Would Tacitus have investigated the Judean records to determine whether there was such a crucifixion, or would he have simply related the *beliefs* of the Christians? Given the difficulties of travel during the time, I find it much more likely that he would have related the beliefs of the Christians, just like he did for other cults he mentioned.<quoted text>
The Romans didn't recognize the word Chrestus as a title, which is exactly what the Hebrew translation is. In Hebrew, it's "Messiah."
The Roman historian Tacitus simply made a mistake in the word usage. I covered this in the last post. Tacitus didn't "gush" about him either. In fact, Tacitus is dismissive of the claims surrounding Jesus. He refers to the resurrection as "superstitious" just like you do. In fact, he can't even bring himself to say "resurrection." Tacitus doesn't claim that Jesus didn't exist. Tacitus clearly says that Jesus was crucified. Tacitus uses the words "extreme penalty." Crucifixion was the most extreme penalty in use by the Romans. It was so hideous that civilized Romans (like Tacitus) referred to it as the "extreme penalty."
Seutonius is also a very good source. I assume you are limiting this claim to *early* imperial Rome, as Tacitus didn't get to write about the Antonines.Next, I don't know where you get the idea that Romans would have executed Tacitus for writing about Jesus, but they wouldn't have. Tacitus was known for historical accuracy. Pliny the Younger was actually upset with Tacitus at one point for not adding political spin that would have been beneficial to Pliny. Tacitus was considered to be very thorough, and very honest. Tacitus reported historical facts accurately and honestly. Did you know that the majority of what we know about historical Imperial Rome comes from a single source? Do you know that source is Tacitus?
You are correct that the ROman authorities would not have punished Tacitus or Josephus for saying these things. But you also have to admit that both Tacitus and Josephus were writing for a primarily Roman audience.Josephus never did believe that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah, so you're correct about that. The original Josephus passage was tampered with, but not for purposes of deception. A scribe was correcting what he considered to be an incomplete historical account. That's what happens on Wikipedia, and is why Wikipedia isn't the best source for factual information. By modern academic standards that's a major error in historical integrity. Such a change wouldn't happen today without extensive consultation and peer review, but, back then, it was common practice. The Josephus passage, when stripped of the obvious interpolation, still indicates that a person named Jesus lived, that he was considered wise, that he was handed over to the Romans by Jewish authorities, and that he was crucified. The Romans would have never punished Josephus for saying this. The Romans allowed cultures in conquered territories to retain their histories and religious customs. It wasn't like the USSR of the 1950s where everything was censored.
And let's suppose that Jesus did exist and was crucified as a rabble rouser. Would that substantiate the other stories about him? How long does a legend take to go from 'wise man' to 'miracle worker' to 'deity'. About 300 years in a superstitious culture?