celsus 1.6 ANF4:FTC:TPFMFCOPFS
Magic and the Early Church LBD


See Also

Celsus: Christ the Magician JONT:IAE
Lucian of Samosata: The Crucified Sophist JONT:IAE
Celsus SJHF
Lucian of Samosata DNTB
Greco-Roman Authors on Jesus and Early Christianity: Celsus ATNTS:GBL





Using Clippings to Document Ancient Non-Christian Witnesses to Christ



Learning Objectives

After this section, you should be able to:

• Find and download the Perseus collections
• Use the Table of Contents pane to navigate resources
• Use the Clippings tool to create files of related quotations



In this video you will learn how to download the Perseus collections, use the Table of Contents pane to navigate resources, and use the Clippings tool to create files of related quotations.
Dr. Evans references a variety of ancient non-Christian sources that refer to Jesus. So far, Dr. Evans has surveyed references to Jesus in Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, Celsus, and Lucian. Wouldn’t it be helpful to have a place where all of these citations exist so you can access them quickly without having to scan the entire course transcripts? With Clippings, you can create an easily accessible list of extrabiblical authors that mention Jesus.


Downloading the Perseus Collection

Before we get started building our list of extrabiblical witnesses to Jesus, let’s make sure we have as many of the sources Dr. Evans mentions in this course as possible. We will need the Perseus Collection to find several of these sources. If you haven’t already, download both the Perseus Classics Collection and the Perseus Arabic Collection by navigating in your internet browser to
Once there, search for “Perseus.” Add both the Classics Collection and the Arabic Collection to your cart and check out. At the time this video is being made, both of these collections are free. Once you have completed the purchase, restart Logos and allow the resources to download and index.


Using Clippings to Create Files of Related Information

With the Clippings tool, Logos provides us with a tool that is primarily intended for research. We will use it in our setting to create a file of quotations from ancient non-Christian sources that mention Jesus. While we could create a collection of resources centered around the resources mentioned in Dr. Evans’ class, he has done the legwork for us and given us the exact location for each of these quotations.


Clipping the Relevant Texts

Let’s first create a Clippings file. Select Clippings from the Documents menu. When the new panel opens, give it a name. I’m entitling mine “Ancient Non-Christian Witnesses to Christ.”
We will now clip the texts that Dr. Evans has mentioned so far. In the Command bar type “open tacitus annales” and press Enter. In the Reference box type “15.44” and select all of chapter 44 by clicking and dragging your mouse across the whole chapter. Now right-click on the selection and choose “Add a clipping to ‘Ancient Non-Christian Witnesses to Christ.’ ”
Now we’ll do the same with Suetonius’ work. In the Command bar type “open the lives of the caesars.” Open the Table of Contents pane and navigate to Claudius Chapter 25. Scroll down to the second paragraph and select it all. Now right-click on the selection and choose “Add a clipping to ‘Ancient Non-Christian Witnesses to Christ.’ ”
Now type “open pliny letters” in the Command bar. Open the Table of Contents pane and navigate to Book 10 and Letter 96. Select all of Letter 96, right-click on it and choose “Add a clipping to ‘Ancient Non-Christian Witnesses to Christ.’ ”
Now we will clip the two sources we studied in the last lecture. As Dr. Evans mentioned, the only place Celsus’ works survives is in Origen’s Against Celsus. This work is included in our Platinum library in The Ante-Nicene Fathers volume 4. Type “ante nicene 4” in the Command bar and hit Enter. Open the Table of Contents pane and navigate to Origen against Celsus, Book I, and Chapter VI. Highlight chapter VI and right-click on it and choose “Add a clipping to ‘Ancient Non-Christian Witnesses to Christ.’ ”
Finally, type “peregr” in the Command bar to find Lucian’s work. In the Reference box type “Lucian, Peregr. 11” and press Enter. Select all of section 11, right-click on it and choose “Add a clipping to ‘Ancient Non-Christian Witnesses to Christ.’ ”



This process takes time, but now we have built a resource for future study. This Clippings file will serve as a single place to find the outside witnesses to Jesus Christ. As you move through the rest of Dr. Evans’ course, continue adding clippings of the relevant texts Dr. Evans cites to your new Clippings file. You can do this for any topic or subject. The Clippings tool is valuable for categorizing research as you use your Logos library.





Mara bar Serapion



Learning Objectives

After this section, you should be able to:

• Explain how Mara bar Serapion describes Jesus
• List two possibilities for the date of Mara bar Serapion’s letter


Jesus Compared to Socrates and Pythagoras

In my opinion, one of the most interesting witnesses to Jesus from the outside is the testimony of Mara bar Serapion. Mara bar Serapion is writing a letter to his son of the same name. He has been imprisoned and he’s telling his son not to be discouraged. And then he makes a rather flattering comparison between himself and three famous people. One of these famous people is Jesus. He’s writing in Syriac, we’re not sure quite sure when—end of the first century or perhaps beginning of the second century. Those dates have been suggested. Let me read to you just part of his letter:

What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crime. What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning Pythagoras? In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise king? It was just after that that their kingdom was abolished. God [justly] avenged these three wise men: the Athenians died of hunger; the Samians were overwhelmed by the sea; the Jews, ruined and driven from their land, live in complete dispersion. But Socrates did not die for good … he lived on in the statue of Hera. Nor did the wise king die for good; he lived on in the teaching which he had given.

I find that fascinating, not only the implicit arrogance on the part of Serapion that he puts himself, having been unjustly imprisoned, in the same company with people like Socrates, Pythagoras, and Jesus Christ.


The Date of Mara bar Serapion’s Letter

Dating of the letter is the reason we’re not too sure about the date. If he’s referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70, then the letter could have been written just a few years after that—a decade or two. If he’s referring to the bar Kokhba rebellion, when the Jewish people truly were scattered and no longer allowed to live in Jerusalem, then of course Mara bar Serapion’s letter would have to be later than 135.
But wherever we date it, it’s an interesting testimony that no later than the second century in Syria, in the opinion of a non-Christian, a Syrian man named Mara bar Serapion—Mara, son of Serapion—he regards Jesus with almost a sense of awe and places him on a pedestal right next to people like Socrates, Pythagoras. This is amazing. And in his opinion, the calamity that befell the Jewish people, either in 70 or 135, he sees that as divine and just vengeance upon the people for having put to death their king. But their king isn’t really dead; his teaching lives on. I find that an extraordinary testimony.




Suggested Reading

A Letter of Mara, Son of Serapion ANF8:FTFC:TPEECADMESDRFA
Jesus, Non-Christian Sources: Mara Bar-Serapion BECA


See Also

Mara bar Serapion: The Wise Jewish King JONT:IAE
Mara bar Serapion SJHF
Greco-Roman Authors on Jesus and Early Christianity: Mara bar Serapion ATNTS:GBL



Unit 1 Quiz

To take the Quiz for this unit please click here.





