by Bill Nugent
Article #45

The young minister was painfully uncomfortable standing in front of a largely secular group of college students. He dabbed the sweat from his pallid face and intoned “Are you at peace with God? Are you sure that you will enter heaven to be with God in the afterlife? Or will you go to the place of separation from God in the afterlife? This blatantly religious appeal seemed odd and out of place. The audience began to show its disdain.

Then the other speaker, also a minister, stepped forward. He was smartly dressed, flamboyant and gregarious. He was athletically built and his firm, steady voice brought the audience to a hush. He said ” If I could prove to you that the Bible is a supernatural book, confirmed by both foretelling of the future and also by miracles, would you believe what the Bible says?”

“What miracles!!??” someone heckled from the back row.

The speaker continued “The 53rd chapter of Isaiah, written over 700 years before the birth of Christ, describes the most important aspect of the ministry of Jesus Christ!! This is a clear Bible prophecy foretelling that God would cause the punishment for our sins to fall upon Jesus. [The word “Christ” in Hebrew is “Messiah.”] Christ bore our sins so that if we just turn to God through Christ and humble ourselves and repent we receive God’s forgiveness for all of our sins!!!”

The audience was rowdy now. Some of the students had come just to harass the speakers. Conservative Christian speakers were a rarity on their campus and they wanted to make it rarer. Someone shouted “Show me a Bible miracle that’s recorded in SECULAR history!!”

The first of the two speakers stepped forward again. His boyish face was flush and confident now. “Have you ever heard of Phlegon of Karia? He was a Greek historian who lived in Asia Minor during the first century. He wrote extensively about natural phenomena– earthquakes and such. In his book Chronicle of the Olympiad he records a miracle mentioned in the New Testament. The New Testament in Matthew 27:45 records that while Jesus was on the cross there was darkness over all the land for three hours. A few verses later in Matthew 27:51 it is recorded that there was an earthquake at the exact moment that Jesus died.

“Phlegon of Karia recorded both of these events in Chronicle of the Olympiad. He wrote that during the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad there was a period of unexplained darkness and there was an earthquake that collapsed buildings in Nicea in northern Asia Minor. The fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad was in 33 A.D.!!! The darkness and earthquake were evident not just in Jerusalem but also in Nicea which is over 300 miles away from Jerusalem! It was recorded by a Pagan author who had no desire to promote Christianity yet he confirmed the Bible record! I will also point out that the Roman historian Thallius also recorded these events.

The audience was quieter now and gave the speakers the respectful hearing that they deserved.

The dramatic story recorded above is fictional but the facts presented, namely — Bible prophecy, Phlegon and Thallius’ writings, etc., are very true. You can be sure that faith in God is not blind faith. The Bible is a book that is a record of facts and not myths. The Bible is indeed confirmed by science, archaeology and history. The Bible is God’s book of love and redemption.


(C) 2016 William P. Nugent, permission granted to email or republish for Christian outreach.


  1. I am not convinced by this even though I believe in the darkness over the land when Jesus was crucified. AD 33 is too early for his crucifixion, surely. Jesus was born whilst Herod, the Great, was still alive; we know he died in BCE and on 1st April 4BCE. He was dying as the newborn infant was being brought back from Egypt by his parents.
    So, it is possible, if not probable, that Jesus was born on 31st March, 4BCE – certainly in that March anyhow. He was, therefore, about 4 years old at the turn from BCE to CE. He lived up to the death of the emperor Augustus in 14CE and we know from Luke that his ministry began in the 15th year of Augustus’ successor, Tiberius.
    Adding these figures up, we find that Jesus began proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of heaven when he was 33 years old. If his ministry was for 3 years, then he was crucified aged 36, and the darkness and earthquake would have occurred in that year of 36CE.
    Is there any evidence of global or regional darkness in 36CE?

    1. Jesus was ABOUT 30 years old when He began His ministry. We have no need to be dogmatic about precise numbers regarding His age at the time of His crucifixion. Some evidence suggests that Jesus was born in 2 BC and Herod died shortly after. AD 33 is a generally accepted year of His crucifixion.

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