Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
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06-06-2014, 02:39 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(06-06-2014 02:14 PM)Deltabravo Wrote:  
(05-06-2014 03:25 AM)Chas Wrote:  I have already made the point: You have supposition and you do not have evidence.

If you go to a court and sit at the back and plug your earholes and don't listen while evidence from an expert is being given and then come out and say that there was no evidence, that is entirely because of your own behaviour.

Atwill presents evidence which he says is of a similar nature and standard as DNA evidence. He sets out the basis of why that is so and then sets about outlining the evidence itself. Unless you read the book you can't understand why what he is saying is strong evidence so you just posting the word "crap" all the time is just you demonstrating your own attitude of ignoring evidence and trying to suggest that your "witty" little outbursts are better than this type of evidence. It may wash around here with people because it seems there are only about two of us who have bothered to read Atwill's book and both of us have been presented with some evidence which, if Atwill is right, means something and no one out there, anywhere, has been able to counter the basis of his method of proof and it's near certainty, even if, like Carrier, they have been able to suggest there might be some debate over one incident in Atwill's catalogue of events.

So, read the book and stop "shitting" on people for expressing a well argued and unchallenged hypothesis. If you think it such obvious "crap" then it will be easy for you to read it and pull it apart, since you seem to think you are so clever.

All you have presented is an argument, not evidence. They are not the same thing.

If there is actual evidence in his book, present it.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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06-06-2014, 03:01 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
I wish I'd paid more attention to this thread. Too far behind to get into it now.

Atheism is NOT a Religion. It's A Personal Relationship With Reality!
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06-06-2014, 03:14 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(06-06-2014 02:39 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(06-06-2014 02:14 PM)Deltabravo Wrote:  If you go to a court and sit at the back and plug your earholes and don't listen while evidence from an expert is being given and then come out and say that there was no evidence, that is entirely because of your own behaviour.

Atwill presents evidence which he says is of a similar nature and standard as DNA evidence. He sets out the basis of why that is so and then sets about outlining the evidence itself. Unless you read the book you can't understand why what he is saying is strong evidence so you just posting the word "crap" all the time is just you demonstrating your own attitude of ignoring evidence and trying to suggest that your "witty" little outbursts are better than this type of evidence. It may wash around here with people because it seems there are only about two of us who have bothered to read Atwill's book and both of us have been presented with some evidence which, if Atwill is right, means something and no one out there, anywhere, has been able to counter the basis of his method of proof and it's near certainty, even if, like Carrier, they have been able to suggest there might be some debate over one incident in Atwill's catalogue of events.

So, read the book and stop "shitting" on people for expressing a well argued and unchallenged hypothesis. If you think it such obvious "crap" then it will be easy for you to read it and pull it apart, since you seem to think you are so clever.

All you have presented is an argument, not evidence. They are not the same thing.

If there is actual evidence in his book, present it.

An argument is a series of propositions, one built on top of the previous, leading from evidence to a conclusion.

Atwill's "evidence" consists of passages from the New Testament and passages from Josephus' works which coincide in number of ways. The whole book, Caesar's Messiah consists of a presentation in an ordered fashion of these passages and the comparisons. The book sets out the evidence.

If you are interested, then do what I did and pay the $10 and download the book.

I don't feel inclined to "step and fetch it" just because you tell me to particularly after the verbal abuse you have leveled at me. Nor do I much care about what you say about me if I don't. I am sure that your mind set is such that if I spend a huge amount of time and copy and paste the parts of the book, you will simply keep shitting on me because it is only "part" of the evidence, or you will say it doesn't qualify in your mind as "evidence" because you can't understand or disagree with some aspect of his analysis for reasons which you don't want to discuss. And, if I have to rewrite the book here for you then, frankly, I am not interested in saving you $10 and getting insulted by someone who has no interest in it anyway.

If you are quite happy in your settled views, whatever they are, because I have no idea what you think, and reading Atwill makes no difference and you already know that, then what the heck are you doing on this thread? I am nearly 60, have a doctorate and have a number of professional qualifications. I find your pointless repetition of the word "crap" monotonous and silly. If you don't like to hear about Atwill, or Ellis, then why not go post about something which you are interested in?

Those are rhetorical questions. I don't want an answer. As I have mentioned, I came to my own views about Atwill after hearing about him on another atheist forum where people posting about him weren't abused and also agreed with his method and I came here because Atwill left questions unanswered about who he thought the real "Jesus" was. I did some googling and found came up with Ralph Ellis' theory and he was posting here so I thought it would be interesting to find out what he said.

Sadly, the prevailing attitude here is one of intolerance so rather than engaging with him in an open minded way, he was, typically, shit upon, so he left, or was banned. I'm still waiting for his book which I will read, which I find much more interesting than posting insulting comments about people who I don't know on internet forums just because they have an interest in something I don't or because it makes me look "terse and deadly".
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06-06-2014, 03:18 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(06-06-2014 03:14 PM)Deltabravo Wrote:  
(06-06-2014 02:39 PM)Chas Wrote:  All you have presented is an argument, not evidence. They are not the same thing.

If there is actual evidence in his book, present it.

An argument is a series of propositions, one built on top of the previous, leading from evidence to a conclusion.

Atwill's "evidence" consists of passages from the New Testament and passages from Josephus' works which coincide in number of ways. The whole book, Caesar's Messiah consists of a presentation in an ordered fashion of these passages and the comparisons. The book sets out the evidence.

If you are interested, then do what I did and pay the $10 and download the book.

I don't feel inclined to "step and fetch it" just because you tell me to particularly after the verbal abuse you have leveled at me. Nor do I much care about what you say about me if I don't. I am sure that your mind set is such that if I spend a huge amount of time and copy and paste the parts of the book, you will simply keep shitting on me because it is only "part" of the evidence, or you will say it doesn't qualify in your mind as "evidence" because you can't understand or disagree with some aspect of his analysis for reasons which you don't want to discuss. And, if I have to rewrite the book here for you then, frankly, I am not interested in saving you $10 and getting insulted by someone who has no interest in it anyway.