The Witness of Jewish Writers

6. Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities
7. Using Timelines in Logos to Find Events in Jesus’ Life
8. Translations of Josephus and Rabbinic Literature
9. The Qur’an and Other Writings
10. Building and Searching a Collection of Ancient Non-Christian Witnesses to Christ





Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities



Learning Objectives

After this section, you should be able to:

• Explain the relevance of Josephus’ description of Jesus in Jewish Antiquities
• Explain the relevance of Josephus’ mention of James the brother of Jesus in Jewish Antiquities


The Life of Josephus

What is probably the most important witness from an outsider to Jesus of Nazareth is Josephus. Josephus was born, we think, the year that Pontius Pilate, the prefect, the governor, of Judaea and Samaria was recalled to Rome—that would mean born in the year 37. He survived the great rebellion and war of 66 to 70, actually managed to end up in favor with Vespasian and his sons. He moved to Italy, divorced his Jewish wife, married a Roman noblewoman, and then set about writing some very important works which, fortunately for us, survive.


Josephus’ Description of Jesus

The lengthiest work is a 20 volume work called Jewish Antiquities. It’s in this work, twice—once in book 18 and once in book 20—that Josephus refers to Jesus by name. Let me read to you the reference in book 18:

At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one should call him a man. For he was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of people who receive the truth with pleasure. (And) he gained a following both among many Jews and among many of Greek origin. He was the Messiah. And when Pilate, because of an accusation made by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him previously did not cease to do so. For he appeared to them on the third day, living again, just as the divine prophets had spoken of these and countless other wondrous things about him. And up until this very day the tribe of Christians, named after him, has not died out.

You can find that in Antiquities 18.63–64. This was penned perhaps sometime in the mid-90s.
Of course, some of you will hear that and think, “Wait a minute. Josephus surely didn’t say all of those things.” I mean, he wasn’t a Christian. Josephus identifies himself as leaning in support of the Pharisaic understanding of the Jewish faith. Would he really say, “should Jesus be called a man”? Would he really say He was the Messiah?
That’s strange, because elsewhere Josephus’ writings, he talks about Jewish faith options. He talks about himself. Nowhere in these other descriptions does he talk about a messiah of any kind, and nowhere does he say, “Oh, by the way, I believe in Jesus; I think He’s the Messiah.” Nowhere does he suggest that Jesus fulfills countless prophecies in being raised up on the third day and so forth.
Consequently, what most scholars think is [that] Josephus really did say something about Jesus but it wasn’t positive at all. It was either neutral or maybe even somewhat sarcastic. It’s in the context of describing the kinds of events that took place, thanks to poor Roman administration—and that would include Pilate—that eventually laid the ground work for the unfortunate revolt that broke out in the year 66.


Christian Additions to Jewish Antiquities

Scholars suspect that there are three glosses, or three insertions, in what otherwise was an authentic testimony: the addition at the beginning, “if indeed he should be called a man,” or the confession, “he was the Messiah,” or the lengthy addition about being raised up on the third day and fulfilling prophecies. Most regard these as inauthentic later Christian insertions. But otherwise, the paragraph is indeed original and Josephus penned it.


The Value of Josephus’ Description of Jesus

If so, what’s the value of it? It tells us that Josephus is aware of the basic outline of the story: that Jesus was known as a teacher and as a wonder worker; that He had followers and not just Jewish followers but, anachronistically, Josephus reads back the Gentile following into Jesus’ own ministry; and that it was the ruling priests, the leading men among us—that’s what Josephus means if you do a study on that language elsewhere in Josephus.
And so, just as the Gospels tell us, it’s the aristocratic priests who oppose Jesus, seize Him, hand Him over to the Roman governor, Pilate, with demands that He be put to death, and Pilate accommodated them and had Jesus crucified. Yet, Josephus notices, in contrast to other would-be messiahs and prophets, Jesus’ movement continues. He doesn’t explain why, but I do think it’s interesting that Josephus realizes that putting Jesus to death didn’t stop the Christian movement.


Josephus and James the Brother Jesus

In book 20 he refers to James, the brother of Jesus. Let me read that passage, Antiquities 20.200: “Being therefore this kind of person”—that is, a heartless Sadducee—“Ananus”—who is the son of Annas, who is mentioned in the Gospels, John 18—“thinking that he had a favorable opportunity because (the procurator) Festus had died”—suddenly, unexpectedly, in the year 62—“and Albinus (the new governor) was still on his way”—he hadn’t arrived yet to Israel. Annas Jr. “called a meeting”—or a sanhedrin, literally the text says—“of judges and brought into it the brother of Jesus (James), who is (also) called the Christ.”
So, there he acknowledges that Jesus is called, in the 60s, the Christ. He brings “James by name” into this court, “and some others”—I suspect Christians as well—“He made the accusation that (James and) they had transgressed the law and he handed them over to be stoned.” Of course, when the new Roman governor arrives, Albinus, he removed Annas Jr. from the high priesthood for having done that.



So, we have two important references to Jesus in Josephus. The second one is significant, because it confirms what early Christian tradition says—the book of Acts and other sources—that James was indeed the leader of the Christian church in Jerusalem.




Suggested Reading

Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 18.63–64 WJ:NUE
Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 20.197–203 WJ:NUE
Flavius Josephus LBD
Flavius Josephus NBDTE


See Also

Josephus: Jesus, a Wise Man Called the Christ (Part 1) JONT:IAE
Josephus SJHF
Josephus and the New Testament ATNTS:GBL


Guides and Tools

Flavius Josephus Topic Guide





Using Timelines in Logos to Find Events in Jesus’ Life



Learning Objectives

After this section, you should be able to:

• Find and filter specific people and events in the Timeline tool
• Use the Explorer to locate the Bible Facts timeline
• Find and use timeline infographics



In this screencast, I will show you how to find and filter specific people and events in the Timeline tool, use the Explorer to locate the Bible Facts timeline, and find and use timeline infographics.
The extrabiblical witnesses mention key events in Jesus’ life. For example, Tacitus refers to Jesus’ sentence to death under Pontius Pilate; Celsus alludes to Jesus’ time in Egypt; and, as Dr. Evans speaks of in this last session, Josephus makes mention of Jesus’ ministry as a healer and teacher. Unless you have memorized a timeline of Jesus’ life, it is often difficult to visualize the order of events, let alone identify the specific date in history. Let me show you three really helpful places in Logos that will help you locate specific events in Jesus’ life.


Locating Events in Jesus’ Life with the Timeline

When you need to place an event within the context of human history, including the biblical narrative, the first tool in Logos you should use is the Timeline. In order to access the Timeline, simply type “timeline” in the Command box and press Enter. The Timeline is an extraordinary resource with a ton of information included. The amount of information in the Timeline may seem overwhelming at first, but there are ways to make the Timeline extremely usable.
For instance, if you want to locate a historical figure in the timeline of human history, simple press Ctrl + F (or Cmd + F on a Mac) and type the person’s name. For example, let’s locate Josephus. Press Ctrl + F and type “Josephus AND Rome.” Immediately, the Timeline tool takes us to an event in Josephus’ life. This tool helps us see that Josephus went to Rome at the same time Paul was imprisoned in Rome a final time. Josephus was a contemporary of the key figures in the early church.
A second way of finding the requisite information in the Timeline is to use the Filter function. To use this function, simply type the character or event you are looking for in the Filter box. For example, let’s look for all of the events on the timeline that mention Jesus. Since we know that Jesus lived in the early part of the first century, we will get the timeline to the general area we are interested in. Go to the drop-down menu beside the word “Fit” at the top. Look for the option entitled “Life of Jesus” and click on it. This adjusts the timeline to the time period of the life of Christ. Now type “Jesus OR Christ” in the Filter box. Immediately we see the events related to Jesus.
Notice that you are able to zoom in and out on the timeline by clicking the plus and minus signs beside the Fit drop-down menu. Notice also that you can click on any event and Logos will provide you with links to helpful resources that give you more information on the specific event you are interested in. Click on “AD 29 Jesus’ ministry begins” and then click on the article “Chronology, New Testament.” This article is helpful for understanding how the NT writers viewed the narratives they were writing.


