Historian in the 1st century refers to Biblical events

A historian living in the first century refers to Biblical events taking place in Jerusalem.


Josephus Flavius was a first century AD Jewish historian. His status in society was an aristocratic Pharisee who was born in A.D. 37. During the war with the Romans in A.D.66 to 70 he was captured by the Romans, and later was paid a pension by successive Emperors for services he rendered to the Imperial Family.

Early in the nineties of the first century he wrote the book Jewish Antiquities. His 20 volume work “Jewish Antiquities” relates the history of the Jewish people from earliest times down to his own day. Josephus wrote about many figures well known from the New Testament. He specifically refers to John the Baptist, James the Lord’s brother, Jesus and Judas.

Before the Roman war, in A.D. 62 there was a period between when one Roman governors rule had finished and the next one had taken up the position. During this time the high priest Annas convened the Sanhedrin. This is what Josephus wrote:

“…convened the judges of the Sanhedrin and brought before them a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, and certain others. He accused them of having transgressed the law and delivered them up to be stoned. Those of the inhabitants of the city who were considered the most fair-minded and who were strict in observance of the law were offended at this”. Josephus Book 20 (197 to 203)

In this extract, the authenticity of which is not in doubt, Josephus confirms two important pieces of information from the New Testament.

First, Jesus was “called Christ” and second, James was his brother.

Here is another excerpt from his book:

“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 received the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these men and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him and the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day”. Josephus Book 18 Chapter 3 (63).

So we see in these two passages of a first century historian that both Jesus and his brother James are referred to.