Early Secular Commentators on Jesus
Here are the secular sources for the existence of Christ:
1. Josephus (yes the Testimonium Flavianum was interpolated by Christians, nevertheless, an Arabic version was found without the Christian additions. Scholars had speculated at one time how the Testimonium would read if Christians hadn't inserted fictional words. When the Arabic version was discovered without apparent interpolations, it agreed almost entirely with the predictions advanced by the scholars. Also, the mention of Jesus in Antiquities 20.9.1 is almost universally accepted as genuine).
2. Mara bar Serapion (c. A.D. 73) asks his son "For what advantage did...the Jews [gain] by the death of their wise king...?"
3. Tacitus [c. A.D. 110] explains that the word "Christian" is a derivation from Christus "who was sentened to death by the governor, Pontius Pilate, during the reign of Tiberius.
4. Pliny the Younger, in a letter to Trajan [A.D. 110], asserts that Christians assemble to sing a "hymn antiphonally to Christ as God" and to "partake of a meal".
5. Suetonius [A.D. 120] claims that "Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome who, instigated by Chrestus, never ceased to cause unrest." According to the "Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels" from which I am quoting liberally, "Apparently Suetonius has confused "Chrestus", a name commonly held by slaves, with "Christus," a title with which he was probably not familiar.
6. Celsus (an early atheist who obviously rejected the divinity of Christ), believed that Jesus was the illegitimate son of a Roman soldier and that he performed miracles through the power of magic.
7. Julius Africanus wrote that the first century Samaritan chronicler Thallus suggested that the darkness at the time of the crucifixion was caused by an eclipse of the sun.
8. There are various allusions to Jesus in the Talmud, though many experts believe that most of the references were written by those acquainted with the New Testament. Possible Jewish sources describing Jesus and contemporary with the life of Christ are speculated to have been lost during the destruction of Jerusalem and its archives in A.D. 70.
9. The Qur'an presents Jesus as a prophet, though this also is probably dependent on the New Testament.
Of course, there are also numerous early Christian references to Jesus such as those relating to the letters of Paul, the Book of Acts, the epistles of Peter, James, and John. We also have the writings of the early Apostolic fathers--Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp. Who could also forget the Didache, the Epistle of Barnabas, or the Shepherd of Hermas? Some of you may also recall that an early Christian writer challenged an atheist of his day to consult the official Roman records containing the account of the crucifixion. Unfortunately for me, I don't remember which ancient Christian historian wrote this. Can anyone offer me a little help on that one? I know the info is here somewhere in all my books!