Locating Events in Jesus’ Life with the Bible Explorer and Bible Facts

Let me show you another way of locating events in Jesus’ life. Let’s open the Lexham English Bible to a specific passage by typing “open LEB to Mk 10” in the Command bar. If you are like me, you need timeline information most often when you are reading or studying a particular passage of Scripture—maybe because you are reading through a book of the Bible a chapter a day, and you have forgotten where exactly the event you are reading about occurs in the larger narrative. One of the most helpful tools I have found is the use of the Bible Facts in conjunction with Explorer. Let’s open the Explorer by choosing it from the Tools menu. As you read through the Bible, the Explorer automatically follows your progress.
Look at the Biblical Events section and click on the event entitled “Jesus sends disciples to get a donkey.” When you do so, Bible Facts appears and a timeline appears in the main section. This allows you to see the context of the passage you are reading. This is really helpful because it draws out the narrative context of passages that we often read in isolation. I find this timeline really helpful because it organizes events with headings and subheadings that expand and contract depending on what section of Scripture you are looking at.
Click on “Jesus laments Jerusalem” to see new subheadings appear. Here in Mark 11, Jesus’ cursing of the fig tree may appear to be a random event that does not make sense, but when we see that Jesus looks around the temple, then looks at and curses the fig tree for its barrenness, then cleanses the temple, and then explains the withered tree, we understand Mark’s point as he recounts the events in Jesus’ life. Jesus was likening the faithless and fruitless acts of the religious leaders in the temple to a fruitless and cursed fig tree.


Locating Events in Jesus’ Life with Infographics

A final help in locating the events of major characters in the Bible are the Faithlife Study Bible Infographics. Look below the Bible Facts timeline and click on the infographic. Notice, as you scroll with your mouse you can zoom in and out of this pictorial representation of the events in Jesus’ life. To access other timeline infographics, type “Faithlife Infographics” in the Command bar.



As you continue through Dr. Evans’ course, I hope you make use of these three modes of locating events in the larger narrative context.





Translations of Josephus and Rabbinic Literature



Learning Objectives

After this section, you should be able to:

• Describe references to Jesus in Slavonic and Hebrew versions of Josephus’ writings
• Describe some Jewish traditions concerning Jesus in the Talmud


Translations of Josephus

Perhaps the most curious tradition is the survival of Josephus in other languages. One of them is Old Russian or Slavonic, the other one is Hebrew. Let me talk about the Old Slavonic tradition. What we have is an Old Russian translation of Josephus’ seven-book history called Jewish Wars. What is really strange about it is [that] in numerous places we have additional material. It might only be a gloss, a phrase, a word or two, or it could be a sentence, and sometimes an entire paragraph.
Scholars have debated this—who added this material? Some even contended that it was authentic, that this Slavonic Josephus reflects a fuller form of Josephus’ original work. One of the reasons this is entertained is because Josephus wrote more than one version of Jewish Wars. He says so himself at the beginning of the Greek version of Jewish Wars; he talks about writing in his own tongue—the Hebrew tongue—a version that was sent to the Jewish people out east. Is it possible, then, that the Slavonic version is based on a version that is a bit different from the Greek one that we have?
Well, a lot of scholars—rightly, in my opinion—view these additions in the Old Russian version of Jewish Wars as later. But it is intriguing, because they are not obviously Christian, not a single one of them. They have an almost indifferent attitude toward the Christian movement. But that could be just a pose taken up by the author, a little touch of subtlety, because what these additions do is they give us information—additional information—about Jesus, John the Baptist, and other things that might be of interest to Christians. So let me read just one or two of these traditions.


References to Jesus in Slavonic Josephus

For example, in one place it says, “His works were godly and he performed wonder-deeds, amazing and full of power.” That’s in book 2. Another one says—and this is in book 5, “Over these (gates)”—the gates in Jerusalem—“with inscriptions hung a fourth tablet with an inscription in these (Greek, Roman, and Jewish) characters, to the effect: ‘Jesus has not reigned as king; he has been crucified by the Jews because he proclaimed the destruction of the city and the laying waste of the temple.’ ” That’s a very lengthy inscription. None of the Gospels says that. They all say, “Jesus, king of the Jews,” or something like that.
Yet another one, and this is found in book 6 of the Old Russian or Slavonic version of Jewish Wars: “Some indeed by this (prophecy) understood Herod, but others the crucified wonder-doer Jesus, others say again Vespasian.” And see, this little addition illustrates what I was saying a moment ago about how it has an almost indifferent or offhand stance with regard to Jesus. There’s nothing overtly apologetic or supportive of Jesus, but we still suspect these are later Christian additions and they are not really authentic Josephan comments.


Reference to Jesus in Hebrew Josephus

We have another interesting version of Josephus—partial preservation of Josephus in Hebrew. It’s usually called the Josippon, or more accurately the Yosippon—in other words, pronouncing Josephus, a Latin form of Joseph, in Hebrew. Here’s one I will read to you, one quotation—it says, “In those days there were wars and quarrels in Judaea between the Pharisees and the ‘robbers of our nation,’ who strayed after Jesus, son of Joseph.”
What is this? That is a very peculiar tradition, that sees, somehow, Jesus’ quarrel with the Pharisees in terms of some of these robbers or—who were they? Messianic claimants, perhaps, that Josephus talks about elsewhere. It’s a very strange and garbled tradition.


References to Jesus in Rabbinic Literature

In Jewish literature—rabbinic literature this time—there are a number of references to Jesus. What complicates this is that because of pressures in the medieval period of time, where Jewish teachers and authorities did not want to offend Christian authorities, many of the references to Jesus were either disguised in the Talmud and other writings, or perhaps were deleted altogether. But in some manuscripts, we do have some of these traditions that survived.
For example, one of those I think is important is found in the Babylonian Talmud in tractate Sanhedrin 107b. It says this: “And a master has said, ‘Jesus the Nazarene practiced magic and led Israel astray.’ ” This goes all the way back to the first century. We see echoes of this criticism in the synoptic Gospels where Jesus is accused of black magic, being in league with Beelzebul or Satan, or something like that.
Also in Sanhedrin, reading at 43a, we read, “On the eve of Passover, they hanged Jesus the Nazarene.” Now, you might think, “I thought He was crucified. Does that not contradict the Gospel story about Jesus being nailed on a cross? He wasn’t hanged, was He?” Well, as a matter of fact, “hanging” is the word that often is used in reference to crucifixion, not just nailed to a cross or crucified, but to be hung or suspended on a cross. In fact, that’s the very word that’s used in Deut 21, that talks about someone hanged on a tree, and then his body must be taken down before nightfall and be properly buried. So these are interesting traditions.
There are others. Do they really increase our knowledge about the historical Jesus, what He taught or what He did? No, I don’t think so. It is interesting, however, simply to note what were people saying about Jesus in antiquity, not long after the Gospels had been written.




