TACITUS*, CORNELIUS Roman historian (c. AD 55–120).
Little is known of Tacitus personally, but his writings present an invaluable picture of Roman life during the first century AD. These works are Dialogus de Oratoribus (c. 77); The Life of Agricola, his father-in-law (c. 98); Germania (c. 98); Histories (c. 116); and Annals (c. 116). In this last-named work, Tacitus referred to the persecution of the Christians in Rome in AD 64, when the emperor Nero made them the scapegoats for the fire that he had ordered set. Though Tacitus believed the Christians to be innocent of the arson of which they were accused, he referred to their faith as “a detestable superstition,” named Christ as the founder of this sect, and stated that he was crucified “in the reign of Emperor Tiberius by the Procurator Pontius Pilate.” He further said that Nero accused the Roman Christians not only of arson but also of “hatred of the human race,” and that Nero had some of them thrown to dogs, others crucified, still others burned in the imperial garden. Thus Tacitus provides independent secular confirmation for some basic events recorded in the NT, including Jesus’ crucifixion.
Tyndale Bible Encyclopedia