Was it common for 1st century writing to use present tense when talking about something in the past?

Whenever someone says “1st century”, I immediately assume “you’re talking about the New Testament, aren’t you”.

The Historical present is a widespread narrative convention. It is used to some extent in English; it is more common in other modern European languages than it is in English; and it was certainly used in Latin and Ancient Greek, including in the New Testament:

Historical present – Wikipedia

In linguistics and rhetoric, the historical present or historic present … is the employment of the present tense when narrating past events. It is widely used in writing about history in Latin (where it is sometimes referred to by its Latin name, praesens historicum) and some modern European languages; in English it is used above all in historical chronicles (listing a series of events); it is also used in fiction, for “hot news” (as in headlines), and in everyday conversation (Huddleston & Pullum 2002: 129–131). In conversation, it is particularly common with “verbs of communication” such as tell, write, and say (and in colloquial uses, go) (Leech 2002: 7).

http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/fo… for Greek

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