During Jesus' brief period of consciousness, Jesus asked this man to convey to his disciples that he had risen from the dead. D.) was a Roman historian who lived through the reigns of over a half dozen Roman emperors.

However, Jesus died shortly after and this person helped bury him. Continuing our historical investigation into the early sources for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, we turn next to the ancient non Christian sources. He has been called the “greatest historian” of ancient Rome, an individual generally acknowledged among scholars for his moral “integrity and essential goodness.”(1) Tacitus is best known for two works — the Annals and the Histories. D., while the Histories begin after Nero’s death and proceed to that of Domitian in 96 A. Tacitus recorded at least one reference to Christ and two to early Christianity, one in each of his major works.

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Additionally, the inside of the stone would provide no edge against which Jesus might at least use his weight to push. The second reference to Jesus in the writings of Tacitus is found in the Histories.

Then, even if he could have escaped from the tomb, could he walk the distance to the disciples’ hiding place after having his weight suspended on a Roman crucifixion spike just a short time previously? While the specific reference is lost, as is most of this book, the reference is preserved by Sulpicus Severus.(7) He informs us that Tacitus wrote of the burning of the Jerusalem temple by the Romans in 70 A. The Christians are mentioned as a group that were connected with these events.

While such works are given virtually no attention by careful scholars, these attempts are sometimes very popular with those who are unfamiliar with the data behind such questions.

Many are bothered by nonfactual or illogical presentations, but are not quite able to locate the problems involved.

The Fall of the Swoon Theory The swoon theory was perhaps the most popular naturalistic theory against the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection in the early nineteenth century. (15) Tacitus therefore concluded that such punishments were not for the public good but were simply “to glut one man’s cruelty.”(4) Several facts here are of interest. It may even have been contained in one of Pilate’s reports to the emperor, to which Tacitus would probably have had access because of his standing with the government.(5) Of course, we cannot be sure at this point, but a couple of early writers do claim to know the contents of such a report, as we will perceive later. It is scarcely fanciful to suggest that when he adds that “ A most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out” he is bearing indirect and unconscious testimony to the conviction of the early church that the Christ who had been crucified had rise from the grave.(6) Although we must be careful not to press this implication too far, the possibility remains that Tacitus may have indirectly referred to the Christians’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection, since his teachings “again broke out” after his death.

But David Strauss, himself a liberal theologian, disproved this theory to the satisfaction of his fellow scholars. Even if it was imagined that Jesus was able to survive Roman crucifixion, what could he do about the heavy stone in the entrance to the tomb? Also of interest is the historical context for Jesus’ death, as he is linked with both Pilate and Tiberius. Also interesting is the mode of torture employed against the early Christians.Yet, Strauss' most convincing point concerned Jesus' condition upon reaching his disciples. All we can gather from this reference is that Tacitus was also aware of the existence of Christians other than in the context of their presence in Rome.Very few would doubt that he would be in sad physical shape, limping badly, bleeding, pale and clutching his side. Granted, the facts that Tacitus (and most other extra biblical sources) report about Jesus are well known in our present culture.The unidentified man at the cross who administered the drug is the key figure in this reconstruction.He helped carry Jesus to the tomb, then returned on Saturday to rescue him.This is the major reason that these approaches are included in this book.