Are there historical references to the Messiah of the New Testament?
Yes, there are several historical records confirming that Yahshua the Messiah existed as a person in the first century. Additionally, some of these references verify that He was able to perform great wonders, i.e., miracles, as we also see from the biblical record.
Below are a few quotes from a chart within the Restoration Study Bible entitled, “The Messiah from Historical Writings:”
“Nero fastened the guilt…on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of…Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil….” Tacitus, Annals 15.44.
“They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ…and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food–but food of an ordinary and innocent kind,” Pliny, Daily Lives of Christians in Ancient Rome.
“About this time there lived Jesus [Yahshua], a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he…wrought surprising feats…. He was the Christ. When Pilate…condemned him to be crucified, those who had…come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared…restored to life…. And the tribe of Christians…has…not disappeared,” Josephus, Antiquities 18.63-64. (While most scholars attribute this quotation to Josephus, parts of it may have been added later.)
“On the eve of the Passover Yeshu [Yahshua] was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald…cried, ‘He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy,’” The Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 43a.
“The Christians…worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account…. [It] was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws,” Lucian, The Death of Peregrine.
“But [Yahshua] having persuaded a few among you, and those the worst of men, has now been celebrated about 300 years; having done nothing worthy of remembrance; unless anyone thinks it is a mighty matter to heal lame and blind people and exorcise demoniacs in the villages of Bethsaida and Bethany,” Julian the Apostate (quoted in the polemic of Cyril of Alexandria against Julian).
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