I saw this ‘Religion & Spirituality’ section and I thought someone out there might be able to answer my question. I am wondering if there is any evidence for the lives or deaths of any of Jesus’s Apostles? There is the Bible of course, and the writing of early Church leaders and early Church historians, but is there any evidence from the secular world out there? So, does anyone know if there is any archaelological or written evidence that the 12 Apostles of Christ ever lived? Thanks!
Aside from a couple of references in Josephus, no. However, Paul is accepted as a genuine historical figure, and his earliest writings make reference to the apostles, which is accepted by most scholars as evidence of their historicity.
Interestingly, John the Baptist is considered a historical figure on the basis of references to him by Philo and Josephus. Similarly, the only evidence for the existence of Philo constitutes a very brief reference by Josephus, and Philo’s own works (only one event in Philo’s life can even be dated with historical certainty), whilst the only evidence for the existence of Josephus constitutes simply his own writings.
However, despite the complete absence of any independent evidence for the existence of Josephus, and despite the numerous historical inaccuracies in his records, his personal account of the Jewish War (the war against the Jews in Judea led by Titus Flavius Vespasianus), establishes him as a historical figure.
Hey, thanks for the response Fortigurn. So, how many references are there about the Apostles in the writings of Josephus? I read on the net that he mentions John the Baptist (as you mentioned), James the Just, and Jesus himself. However, none of these are one of the 12 Apostles. Does Joesphus mention anything about the Apostles themselves? Or does anyone? I couldn’t find anything, and I’m curious.
You also mention Paul. You said that he is accepted as a historical figure. Do we have any secular evidence for his life? Is he accepted to be a historical figure by most mainstream scholars and why? I’ve looked for things about his life on the net, and apart from a theory that his bones had been found in Rome, I couldn’t find anything to verify his life. If you any info about this I would appreciate it.
Also, you mention Josephus and that “his personal account of the Jewish War establishes him as a historical figure.” I’m wondering, why is that? How does that prove he was a historical figure? Isn’t it possible it was written by someone else? What I mean is, the surviving text clearly proves that someone was a historical figure, but does it really prove it was Josephus. I guess what I’m asking is do we really know that person, whom we call Josephus, was a legitimate 1st century historian? Is it possible that all the works of Josephus were just written by some nut job with a vivid imagination and a lot of watered down hearsay that came his way over the years? I honestly don’t know and that’s why I’m asking. I searched him on Wiki, but it only gives an account of his life and says nothing about the sources of his life or the opinion of scholars. So, I’m just wondering why that personal account of the Jewish War establishes him as a historical figure? Is that what scholars say and why?
I really appreciate your help. These questions have been nagging me, but I can’t seem to find much through Google or at Eslite. Thanks again.
You’re correct, sorry, I was thinking of John the Baptist and James. References to the apostles in Josephus are only found in later medieval copies with Christian interpolations.
Yes. For the same reason that the existence of Philo and Josephus is accepted. How much detail would you like?
Simple, it’s absolute nonsense. Almost 2,000 years later, you wouldn’t be finding bones.
These questions are valid, but to answer them requires discussion of historical methodology. How much do you want to know?
You’re very welcome. By the way, Google is not a good information finding tool for this kind of inquiry. In fact it’s not a good information finding tool for most kinds of inquiry into subjects treated in the professional literature.
Rule number one is ‘Don’t start with Google’. Scholarly journals are excellent reliable sources for information. This brief animated guide explains what a scholarly journal is, and how to identify them. The following scholarly journals make themselves available online for free:
JANES (Journal of Ancient Near East Studies, useful for archaeological information)
Quodlibet (Christian journal on Biblical interpretation, theology, science, and social issues)
JASA (extremely useful journal on the interaction between science and the Bible, written by Christians, many of whom have scientific training)
Here are some links to lists or collections of free online scholarly journals:
Some popular but contentious subjects (such as evolution and global warming), require a good background knowledge obtained from reliable sources. Without endorsing all of the statements on the following sites (much of which is beyond my capacity to evaluate), I would recommend these two in particular for accurate information on evolution and global warming: