A viral article is claiming that a new discovery documents Jesus’ miracles with an eyewitness statement recorded by ancient Roman historian Marcus Velleius Paterculus. While non-Christian writers did discuss Jesus’ miracles thousands of years ago, this new “discovery” will likely disappoint you.
In a related report by The Inquisitr, controversy has erupted over an article published in Free Inquiry that claims Jesus Christ never existed. But historians and even atheists have responded to these ideas by claiming the “Jesus myth” concept is false.
Published on October, 4, 2014, the article about Jesus’ miracles is entitled, “Newly-Found Document Holds Eyewitness Account of Jesus Performing Miracle.” The article then goes on to explain that a modern historian made a remarkable discovery while searching through the archives of the Vatican.
“An Italian expert studying a first century document written by the Roman historian Marcus Velleius Paterculus that was recently discovered in the archives of the Vatican, found what is presumed to be the first eyewitness account ever recorded of a miracle of Jesus Christ. The author describes a scene that he allegedly witnessed, in which a prophet and teacher that he names Iēsous de Nazarenus, resuscitated a stillborn boy and handed him back to his mother…. Upon entering town, Jesus would have visited the house of a woman named Elisheba, who had just given birth to a stillborn child. Jesus picked up the dead child and uttered a prayer in Aramaic to the heavens, which unfortunately the author describes as ‘immensus’, meaning incomprehensible. To the crowd’s surprise and amazement, the baby came back to life almost immediately, crying and squirming like a healthy newborn.”
This article literally doubled in Facebook likes in the last 15 minutes and is causing controversy all over social media. Unfortunately, it’s also completely false. The World News Daily Report happens to be a website that parodies real news, and might have even been written in response to the real controversy over the Jesus myth concept. Their disclaimer page makes the falsehood completely clear.
“World News Daily Report is a news and political satire web publication, which may or may not use real names, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways. All news articles contained within worldnewsdailyreport.com are fiction, and presumably fake news.”
So what does ancient history actually tell us about Jesus’ miracles? A second century Roman author named Celsus attacked early Christians by denying Jesus’ divinity and the virgin birth, as well as downplaying the apostles. But Celsus also had an interesting alternative explanation for Jesus’ miracles.
“It is clear to me that the writings of the Christians are a lie and that your fables are not well enough constructed to conceal this monstrous fiction…. Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain [magical] powers… He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god… It was by means of sorcery that He was able to accomplish the wonders which He performed… Let us believe that these cures, or the resurrection, or the feeding of a multitude with a few loaves… These are nothing more than the tricks of jugglers… It is by the names of certain demons, and by the use of incantations, that the Christians appear to be possessed of power…”
The Bible also makes mention of the total darkness that enveloped the world after Jesus’ crucifixion.
“It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, because the sun was obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two.”
In about 52 A.D., a critique by secular historian Thallus claimed the mid-day darkness was a solar eclipse and hundreds of years later a Christian historian named Julius Africanus referenced this claim in order to dispute it.
“On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness. The rocks were rent by an earthquake and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. Thallus, in his Third Book of Histories, explains away this darkness as an eclipse of the sun, unreasonably as it seems to me. For the Hebrews celebrate the Passover on the 14th day according to the moon, and the Passion of our Savior falls on the day before the Passover. But an eclipse of the sun takes place only when the Moon comes under the Sun. And it cannot happen at any other time but in the interval between the first day of the new moon and the last of the old, that is, at their junction: how then should an eclipse occur when the Moon is almost diametrically opposite the Sun?… Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, 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.”
Chinese Christian Chan Kei Thong writes in Finding God In Ancient China: How the Ancient Chinese Worshiped the God of the Bible that the darkness occurred during China’s Han Dynasty. The Chinese allegedly recorded the event, although since China’s capital city was hours ahead of Israel they also spoke of both the moon and sun being darkened.
“Summer, fourth month, on the day of Ren Wu, the imperial edict reads, ‘Yen and Yang have mistakenly switched, and the sun and moon were eclipsed. The sins of all the people are now on one man. [The emperor] proclaims pardon to all under heaven.'”
What do you think about the available historical documents referencing some of Jesus’ miracles?