Yet, traditions about Jesus appear in many sources outside the Holy Bible. The ancient non-Biblical sources have been valuable because they offer information about Jesus from a non-Biblical perspective. In many instances, these non-Biblical sources confirm or explain the Biblical story as well as the existence of Jesus. Four ancient sources discuss or reference the earthly Jesus: Josephus, Roman historians and other writers, Rabbinic writings, and the Qur’an.
The non-Biblical sources can be divided into two groups: pagan and Jewish. Both groups are limited in their value. There are essentially three pagan sources of importance: Pliny (Epistles x.96), Tacitus (Annals xv.44), and Suetonius (Lives xxv.4). All of these sources date from the second decade of the second century. The main Jewish sources are Josephus (Antiquities) and the Talmud. These non-Biblical sources provide little information about Jesus, but they all establish the fact that He truly lived, that He gathered disciples, performed healings, and that He was condemned to death by Pontius Pilate.
Other Biblical sources outside the four Gospels also provide essential knowledge of Jesus’ life. The information from the Books of Acts through Revelation is essentially as follows: Jesus was born a Jew (Galatians 4:4) and was a descendent of David (Romans 1:3). Jesus was gentle (2 Corinthians 10:1); righteous (1 Peter 3:18); sinless (2 Corinthians 5:21); humble (Philippians 2:6); and tempted (Hebrews 2:18; Hebrews 4:15). In addition, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23–26), was transfigured (2 Peter 1:17–18), was betrayed (1 Corinthians 11:23), was crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23), rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3–8), and ascended to heaven (Ephesians 4:8).
The major source of information of Jesus is the four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Although all four Gospels present the life and teaching of Jesus, each Gospel concentrates on unique features of His life and character. Matthew, Mark, and Luke—the “Synoptic” Gospels—tell the story of Jesus and His public ministry in Galilee. John is separate from the other Gospels. Over 85% of John’s Gospel is unique to Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
Yes, Jesus is real!
Green, Joel. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Intervarsity Press, 1992.
Draper, Charles. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Holman Reference, 2003.
Life Application Study Bible. Tyndale House Publishers, 2005.
NIV Study Bible. Zondervan, 2008.
NLT Study Bible. Tyndale House Publishers, 2008.
Meek, James A. One Great Story: Study Guide to the Bible, 2007.