If you are quite happy in your settled views, whatever they are, because I have no idea what you think, and reading Atwill makes no difference and you already know that, then what the heck are you doing on this thread? I am nearly 60, have a doctorate and have a number of professional qualifications. I find your pointless repetition of the word "crap" monotonous and silly. If you don't like to hear about Atwill, or Ellis, then why not go post about something which you are interested in?

Those are rhetorical questions. I don't want an answer. As I have mentioned, I came to my own views about Atwill after hearing about him on another atheist forum where people posting about him weren't abused and also agreed with his method and I came here because Atwill left questions unanswered about who he thought the real "Jesus" was. I did some googling and found came up with Ralph Ellis' theory and he was posting here so I thought it would be interesting to find out what he said.

Sadly, the prevailing attitude here is one of intolerance so rather than engaging with him in an open minded way, he was, typically, shit upon, so he left, or was banned. I'm still waiting for his book which I will read, which I find much more interesting than posting insulting comments about people who I don't know on internet forums just because they have an interest in something I don't or because it makes me look "terse and deadly".

What a useless post Drinking Beverage .
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06-06-2014, 03:19 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(06-06-2014 03:01 PM)Minimalist Wrote:  I wish I'd paid more attention to this thread. Too far behind to get into it now.

Eh if you read the the first couple pages and the last two or so you are all caught up. Jump on in, the water is fine.
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06-06-2014, 04:16 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
Richard Carrier does a pretty thorough dismantling of Atwill's thesis, here -

http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/4664
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06-06-2014, 04:16 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(06-06-2014 03:08 AM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  
(06-06-2014 02:59 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  "Is it possible that Christianity was a Roman plot to subvert the jews? Sure."

I'm glad you are open-minded about this. In fact I think it's up to the historian to postulate the details because, in fact, I think it's the most likely explanation for the origin of Christianity. Even evangelical types don't have a believable theory as to how Christianity spread... So there is no plausible alternative that I am aware of.

You could make similar claims about every religion. They all started the same way; somebody made some stuff up, and then he told some folks, who bought into, and eventually people start writing things down. Paul was not the first christian, he converted after all. Someone would have had to tell Paul about it. As the years go by and more generations carry on the mythos grows. It makes more sense that Christianity grew organically than it was fabricated as a part of roman conspiracy.

RE..."Paul was not the first christian, he converted after all. Someone would have had to tell Paul about it."

Paul's "conversion" is a myth. The "road to Damascus" story is only in Acts, and is never mentioned in Paul' own writing. This is how Paul sourced his ideas...

The Source of Paul’s Theology
One might assume that Paul had a legitimate and verifiable source for his hypotheses, but he didn’t. I’ve imagined going back in time to ask him what he thought it was. He got anxious when his credibility was questioned, so his answer would be intense. He frequently wrote at length about himself, so he’d probably tell me how hard he works, how genuine he is, how he’s suffered for his beliefs, and how sure he is that what he preaches is the truth. The actual answer to the question would be a long time arriving.

Paul wrote,
“The fact is, brothers, and I want you to realize this, the Good News I preached is not a human message that I was given by men, it is something I learned only through a revelation of Jesus Christ. You must have heard of my career as a practicing Jew, how merciless I was in persecuting the Church of God, how much damage I did to it, how I stood out among other Jews of my generation, and how enthusiastic I was for the traditions of my ancestors. Then God, who had specifically chosen me while I was still in my mother’s womb, called me through his grace and chose to reveal his son in me, so that I may preach the Good News about him to the pagans” (Gal. 1:11–24, NJB.) This is from one of his best-known letters. He specifically stated that the message he preached came not from human sources, but from God, “through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

This was not the only occasion he said God inspired him;
“I, Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle” (1 Cor. 1:1, NJB) and “But our sufficiency is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5 NKJB.)

What he meant was that he thought he had a God given talent enabling him to interpret scripture. That was, after all, the job description for a Pharisee. He bragged that his God, a character he thought he had a special relationship with, was the source of his “Good News.” That may have impressed naïve people two thousand years ago, but today we can read any number of over imaginative accounts from people who also claim, without evidence, that they’ve talked to God. Some of them are mentally unwell. Paul had no more credibility than them.

Paul took things one step further than his more traditional colleagues when interpreting scripture. He thought he alone had a divine mandate from God. Consider the opening lines of his letter to the Romans:
“From Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus who has been called to be an apostle, and specially chosen to preach the Good News that God promised long ago through his prophets in the scriptures” (Rom. 1:1–3, NJB.) He promoted himself as a uniquely special interpreter of scripture, and he bad-mouthed anyone who happened to disagree with him (see 1 Corinthians 15:1–3, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?sea...sion=KJV).

Yet Jewish scholars are adamant that Paul’s “good news” isn’t in scripture. (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articl...f-tarsus). Moreover, Paul often changed the meaning of scripture to suit himself. For example, he wrote,
“so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord to the glory of the Father” (Phil. 2:10–11, NJB.) The source of this was “Before me every knee shall bend, by me every tongue shall swear, saying ‘From Yahweh alone come victory and strength.’” (Isa. 45:23–24, NJB.) Paul replaced Yahweh with Christ, to fit with his own manufactured theology. One of Paul’s main themes was that Gentiles could be God’s special people too. He wrote,
“Well, we are those people; whether we were Jews or pagans we are the ones he has called. That is exactly what God says in Hosea: ‘I shall say to a people that was not mine, ‘you are my people,’ and to a nation I never loved ‘I love you’” (Rom. 9:24, NJB.) However a reading of chapters one and two of Hosea (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?sea...rsion=KJV) reveals that “God” wasn’t referring to Gentiles, but Jews whom he was accepting back under his wing after a misdemeanor. Paul changed the meaning of scripture to sell his own story to Gentiles living in Rome.

Just why “God” would need to talk to Paul via “a revelation of Jesus Christ,” when Jesus could speak for himself, is never explained in today’s Christian circles.

Mithras, the pagan god of an ancient Persian cult, had remarkable similarities with Paul’s Christ, and Paul’s home town was a major center of Mithraic belief. (http://jdstone.org/cr/files/paulandthepa...ism.html).
I think Paul manufactured his Christ to counter the dreams of the Nazarenes, who were hoping for a political messiah.

