Cornelius Tacitus’ Background

Cornelius Tacitus (56-120 AD) has been called the greatest historian on ancient Rome. He lived during the reign of several Roman emperors and was a Roman historian and a governor of Asia (Turkey) in AD 112. He wrote two major works: Annals and the Histories. The following is a quote from the Annals.

Cornelius Tacitus

Historical Quote About Jesus Christ

“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 Judaea, 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. 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. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.” Annals 15.44

Conclusion’s About Christ

This reference reveals several key things:

  1. Christ lived during the reign of Tiberius (AD 14-37).
  2. Pontius Pilate put him to death.
  3. The word “superstition” suggests a religion.
  4. Christ had followers who were named Christians.
  5. The Christians suffered under Nero and they were hated by others.