Matt Archbold graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in 1995. He is a former journalist who left the newspaper business to raise his five children. He writes for the Creative Minority Report.
Historical researcher Michael Paulkovich is claiming that after studying many writers from the first, second, and third centuries and finding no mention of Jesus, he can conclude that Jesus Christ is a mythical figure.
I, however, believe future generations will come to see "Paulkovich the Scholar" as a myth. In declaring that no early writers mention Christ, one must assume he skipped Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Among the 126 writers, Paulkovich, for some reason, includes writers and historian who actually did mention Christ and/or Early Christians such as Josephus. Josephus wrote:
But the younger Ananus who, as we said, received the high priesthood, was of a bold disposition and exceptionally daring; he followed the party of the Sadducees, who are severe in judgment above all the Jews, as we have already shown. As therefore Ananus was of such a disposition, he thought he had now a good opportunity, as Festus was now dead, and Albinus was still on the road; so he assembled a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as law-breakers, he delivered them over to be stoned.
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 receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the 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 and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day.
But clearly what Paulkovich does is simply discount any mention of Jesus from Josephus' work as added later just as he does with the gospels. I don't think anyone is saying that some words may have been added but to think that the entire section is added seems a stretch.
So clearly you see, it's not that Jesus isn't mentioned, it's that anytime Jesus is mentioned that immediately discounts its authenticity because Jesus never existed. It's a tautology.
But there are other writers who clearly mention Christ and Christians in the early centuries but for some odd reason are included as having never mentioned Christ, such as Lucian, who not only mentioned Jesus but wrote an entire play about Christians titled The Passing of Peregrinus or in which the lead character takes advantage of Christians. Here's one snippet:
The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. … You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains their contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property
Is that not a pretty explicit mention of Jesus? Pliny is also said to have not mentioned Jesus but he did, in fact, discuss, in a letter, Christians whom he was having executed.
They affirmed, however, that the whole of their guilt, or their error, was, that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verse a hymn to Christ as to a god, and bound themselves to a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft, adultery, never to falsify their word, not to deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up.
Now, to be fair, Pliny the Younger doesn't specifically mention Jesus but, according to Paulkovich, Jesus and his divinity were fabrications made centuries later. But this shows an early account of pagan persecution of Christians who believe in the divinity of Jesus.
Interestingly, Paulkovich also includes Tacitus as a writer who didn't mention Jesus. However, Tacitus not only wrote about Christ and Christians but did so rather scathingly. In writing about Nero, Tacitus wrote:
But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the Bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements Which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero From the infamy of being believed to have ordered the Conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence to suppress the rumor, he Falsely charged with the guilt, and punished Christians, who were Hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was Put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign Of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time Broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief Originated, but through the city of Rome also, where all things Hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their Center 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.
Seutonius is also listed as a writer who didn't mention Jesus but did in fact write, "As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome." Now, some argue that he didn't say "Christ" and that "Chrestus" could refer to many other people. But this expulsion would confirm the passage in Acts of the Apostles that talk of a similar expulsion around the same time.
So it seems that any mention of Jesus is dismissed altogether and then he uses the dismissal as evidence that Jesus never existed. It's interesting to me that one of the reasons some of these historians are dismissed is due to what's called sloppy work by some. If that's the case I'd imagine Paulkovich's work will be similarly dismissed by future generations.
HT Tektonics and Early Christian Writings