Suggested Reading

Jesus Christ: Sources NBDTE
Jesus in the Talmud LBD


See Also

Josephus: Jesus, a Wise Man Called the Christ (Part 2) JONT:IAE
The Rabbinic Tradition: Jesus the Magician and Deceiver JONT:IAE
Versions of Josephus’ Writings ATNTS:GBL
Rabbinic Literature: References to Jesus ATNTS:GBL
The Rabbinic Tradition and Jesus SJHF


Guides and Tools

Talmud Topic Guide





The Qur’an and Other Writings



Learning Objectives

After this section, you should be able to:

• Explain what Thallus the Samaritan Chronicler was referring to by “this darkness”
• Describe how the Qur’an references Jesus


Thallus the Samaritan Chronicler

Before I conclude this part of our minicourse, I should say something about a few other writers. One of them is called Thallus the Samaritan Chronicler. Now, this is controversial. We’re not even sure we are identifying the right person. In any case, it’s a quotation that’s attributed to Africanus in his Chronography—it’s fragment 18.
Here’s what he says. Thallus said—Thallus the Samaritan Chronicler who lived, we think, toward the end of the first century—“This darkness”—referring to the darkness at the time of Jesus’ death on the cross, Mark 15:33—“This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.” That could be, it’s debated, but it could be a very early reference outside of the Christian tradition, outside of the Gospels, an actual reference to the strange darkness at the time that Jesus died.


Jesus in the Qur’an

I want to say just a few things about the Qur’an—that’s the holy book for Muslims. Jesus is referenced in the Qur’an many times. I just want to refer to a couple of these traditions in the Qur’an and comment about their source, their derivation, where they came from.
Here’s the first one, and it’s Sura 3:49. Jesus said,

I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, that I determine for you out of dust like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird with Allah’s permission, and I heal the blind and the leprous, and bring the dead to life with Allah’s permission, and I inform you of what you should eat and what you should store in your houses.

Where does this strange mixture of tradition come from? From a variety of sources. In my own reading of the Qur’an, oftentimes it seems that it’s Luke’s Gospel that Muhammad and his editors and successors are familiar with. But in this particular case, what about this breathing into dust, or making a bird out of dust, or out of the clay and then breathing into it and it becomes a bird? The implication is it actually comes to life with Allah’s permission.
We find that in the Latin version of the Infancy Gospel. There’s an Infancy Gospel tradition. Sometimes it’s called the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, not to be confused with the Coptic and Greek Gospel of Thomas found in Egypt. In the Latin Infancy Gospel of Thomas 4:2, we’re told a story about Jesus making clay birds as a little boy. It happens to be on a Sabbath, and some Jewish elders walk by and say “Shame on you. What are you doing working on the Sabbath?” And Jesus retorts by clapping His hands and the clay birds become living birds and fly away. I think this is what lies behind the story in the Qur’an.
Here’s another example of that. This is found in Sura 4:155–158. It is an actual rejection of the story of Jesus’ death on the cross.

Allah set a seal upon them (the Jews) owing to their unbelief, so they shall not believe except a few—(Why?) … for their saying, “Surely we have killed the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, the apostle of Allah.” They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them like Jesus.… No, Allah took him up to himself.

Of course, what is being alluded to here is a second century heretical idea from someone named Basilides. The church fathers in the second and third centuries talk about him. He suggested that it wasn’t Jesus who died on the cross at all, but rather it was Simon of Cyrene who helped Jesus carry the cross, that there was some confusion and a mix up—Jesus hoodwinked His opponents and those who were executing Him. He traded places with poor old Simon of Cyrene, and that he was the one hung up on the cross, nailed to the cross, and Jesus slipped away unobserved and then was taken up into heaven.
This is a gnostic view—it isn’t historical. Historians don’t think that happened for one instant. But unfortunately, it winds up in the Qur’an and has become a dogma.



There’s also an important bibliography available for you if you want to pursue any of these topics that I’ve just talked about. I’m not finished with the course, there’s more to come. But the Greek writers, the Roman writers, Jewish traditions, Josephus and so on, all of these sources that we’ve quickly surveyed are studied in greater detail, and among the works I call to your attention is Robert Van Voorst’s book that came out a few years ago, Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. It’s published by Eerdmans. I recommend this book to you very enthusiastically.




Suggested Reading

Qur’an, Alleged Divine Origin of BECA
Bible, Islamic View of BECA


See Also

Thallos: The Eclipse at Jesus’ Death JONT:IAE
Thallus SJHF





Building and Searching a Collection of Ancient Non-Christian Witnesses to Christ



Learning Objectives

After this section, you should be able to:

• Build a collection of resources around the subject area of this course
• Search the collection using wildcard searches



This video will show you how to build a collection of resources around the subject area of this course and search the collection using wildcard searches.
In a previous screencast, we built a Clippings file with the sources to which Dr. Evans has been drawing attention. This file provided us with a quick, easily accessible format for viewing these important sources in their limited context, a paragraph or two, in one place. What if we want to search all of the text of these different resources at one time?
In the previous lectures, Dr. Evans spoke of the Qur’an. He implied that he was only giving us a couple of the mentions of Jesus in the Qur’an. How do we go about looking for Jesus in the Qur’an and all the other sources Dr. Evans cited at the same time?


Building a Collection of Ancient Unbelieving Witnesses to Christ

Let’s first build a collection of the main resources Dr. Evans mentioned in the class. To do this, choose Collections from the Tools menu. You can name your collection whatever you like, but I’m naming mine “Ancient Non-Christian Witnesses to Christ.”
Now, open your library in a separate panel and begin searching for each of the works Dr. Evans cites. When you find a resource, simply drag it and drop into the “Plus these resources” section of the Collections tool. My list of the main texts in this course include the following eight:
• Tacitus’ Annales
• Suetonius’ The Lives of the Caesars
• Pliny the Younger’s Letters
• The Ante-Nicene Fathers 4 (which contains Origen’s recitation of Celsus)
• Lucian’s De Morte Peregrini
• The Ante-Nicene Fathers 8 (which includes the Letter of Mara Ben Serapion),
• The Works of Josephus
• The Qur’an


Searching for Jesus within this Collection

Now that we’ve made our collection, let’s search for occurrences of Jesus’ name. Let’s open a new search by clicking on the Search icon. In the drop-down menus, choose our collection. Because we are searching three different languages at one time, we will need a pretty complex search. We have two Latin resources in our collection, Tacitus and Pliny the Younger. For these two resources, Dr. Evans told us what to look for. Remember that he stated that Christ may appear as “Chrestus” in Suetonius and “Christus” in other instances.


Using Wildcards

Let’s add a search term with character wildcards in it to find both: “Chr?st??”—let’s also type “Chr?st” and “Chr?st?” for good measure. The question mark symbols represent single characters that can be any letter in the alphabet. We could use an asterisk, but that represents a wildcard with any number of characters, not just one.
With Perseus and our Platinum library, we have Suetonius, Celsus, Mara Ben Serapion, Josephus, and the Qur’an in English. So for English, we will type “Jesus” into the search field, and we already have a term that will find “Christ” in what we typed for the Latin search. So let’s just type “Jesus” for now [“Chr?st?? OR Chr?st OR Chr?st? OR Jesus”].


