Suetonius

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Suetonius was a Roman historian who write about Judaism and Christianity. Apologists claim that he mentioned Jesus by name, [1] although this is doubtful.

"As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he [Claudius] expelled them from Rome"

Elsewhere in the same work (The Lives of the Caesars) Suetonius states

"During his reign many abuses were severely punished and put down, and no fewer new laws were made: a limit was set to expenditures; the public banquets were confined to a distribution of food; the sale of any kind of cooked viands in the taverns was forbidden, with the exception of pulse and vegetables, whereas before every sort of dainty was exposed for sale. Punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition. He put an end to the diversions of the chariot drivers, who from immunity of long standing claimed the right of ranging at large and amusing themselves by cheating and robbing the people. The pantomimic actors and their partisans were banished from the city.""

Not only does Suetonius demonstrate that he knew the difference between Jews and Christians but that their punishment (which is not expressly stated) was part of a general housecleaning of Rome

Suetonius wrote in the year 115 CE, so this is far from a contemporary account. He doesn't cite or list sources and Christianity would have been decently established by this time.

The name in the text is not "Christus" but "Chrestus," which by no means is the usual designation of Jesus. It was a common name, especially among Roman freedman. (Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares, book 2, letter 8, section 1; "What! Do you suppose that I meant you to send me an account of gladiatorial matches, of postponements of trials, of robberies by Chrestus, and such things as, when I am at Rome, nobody ventures to retail to me?") Hence, the whole passage may have nothing whatever to do with Christianity.

References

  1. "Historical Jesus" DOXA
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