The primary source documentation for whatever Jesus did are the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Are there still any non-religious sources for the works/Miracles performed by Jesus. Can we find anywhere historical records of all those miracles in four Gospels?

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    The presumption made in this question is a common one than has started many a misguided goose chase. Of course there is nothing wrong cross checking sources, but automatically ruling out available evidence on the grounds that the source affirms a claim is an unfortunate short-sightedness on the part of modern skepticism. What exactly would a "non religious" source be in an age where 'secular' wasn't a concept. The main thing to do is examine the reliability of the extant sources BEFORE writing them off as 'religious'. – Caleb Dec 17 '13 at 8:41
  • Miracles are believed on because of faith, not because of historicity. There can not be "historical" evidence of something which is not accepted scientific fact, otherwise we might as well as "Are there any historical records that the Pharaos were gods?" – Sklivvz Dec 17 '13 at 9:40
  • @Sklivvz Migrate to History.SE? – user5582 Dec 17 '13 at 10:03
  • This is a trick-question, because if a source describes a miracle performed by Jesus, you wouldn't consider it non-religious, would you? – JacquesB Jul 24 '15 at 6:22

It is logical that once you have enough evidence for Jesus’ historical presence on earth, the next question that comes to mind is whether He really did all those miracles which are mentioned in Gospels.

For one thing, we have four independent sources of significant length (apart from scores of other non canonical texts), which is pretty good as far as ancient accounts for a single person goes. They were written by four different writers with a clear and distinct style. But the problem seems to be that they were collected and compiled under one cover as religious texts.

There is a fundamental misunderstanding in this demand for independent material. Bible itself actually is merely a collection of independent sources. There is a tendency to look at the Bible as a single work because it is now under one cover.

For the sake of argument, let’s say the Gospels were intended religious texts because they contain narration of miracles and Jesus’ teachings about God. This means then that there doesn’t exist by definition any non-religious accounts for Jesus’ life and miracles. If any account features what He taught and what He did, it pretty much counts as a religious text. If there were a “non-religious” work with as much detail as the four evangelists include, it would be considered a religious text.

Secondly, the very fact that miracles are hard to believe by non religious people, so is their narration in any historical records. These may not satisfy the physicist or the psychologist; for the matter of that, it may not satisfy the theologian either like in case of Jews of Jesus’ time. So the historical method has its limitations, just as the scientific method in general has, when it is confronted with a phenomenon which is by its very nature unique. Attempts are made to rationalize or explain away such phenomenon and this was attempted soon after resurrection, as we find in Matt. 28:13.

Ehrman, Bart D.. Jesus, Interrupted, HarperCollins, 2009.ISBN 0-06-117393-2 page 175 writes:

"We would call a miracle an event that violates the way nature always, or almost always, works ... By now I hope you can see the unavoidable problem historians have with miracles. Historians can establish only what probably happened in the past, but miracles, by their very nature, are always the least probable explanation for what happened"--

Having said that, there are some non Christian sources pointing to the existence of Jesus and then to what He did too.

A. The Testimonium Flavianum

Some reject the strong scholarly consensus that Josephus' references to Jesus are genuine, although embellished. However, many agree with that scholarly consensus represented by such diverse and respected scholars as Dominic Crossan, John P. Meier, and N.T. Wright that the first and fullest reference to Jesus by Josephus is partially authentic, with detectable signs of tampering that can be disregarded. Josephus provides valuable, independent confirmation of the existence, life, and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. The following is the relevant part of the reconstructed version of the Testimonium Flavianum accepted by a majority of N.T. scholars:

"At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man. For he was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of people who receive the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following among many Jews and among many of Gentile origin."

B. The Babylonian Talmud

Another Jewish source for Jesus' miracle working can be found in the Babylonian Talmud:

It has been taught: On the eve of Passover they hanged Yeshu. And an announcer went out, in front of him, for forty days (saying): 'He is going to be stoned, because he practiced sorcery and enticed and led Israel astray. Anyone who knows anything in his favor, let him come and plead in his behalf.' But, not having found anything in his favor, they hanged him on the eve of Passover.--Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 43a.

What matters is also the estimated date of their writing.

To quote from "The Miracles of Jesus: A Historical Inquiry, by Christopher Price":

The miracle stories of Jesus originated very early, contained reports not likely to have been created by early Christians, and cohere well with the rest of what we know about Jesus and his ministry. The best explanation for this evidence is that Jesus was known during his life as a miracle worker. The uniqueness of such miracle working adds significant weight to this conclusion and leads us to the further conclusion that the feats of Jesus must have been impressive. Though, as Carrier points out, Jesus lived in a time of superstition and religiosity, his miracles are uniquely attested. No other person of that time period has anything close to the attestation Jesus receives as a miracle worker. Accordingly, even if your philosophical predispositions preclude you from believing that Jesus actually performed miracles that violated the laws of nature, it should be admitted that he performed feats that convinced his contemporaries that he did such deeds.

Then there are some tangential references to the persona of Jesus. What is relevant here is these books are that they are outside bible and written between first and second century with a reference to Jesus’ life. One example is this writer called Mara Bar Serapion. We have no idea what qualifications the writer of this letter held but he wrote:

"What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King? It was just after that their Kingdom was abolished. "--Mara Bar Serapion

For more information on this topic see these links here and here and here and here

Another reference found in the book Ascension of Isaiah is one of the Pseudepigraphaan.

For more information on this topic see these links here and here and here and here

Then there are several Gnostic writings and gospels which invariably portray Jesus as Miracle performer. Whoever wrote these texts; the writers were consistent to write about the most common theme found in the Gospels about Jesus: that He was a performer of great miracles, yet they chose to differ with Gospels, on other traits about the persona of Jesus.

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    Please provide a reference for "For one thing, we have four independent sources of significant length". To claim that these are independent sources is a strong claim, which requires a reference. – user5582 Dec 17 '13 at 8:27
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    Please provide a reference for "If there were a “non-religious” work with as much detail as the four evangelists include, it would be considered a religious text. Without a reference, this is speculation. What evidence do you have that a work with as much detail would have been considered a religious text? – user5582 Dec 17 '13 at 8:30
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    They are by no means personal opinions but purely logical conclusions. But some of the references sought by you are clearly illogical. – user426 Dec 17 '13 at 8:41
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    @Articuno Factual claims call for references. Logical ones, especially when called out as such, are not always validated the same way. Calling for references just because you disagree doesn't invalidate all statements. I agree this could use some sourcing but there are some deductions that are valid to state without a source on the basis of logic. – Caleb Dec 17 '13 at 8:48
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    The four gospels are not independent sources and are not good historical sources. Please see Wikipedia on it. Please limit your answers to objective, factual arguments. – Sklivvz Dec 17 '13 at 9:33

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