List of Early Writers Who Could Have Mentioned Jesus

Dec 2011
Gday all,

I have been looking into the evidence of the early writers around the time of Jesus who could have mentioned him, but did not. Here is my essay on the subject.

(Sorry about the colours - I wrote this in a light-coloured editor and forgot it was dark background here. Because on this site I can directly copy and paste in here from my editor with colour and formatting preserved - handy. The result is fair, but I might have to change that blue.)

Early Writers Who Could Have Mentioned Jesus

A list from Remsberg of early writers who could have mentioned Jesus Christ but did not, is widespread on the internet in various forms. Recently this list was expanded to 126 writers by Michael Paulkovich in his book No Meek Messiah.

But their lists were not classified or clearly dated, so I have analysed these lists, and here provide a sorted and dated version of those lists. Dates are CE, unless noted otherwise.

Why Would They Mention Jesus ?

Many of these books are relevant or local or contemporary, and many authors did mention people and events from far away (e.g. Pausanias on Palestinian Jew 'Sabbe'), or digress into a different subjects (e.g. Josephus), or mention topics that could clearly connect to Jesus Christ (e.g. Petronius' crucifixion.)

I have also rated each work at two levels for characteristics which would increase the likelihood of a mention of Jesus Christ :

  • the Subject is relevant (S or s)
  • the book is Contemporary (C or c)
  • the work is Local (L or l)
  • the book is Big with lots of names etc. (B or b)
  • the book is a Christian work (X)

{ Please refrain from posting until I have finished all 4-5 posts in my essay (won't take long.) }

Dec 2011
Writers Contemporary With The Alleged Jesus

Writers Contemporary With The Alleged Jesus

Philo (20 BCE - 50 CE) = SClB

Philo Judaeus wrote very many books about Jewish religion and history.

  • Philo was contemporary with Jesus and Paul,
  • he visited Jerusalem and had family there,
  • he developed the concept of the Logos and the Holy Spirit,
  • he was considered a Christian by some later Christians,
  • he wrote a great deal about related times and peoples and issues,
  • including critical commentary on Pilate.
Seneca The Younger (4 BCE - 65 CE) = sCB

Lucius Annaeus Seneca wrote many philosophic (Stoic) and satirical books and letters (and Tragedies) in Rome. He wrote a great deal on many subjects and mentioned many people. He was a Stoic, a school of thought considered sympathetic to Christian teachings. He wrote a large work On Superstition between 40 and 62 CE that covered all the sects and cults of Rome. In fact, early Christians seemed to have expected him to discuss Christianity - they forged letters between him and Paul. How else to explain these forgeries, except as Christian responses to a surprising void in Seneca's writings ?

Pliny The Elder (23 - 79) = SCB

Gaius Plinius Secundus wrote a large Natural History in Rome c.70CE following on from Bassus (from 31 CE) Pliny wrote a great deal - his Natural History mentions hundreds of people, major & minor - writers, leaders, poets, artists - often with as much reason as mentioning Jesus. (Of course like many other writers he talks about astronomy too, but never mentions the Star of Bethlehem or the darkness.) It is quite likely for this prolific writer to have mentioned Jesus or the Gospels events - if they had happened.

Petronius (c. 27 - 66) = CB

Gaius Petronius Arbiter or Titus Petronius wrote a large novel in Rome (a bawdy drama) the Satyricon c.60. Petronius mentions all sorts of people and events in this large work, including :

  • a crucifixion !
  • a scene where guards are posted to stop a corpse being stolen,
  • a tomb scene of someone mistaking a person for a supernatural vision,
  • gods such as Bacchus and Ceres,
  • writers such as Sophocles and Euripides and Epicurus,
  • books such as the Iliad,
  • Romans such as Cato and Pompey,
  • people such as Hannibal, and the Governor of Ephesus,
  • female charioteers, slaves, merchants, Arabs, lawyers
  • baths, shipwrecks, meals...
This large work, cover many topics, including topics related to the Jesus e.g. a crucifixion, and it was written just as Peter and Paul had come to Rome, allegedly.

Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella (4 - c.70) = Cb

Columella wrote several works in Rome, some survives, e.g. his large book on agriculture Res Rustica.

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Dec 2011
Mid 1st C. (34 - 66)

Mid 1st C. (34 - 66)

Persius (34 - 62) = scb

Aulus Persius Flaccus wrote six fairly long satires in Rome in the mid 1st century, of a rather philosophic nature.

Lucan (39 - 65) = cB

Marcus Annaeus Lucanus wrote the Pharsalia (Civil War) in Rome in mid 1st century. In this large poem he mentions some events from later times, and he covers many different issues and people in passing. He :

  • mentions an event from 56 CE,
  • refers to places as far afield as Sicily and Kent,
  • referred to Stoic religious beliefs about the end of the world,
  • refers to many books and myths and persons and events not part of the main story.
Pomponius Mela (c.43) = c

He wrote a geography which includes the region.

Cornutus (c.60) = sc

Lucius Annaeus Cornutus wrote a variety of works in Rome - satires, philosophy, mythology. Some survive.

Hero of Alexandria (c.10 - c.70) = ClB

Hero(n) of Alexandria wrote many technical works, including astronomy in mid 1st C.

Quintus Curtus Rufus (mid 1st C.) = CB

Roman Rufus wrote a large history of Alexander, most still extant.

Scribonius Largus (mid 1st C.) = Cb

Wrote on medicine in Rome, much survives.

Rufus of Ephesus (mid 1st C.) = CLB

He wrote many works, mostly on medicine, much survives.

Cleopatra the Physician (mid 1st C.) = Cl

Some of her work survives.

Asconius Pedianus (mid 1st C.) = C

A Roman who wrote a variety of books, some survives.

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Dec 2011
Late 1st C. (67 - 99)

Late 1st C. (67 - 99)

Plutarch (c. 46 CE - 120 CE) = ScB

Plutarch of Chaeronea wrote many works on history and philosophy in Rome and Boetia in about 90-120.

  • Plutarch wrote about influential Roman figures, including some contemporary to Jesus,
  • Plutarch wrote on oracles (prophesies),
  • Plutarch wrote on moral, spiritual and religious issues.
Justus of Tiberias (late 1st C.) = ScL

Justus of Tiberias wrote a History of Jewish Leaders in Galilee in late 1st century. Photius read Justus in the 8th century and noted that he did not mention anything: "He (Justus of Tiberias) makes not one mention of Jesus, of what happened to him, or of the wonderful works that he did."

Juvenal (late 1st C. - early 2nd C.) = scb

Decimus Junius Juvenalis wrote sixteen satires in Rome in early 2nd century without mentioning Jesus or Christians, even though later Roman satirists like Lucian did ridicule Christians (as gullible, easily lead fools) in mid 2nd century.

Pliny the Younger (61 - c.113) = sclB

Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus was a prolific Roman author on many subjects.

Damis (mid 1st C. - early 2nd C.) = Sclb

Damis apparently wrote most of what we know about Apollonius of Tyana who was a philosopher and mystic exactly contemporary with Jesus, and who was rather similar to Jesus - enough for some authors to argue they were one and the same person. If Damis / Apollonius had known of Jesus, he could have easily have been mentioned as a competitor.

Martial (40 - c.103) = scB

Marcus Valerius Martialus wrote satires in Rome in late 1st century - a large body of poems about all sorts of things. He mentions many people, places, stories and issues - major and minor, within and without Rome, such as :

  • Stoic suffering of discomfort and death,
  • virgin's blood,
  • Roman funerary practices,
  • the way accused men look in court,
  • Roman soldiers mocking their leaders,
  • anointing the body with oil,
  • Molorchus the good shepherd,
  • Tutilius a minor rhetorician, Nestor the wise,
  • the (ugly) Temple of Jupiter,
Quintilian (c.35 - c.100) = scb

Marcus Fabius Quintilianus, wrote the Education of an Orator in Rome in late 1st century. One of the things Jesus was allegedly noted for was his public speeches - e.g. the Sermon on the Mount, which supposedly drew and influenced large crowds.

