Regardless of one’s belief about who Jesus (born in Nazareth in Judea) was and/or is, reliable history documents that he is a part of human history.
Cornelius Tacitus was known for his analysis and examination of historical documents and is among the most trusted of ancient historians. He was a senator under Emperor Vespasian and was also proconsul of Asia. In his “Annals’ of 116 AD, he describes Emperor Nero’s response to the great fire in Rome and Nero’s claim that the Christians were to blame:
“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 Judea, 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.”
In this account, Tacitus confirms several historical elements of the Biblical narrative: Jesus lived in Judea, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and had followers who were persecuted for their faith in Christ.
There were numerous witnesses of his life, his teachings and the manner of his death.
Also undeniable is the impact of his life and teachings upon the entire world since his birth.
The critical question is this: are the witnesses who reported his bodily resurrection reliable? Was Jesus, known as Christ, raised from the dead? If he was, what meaning does that carry?
The New Testament reveals the eternal meaning and significance of the historical happenings surrounding Jesus, testifying that Jesus was God entering the human story as it unfolds for the purpose of reconciling the world to himself.
What a crazy, incredible story — and just what to expect from a crazy, incredible God.