Paul’s theology was the product of a complex mishmash of concepts from other cults, innovative interpretations of Jewish scripture, his personal ambitions, his desire to undermine messianic Judaism, his own imagination, and maybe elsewhere (I think from the government.) He was clearly a master confabulator, inventing fictions and interpretations to support his own views. I don’t think any of his possible sources add any credibility to his theology.

He must have known he was fabricating, but didn’t let that niggle at his conscience. He was on a mission to snare converts, and the end justified the means. I suspect the more he thought and talked about the divinity of Christ, his sacrificial death, and his resurrection, the more real and useful these ideas became to him. I think it either didn’t bother him, or he wasn’t aware, that his ideas were fundamentally odd. He wouldn’t have wasted time questioning his own themes. He was too busy for that, too obsessed with winning people over. He wouldn’t have known his letters would one day be critically examined and compared with each other.

He was preaching and writing to people who, judged by today’s standards, were naïve, unsophisticated, isolated, and unread. Most of them would have had Paul’s epistles read to them. A well-written letter must have been impressive. When he appeared in person he was probably a self-righteous and confident teacher, which would have been enough to give him some credibility. He presumed his readers would be impressed by his claims that God inspired him, yet there’s clearly no objective reason why modern readers should be.
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06-06-2014, 04:26 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(06-06-2014 04:25 AM)Chas Wrote:  
(05-06-2014 05:37 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Chas, this is the thinking atheist forum.

Except you seem to have abandoned critical thinking and replaced it with obsession.

You said: "Even evangelical types don't have a believable theory as to how Christianity spread... So there is no plausible alternative that I am aware of."

That is not critical thinking.

Quote:We're here to think and learn from each other.

I want to learn from you. I value your opinion. I actually read what you write.

My first post on this subject was to the effect that I would be overjoyed for this to be true, but I would await evidence.

I am still waiting.

Quote:But you've said the same thing over and over in every post, and haven't contributed more than one useful piece of information. You've not negated or commented on a whole world of information I've shared with you. That devalues my efforts and spoils a good conversation.

I have expressed skepticism which you seem to have abandoned.

Quote:By the way, I don't have an overwhelming need to be right. I do, however, want to learn, especially from smart people.

Let's put our egos in our back pockets.

The only ego in this game is yours. As I said, I would welcome real evidence that this hypothesis is true, but I am still waiting for it.

"Except you seem to have abandoned critical thinking and replaced it with obsession.

You said: "Even evangelical types don't have a believable theory as to how Christianity spread... So there is no plausible alternative that I am aware of."

That is not critical thinking."

No. I am not obsessed with Atwill's idea. I doubt you've read what I've written about Atwill, because at times I am quite critical of him.

I stand by what I said; Christians don't have a plausible explanation for how Christianity was created and spread.

You didn't click on the link to the podcast did you?
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06-06-2014, 04:42 PM (This post was last modified: 06-06-2014 05:11 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(06-06-2014 02:33 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  
(06-06-2014 02:14 PM)Deltabravo Wrote:  If you go to a court and sit at the back and plug your earholes and don't listen while evidence from an expert is being given and then come out and say that there was no evidence, that is entirely because of your own behaviour.

Atwill presents evidence which he says is of a similar nature and standard as DNA evidence. He sets out the basis of why that is so and then sets about outlining the evidence itself. Unless you read the book you can't understand why what he is saying is strong evidence so you just posting the word "crap" all the time is just you demonstrating your own attitude of ignoring evidence and trying to suggest that your "witty" little outbursts are better than this type of evidence. It may wash around here with people because it seems there are only about two of us who have bothered to read Atwill's book and both of us have been presented with some evidence which, if Atwill is right, means something and no one out there, anywhere, has been able to counter the basis of his method of proof and it's near certainty, even if, like Carrier, they have been able to suggest there might be some debate over one incident in Atwill's catalogue of events.

So, read the book and stop "shitting" on people for expressing a well argued and unchallenged hypothesis. If you think it such obvious "crap" then it will be easy for you to read it and pull it apart, since you seem to think you are so clever.

I wouldn't call his hypothesis "unchallenged", especially because he is essentially the only biblical scholar that agrees with him. Being of a minority opinion doesn't mean your wrong, but it might mean your theory is suspect.

If there are some really good points in the book than educated us all and post them. For my part I am not going to take the time to wade through three hundred pages and do my due diligence researching it to prove you wrong. The burden of plausibility, in this case, is really on you and Mark. I can't speak for anybody else, but for my part if you lay out a good argument I will adopt your position or at least admit that it has some merit. Based on what evidence has been presented in this thread and in the video there just isn't sufficient evidence to persuade anybody, in my opinion. Forgive me if I remain skeptical.

"If there are some really good points in the book than educated us all and post them".

Okay, here they are. I have read Atwills book 4 times. I first wrote this summary about two years ago and I have refined it and added to it since. Please cut me some slack and take the trouble to read it. A lot of work went into it. You too Chas. Then, please critique the ideas. I want to know if you think Chas is right and I am too obsessed with Atwill... But I want to know why. Please take the trouble to have a quick listen to the podcast about Vespasian.... Done by Mike Duncan, who is far as I'm aware is not familiar with Atwill.

Atwill’s Theory
“Challenging and provocative. If what Joseph Atwill is saying is only partially true, we are looking into the abyss.”
(Robert Eisenman, PHD, Professor of Middle East Religions and Archaeology, California State University, and author of James the Brother of Jesus.)

There’s a fascinating, intriguing theory about the Gospels that neatly fits with my strong suspicion that Christianity originated as government propaganda. The contemporary writer Joseph Atwill, who says he spent many years studying the Gospels, the Dead Sea scrolls and Josephus’ works, thinks writers working for the Roman government during the Flavian dynasty (the rule of Vespasian, Titus and Domitian in 69-96 CE) wrote the original Gospels. He writes in his book “Caesar’s Messiah” (http://www.amazon.com/Caes+ars-Messiah-R...ks&ie=UTF) that he thinks intellectuals under Titus’ direction created the Gospels, incorporating a skillful satire of Jewish messianic dreams that becomes apparent on reading Josephus’ “Wars of the Jews” and his “The Life of Flavius Josephus.”

Titus had decimated militant Judaism in 70 CE, but he couldn’t get the Jewish prisoners he’d taken back to Rome to worship him as Lord, even under torture. The revolt may have been crushed, but the religion that inspired it wasn’t, and was still a threat to the Pax Romana (Roman peace.) It became obvious that Jews were still dreaming about their messiah, so Atwill thinks Titus transformed himself into the embodiment of their dreams. He had a derivative of Judaism created that worshipped him (as Jesus) without people knowing it. The agenda was to tame Judaism by transforming it into a cooperative, government friendly religion. Titus had the Gospels invented to act as a theological barrier against the spread of messianic Judaism because if he could get Jews to worship “Jesus,” it would mean they accepted Roman authority.

Titus helped his father in the running of government affairs until his father’s death in 79 CE, when he became emperor. The historian Seutonius says of him
“I have likewise been informed by many persons, that he was remarkably quick in writing short-hand, would in merriment and jest engage with his secretaries in the imitation of any hand-writing he saw, and often say, ‘that he was admirably qualified for forgery.’” (The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, section 466.)

Vespasian was considered a god, and Titus too was deified shortly after his own untimely death from natural causes in 81 CE. Josephus was an adopted member of the imperial family. He lived in the imperial palace, and was their official historian. He would have been pleased to help propagate the myth that Vespasian and Titus were divine. Titus supported and financed the publication of his “Wars of the Jews.” Josephus’ histories were used as the building blocks for the creation of the Gospels.

To create the Gospels required a deep understanding of Judaic literature. There were plenty of people in the Flavian household who, like Josephus, were familiar enough with Judaism to help create Christianity. They had copies of Jewish scripture. Titus’ mistress Bernice was a Jew of Maccabean descent. Tiberias Alexander, a Jew, was chief of staff to Titus during the siege of Jerusalem. He was also the nephew of Philo, a well-known Jewish philosopher. John of Gischala, one of the main leaders of the Jewish revolt, had been transported as a prisoner back to Rome, but not executed. Atwill believes his inside knowledge of the struggle against Rome could have been used by the Flavians to help fabricate Gospel fictions.

Titus had his writers backdate Jesus’ ministry to c.30 CE, thereby enabling “Jesus” to foresee events in the future war. There are remarkable similarities between Titus and Jesus. Titus, at the time of his military campaign in Palestine, was in his late 20’s, just like Jesus. The Roman Senate had already deified Vespasian, so Jesus and Titus were both were sent on a mission from God, their father. There are numerous events from the ministry of Jesus that closely parallel Titus’ military campaign in the first Jewish war. Both began their three-year campaigns in Galilee and finished them in Jerusalem.
Atwill believes today’s Nazareth was the location of Titus’ first battle in Galilee.

Mark’s Gospel says:
“And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mark 4:18-19 KJV.) That sounds like a nice story, but takes on a more macabre meaning if read in conjunction with Josephus’ Wars of the Jews in which there is a story of a battle between Jews and Titus’ troops on the same sea of Galilee:
“Sometimes the Romans leapt into their ships, with swords in their hands, and slew them; but when some of them met the vessels, the Romans caught them by the middle, and destroyed at once their ships and themselves who were taken in them. And for such as were drowning in the sea, if they lifted their heads up above the water, they were either killed by darts, or caught by the vessels; but if, in the desperate case they were in, they attempted to swim to their enemies, the Romans cut off their heads or their hands…” Josephus goes on to relate how the next day the troops fished hundred of Jewish bodies out of the water. Hence Titus’ troops became “fishers of men” on the Sea of Galilee.

We read in Luke chapter eight
“And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee. And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness. And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them. Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked. When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country. Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed. Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again.” (Luke 8;26-38 KJV.) This is an odd tale. There’s no theological or moral principle that can be gleaned about demons entering a herd of swine that then drowned. Why would the demons wish to enter swine, and why do these swine rush into the lake? The answer is that the story makes sense as a satire of Josephus’ description of the battle of Gadara. Gadara was located east of the Jordan River on a mountain about 10 kilometers southeast of the Sea of Galilee. The people of Gadara were known as “Gadarenes.” (http://www.keyway.ca/htm2001/20010621.htm). Atwill thinks the “demon possessed man” is a satire of John of Gischala. This is how Josephus describes John
“Yet did John demonstrate by his actions that these Sicarii were more moderate than he was himself, for he not only slew all such as gave him good counsel to do what was right, but treated them worst of all…he filled his entire country with ten thousand instances of wickedness” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews,7, 8, 263) Josephus writes
“Demons ... are no other than the spirit of the wicked.” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews.)

Josephus describes the battle of Gadara:
“These things were told Vespasian by deserters…Accordingly, he marched against Gadara…but Placidus…slew all that he overtook, as far as Jordan; and when he had driven the whole multitude to the riverside…he put his soldiers in array over against them…At which flight, hand to hand, fifteen thousand of them were slain, while the number of those that were unwillingly forced to leap into Jordan was prodigious.” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews. 4, 8, 434-437) John was the rebel leader who commanded “legions” of the Sicarii, so he “infected” many people, who were denigrated as swine. These people were slain or drowned in the river Jordan.