Josephus (c.75) = scLb

Josephus wrote a large work The Jewish War about the war with the Romans.

Erotianus (1st C.) = c

A Greek grammarian and/or physician, some of his work survives.

Aristocles (1st C.) = sc

Aristocles of Messene wrote On Philosophy, late 1st century. Not THE Aristocles :)

Musonius Rufus (1st C.) = sc

C. Musonius Rufus' views on Stoic philosophy in Rome were collected in mid 1st century, some survive.

Nicomachus of Gerasa (1st C.) = clb

He wrote several books, mostly mathematics, much survives.

Soranus of Ephesus (1st C.) = cl

Soranus was a physician, some of his work survives.

Pedanius Dioscorides (mid 1st C.) = clb

Wrote a large book on herbs and medicine in Turkey, still extant.

Nicarchus (1st C.) = cl

Nicarchus wrote poems in Alexandria, 1st C.

Gaius Valerius Flaccus (late 1st C.) = c

A poet in Rome c.90, some of his work remains.

Silius Italicus (1st C.) = cB

A Roman who wrote a large epic poem about the Punic Wars which survives.

Aretaeus of Cappadocia (1st C.) = cl

Aretaeus was a first century physician and author. Some of his work survives.

Statius the Younger (c.45 - c.96) = cB

Publius Papinius Statius wrote numerous minor and epic poems (e.g. Ode to Sleep and the Thebaid).

Sextus Julius Frontinus (late 1st C.) = c

Senator Frontinus wrote various books in Rome, a few survive.

Phaedrus (1st C.) = scb

Phaedrus wrote fables mid 1st century, and many survive.

Aelius Theon (1st C.) = sclb

Aelius Theon was an Alexandrian sophist and author of a collection of preliminary exercises (progymnasmata) for the training of orators.

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Dec 2011
Early 2nd C. (100 - 133)

Early 2nd C. (100 - 133)

Dio Chrysostom (c.40 - c.120) = cB

Dio Chrysostom (aka Cocceianus Dio, or Dion Prusa) wrote many works and gave many speeches in various Roman and Greek centres in late 1st century to early 2nd century, of which 80 survive e.g. the Euboicus.

Epictetus (55 - 135) = ScB

Epictetus is known for several books of Stoic religious and philosophic discourses in the early 2nd century. One of his disciples was Arrian, and thanks to him much of Epictetus' works are extant. Epictetus DID apparently mention "the Galileans", which could be a reference to the early Christians, or the revolt under Judas the Galilean in early 1st century.

Philippus of Thessalonica (early 2nd C.) = b

He wrote a large number of Roman epigrams.

Aspasius (early 2nd C.) = sb

Aspasius wrote on philosophy. Some of his work survives.

Demonax (early 2nd C.) = B

A poet of Athens, much of his work survives.

Suetonius (69 - 140) = cB

Suetonius wrote about first century Romans, much survives. His reference to 'Chrestus' does not seem to mean Jesus Christ.

Marcus Antonius Polemon (early 2nd C.) = slb

He wrote on philosophy in Phrygia, some survives.

Arrian (c.86 - 160) = B

Arrian wrote a History of Alexander in Athens c.120.

Florus (1st C. - 2nd C.) = sB

Lucius Annaeus Florus wrote an Epitome of Roman History.

Marcellus Sidetes (2nd C.) = lB

He wrote a large medical poem in Pamphylia, some survives.

Theon Smyrna (c.100) = slb

Theon of Smyrna wrote on astronomy/philosophy in early 2nd century.

Menelaus of Alexandria (early 2nd C.) = l

Wrote on geography and maths, a little survives.

Ptolemy (early 2nd C.) = slB

Claudius Ptolemaeus wrote many works in Alexandria, and much survives.

