Quadratus on Witnesses to Jesus

Johannes Quasten, Patrology, vol. I: The Beginnings of Patristic Literature, from the Apostle’s Creed to Irenaeus (Westminster: Christian Classics, 1983) 191.

Quasten discusses Quadratus, the oldest apologist for Christianity, whom Eusebius (third-fourth centuries C.E.) discusses in his Ecclesiastical History.

Eusebius says in EH 4:3:1-2 that Quadratus addressed his apology to Hadrian, who ruled from 117 to 138. Quasten offers 123-124 and 129 as possible dates that Quadratus made his defense. Eusebius quotes Quadratus as follows:

But the works of our Savior were always present, for they were true: those that were healed, and those that rose from the dead who were seen not only when they were healed and when they were raised but were constantly present; and not only while the Savior was living, but even after he had gone they were alive for a long time, so that some of them survived even to our own time.

A while back, Josh McManaway wrote a post about Quadratus, Quadratus and Jesus’ miracles. He said that it’s debated whether the survivors “even to our own time” are people who survived up to the time that Quadratus wrote his letter, or just up to the early years of Quadratus’ life. But Josh speculated that Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:21ff.; Luke 8:41ff.) may have been really young when Jesus raised her from the dead, meaning she could have lived to the time of Quadratus.

I found this quote by Quadratus interesting for two reasons. First, it reminds me of Paul’s statement in I Corinthians 15:6 that there were witnesses to the risen Jesus who were still alive while he was writing his letter. Conservative Christians view this as a piece of evidence for Christ’s resurrection, whereas detractors disagree.

Second, it makes me think of Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason. Paine mocked Matthew 27:52-53’s statement that people rose from the dead during Jesus’ crucifixion. Paine said that, if this really happened, it would have left a significant mark on history, which isn’t the case. Some conservative Christians don’t see a problem here, however, for they think these resurrected people went to heaven with Jesus after they had risen from the dead and appeared to many, so society didn’t have to deal with the practical problems of dead people coming back to life (e.g., deeds, inheritance issues, etc.).

But Quadratus says that Jesus’ miracles did leave a mark on history: there were witnesses to them who’d been alive for many years. Some may consider this to be evidence for Jesus’ miracles. Others may wonder why we only see such “evidence” in Christian sources, and not in non-Christian ones. (It depends on how much of Josephus’ reference to Christ has Christian emendations!) “But would Christians make that up?,” apologists will then ask. Debates, debates!

Personally, I’ve not read all of the non-Christian references to Jesus in the first two centuries C.E., so I don’t know if they mention Jesus performing miracles. But I may do so in the future.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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4 Responses to Quadratus on Witnesses to Jesus

  1. pelagian7 says:

    There are no none Christian references to Jesus. Even Josephus’ paragraph is obviously inserted. It ruins the rythm and is nothing like the rest of his writings. Most of the writings of the early church were destroyed too, after doctrine was set and many fathers had views that didn’t match the new doctrine.

    And until you were saved, you were dead to the Jews. (Inasmuch as you had no after-life, which was the important chapter to them) In the Jewish literature many were said to be raised from the dead by the logos, simply meaning they were saved from eternal death. Therefore Irenaeus would say that today Jesus is still saving, leaving his mark.


  2. That would be an interesting study – non-Christian references to Jesus’ miracles.


  3. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Yeah, you can do searches on that to see what’s out there. Africanus mentions someone who, according to him, talks about the cataclysmic events that occurred during Jesus’ crucifixion, but that’s a Christian source citing a non-Christian source.


  4. jamesbradfordpate says:

    I think I searched under “non-Christian references to Jesus.”


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