Bertolt Brecht, A Worker Reads History.
If no Christian had written anything about Jesus for the first hundred years after his death, we would still have two succinct accounts from those not counted among his followers. One account dates from the last decade of the first century and comes from the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in his Jewish Antiquities 18:63:
His description is carefully neutral or, at most, mildly critical. The text was both preserved and interpolated by Christian editors but I cited it without their proposed improvements.
The next account dates from the first decades of the second century and comes from the pagan historian Cornelius Tacitus. Having told how a rumor blamed Nero for the disastrous fire which swept Rome in 64, he continues in Annals 15.44:
Despite the differences between the studied impartiality of Josephus and the sneering partiality of Tacitus they agree on three rather basic facts. First, there was some sort of a movement connected with Jesus. Second, he was executed by official authority presumably to stop the movement. Third, rather than being stopped, the movement continued to spread.
There remain, therefore, these three: movement, execution, continuation. But the greatest of these is continuation.
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