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Now that it is Easter time, I wonder whether the Romans wrote about Easter. I am looking for non-Christian accounts in Latin describing the events of Jesus's death and subsequent resurrection. I assume that it would have been an interesting piece of news in Rome that a notable Jewish leader was condemned to death and the allegedly came back to life and was elevated to a god. I can well imagine the Romans rolling their eyes at the stories Christians told about the events around Jesus's death.

  • @AlexB. Could you post that as an answer? If voting and comments indicate that others agree, I will be happy to accept that there are no such accounts. – Joonas Ilmavirta Apr 20 at 15:49
  • Let's wait and see what other say first, if you don't mind. – Alex B. Apr 20 at 15:52
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    @AlexB. No hurry. I just don't want this question to end up being left unanswered when many believe that no such sources exist. – Joonas Ilmavirta Apr 20 at 16:45
  • I'd recommend Stegemann, Ekkehard (Basle), “Jesus”, in: Brill’s New Pauly, Antiquity volumes edited by: Hubert Cancik and , Helmuth Schneider, English Edition by: Christine F. Salazar, Classical Tradition volumes edited by: Manfred Landfester, English Edition by: Francis G. Gentry. Consulted online on 20 April 2019 <dx.doi.org/10.1163/1574-9347_bnp_e522560> – Alex B. Apr 20 at 20:17
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There are two significant references to Christ's death from non-Christian Roman sources.

1. Flavius Josephus

The Romano-Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (AD 37-100), who wrote in Greek, mentions Christ twice and John the Baptist once.

The most famous reference to Jesus is in the so-called "Testimonium Flavianum". Although many scholars believe it is partially interpolated, it is generally agreed that there was at least a reference to Christ's death. Here is the text and translation from the Antiquities of the Jews, bk. 18, c. 3:

Γίνεται δὲ κατὰ τοῦτον τὸν χρόνον Ἰησοῦς σοφὸς ἀνήρ, εἴγε ἄνδρα αὐτὸν λέγειν χρή: ἦν γὰρ παραδόξων ἔργων ποιητής, διδάσκαλος ἀνθρώπων τῶν ἡδονῇ τἀληθῆ δεχομένων, καὶ πολλοὺς μὲν Ἰουδαίους, πολλοὺς δὲ καὶ τοῦ Ἑλληνικοῦ ἐπηγάγετο: ὁ Χριστὸς οὗτος ἦν. καὶ αὐτὸν ἐνδείξει τῶν πρώτων ἀνδρῶν παρ᾽ ἡμῖν σταυρῷ ἐπιτετιμηκότος Πιλάτου οὐκ ἐπαύσαντο οἱ τὸ πρῶτον ἀγαπήσαντες: ἐφάνη γὰρ αὐτοῖς τρίτην ἔχων ἡμέραν πάλιν ζῶν τῶν θείων προφητῶν ταῦτά τε καὶ ἄλλα μυρία περὶ αὐτοῦ θαυμάσια εἰρηκότων. εἰς ἔτι τε νῦν τῶν Χριστιανῶν ἀπὸ τοῦδε ὠνομασμένον οὐκ ἐπέλιπε τὸ φῦλον.

About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Christ. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.

2. Publius Cornelius Tacitus

Tacitus (AD 56-120) refers to Christ in his Annals, bk. 15, c. 44., in the context of the Great Fire of Rome during the reign of Nero. Here is the full passage (whose integral authenticity is generally acknowledged) where he describes how Christians were blamed for the fire, including a brief account of their origins. Note that he only mentions Christ's death explicitly, though the immediate reference to a "superstition" arising afterwards implies that he knew the Christians had more to say about it.

sed non ope humana, non largitionibus principis aut deum placamentis decedebat infamia quin iussum incendium crederetur. ergo abolendo rumori Nero subdidit reos et quaesitissimis poenis adfecit quos per flagitia invisos vulgus Christianos appellabat. auctor nominis eius Christus Tiberio imperitante per procuratorem Pontium Pilatum supplicio adfectus erat; repressaque in praesens exitiabilis superstitio rursum erumpebat, non modo per Iudaeam, originem eius mali, sed per urbem etiam quo cuncta undique atrocia aut pudenda confluunt celebranturque. igitur primum correpti qui fatebantur, deinde indicio eorum multitudo ingens haud proinde in crimine incendii quam odio humani generis convicti sunt. et pereuntibus addita ludibria, ut ferarum tergis contecti laniatu canum interirent, aut crucibus adfixi aut flammandi, atque ubi defecisset dies in usum nocturni luminis urerentur. hortos suos ei spectaculo Nero obtulerat et circense ludicrum edebat, habitu aurigae permixtus plebi vel curriculo insistens. unde quamquam adversus sontis et novissima exempla meritos miseratio oriebatur, tamquam non utilitate publica sed in saevitiam unius absumerentur.

But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures 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 one of our procurators, 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, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man's cruelty, that they were being destroyed.

(See this Wikipedia page for further non-Christian references to Christ and Christians, some of which are oblique or doubtful.)

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