In recent times, it has come to my understanding, that the New Testament was written in its entirety only after Jesus Christ has died.

I ask for in the search of documents which date to Jesus' lifetime(or closely after) and which give us account from people who have seen the Lord with their own eyes.

  • Short answer: no. Do we need them? No. – curiousdannii Jun 18 '18 at 7:23
  • Matthew and John both 'saw the Lord with their own eyes'. Matthew's account appears to have been written not long after Jesus' ascension, maybe around 40 A.D. John's is probably later, possibly published later in his very long life - around 70-90 A.D. – Nigel J Jun 18 '18 at 16:03
  • You have added a very specific requirement "written during his lifetime". If you had asked about accounts written by people who were eyewitnesses then you would get a different answer. – DJClayworth Jun 18 '18 at 16:19
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  • The apostle Paul writes in one of his letters that he got his information directly from the other apostles who were living together with Jesus before the crucifixion. It is at least possible that he saw Jesus himself with his own eyes during that time. – Martin Rosenau Dec 9 '18 at 20:14

Are there eyewitness accounts of Jesus Christ written during his lifetime?

The short answer is no.

The entire New Testament was written well after the crucifixion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Even the first-century Romano-Jewish scholar, historian and hagiographer Titus Flavius Josephus, commonly known as Josephus references Jesus in the year 93 A.D. Again, this is well after Jesus died.

About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared. - Jewish Antiquities, 18.3.3 §63

  • Does our knowledge of historical events offer us hints on what to attribute this lack of material to? – Jon Riel Jun 18 '18 at 15:28
  • @JonRiel Absolutely. Jesus was not a politician, author, poet, philosopher, or military hero. He lived in a poor, out-of-the-way client kingdom (subsequently province) of the Roman Empire. Even there, he was deliberately ignored and executed by those in power. What possible reason would anyone have to write about him? – Matt Gutting Jun 18 '18 at 18:00
  • The quote from Josephus has been criticized well-deserved as a later Christian interpolation. Besides, Josephus believed that the Caesars (Vespasian in particular) was Messiah (see Baalam Prophecy). – SLM Jun 19 '18 at 18:59
  • To follow up on my comment about Josephus who did not believe Jesus was Messiah, here is Origen who says same. "Josephus bears witness to John as having been a Baptist, and as promising purification to those who underwent the rite. Now this writer, although not believing in Jesus as the Christ,..." Origen Against Celsus XLVII OTOH, as my longer answer notes, Josephus is a very early writer within about 65 years who did know that Jesus walked the earth and had brothers like James the Just. – SLM Jun 28 '18 at 16:42
  • @SLM Not the whole thing. It is understood that Josephus still reliably attests to Jesus' historicity as well as his crucifixion, removing the interpolated parts of "he was the Christ" and "if one ought to call him a man" and changing the "he appeared to them" either removing it or making it "they reported that he appeared to them." This is based on an undoctored Arabic text found in medieval times. See Josephus on Jesus. – Alex Strasser Dec 8 '18 at 19:39

How closely after Christ's ascension in 30 CE would count? What about before Christ's birth and death and resurrection and ascension?

There are of course many prophecies about Messiah in the Old Testament (OT) and as many commentators about those prophecies. The OT was written 400 plus years before Christ. For example, it speaks to where and how He would be born. It provides a precise date line. It tells us facts about Messiah's death, burial, and resurrection. It should thus be no surprise that what we have today is of a particularly necessary consequence to those fulfilled prophecies that were met in Christ Jesus. Indeed we have numerous accounts from Christians within 150 years of His ascension. There's Polycarp, Papias, Melito, Justin Martyr, the Didache, Clement of Rome, and others. Not to mention of course the New Testament.

Here for example is a snippet from Tertullian circa CE 200 who will say this about that. He admits our writings date back no further than to Tiberius who died in the Spring of 37. The apostles went forth via voice and only later wrote down the Truth. Others then did the same.

But having asserted that our [Christian] religion is supported by the writings of the Jews, the oldest which exist, though it is generally known, and we fully admit that it dates from a comparatively recent period—no further back indeed than the reign of Tiberius—a question may perhaps be raised on this ground about its standing, as if it were hiding something of its presumption under shadow of an illustrious religion, one which has at any rate undoubted allowance of the law, or because, apart from the question of age, we neither accord with the Jews in their peculiarities in regard to food, nor in their sacred days, nor even in their well-known bodily sign, nor in the possession of a common name, which surely behoved to be the case if we did homage to the same God as they. Then, too, the common people have now some knowledge of Christ, and think of Him as but a man, one indeed such as the Jews condemned, so that some may naturally enough have taken up the idea that we are worshippers of a mere human being. But we are neither ashamed of Christ—for we rejoice to be counted His disciples, and in His name to suffer—nor do we differ from the Jews concerning God. We must make, therefore, a remark or two as to Christ’s divinity. -source-

But what of non-Christian sources? What about those who don't particularly care about the truth of who Christ is, but rather, report the truth that Christ existed? We have three very early, non-biased sources who tell us that Christ existed. Josephus wrote about 95. Tacitus wrote about 115. Pliny the Younger wrote also about these times. They all know of Christ and Christians. More importantly their history aligns to the gospel accounts. Again, they don't believe the truth, but they report the fact there is a truth.


The more important quote from Josephus is really this where he allows the title of Jesus Christ, while not informing that is his belief, which it wasn't. Some don't like this passage because it implies Mary and Joseph consummated their marriage with James as one of the offspring. In other words, to agree with this earliest non Christian account is to admit something about Mary and Joseph. 'Course this too aligns to the gospel accounts about Jesus' brothers.

Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother [James] of Jesus, who was called Christ, Antiquities, 20.9.1


Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. -source-


He writes to the Emperor Trajan about 112 CE regarding Christ and Christians.

They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. -source-

So no, these accounts were not written in the years CE 25-35. But they were written within one generation thereto. I could again mention Polycarp who wrote about 150 and who was taught directly by John the Apostle son of Zebedee who was taught by Jesus Christ, but some may think Polycarp biased in his letter. The three Josephus, Tacitus, and Pliny the Younger, however, have no dog in the hunt to prove or disprove the truth that a man some deemed the prophesied Messiah walked the earth. They simply tell us that Christ Jesus did exist and did have followers. To believe the truth is up to you.

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