Searching Greek Words

Finally, we have Lucian’s work in Greek. Let’s type “g:Christ.” Notice that as we type, suggestions appear below the search box. Let’s choose the first one. In order to get a broader search in Greek, delete the last two letters—the case ending—and add an asterisk after the tau (τ). [“Chr?st?? OR Chr?st OR Chr?st? OR Jesus OR Χριστ*”]. This wildcard search will give us the results for words in Greek that have any number of letters following the tau. Press Enter.


Analyzing the Results

When we do so, we get some great results. Most of our results are coming from the two volumes of the Ante-Nicene Fathers. The reason for this is the large number of works from Christian fathers in these massive volumes that mention Jesus. In order to focus on the other resources and a smaller amount of results, let’s organize our results “By Title.” The results for Tacitus, Suetonius, Lucian, and Pliny are just what we expect after going through Dr. Evans’ course.
Where this collection and search really helps us is in Josephus and in the Qur’an. When we expand the results for Josephus, we notice that the name Jesus was a popular name. Jesus of Nazareth was not the only Jesus. There was a “Jesus the son of Sapphias,” “Jesus, the captain of those robbers,” and Jesus the ruler, among many more. As you continue to scroll you also see where Jesus Christ is mentioned in Josephus. Josephus identifies Jesus of Nazareth with the word “Christ.” Here we see Josephus’ recording of Jesus Christ in which he states, “Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works—a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ.” This is an astounding attestation to the historical person of Jesus Christ from a contemporary historian.
Looking back at our search results, expand the results for the Qur’an. Notice not only the instances that Dr. Evans mentioned, but over 20 other examples. If you have any interaction with Muslims, it would be a great idea to read what the Qur’an says about Jesus. For instance, what is the Gospel of which Surah 5:46 speaks? “And We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow in their footsteps, confirming that which was (revealed) before him in the Torah, and We bestowed on him the Gospel wherein is guidance and a light, confirming that which was (revealed) before it in the Torah.”



As you continue to study about the testimony of Jesus in extrabiblical sources, I challenge you to add other resources to this collection and add other wildcard search terms having to do with Jesus to your search. For example, searching terms related to the English word “Messiah” would be a great place to continue your search.



Unit 2 Quiz

To take the Quiz for this unit please click here.





Invocations of the Name of Jesus

11. The Greek Magical Papyrus
12. Silver Phylactery from Beirut
13. Magic Bowls
14. Curse Tablets and Lamellae
15. The “Jesus Cup”





The Greek Magical Papyrus



Learning Objectives

After this section, you should be able to:

• Describe how the Greek Magical Papyrus refers to Jesus



The name of Jesus occurs in a variety of other texts. There may not be any narrative exactly, or teachings offered, or something like that, as we saw in the other sources that we have reviewed. But this is a very unique set of materials. These are incantations and charms, magical papyri, foils—tin foil, silver, gold foil, that are called lamellae—amulets, bowls, and even a recently discovered magician’s cup. I think you’ll find this fascinating.


Jesus in the Greek Magical Papyrus

Let’s begin with, I think, the most important one. It’s from the Greek Magical Papyrus section 4. It begins at line 3007. It goes all the way down to 3086. It begins this way: “I adjure you by the god of the Hebrews, Jesus.” What? That’s amazing. Jesus is called the god of the Hebrews? This is pagan. It’s not Jewish. What Jewish charm would ever refer to Jesus as the god of the Hebrews? It’s not Christian, either. Jesus is the Son of God. He’s the Savior. He’s the Christ, the Messiah. He’s not “the god of the Hebrews.” This is an interesting line.

I adjure you by the god of the Hebrews, Jesus … I adjure you by the seal that Solomon placed on the tongue of Jeremiah.… I adjure you, the one who receives this conjuration, not to eat pork, and every spirit and demon, whatever sort it may be, will be subject to you.… Keep yourself pure, for this charm is Hebraic and is preserved among pure men.

I’ve only read a few lines and snippets. This charm is attributed to one Pibicus, who was a famous magician in Egypt. Remember what I said earlier: Egypt was the capital of magic in Late Antiquity.
So, what we have here is a pagan charm that at its beginnings probably had some Jewish elements in it. Solomon had quite the reputation as an exorcist and authority. It has some Jewish tradition in it, and in the passage of time, the Jewish tradition is expanded and enriched. And at some point in time—we don’t know when, second century, perhaps, maybe a little later—even the name of Jesus is inserted, identified as the god of the Hebrews.
Why would a charm like this, a pagan charm, appeal to Jesus? Because he has the reputation of being a mighty healer and exorcist. A great power that even the demons fear.




Suggested Reading

Magic in Graeco-Roman Society and the Early Church LBD


See Also

Papyri: Greek Magical Papyri ATNTS:GBL
Magical Papyri DNTB





Silver Phylactery from Beirut



Learning Objectives

After this section, you should be able to:

• Explain how a silver phylactery from Beirut might refer to Jesus


Jesus and the Silver Phylactery

My next example is a silver phylactery from Beirut which is preserved in the Louvre in Paris, France. It reads this way:

I adjure you, the one above the heaven, Sabaoth … protect Alexandra.… The God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob: Protect Alexandra, whom Zoe bore, from demonic forces … I adjure you by the living God … protect Alexandra from every demonic force, male and female, and from every disturbance of demons … One God and his Anointed, help Alexandra.

It’s an interesting phylactery; it’s an interesting charm. “One God and his Anointed.” It could be Jewish, but I suspect that this text—whether it was Jewish or pagan in its origin—I suspect the reference to One God—which is Orthodox Jewish all the way—and his Anointed, his Messiah, could well be, then, inserting reference to Jesus. Whoever wrote this charm, whoever purchased it in order to protect [Alexandra], a woman, is appealing to God and to His Anointed son, the Messiah.
Phylacteries, of course, as the Greek name implies, means protection or being guarded. They were very common among Jewish men, who would have Scriptures written on leather, and this leather would be wrapped around arms—Scriptures inserted in a little leather pouch or box that was strapped around one’s forehead. We have found a number of phylacteries at Qumran hidden in some of the caves. Phylacteries were commonplace, but sometimes there would be a phylactery written not on papyrus or on leather but written on silver foil or even gold foil, and that could be then rolled up and placed in one of these little pouches. In any case, this phylactery makes a reference, I think, to Jesus the Messiah.




Suggested Reading

Phylacteries NBDTE


See Also

Phylacteries AYBD
Phylactery ISBER


Guides and Tools

Phylactery Topic Guide





Magic Bowls



Learning Objectives

After this section, you should be able to:

• Explain how magical bowls may have been used
• Describe how one magic bowl may refer to Jesus


Introducing Magic Bowls

The name of Jesus appears in some magic bowls. What are they? Magic bowls were quite popular in the third, fourth, fifth centuries and beyond. They are often written in Aramaic, sometimes Syriac, and even other languages from the Middle East. What these magic bowls are, they are charms—they’re kind of like the Greek Magical Papyrus we considered a moment ago, or the silver phylactery.
The writing is in a circular pattern; it just follow the contours of the bowl itself. It’s really odd to look at. The writing is on the inside of the bowl, not the outside. There are theories about how the bowl was imagined to have worked. Was it like a trap? Suck the demon in, and then it was pinned down by the words and also the diagrams and images that are inked inside the bowl. I am not sure.


