Who was Thallus? All I have been told is that he was a Samaritan historian, writing in 52 AD, who amongst many other things wrote about the death and resurrection of Christ and commented about the darkness when Christ was dying. It is surprising that Eusebius makes no mention of him. Do you have a bibliographical reference for this man, since he would be closer to the events than most of the Church fathers/ early Christian writers? -- Ugo Ahunanya (London)

Thallus was a freedman of the emperor Tiberius, and wrote a history of Greece and its relations with the states of Asia Minor, from the Trojan War to his own day. The reference is Book 3, which refers to the darkness covering Palestine during Jesus' crucifixion.

Thallus reasoned that this was due to an eclipse. That is impossible, however, since Jesus was crucified at Passover, which was the time of the full moon. A solar eclipse cannot occur when the moon is full, since at that time it would be on the wrong side of the earth!

At any rate, Thallus did live closer to the time of the crucifixion than the patristic writers, and so his mention of the period of darkness (Matthew 27:45, Mark 15:33, Luke 23:44) is significant.

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