Josephus writes of a starving Jewish woman, named Mary, trapped inside Jerusalem during the war, who, in desperation eats her own child:
“There was a certain woman that dwelt beyond Jordan, her name was Mary; her father was Eleazar, of the village Bethezob, which signifies the house of Hyssop. She was eminent for her family and her wealth, and had fled away to Jerusalem with the rest of the multitude, and was with them besieged therein at this time... What she had treasured up besides, as also what food she had contrived to save, had been also carried off by the rapacious guards, who came every day running into her house for that purpose... but none of them, either out of the indignation she had raised against herself, or out of commiseration of her case, would take away her life; and if she found any food, she perceived her labors were for others, and not for herself; and it was now become impossible for her any way to find any more food, while the famine pierced through her very bowels and marrow, when also her passion was fired to a degree beyond the famine itself; ... She then attempted a most unnatural thing; and snatching up her son, who was a child sucking at her breast, she said, “O thou miserable infant! for whom shall I preserve thee in this war, this famine, and this sedition? As to the war with the Romans, if they preserve our lives, we must be slaves. This famine also will destroy us, even before that slavery comes upon us. Yet are these seditious rogues more terrible than both the other. Come on; be thou my food, and be thou a fury to these seditious varlets, and a by-word to the world, which is all that is now wanting to complete the calamities of us Jews.” As soon as she had said this, she slew her son, and then roasted him, and eat the one half of him, and kept the other half by her concealed. Upon this the seditious came in presently, and smelling the horrid scent of this food, they threatened her that they would cut her throat immediately if she did not show them what food she had gotten ready. She replied that she had saved a very fine portion of it for them, and withal uncovered what was left of her son. Hereupon they were seized with a horror and amazement of mind, and stood astonished at the sight, when she said to them, “This is mine own son, and what hath been done was mine own doing! Come, eat of this food; for I have eaten of it myself! Do not you pretend to be either more tender than a woman, or more compassionate than a mother; but if you be so scrupulous, and do abominate this my sacrifice, as I have eaten the one half, let the rest be reserved for me also.” After which those men went out trembling, being never so much frightened at any thing as they were at this, and with some difficulty they left the rest of that meat to the mother. (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 6, 3, 201-212.) Atwill thinks this is a lampoon of Christ, whose mother was Mary, and whose body is literally eaten by Christians. Josephus is not just ridiculing Christ, but saying that he is a myth intended to “complete” the calamities of the Jews by making a mockery of their religion by creating the Christ, a “by-word to the world.” It fits with the idea Christianity was created to promote anti-Semitism, and that some Jews, the seditious rogues, rejected Christ. I find this convincing, as I can think of no other sensible explanation for the phrasing.

Titus is the “son of man” who “laid low” many Galilean towns, surrounded Jerusalem and destroys the buildings therein, all as predicted by “Jesus,” nearly forty years after “Jesus” spoke them.
“For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” (Luke 19:43-44 KJV.) Many Jews had been trapped inside Jerusalem’s walls because they didn’t know the Romans, who encircled the city, were coming.

Jesus repeatedly says
“…repent for the kingdom of God is at hand…” (Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:15.) Yet he never makes it clear what is the sin people need to repent for. In reality, Titus (ie Jesus) ordered the Jews to “repent” for their rebellion against Rome. The “kingdom of God” that was “at hand” was the conquest of Jerusalem by Roman troops.

Jesus said
“And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.’ (Matthew 5:41 KJB.) It was Roman law that soldiers could conscript anyone at random to carry their packs for a mile. Jesus dictated they should double the distance.

Jesus predicted the annihilation of a “wicked generation,” (of Jews) which is precisely what Titus achieved in real life. They were wicked because they’d rebelled against Rome.

Luke has Jesus describing his mission.
“Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. (Luke 12;51-52, KJV.) Josephus describes how the Jewish factions inside Jerusalem led by John and Simon fought against each other.
“These followers of John also did now seize upon this inner temple, and upon all the warlike engines therein, and then ventured to oppose Simon. And thus that sedition, which had been divided into three factions, was now reduced to two.” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 5, 3, 104-105.)

The parallel “division” themes are further demonstrated by comparing the following two passages.
“But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub. And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges. But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. (Luke 11:17-20, KJV.)
“Now when hitherto the several parties in the city had been dashing one against another perpetually, this foreign war now suddenly come upon them, after a violent manner, put the first stop to their contentions one against another. And as the seditious now saw, with astonishment the Romans pitching three several camps, they began to think of an awkward sort of concord: and said one to another, “What do we here? and what do we mean, when we suffer three fortified walls to be built, to coop us in, that we shall not be able to breathe freely.” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 5, 2, 71-73.) The Jews, divided amongst themselves, had the “kingdom of God” imposed on them.

Jesus said,
“But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me,” (Luke 19;27 KJV) which is precisely what Titus did.

It explains why “Jesus” said
“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” (Matthew 21;43 KJV.) “He” was saying that the nation of Israel had been rejected as the people of God, and Gentiles had replaced them.

Titus destroyed the Temple in 70 AD, as “foretold” by “Jesus.”
“As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (Luke 21:6 KJV, see also Matt. 24:1 and Mark 13:1.) This explanations why “Jesus” was able to predict the future, as noticed by the credulous (or dishonest) Eusebius:
“If anyone compares the words of our savior with the other accounts of the historian (Josephus) concerning the whole war, how can one fail to wonder, and to admit that the foreknowledge and the prophecy of our Saviour were truly divine and marvelously strange.” (Church History, Book III, Chapter VII.) Eusebius failed to realize, or admit, that the Gospels’ authors had used Josephus to create Jesus. Even some modern Christian apologists still think Jesus predicted the future. (http://www.ukapologetics.net/09/AD70.htm).

Titus, having surrounded Jerusalem, tried to breach the walls by building a tower:
“Titus went round the city on the outside with some chosen horsemen, and looked about for a proper place where he might make an impression upon the walls; but as he was in doubt where he could possibly make an attack on any side, (for the place was no way accessible where the valleys were, and on the other side the first wall appeared too strong to be shaken by the engines) he thereupon thought it best to make his assault upon the monument of John the high priest; for there it was that the first fortification was lower, and the second was not joined to it, the builders neglecting to build strong where the new city was not much inhabited; here also was an easy passage to the third wall, through which he thought to take the upper city, and, through the tower of Antonia ...” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 5, 6, 258.) This tower later collapsed before it was finished when the foundations fell through. Jesus said
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.” (Luke 14:28-32, KJV.) During the war, Titus, the Roman “king” (unsuccessfully) tried to negotiate a Jewish surrender on a number of occasions.