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Dec 2011
Mid 2nd C. (134 - 166)

Mid 2nd C. (134 - 166)

Mathetes c.140 = SbX

Mathetes, a Christian author, wrote a book To Diognetus which has plenty to say about the Word, the Son of God, but no mention they had anything to do with a Jesus Christ, who is never even mentioned.

Minucius Felix c.150 = SBX

Minucius Felix wrote a book Octavius which defends Christian beliefs, but does not mention Jesus even once.

Tatian c.160 = SBX

Just before his mentor Justin Martyr died in c.163, Tatian wrote an Address to the Greeks which describes Christian beliefs in terms of the Logos, the first-born Son of God - without any mention of Jesus.

Athenagoras c.170 = SBX

Athenagoras wrote a Plea For the Christians, which says much about the Logos, the Son of God, but nothing of Jesus Christ. Athenagoras even wrote a lengthy work On the Resurrection in which he discusses Christian beliefs about resurrection - without ever once mentioning Jesus Christ or his resurrection.

Pausanias (mid 2nd C.) = B

Pausanias wrote the massive Guide to Greece in mid 2nd century. Pausanias' work is vast and the index covers over 70 pages of small print, I estimate a couple of thousand names are mentioned - a large number of minor figures from within and without Greece. He even mentions a Jewish prophetess - a figure so minor she is essentially unknown : "Then later than Demo there was a prophetic woman reared among the Jews beyond Palestine; her name was Sabbe." Phokis, Book X, 12, [5] Pausanias also mentions the Jewish rebellion under Hadrian.

Fronto (c.100 - 170) = s

Marcus Cornelius Fronto of Rome wrote several letters in mid 2nd century. According to Minucius Felix, he scandalised rites practiced by Roman Christians - so he could easily have mentioned Jesus.

Aelius Aristides (117 - 181) = sB

Aelius Aristides (not the Christian Aristides of Athens) the mid 2nd century Greek Orator spoke and wrote a History of Rome and other subjects - he seems to refer to the Christians as "impious men from Palestine" (Orations 46.2)

Hierocles (2nd C.) = sl

Hierocles of Alexandria wrote on Stoic philosophy in 2nd century.

Appian (c.95 - c.165) = B

Appian wrote a large Roman History (from the Gracchi to Caesar) in mid 2nd century.

Albinus (c.150) = sl

Albinus taught on (neo-)Platonism in mid 2nd century at Smyrna, a little survives.

Apollodorus (mid 2nd C.) = lB

(Pseudo) Apollodorus compiled a large Mythology in mid 2nd century, he died in Pergamon

Hephaestion (2nd C.) = lb

Hephaestion of Alexandria wrote several surviving works on poetry in mid 2nd century.

Maximus of Tyre (2nd C.) = sLB

Massius Maximus Tyrius, a Greek NeoPlatonic philosopher, wrote many works in mid 2nd century.

Lucius Apuleius (c.125 - c.180) = B

Lucius Apuleius wrote the Metamorphoses in mid-late 2nd C. (the Golden Ass or Transformations of Lucius) and other spiritual, historical, and philosophic works - several survive.

Aulus Gellius (c.125 - c.180) = B

Aulus Gellius wrote Attic Nights (Nights in Athens) in mid-late 2nd C., a large compendium of many topics and which mentioned many people.

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Dec 2011
Late 2nd C. (167 - 199); & Lost Works Which Apparently Did Not Mention Jesus

Late 2nd C. (167 - 199)

Marcus Aurelius (c.112 - 180) = sB

Marcus Aelius Aurelius Antoninus wrote the Stoic Meditations c.167 - he (apparently) refers once to the Christians in XI, 3 -
' What a soul that is which is ready, if at any moment it must be separated from the body, and ready either to be extinguished or dispersed or continue to exist; but so that this readiness comes from a man's own judgement, not from mere obstinacy, as with the Christians, but considerately and with dignity and in a way to persuade another, without tragic show. '
Sextus Empiricus (c.160 - 210) = b

Sextus Empiricus wrote Outlines of Scepticism in late 2nd century.

