Non-Biblical Sources that Verify Jesus’ Historicity

What many skeptics fail to consider when examining the Gospels, is that each of these accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) were written as separate, eye-witness testimonies; modern scholars generally agree that they are in the literary style of ancient Greco-Roman biographies. They were not written as one book. It wasn’t until the end of the 4th C that the New Testament was fully canonized.1 Knowing this, the Gospels should be understood as separate sources of Jesus’ life. Nevertheless, there remain other, non-biblical sources that also corroborate the historical Jesus and/or the rise of Christianity.

Artwork: Akiane Kramarik 

Here are just 10 Non-Biblical Sources that refer to Jesus Christ (or the Christian movement):

  1. Roman historian, Josephus (c. 37-97), “Antiquities” 
  2. Roman historian, Tacitus (c. 55-120), “Annals”
  3. Samaritan-born historian, Thallus (c. 52), “Histories”
  4. Mara Bar-Sepapion (c. 73), “Letter”
  5. Historian Phlegon (c. 80), “Chronicles”
  6. Roman governor Pliny the Younger (c.112), “Epistles X”
  7. The Jewish Talmud (commentary on Jewish law, completed AD 500)
  8. Toledoth Jesu (early 5th C)
  9. Greek satirist Lucian (2nd C)
  10. Roman historian Suetonius (c.120), “Life of Claudius”

I am not going to quote all 10 sources but highlight a few. I will recommend a book in the Sources section below so that you can follow up with all the extra-biblical sources of Christ on your own.

Josephus was a first century Jewish historian not favorable towards this new movement called “The Way.” However, because he was a historian who records events (regardless of his own biases), he mentions Jesus in his “Antiquities” writings. In the “Testimonium Flavianum,” the relevant portion declares: “About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man,…” 2 The rest of the passage is controversial because some believe Christians later added to it. Nonetheless, the mention of Jesus, a Jewish carpenter, is significant. We must remember that most ancient histories only record those who were in power, i.e kings or military rulers. To even get a mention when you were a simple carpenter who held no political positions of power is noteworthy.

Tacitus reported on Emperor Nero’s decision to blame the Christians for the fire that had destroyed Rome in A.D. 64. This Roman historian Tacitus wrote:

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, but even in Rome…3


Pliny the Younger was the Roman governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor. In one of his letters, dated around A.D. 112, he seeks counsel on how to conduct legal proceedings against those being “accused as Christians.” 4 According to Pliny’s writings, a great multitude of every age, class and sex stood accused of Christianity. In that culture, Christians were persecuted because they did not bow down to the Roman gods or Caesars.

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, as to a god, 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.5

Pliny the Younger

We can infer by this passage that Pliny must have understood that Christians worshipped an actual historical person as God – unheard of back then! This lines up with New Testament doctrine that Jesus is the God-man.

A Greek satirist, Lucian, wrote in jest in the 2nd century about the early Christians:

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.6


Still, why not more evidence?

Many wonder why there is not more evidence or any archaeological finds of Jesus. The fact that anything is written about a poor, Jewish carpenter in sources outside of the New Testament is quite remarkable. Keep in mind that most of us live and die in relative obscurity; it’s only the powerful, wealthy or famous that typically get recorded in history. 

“There’s nothing conclusive (archaeological evidence), nor would I expect there to be,” said Lawrence Mykytiuk, an associate professor of library science at Purdue University. “Peasants don’t normally leave an archaeological trail.”7

“The reality is that we don’t have archaeological records for virtually anyone who lived in Jesus’s time and place,” says University of North Carolina religious studies professor Bart D. Ehrman, author and skeptic. “The lack of evidence does not mean a person at the time didn’t exist. It means that she or he, like 99.99% of the rest of the world at the time, made no impact on the archaeological record.”8

Jesus Christ certainly has certainly made a huge impact on the world, even though he was no great military leader, never wrote anything down himself, and had no formal education. Yet he overturned culture, changing the lives of literally billions of people over the centuries because his kingdom is not of this world.


    1. Canonization is the process by which the Church Fathers determined what books were to be fully recognized as canon (or rule) of Scripture. See more in this article by Don Stewart, “The Canon of Scripture.” Accessed May 12, 2023.
    2. Josephus, Antiquities 18.63-64, cited in Yamauchi, “Jesus Outside the New Testament”, 212.
    3. Tacitus, Annals 15.44, cited in Strobel, The Case for Christ, 82.
    4. Pliny, Epistles x. 96, cited in Bruce, Christian Origins, 25; Habermas, The Historical Jesus, 198.
    5. Pliny, Letters, transl. by William Melmoth, rev. by W.M.L. Hutchinson (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1935), vol. II, X:96, cited in Habermas, The Historical Jesus, 199.
    6. Lucian, “The Death of Peregrine”, 11-13, in The Works of Lucian of Samosata, transl. by H.W. Fowler and F.G. Fowler, 4 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1949), vol. 4., cited in Habermas, The Historical Jesus, 206.
    7. Christopher Klein, “The Bible Says Jesus Was Real. What Other Proof Exists?” Accessed May 29, 2023.
    8. Ibid.

For more information on the historical Jesus, I recommend Evidence for the Historical Jesus by Gary Habermas, the expert not only on the historical Jesus but also on the Resurrection. 

An excellent book on the world-wide impact that Jesus Christ has made in history and culture is called Person of Interest by J. Warner Wallace, (, a former cold-case detective atheist turned Christian via investigation of the evidence.






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