Jesus made a triumphant entry into Jerusalem:
“And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. (Luke 19:37-42, KJV.) Titus, the Roman “king” had his entry into Jerusalem preceded by a barrage of stones flung by “engines.” The Jews standing on the walls “cried out” to warn their fellows of flying stones:
“... accordingly the watchmen that sat upon the towers gave them notice when the engine was let go, and the stone came from it, and cried out aloud, in their own country language, THE SON COMETH so those that were in its way stood off, and threw themselves down upon the ground; by which means, and by their thus guarding themselves, the stone fell down and did them no harm. But the Romans contrived how to prevent that by blacking the stone, who then could aim at them with success, when the stone was not discerned beforehand, as it had been till then; and so they destroyed many of them at one blow. (Josephus, Wars of the Jews 5, 6, 272-273.) Amazingly, Josephus even writes “son” whereas it would make more sense for the warning to have been about a stone or rock!

In the version of Jesus’ capture recounted in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus walks from the Mount of Olives, which is just outside Jerusalem’s eastern edge, northward to Gethsemane, from where he went “forward a little” to the northeastern corner of the city. He is followed by a character described as a “certain young man” who escaped the attackers, yet left his clothing behind:

“And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives…And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray…And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him…And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked. And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes.” (Mark 14:26, 32, 35, 51-53, KJV.) Wars of the Jews placed Titus in the same garden for his encounter with a band of armed men. Josephus describes Titus as travelling from the tower of Psephinus, which marked the city’s northwestern corner, toward the monument of Queen Helena, along Jerusalem’s northern border from west to east. He makes the reader aware that Titus was “naked,” (figuratively speaking) as he was wearing no armor, to create a satirical parallel to the “naked young man” who escapes from the garden in Mark.
“Now, so long as he rode along the straight road which led to the wall of the city, nobody appeared out of the gates; but when he went out of that road, and declined towards the tower Psephinus, and led the band of horsemen obliquely, an immense number of the Jews leaped out suddenly at the towers called the “Women’s Towers,” through that gate which was over against the monuments of queen Helena, and intercepted his horse; and standing directly opposite to those that still ran along the road, hindered them from joining those that had declined out of it. They intercepted Titus also, with a few others. Now it was here impossible for him to go forward, because all the places had trenches dug in them from the wall, to preserve the gardens round about, and were full of gardens obliquely situated, and of many hedges; and to return back to his own men, he saw it was also impossible, by reason of the multitude of the enemies that lay between them; many of whom did not so much as know that the king was in any danger, but supposed him still among them. So he perceived that his preservation must be wholly owing to his own courage, and turned his horse about, and cried out aloud to those that were about him to follow him, and ran with violence into the midst of his enemies, in order to force his way through them to his own men. And hence we may principally learn, that both the success of wars, and the dangers that kings are in, are under the providence of God; for while such a number of darts were thrown at Titus, when he had neither his head-piece on, nor his breastplate, (for, as I told you, he went out not to fight, but to view the city,) none of them touched his body, but went aside without hurting him; as if all of them missed him on purpose, and only made a noise as they passed by him. (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 5, 2, 54-61.) Thus, the Gospel and Josephus each describe assaults that occur in gardens near the Mount of Olives. Each assault contains a “naked” person who escapes. The point of the parallels may have been to separate the identities of the two “kings,” Jesus and Titus - in other words, to separate the “king” who lives from the one who is crucified. Titus is actually described as a king when, in fact he is only the son of the emperor. This has caught the attention of scholars, who have wondered why Josephus would have made such an obvious error. Josephus may not have made a mistake, but been hinting as to which “king” enjoys God’s favor - Jesus, the king of the Jews or Titus, the “king” of the Romans.

Josephus even claimed the “government of Vespasian” was, in effect, the messiah predicted in scripture.
“What did the most to induce the Jews to start this war, was an ambiguous oracle that was also found in their sacred writings, how, about that time, one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth. The Jews took this prediction to belong to themselves in particular, and many of the wise men were thereby deceived in their determination. Now this oracle certainly denoted the government of Vespasian, who was appointed emperor in Judea.” (Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 6.312-313.)

Vespasian’s reign (69 – 79 CE) was notable for the fact that he, with his son Titus by his side, is well known to have been a great propagandist; someone very proficient at controlling popular opinions. They were particularly good at promoting the public’s respect for imperial authority. Vespasian was said to have restored a blind man’s sight using spittle and to have healed a cripple (do these sound familiar?) He sold the idea that he’d bought peace to the empire. He was a strong patron of the arts and letters, and commissioned many authors to write “Flavian versions” of history. (http://thehistoryofrome.typepad.com/the_...oved.html, http://thehistoryofrome.typepad.com/the_...day.html).

Using religion for the good of the state was a well-established practice in ancient Rome; there was a long tradition of absorbing the religions of its opponents. It neutralized their enemy’s divine assistance. It was easier and more cost effective than allowing those foreign gods to remain enemies, thereby risking more wrangles with the rank and file rallying under them. In this case it was done to subdue stubborn Jews and to stroke Titus’ ego by surreptitiously getting them to worship Jesus (i.e. Titus) as if he’d been the messiah they’d been waiting for. The character of “Jesus” was designed to deprive the Jews of their ambition to start another war, and to dilute the purity of Judaism with Gentiles, people who would be loyal, tax-paying citizens. I think that’s ironic, because the real Yeshua, if he ever existed, had tried to start an insurrection against the government.

There’s no doubt the Flavians were antagonistic towards Jews after the war. Vespasian imposed a special tax on everyone in the empire who practiced Judaism, (http://www.livius.org/fa-fn/fiscus/judaicus.html) in much the same way the rest of Europe imposed economic restrictions on Germany after World War 1. The Romans and Europe both failed to prevent a second war. Jews throughout the Diaspora continued to cause trouble for the government in the early second century (http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Kitos+War).

There were three tools the government used to control the Jews; military might, economic suppression, and propaganda.

