Phlegon — Darkness Occurred During Full Moon

Phlegon’s Background

Phlegon, born about A.D. 80, was a secular historian who lived in the second century.[1] There are two books credited to his name:Chronicles and the Olympiads. Little is known about Phlegon, but he made reference to Christ. The first quote below is unique to Origen. The second quote is recorded by Philopon. The third quote is from Julius Africanus and the last is from Jerome. The reader should note that Phlegon’s comment that an eclipse of the sun occurred during Jesus’ death was impossible (see Thallus) since the Jewish Passover occurs during a full moon. It is important to note that 1) an eclipse of the sun cannot occur during a full moon since the moon would be on the opposite side of the earth and 2) that Jesus died on Passover during a full moon. It is important to read Thallus‘ comments to completely understand the issue.

Phlegon’s Reference To Jesus Christ

“And with regard to the eclipse in the time of Tiberius Caesar, in whose reign Jesus appears to have been crucified, and the great earthquakes which then took place . . .”  – Origen, Against Celsus, Book 2.33

“Phlegon mentioned the eclipse which took place during the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ, and no other (eclipse); it is clear that he did not know from his sources about any (similar) eclipse in previous times . . . and this is shown by the historical account of Tiberius Caesar.” – Philopon, De. opif. mund. II 21 [2]

“Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Cæsar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth – manifestly that one of which we speak. But what has an eclipse in common with an earthquake, the rending rocks, and the resurrection of the dead, and so great a perturbation throughout the universe? . . . And calculation makes out that the period of 70 weeks, as noted in Daniel, is completed at this time.” – Julius Africanus, Chronography, 18.1

“In the fourth year, however, of Olympiad 202, an eclipse of the sun happened, greater and more excellent than any that had happened before it; at the sixth hour, day turned into dark night, so that the stars were seen in the sky, and an earthquake in Bithynia toppled many buildings of the city of Nicaea.” – Phlegon’s 13th book quoted in Jerome’s translation of Eusebius’ Chronicle, 202 Olympad.


These statements reveal several key things:

  1. Christ was crucified.
  2. Julius Africanus states that Christ died at the end of Daniel’s 70 week prophecy.
  3. The sun was darkened during Christ’s death from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm.
  4. A solar eclipse supposedly occurred during a full moon. However, this is scientifically impossible.
  5. A great earthquake occurred during Christ’s death.
  6. The facts were recorded in a historical account of Tiberius.


1. Gary R. Habermas. The Historical Jesus. College Press Publishing Co. Joplin, Missouri. 1996. p. 217.
2. Felix Jacoby. Die Fragmente der Griechischen Historiker. Martinus Nijhoff. 2004. Sect 257 f16, c, p. 1165.