Historical proof of Jesus’ crucifixion

By Tom Quiner

A critic of Quiner’s Diner took me to task for my recent post, “Would you die for a lie?“

He challenged me as follows:

“There’s practically no historical evidence for the crucifixion. What are you talking about?”

In other words, they’re not even willing to consider Christ’s resurrection until we resolve if Jesus was even crucified in the first place.

The New Testament is loaded with evidence.

The apostle Matthew is believed to have written his gospel 17 to 37 years after the crucifixion of Jesus. He corroborates the accounts of the crucifixion.

Mark the Evangelist wrote his gospel about 22 to 37 years after Jesus was crucified. Mark was a traveling companion of Peter and corroborates the accounts of the crucifixion.

Luke was a traveling companion of Paul and would have known Jesus’ disciples. His gospel is believed to have been written no more than 29 years after Jesus’ crucifixion and corroborates the accounts of the crucifixion.

John was another apostle and eyewitness to the crucifixion. His gospel was written some fifty to sixty years after Jesus’ crucifixion and corroborates the accounts of the crucifixion.

Paul is an interesting historian when it comes to Jesus’ crucifixion. He was a former enemy of Christianity who underwent a mystical conversion and became a Christian himself. He spent the rest of his life spreading the message that Jesus is Lord. He wrote a series of thirteen epistles some 18 to 25 years after the crucifixion, again testifying to the veracity of the events.

Interestingly, when you look at other major figures in the ancient past, their histories were written much later than the accounts written about Jesus.

For example, the earliest surviving histories of Alexander the Great were written 300 to 500 years after he died.

The earliest surviving histories of Buddha were written some 600 years following his death.

The accounts of the life of Jesus of Nazareth were written within a generation of his life when there were eye witnesses to corroborate … or refute … the testimony of the authors.

Detractors dismiss biblical accounts as being all about religion and lacking historical objectivity. Nonetheless, non-biblical sources confirm the life and death of Jesus, such as Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus:

Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus

Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus

“At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good, and [he] was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive.”

Roman Senator, Cornelius Tacitus, also referenced the early Christians and Jesus:

“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

Roman Senator and Historian, Cornelius Tacitus

Roman Senator and Historian, Cornelius Tacitus

name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, 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.”

The Greek satirist, Lucian, acknowledged the life and death of Jesus:

Greek satirist, Lucian

Greek satirist, Lucian

“The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day – the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account…”

Few critics deny that Jesus existed or was crucified by the Romans. Biblical and non-biblical evidence is compelling in this regard.



  1. lburleso on March 30, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    So the question changes from “Did Jesus exist?” to “Who is Jesus to me?” To which C.S. Lewis proposes: liar, lunatic, or true savior.

    • quinersdiner on March 30, 2013 at 3:31 pm

      Jesus left us no wiggle room, did He?

      • theguywiththeeye on March 30, 2013 at 3:58 pm

        How often is the truth an extreme? He didn’t have to be one of those three choices. He could’ve been a teacher who got some notoriety like Buddha or Confucius. The rest could’ve been embellished. Faith in Jesus requires faith in the men who wrote the stories

  2. Steve on March 30, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Considering that Pope Francis is calling for intensified dialogue with the Muslims, here are some important considerations pertaining to the Crucifixion and Resurrection:

    The Koran specifically states that Jesus was not crucified; instead, Allah made one of Jesus’ followers look like Jesus, and that follower was crucified instead (4:157-158). Ibn Kathir, an authoritative Muslim scholar, explained that this happened when Jesus and his twelve followers were inside a house surrounded by angry Jews. Once the decision had been made, Jesus was taken up to Paradise through an opening in the ceiling, the young follower was made to look like Jesus and was subsequently crucified. The remaining eleven followers were aware of this.

    From the Muslim standpoint, this has three implications for Christianity: 1) There was no Resurrection; 2) When Muslims look at a crucifix they see an imposter hanging on the cross; and 3) the Apostles went out and preached and died for a lie.

    If we’re going to have an intensified dialogue with the Muslims, we must first understand Islam.

    • quinersdiner on March 30, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      Good stuff, Steve. If anyone knows, it is you. Thanks for weighing in.

    • Bob Vance on March 30, 2013 at 4:29 pm

      I assume you are not Muslim. Do you believe the Koran is a Holy Book that speaks the truth? If not, can you tell me why?

      • therealityofislam on March 31, 2013 at 10:18 am

        Hi Bob,

        Muslims believe that the Koran consists of the “revelations” that Muhammad reported to have received from Allah; they believe it is the Word of Allah. I am not a Muslim and I do not think the Koran is a “Holy Book” that speaks truths. It is a collection of “revelations” Muhammad said he received. These “revelations” were often in response to a particular situation facing Muhammad and provided a favorable resolution for Muhammad; on one occasion Muhammad’s favorite wife Aisha even told Muhammad, “I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires.”

        Among these “revelations” are those that command Muslims to not make friends with Jews and Christians (e.g. 5:51, among many other similar verses); command Muslims to fight non-Muslims until the non-Muslims convert to Islam, die fighting, or pay the jizyah, which is a protection tax on non-Muslims (9:5 and 9:29, among many others); and state that Christians are going to Hell because they commit the one unforgiveable sin in Islam – Shirk; this is ascribing “partners” to Allah, including a Son (e.g. 3:151, 4:48, 4:116, and 6:151).

        If you understand the Doctrine of Abrogation, you realize that the “peaceful verses” in the Koran, mainly “revealed” in Mecca, have been abrogated by the intolerant, belligerent verses revealed in Medina. Medinan Chapters 5 and 9 were the last chapters of the Koran “revealed,” so they provide the final word on the matters covered in those chapters.

        Excuse the plug, but if you are interested in learning about Islam, I recommend the book on Islam I completed last Fall: Letting Islam Be Islam: Separating Truth From Myth. In this book I let the Koran, Muhammad, and authoritative Islamic scholars tell us what Islam “is.” You can get it at Divine Treasures, Beaverdale Books, or online at Amazon.

  3. kodonivan on March 30, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    As a Catholic, I am hoping that Pope Francis will make a positive impact in bringing people back to the church and bring to life the words of Paul VI: “If you want peace, work for justice.” The world needs this.
    I don’t understand the Muslims, maybe due to all the negative actions that they take daily against their own, as well as others. Perhaps Pope Francis can begin to build a bridge.

  4. The Crucifixion | I am an Author, I Must Auth on March 30, 2013 at 9:38 pm

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