This neatly explains how Christianity, a pro-Roman religion reliant on the Gospels and said to promote pacifism and obedience, didn’t in fact emerge from a Judean cult in a nation that had over a one hundred year history of a militant struggle against Rome, but in reality materialized from Rome itself. It explains why Jesus was sometimes portrayed as a pacifist preacher. It’s why “Jesus” referred to Jews (his own companions!) who rebelled against Rome as a “wicked generation.” It could be why the “second coming” of Jesus never happened; it was Titus who came instead. It’s why the true identities of all the four Gospel authors are unknown. It’s one possible reason why the Gospels were first written in Greek, and why they’re so often anti Semitic, yet in places tried to also appeal to fundamentalist Jews. It would explain why members of the Roman imperial family such as Flavius Clemens, later said (at least by some sources) to be the fourth pope, Bernice, Titus’ mistress, and Flavia Domitilla, Vespasian’s granddaughter, were said to be “Christians.” If so, they were the first Christians in name only, as they couldn’t have believed in their own spoof. It explains how a religion that allegedly started as verbal traditions in Aramaic didn’t; it started as stories written in Greek.

Propaganda was a powerful tool in Roman times, just as it is today. Public opinion was more easily manipulated, because people didn’t have the means to check out the facts. Atwill thinks the Flavians didn’t intend sophisticated, educated people to read their invention as serious literature or history. The Gospels were written for militant Jews, people Josephus referred to as “slaves” and “scum,” as well as the hoi polloi, the common people. Only the more educated classes might recognize the parallels in Josephus’ works. He suggests the Flavians fancied Christianity might flourish before the Gospels’ satirical level became widely known.

If this is true, the Gospels were a very black comedy, and Christianity was a clever, and in one sense humorous, product of the broader struggle that had been going on since Alexander the Great in 333 BCE; the one between Hellenism with its polytheism, cleverness and inclusivity, and Judaism’s monotheism, faith and exclusivity. Jesus’ injunctions to love your enemies, turn the other cheek, aspire to poverty, be content with misery, dream about heaven, be afraid of hell, think like children and pay your taxes take on a cynical meaning, because they were designed to pacify peasants, slaves and religious fanatics. Titus’ invented religion, the one said to be the basis of western morality, took hold partly because common people didn’t have the intellectual armor to guard against it, and it eventually grew way beyond the wildest dreams of the Flavians. Christians have been unwittingly worshipping Titus Flavius for nearly 2000 years. Titus, lying in his grave, has had an embarrassed, ashamed expression on his face for the last two millennia. The creation grew into a much larger monster than he could ever have imagined.

In my opinion this theory complements the hypothesis that Paul’s Christianity originated as part of a government plot. Paul probably wrote well before the Flavians, yet there’s a good reason why similar propaganda about a Christ could have started earlier, in Paul’s day; Rome was trying (unsuccessfully, as it turned out) to prevent a war with the Jews. Atwill will be writing another book that helps explain Paul’s role in the scheme.

There is, however, in my opinion, what seems to be a few minor problems with the theory. Atwill has proposed the four Gospels were originally written under Titus’ direction, yet it’s a fact that no first century source ever specifically mentions the existence of any of the four Gospels, (see http://www.harrington-sites.com/f5.htm) at least as they’re now named (we know the current author’s names were never attached to them until much later.) There are some explanations that render Atwill’s theory still plausible; the original Jesus story, first written in the 70’s, might never have been popular until much later. Or, mentions of first century Gospels were later destroyed. Or, the basic framework of the Jesus biography(ies) were all that was written at first, and it (or they) were untitled.

Atwill states that the four Gospels were written together. Yet it’s well established that Mark was written first. It seems unlikely that the government would invent four separate accounts, although it’s possible, and Atwill puts forward some reasons why (which are complex, but can be read in his book.)

The theory to some degree undermines all the painstaking work and alternative theories of numerous historians, including linguists familiar with the Greek. I think it needs to be remembered that the Gospels were edited and interpolated for at least a couple of hundred years after they were first written, so all such endeavors are bound to come to different conclusions. To what degree any number of authors with different ethnicities, education and writing styles altered the Gospels is a subject requiring much guesswork. He doesn’t acknowledge this fact, although this doesn’t detract from the thrust of his theory.

If Josephus had a hand in the Gospels’ stories, why didn’t he mention a (fictional or non fictional) Jesus in his own writings? I think Josephus’ works were serious attempts to document history, written for the educated upper classes, people who could read and afford to buy books. The Gospels were a different kettle of fish. They were written as propaganda, to be read out to the hoi polloi. Josephus would have been aware of, and maybe even had a hand in, the Gospels’ composition, but wouldn’t have wanted his genuine histories confused with the tongue in cheek satire of the Gospels. I think he would have been embarrassed to have his name associated with the Gospels’ rather childish miracle stories. What’s more, he didn’t want the parallels between the Gospels and his histories to be too obvious. If he did know of an historical Yeshua, he may have avoided mentioning him, because the account may have clashed with the Gospels. Or, he wrote an historical report about Yeshua that was removed by Christians.

Atwill doesn’t explain the proliferation of dozens of now apocryphal gospels in the second century, or the success of Marcion and the Gnostics, but the reality is that any commentary about this, from anyone, is to a large degree guesswork. I’ll have a guess and say that these versions of Christianity also originated from the government for the same reason, but were pre Flavian and therefore pre-Gospel (although Marcion himself did use a version of Luke, but Marcion only appeared in the 140’s.) These cults were very much influenced by Paul.

Atwill doesn’t mention the Nazarenes, who I think are an essential part of the Jesus story, although that doesn’t detract from the main theme of his theory.
Some people are under the impression Domitian (emperor from 81-96 CE) persecuted Christians. The evidence for this is very weak, and I don’t think it happened (http://bibleworld.com/domper.pdf).

There are many reputable scholars who don’t buy into Atwill’s theory. His ideas turn the whole ballgame of New Testament scholarship around 180°, and I suspect that treads on a few toes. It’s disappointing that some commentators resort to ad hominem attacks against him. Even if he’s wrong, he’s an honest, informed commentator who has given us all something to think about. There will always be differing opinions about the details, yet I think that the essential premise of his hypothesis is that the government created the Gospels to undermine messianic Judaism, and it has a lot of merit.

I haven’t done justice to all of Atwill’s evidence, so I strongly encourage those interested to read his book and watch him talk on youtube. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g40Eck6gW7U, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uN9ATGqLNo8 , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlDa7ObXNdw (highly recommended.)