References to Jesus in Magic Bowls

But let me share with you one—it’s Bowl 17 that belongs to the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem, just across the street from the Israel (National) Museum. Bowl 17—and I’m reading from lines 4 and 6. “He said, ‘I have raised a dead man, and he caused Yoyi’a, son of Rashnendukh, to win …’ May the power of the Messiah”—it’s in Aramaic, meshicha—“May the power of the Messiah rise and become awake.”
Now, it could be Jewish, and simply referring to the awaited Messiah someday in the future. But “May the power of the Messiah rise and become awake”—could this relate somehow to what Christians say about Jesus, the Messiah, who, in fact, was raised up? It’s hard to say. You can read about this and some other magic spells in a book by Naveh and Shaked, Magic Spells and Formulae: Aramaic Incantations of Late Antiquity (1993). I recommend the book very much.
There are other magic bowls where we find reference to Christos, or Iēsou, and these, also, would be references to Jesus. Why, even in a Jewish setting? Because Jesus had the reputation of being a powerful opponent of evil spirits, which people in late antiquity so greatly feared.




See Also

Introduction to Magic Spells and Formulae: Aramaic Incantations of Late Antiquity MSF:AILA
Bowl 17: Text, Translation, and Commentary MSF:AILA





Curse Tablets and Lamellae



Learning Objectives

After this section, you should be able to:

• Describe a Latin curse inscription that refers to Jesus
• Explain the relevance of a silver lamella that refers to Jesus


Jesus in a Latin Curse Inscription

We’ve also found a Latin inscription—it’s in the CIL collection, that is, the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum. This one reads in part, “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I denounce you, most foul spirit of Tartarus, whom the angel Gabriel bound with burning fetters.” You can find this curse along with other curse tablets in John Gager’s work, Curse Tablets and Binding Spells from the Ancient World.
Now this particular curse inscription very likely is a Christian one. I don’t think it’s pagan or Jewish in this case. “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ”—that has a very Christian ring to it. Curse tablets come in all shapes and forms. Sometimes they are metal or stone, or oftentimes they are wood. They often come with illustrations as well—even directions, instructions on how to do things.


Jesus in a Silver Lamella

Let me give you an example of a lamella, a silver lamella, which is dated to the fourth century. This one reads, “(I adjure you in the name of the) Nazorean, Jesus Christ, and his holy apostles and (his) angels, (to come out of …)” somebody—that part of the lamella is now missing. We have a very important study of lamellae by Roy Kotansky, Greek Magical Amulets: The Inscribed Gold, Silver, Copper, and Bronze Lamellae, which was published about 20 years ago.
This whole area of study is fascinating. It may seem obscure and arcane, but the study of curse tablets, magical papyri, magical bowls, and other things related to that—charms and incantations and so forth—give us a lot of insight into popular piety, but for our purposes, insight into the powerful reputation that the name of Jesus acquired very early on in the history of the Christian church.
I remind you how in Mark’s Gospel 9:38–40, even during Jesus’ ministry—this is before the passion, before the crucifixion and the resurrection—in Jesus’ public ministry, already professional healers and exorcists are invoking Jesus’ name. So the reputation that Jesus acquired as a powerful exorcist and healer was one that he acquired very early on, long before there was any need for legends to grow and develop and so on, as is usually the case.
In the next lecture, our concluding lecture, we’ll talk about one of the most unusual finds relating to this interesting topic, a find made not that long ago.




Suggested Reading

The Question About the Independent Exorcist (Mark 9:38–41) NAC:M
Magic LBD


See Also

Features of Greco-Roman Religions DLNTID
Exorcism in the New Testament World DJG


Guides and Tools

Magic Topic Guide





The “Jesus Cup”



Learning Objectives

After this section, you should be able to:

• Explain the issues surrounding the discovery of a cup with an inscription that seems to refer to Jesus
• Describe the relevance of this discovery


The Inscription on the Cup

On the Discovery Channel in the fall of 2008, French marine archaeologist Franck Goddio, co-founder of the Oxford Centre [for] Maritime Archaeology, announced the discovery of a ceramic cup during an underwater exploration of the ancient city of Alexandria, Egypt. Part of the ancient city of Alexandria, which would have been above ground in the time of Jesus, is now underwater. Goddio and his team found a cup on which are inscribed the words dia Chrestou. That can mean “through Christ” or “by Christ.” Then, on the other side of the cup, it goes on to say ho goistais, which could mean “the magician.” In other words, the magician has his power or does his work through Christ, implying perhaps, that he has help.
It’s an interesting cup, and I’ve been in contact with Professor Goddio and his team, even very recently, communicating with them. The cup seems to date—the ceramic itself seems to date—to the first century BC. Then how in the world can it refer to Jesus Christ? The theory is that the cup was inscribed much later, and so the cup may have been inscribed sometime in the second half of the first century AD. In other words, you might say, an upgrade.
The idea of this magician’s cup is that a fluid would be poured into it—perhaps oil or something else—and then leaves would float on it—or some other substance—and it would move around, and like peering into a crystal ball the magician would then deduce something, or perhaps acquire some kind of power.
By inscribing dia Chrestou—again, Christ spelled with an eta (η): Christos with eta (η) instead of the expected iota (ι)—You remember what was said in an earlier lecture, that doesn’t necessarily rule out reference to Christ. By doing that, it may have been believed that the actual power of the cup could have been enhanced by adding the name of the well-known healer and exorcist from Galilee. That’s one of the theories.
The scholars will continue to debate it. For one thing, what is the meaning of ho goistais? Is it related to goētes, which means “enchanter” or “magician”? That’s one theory. Others wonder if it is a reference to the followers of a god called Ogoa or something like that. This whole matter is still under review and being debated. I think we should be cautious.


The Relevance of the Cup

If the cup does refer to Jesus Christ, then what we have is more evidence that Jesus’ reputation as an effective healer and exorcist was indeed very early and widespread. I remind you again that even during Jesus’ public ministry, as we see in Mark 9, Jesus’ reputation was such that even among people who were not His followers, professional healers and exorcists would invoke His name. Just as, of course, one of the sons of Zebedee reported back to Jesus, “Master, we saw a man casting out demons in your name and, of course, we told him to stop.” And surprisingly Jesus says, “That’s OK. He who is not against us is for us.”
And so, the reputation of Jesus as a powerful healer is well attested in a variety of interesting and unusual sources: magic bowls, lamellae, a magic cup perhaps, curse tablets even, and so forth. I hope you’ve enjoyed this intriguing survey of this very interesting material.



Unit 3 Quiz

To take the Quiz for this unit please click here.






16. Relevance of These Witnesses





Relevance of These Witnesses



Learning Objectives

After this section, you should be able to:

• List three takeaways from the study of non-Christian references to Jesus


Takeaways from Course

References to Jesus in early non-Christian literature provide a measure of corroboration of basic points of the Jesus story told in the Gospels. There are three that could be mentioned very briefly that we have seen in our survey of some of these interesting texts and artifacts. One: Jesus was a well-known healer and exorcist even during the time of his ministry, as well as in the years that followed the proclamation of his resurrection. Two: The followers of Jesus were called Christians—the early sources know that—for Jesus was known as the Christ, or the Messiah. Three: We find in these early non-Christian sources and testimonies the broad outline of the gospel—that is, Jesus is healer, teacher who’s opposed by priestly rulers, handed over to Pilate—the Roman governor—put to death on a Roman cross. Yet the movement continues even after his death on the cross. This broad outline is attested especially in the brief description in Josephus, who gave us the work called Antiquities.
What we find in these early non-Christian sources and testimonies, it’s nothing that is equivalent in value to what we have in the New Testament writings themselves—in the four Gospels, the book of Acts, Paul’s letters, and so forth. But what we do have is some important corroboration here and there that even in the non-Christian world there was knowledge of some of the important features that related to Jesus’ teaching, His life, His activities, His death, and this provides a measure of corroboration at these important points.
These materials are worth knowing about, and I think they do lend a certain amount of color and an added dimension to our study of Jesus and Christian origins.