Lost Works Which Apparently Did Not Mention Jesus

Atilicinus (1st C.)

A Roman jurist.

Statius the Elder ( - c.83)

Publius Papirius Statius wrote several works.

Menodotus of Nicomedia (early 2nd C.)

A writer mentioned by Galen.

Favorinus (early 2nd C.)

Favorinus wrote many works, only fragments survive.

Pompeius Saturninus (early 2nd C.)

A historian and a poet.

Archigenes (1st - 2nd C.)

A physician who wrote influential works, e.g. on the pulse.

Criton of Heraclea (early 2nd C.)

Wrote several books but nothing survives.

Titus Aristo (early 2nd C.)

A writer mentioned by Pliny, his works are lost.

Onasandros (1st C.)

A philosopher, little of his work survives.

Moderatus of Gades (1st C.)

Wrote about Pythagoras, little survives.

Aelius Cornelius Celsus (1st C.)

He wrote many works in Rome.

Sulpicia (late 1st C.)

Wrote love poems, almost all lost.

Damocrates (1st C.)

Servilius Damocrates wrote several books.

Alexander of Aegae (1st C.)

Alexander was a philosopher in Rome during the 1st C.

Verginius Flavus (mid 1st C.)

A Roman writer, nothing survives.

Ammonius of Athens (1st C.)

The mentor of Plutarch, who said he wrote about religion and sacred rites.

Gnaeus Domitius Afer (mid 1st C.)

Afer wrote in the 1st century - little survives.

Pamphila (c.60)

Pamphila of Epidaurus write a 33 volume Historical Notes up to her time of c.60.

Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Gaetulicus (early 1st C.)

He wrote poems, little survives.

Pomponius Secundus (1st C.)

He wrote many tragedies, very little survives.

Chaeremon of Alexandria (mid 1st C.)

He wrote several works, little survives.

Saleius Bassus (late 1st C.)

Bassus was a poet.

Bassus ( - c.60)

Aufidius Bassus wrote a history up to at least the year 31.

Julia Agrippina (c.59)

Julia Agrippina wrote her memoirs, which does not survive.

Cluvius Rufus (mid 1st C.)

Cluvius Rufus wrote a detailed history from the year 37 until 69.

Nonianus (2 BCE - 59 CE)

Marcus Servilius Nonianus wrote a history of the 1st century up to at least the year 41.

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Ad Honorem
Feb 2009
Eastern PA
Interesting. Your posts inspired a little reasearch on my part and I came across a review of Paulkovich's work in the following article in the Daily Beast:

Long story short: of the 126 people listed by Paulkovich, there are only 10 or so whom we might expect to have written about Jesus. And it’s probably worth mentioning that there are, of course, writers from the first centuries CE who refer to Jesus, and even write quite extensively about him. But since those authors all got bundled into a collection called the New Testament, we should probably just dismiss them from the discussion.

So-Called ?Biblical Scholar? Says Jesus A Made-Up Myth - The Daily Beast
It is obvious that the author of the article is a Christian and a Jesus defender, but the article also makes a number of valid points.

From my position as an atheist, neither the pro nor con arguments on the subject possess compelling evidence or proof either way.

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
Gday all :)

Well, that's my complete essay.
Feel free to comment at will.

There would have been little need or interest for most of the writers to comment on Christians. Being drawn mostly from the poor, slaves, and women, most Christians would simply be below the radae and notice of the pagan writers.  We are in the dark about many of the mystery religions, and when all is said and done, Christianity is merely the most successful of the 1st century Mystery religion cults that flourished in the 1st and 2nd century.

The early Christians were a rather pacifistic group ("turn the other cheek") and Paul and their leaders repeatedly preached to them to obey local rulers, so they were a group to go out of their way to cause trouble. Only when their actions caused problems, as in Pliny's case, did they attract attention and notice.

Galen also mentioned them, along with the Jews, oncd or twice, to criticize their appproach - they didn't reason they said and did things because god said so.

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