Publius, Tacitus on Christ

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Publius (or Gaius) Cornelius Tacitus (; ; c. AD 56 – after 117) was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero, and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors (AD 69). These two works span the history of the Roman Empire from the death of Augustus in AD 14 to the years of the First Jewish–Roman War in AD 70. There are substantial lacunae in the surviving texts, including a gap in the Annals that is four books long.


In book 15, chapter 44 of the Annals, written c. 116 AD, there is a passage which refers to Jesus, Pontius Pilate, and a mass execution of Christians ordered by Nero after a six day fire that burned much of Rome in July 64 AD. This narration has long attracted scholarly interest because it is a rare non-Christian reference to the origin of Christianity, the execution of Jesus described in the canonical gospels, and the persecution of Christians in 1st century Rome. Almost all scholars consider these references to early Christians to be authentic.

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