Suggested Reading

Christians in the Graeco-Roman World INT:CMMF
Searching for the Jesus of History INT:CMMF


See Also

Jesus in Classical Writings: Conclusions JONT:IAE
Jesus in Jewish Writings: Conclusions JONT:IAE





Final Exam


Evans, C. A. (2014). NT313 Jesus and the Witness of the Outsiders. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

ROSARY presents: Heile unser Land! – von

ROSARY presents: Heile unser Land! – von Archbishop Dr. Uwe AE.Rosenkranz, genannt PSPS II



Heile unser Land!

unser Land!

Dr. Uwe


Mose die Leviten sammelte, sagte er zu Ihnen:
Heute habt IHR die Wahl zwischen Fluch und Segen.
Wählt Ihr wem IHR folgen wollt.
Ich und mein Haus aber folgen dem Herrn.
Über Häusern
stehen deshalb oft ein Motto, ein Slogan, ein Credo.
Zum Beispiel:
Effektivität (Industrialism),
Fleiss, Loyalität
In den Chroniken
steht jedoch auch geschrieben, wie GOTT Sein ganzes Volk und Land ermahnte und
Das heisst, die
Gebete des Königs und gesalbten Führer des Volkes nachdem er den Tempel
fertiggestellt und eingeweiht hatte, wurden erhört.
dazu lesen wir auch in 1.Könige 9, Verse 2-3, wie
Gott das meint.
Gilt dies nur für ISRAEL, als Volk und Nation? Oder
gilt das auch für andere Nationen und für Christen, die demselben Gott
Abrahams, Isaaks und Jakobs nachfolgen?
Wenn wir das also auch für das christliche Abendland und für
Deutschland auslegen, nach der Bundestagswahl am 24.September 2017, dann können
wir daraus einige Schlussfolgerungen ziehen:
1.   Gott ist mit
2.   Der Tempel ist
3.  Gott erhört unsere Gebete
4.   ER antwortet dem
gesalbten Führer.
5.  ER gibt konkrete Anweisungen
6.  Das Volk muss sich :demütigen,
7.   beten
8.  Gott suchen,
9.  Umkehren.
Wenn das geschieht, macht GOTT
Das Volk vom Himmel herab erhören
Dem Volk seine Sünden verzeihen
Dem Land Heilung bringen.
Wie ist es jedoch zur Zeit noch in Deutschland?
Der in Princeton, USA noch vor Kurzem lehrende,
ehemalige grüne Aussenminister Joshka Fischer bringt es auf eine einfache
Wir erkennen hier eine unheilige Tradition
deutscher Dichter und Denker, die z.B. mit Heinrich Heine sagt:
Denke ich an Deutschland in der Nacht, schon
bin ich um den Schlaf gebracht
HH hatte Deutschland als: Vater, Sohn und
Heiliger Geist GmbH und Co KG bezeichnet.
Am Anfang der Industrialisierung, als
Familienclans aus Frankfurt, wie Bauer Amschel, später genannt Rothschild Ihre
Wirtschafts, Bank, Medien- und Politkimperien errichteten, kam es zum sog. „Weberaufstand“.
Weil immer mehr produziert werden konnte in
immer kürzerer Zeit, kam es zu Niedrigstlöhnen und Arbeitslosigkeit, ja
Sklavenartigen städtischen No-Go- Aereas.
Das verdichtete sich in dem Lied:
„Oh Deutschland, wir weben Dein Leichentuch und
weben hinein den dreifachen Fluch!- Wir Weben!!!“
Nun sehen wir,
daß im Zeitalter nach der Industrialisierung, dem sog. IT 4.0 ff, die
Effektivität der Arbeit um etwa das 30-fache angestiegen ist, während die
Effizienz der Energienutzung nur etwa um den faktor 20-30% gestiegen ist.
(persönliche Mitschriften des
Enquetteausschusses des deutschen Bundestages 2003 in der evangelischen
Akademie Pankow-Berlin unter Schirmherrschaft von Prof. Ernst-Ulrich von
Weizsäcker, CDU
Nun sieht ja nach
der seit 2003 andauernden Merkel-Regierung mit entsprechendem Ductus die
Deutschlandfahne in etwa so aus:
Wer da also
solche Flüche hineingewebt hat, wie etwa vom Rothschild-Clan, Herrn Macron oder
Herrn Fischer, der sollte etwas berücksichtigen:
Deutschland ist
loyal gewesen und ist es auch heute noch.
Deutschland ist
fleissig und effektiv.
Weshalb also diese
Flüche und dieses falsche Narrativ, das zur Ausplünderung Deutschlands als
Staatsräson herhalten soll??
Der Critical
controll point, wie es unsere lieben amerikanischen Freunde im HACCP-Concept
nennen, ist das
also der
Paradigmenwechsel, auch Transformation genannt. Im griechischen MetaNoiya.
Also umsinnen,
umdenken, neu hirnen, etc. im deutschen Duden gibt es über Nachdenken 144
Es gibt zu „Israelkritik“
nur einen Treffer, Kritik an anderen nationen, wie z.B. Deutschland gibt es im
Duden gar nicht.
Ist es deshalb
antisemitisch, Israel als Nation zu kritisieren, weil es gleichbedeutend ist
mit dem Infragestellen des Existenzrechts ISRAELS?
Gott selber ist
ja wohl kein Antisemit- denn ER läßt SEIN Volk nicht iohne kritische Anmerkungen,
wie o.a..
Sind Deutsche
grundsätzlich Antisemiten??-
Oder sind
diejenigen, die im Wiederentdecken des Nationalstolzes eine Alternative für
Deutschland sehen, deshalb Israelkritiker oder gar Feinde?
JEWIKI und Herr
Wolffsohn sagen: „Nein!“
Also, gibt es
noch Hoffnung für Deutschland oder für Europa??
Ich meine „JA!“
Vergleichen wir
GOTTES HACCP-Konzept doch mal mit einer modernen, effektiven
Die Fischzucht wird entsorgt durch Mechanische
und Biofilter. Somit wird der Schlamm ausgeschieden.
Das mag als Bild dienen auf Reinigung,
Sündenverzeihen und Reinigen.
Neue Kraft gibt es durch Revitalisierung
mittels Suaerstoff und Desinfektion mit UV-Licht. Über eine Pumpe- (Bewegung)
wird das Lebenselixyr Wasser mit der Heizung (bessere Lebens- und
Vermehrungsbedingungen), also effizienter Energie versorgt.
Wie in einem Heiligen Gral 
wird also dem Land
Heilung zuteil in diesem Bild.
Als Parabel und Symbol mag es auch dienen für
die Umweltsünden ganzer Völker und Länder heute.
Die Wirbelstürme Jose und Marie haben weite
Teile der USA, Texas, Florida, sowie die „Keys“ – die im sog. „Bible Belt“
liegen, heimgesucht.
Virgin Island, Bahamas, Grenadine Islands, Nassau,
Puerto Rico etc. sind fast vollständig von der elektrischen Power abgetrennt
und vollkommen verheert.
Mexiko wird zudem von tektonischen Erdbeben und
