Summary Of Historical Evidence For Christ’s Crucifixion

"The Apostle Paul throughout his undisputed epistles, which also date earlier than the gospels, frequently refers to the crucifixion. Paul’s first hand testimony is given further credibility since he had met with Christ’s brother James and Christ’s disciple Peter of whom he discovered held to the same beliefs concerning the major events in Christ’s final week.

The crucifixion is also found within the book of Acts. Acts is the historian’s most comprehensive account on the historical movements of the early church subsequent to Christ’s death and resurrection appearances. According to Acts, “When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in the tomb” and “When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in the tomb.”

The 1st century historian Josephus Flavius provides the most important extra-biblical attestation to Christ’s crucifixion which is accepted as an authentic reference. Cornelius Tacitus, a Roman historian of the early 2nd century, also mentions the crucifixion which is also accepted as authentic (3).

Further worth noting are the early Church fathers Papias, Ignatius, and 1 Clement of whom all believed that Christ was crucified on a cross. These three early church fathers of the late 1st and early 2nd centuries had ties to Christ’s original apostles, which gives their testimony a certain level of credibility.

Taken together there is a substantial amount of testimonial evidence attesting to Christ’s death by crucifixion. It is independently attested to in the Pre-Mark Passion Narrative, Q, John, Paul, Hebrews, 1 Peter 2:24, Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Martyr, Josephus Flavius, and Cornelius Tacitus. This totals to at least 11 independent sources affirming the mode of crucifixion. Of those three are early and independent (pre-Mark, Q, and Paul). This is quite impressive given that historians view just two independent sources in a favourable light."

James Bishop, Summary of Historical Evidence for Christ’s Crucifixion 


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