Fluten verwüstet.
Wie können nun deutsche Effizienz der Arbeit,
Fleiss du eine gewisse Loyalität zu den überkommenen Slogans und Gimmicks des  Industriellen Zeitalters zum Segen statt zum
Fluch werden?
Für mich und mein Haus bzw meine Blutslinie
habe ich das im Jahre 1992 in Bonn, der ehemaligen Hauptstadt gemacht.
Mit dem Sprecher der israelischen Botschaft
(hiess damals Ständige Vertretung des Staates Israel in der BRDeutschland),
S.E. Herrn Ilan Ben Dov. Habe ich hier eine tiefgreifende Metanoya
durchgeführt. Das Ehepaar John und Paula Sandforth aus den USA haben dabei
besonders generationenübergreifende Flüche aus der sog. Nazi-Zeit des sog. „³.Reiches“
über mir und meiner Familie gebrochen vor der versammelten Gemeinde (ELIM,
Bonn, Römerstrasse). Der Botshcfater und Sprecher ISRAELS hat dann mit und
meiner Familie (Haus, Name und Blutslinie) Vergebung, Verzeihung und Absolution
erteilt. Das ist nie mehr rückgängig zu machen. Der Segen, der sich damit
verbindet, wirkt bis heute nach und- wie die Bibel sagt; auf 1000 Generationen.
Ich denke deshalb, es ist Zeit, im
post-industriellen Zeitalter auch einmal darüber nachzusinnen, daß wir mit
ISRAEL und Juden als Freunde und in ganz normaler Freundshaft zusammenleben und
selbstverständlich das Existenzrecht ISRAELS und des jüdischen Volkes
unterstützen und nicht in Frage stellen.
Was die Familienclans anbelangt und die Themen
Energie-Gerechtigkeit und Klimagerechtigkeit, brauchen wir uns nur an Best
Praktice orientieren, die wir selber durch bench-Marks gesetzt haben.
Also: an Fleiss, effektiver Arbeit und Royaler
Nobilität mangelt es nicht- auch wenn es weiter optimierbar bleibt.
Disziplin und Begabung sind auch nicht im
Es geht um das gesteuerte Herausleiten von
Kapital und Energie aus den deutschen Haushalten und Privatvermögen. Dadurch
kommt Fluch und Schlaflosigkeit.
Ich darf hinzufügen:
Ich selber schlafe seit Sonntag den 24., bzw
dem Vortag, dem 23. September 2017 besser. Ich will den Segen und ich will kein
archaisches, rückwärtsgewandtes verdammtes und verfluchtes „Entreichern“- oder
Verarmen, denn das ist das ,was die Offenbarung symbolisch den „Schwarzen Reiter“
Ich selber habe meine Vision des Globalen
Biosiegels durchgebracht. Mit diesem Siegel werden täglich und jede Nacht mehr
Produkte und Dienstleitungen erstellt, als unter den „Cult-food“  Zertifikaten „Hallal“ oder „kosher“.
Der gesamtgesellschaftliche Nutzen ist damit
seit 1992 um jährlich 10% gestiegen.
19% davon erreichen die Finanzkassen der
BRD GmbH &Co KG.
Jetzt ist es Zeit, an der Quelle anzuzapfen, wo
das Geld verschwendet wird bzw. in Staatshaushaltsferne Zentralbanken und Privatvermögen
fliesst. Die europäische Börsenumsatzsteuer wäre dazu ein Weg. Es geht jedoch
nicht so sehr allein um die Erhebung sondern um die Verwendung. Wer kennt nicht
das Zitat: „Gebt mir die macht über das Geld eines Landes und ich brauche keine
Dieses dem frankfurter Familienclan und
angehöriger Klientel der heutigen Rothschild Family zugesprochenes Zitat wird
heute im post-industriellen Zeitalter mit Hilfe der FED, der EZB und dem Geld“drucken“
der virtuellen globalen Währung (BIT-COINs) durchregiert und gesteuert.
Das wird zurecht vom Volk und Land als Fluch
Was kann GOTT da tun?-  sieh oben.
In diesem Steuer-Kreislauf wird Transformation
mit Einweihung des Tempels, Verzeihung von Sünden und Heilung des Landes
Wenn wir hier ansetzen, kann auch der Spruch
des Vorläufers des heutigen Deutschland: „An deutschen Wesen soll die Welt
genesen“  von seinen zweischneidigen,
zweideutigen und damit für Juden und Moslems angsteinflössenden Variablen
gelöst werden. Die Sorge vor Empörung, Aufstand, Bürgerkreig und damit
eskalierendem Blutvergiessen ist allerdings von Seitend er UN
(UN-Klimasekretariat) mit 15% bzw 35% plörtzlicher erhöhter Sterberate wohl
eher Heuchelei, wenn das in den gängigen Szenarien schon einkalkuliert ist
(wenn auch mathematisch auf Betrug aufbauend). Dieser Fluch muss entfernt
werden aus dem Webmuster des Systems, wenn unser Land wieder aufatmen und
überleben will.
Die schwarzen Reiter und Türme (um im Bild zu
bleibemn) müssen deshalb besiegt werden. Im Offenbarungsbild des Apostels Johannes
ist Jesus Christus der Friedefürst, der die vier apokalyptischen Reiter
besiegt- Krieg, Epedemien und Hungersnot wird es dann nicht mehr geben.
Das Sternenbild des 23. September zeigt uns
hier die Absicht Gottes sehr deutlich. Wer also die Zeichen der Zeit und seine
Signale hört, versteht und danach handelt, wird im Friedensreich segensreich in
Liebe leben und regieren.
Das glaube ich nicht nur sondern ich habe es
auch gesehen im Geiste und teilweise auch im seelischen und körperlichen Bereich
erlebt.- Wie bei Salomon dem Weisen seiner Zeit, sehe ich für das Volk bzw die
Völker dieser Erde die dringende Notwendigkeit aber auch Herausforderung zur
Umkehr und Busse.
Ich (stellvertredent für mein Haus) gehe diesen
Weg mit Gott.
Folgt mir!
SEIN Banner und Heerzeichen errichtet!
Komm und Heile unser Land!!
 In Dankbarkeit für 22.000 (Zweiundwzanzigzeusend)
likes auf FB grüße ich herzlichst und mit bestem Wissen und Gewissen-

Archbishop Dr. Uwe AE.Rosenkranz

genannt: PSPS II


ROSARY presents: Recultivation after flo

ROSARY presents: Recultivation after flood treatment Harvey, Jose, Marie- by Archbishop Dr. Uwe AE.Rosenkranz, MA,DD.

share holder values Umweltfonds

Volunteer/Praktikant gesucht.

Rosary Sol

Patent Licence with QR-label
Crypto Currency

ℜΩΣÅℜϒ – share holder value



Roll out

Hügelbeet mit Teich

Holy Grail Rosary Aquafarming


^UR The best da

The best day of my LIFE!

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