Where does this leave my theory that there existed an historical Yeshua who tried to start a war with Rome? Atwill acknowledges that it’s possible the Jesus character may also be very loosely based on a real individual, who he too thinks was a militaristic zealot. It’s not hard to imagine Jewish and Roman intellectuals deciding to use the memory of a political activist crucified under Pontius Pilate roughly forty years earlier as part of a very tall tale. It’s a clever ploy to mix a little truth into an account to make it appear more legitimate. The Nazarenes of the late first century still thought highly of their hero Yeshua, and they were significant players in the events, so the Gospels could have been deliberately written to undermine their story about him. It’s possible that the Gospels’ original authors used details about Yeshua sourced from the gospel of the Nazarenes, (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/go...eans.html) and deliberately turned the story of a brave wannabe messiah into a pro-Roman pacifist.

If the government created the Gospels, they would have also employed presbyters to promote the new religion. This would explain how Christianity appeared in many different parts of the empire toward the end of the first century. I admit I have no specific evidence to support this idea, but the reality is that no one knows how or why Christianity spread in the first century. I can’t imagine an implausible pro-Roman story about a crucified Galilean, who was really the son of the Jewish God, gaining a momentum of its own without financial support and organization from a hierarchy. Those Christian apologists who claim it was only because Christian teaching was so pure and attractive have a too simplistic understanding.

The propaganda never worked, as there were numerous small Jewish uprisings in the early second century that culminated in the 2nd Jewish war of 132-6 CE. This massive conflict, which for the Jews was the equivalent of World War 2, decimated the Judean infrastructure. The concept of a Jewish state was definitively crushed. Christianity became redundant, and I suspect the government no longer subsidized it, but by this time the new religion had taken on a life of its own in various forms. I suspect Christian churches became self-funding and self-promoting. The fact that the faith started out as propaganda was never public knowledge, and by the time the mid second century came around there were multiple versions of Christianity all with their own idiosyncratic ideas. No one remembered, and no documentation was kept, about why the whole show was created in the first place. Over the next two centuries the government occasionally persecuted Christians. The reasons for that is a topic for another book, but it was never because of Christian beliefs per se. Rome was always tolerant of other (than the Imperial cult) religions, but not if their practitioners caused trouble. It wasn’t until the fourth century that the Constantine’s government once again actively patronized them, for a similar reason – to control people’s behaviour.

The truth about the origin of Christianity makes a fascinating discussion. All historians have their own opinions, and make educated guesses, because reliable specifics are so lacking. We’ll probably never definitively know the whole story, unless startling facts are one day discovered in the bowels of the Vatican (which I can’t imagine them ever letting happen) or somewhere else.

I think while we may be unsure of the exact details about the authorship of the Gospels, or of Paul’s motivations, or of whether an historical Jesus ever existed, the origin of the whole Christian saga reeks of political propaganda. Christians today who choose to believe the Vatican’s (ie Rome’s) version of events should be asking themselves if they’ve been conned. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zlj5-iwKueQ).
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06-06-2014, 04:44 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(06-06-2014 04:16 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  
(06-06-2014 03:08 AM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  You could make similar claims about every religion. They all started the same way; somebody made some stuff up, and then he told some folks, who bought into, and eventually people start writing things down. Paul was not the first christian, he converted after all. Someone would have had to tell Paul about it. As the years go by and more generations carry on the mythos grows. It makes more sense that Christianity grew organically than it was fabricated as a part of roman conspiracy.

RE..."Paul was not the first christian, he converted after all. Someone would have had to tell Paul about it."

Paul's "conversion" is a myth. The "road to Damascus" story is only in Acts, and is never mentioned in Paul' own writing. This is how Paul sourced his ideas...

The Source of Paul’s Theology
One might assume that Paul had a legitimate and verifiable source for his hypotheses, but he didn’t. I’ve imagined going back in time to ask him what he thought it was. He got anxious when his credibility was questioned, so his answer would be intense. He frequently wrote at length about himself, so he’d probably tell me how hard he works, how genuine he is, how he’s suffered for his beliefs, and how sure he is that what he preaches is the truth. The actual answer to the question would be a long time arriving.

Paul wrote,
“The fact is, brothers, and I want you to realize this, the Good News I preached is not a human message that I was given by men, it is something I learned only through a revelation of Jesus Christ. You must have heard of my career as a practicing Jew, how merciless I was in persecuting the Church of God, how much damage I did to it, how I stood out among other Jews of my generation, and how enthusiastic I was for the traditions of my ancestors. Then God, who had specifically chosen me while I was still in my mother’s womb, called me through his grace and chose to reveal his son in me, so that I may preach the Good News about him to the pagans” (Gal. 1:11–24, NJB.) This is from one of his best-known letters. He specifically stated that the message he preached came not from human sources, but from God, “through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

This was not the only occasion he said God inspired him;
“I, Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle” (1 Cor. 1:1, NJB) and “But our sufficiency is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5 NKJB.)

What he meant was that he thought he had a God given talent enabling him to interpret scripture. That was, after all, the job description for a Pharisee. He bragged that his God, a character he thought he had a special relationship with, was the source of his “Good News.” That may have impressed naïve people two thousand years ago, but today we can read any number of over imaginative accounts from people who also claim, without evidence, that they’ve talked to God. Some of them are mentally unwell. Paul had no more credibility than them.

Paul took things one step further than his more traditional colleagues when interpreting scripture. He thought he alone had a divine mandate from God. Consider the opening lines of his letter to the Romans:
“From Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus who has been called to be an apostle, and specially chosen to preach the Good News that God promised long ago through his prophets in the scriptures” (Rom. 1:1–3, NJB.) He promoted himself as a uniquely special interpreter of scripture, and he bad-mouthed anyone who happened to disagree with him (see 1 Corinthians 15:1–3, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?sea...sion=KJV).

Yet Jewish scholars are adamant that Paul’s “good news” isn’t in scripture. (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articl...f-tarsus). Moreover, Paul often changed the meaning of scripture to suit himself. For example, he wrote,
“so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord to the glory of the Father” (Phil. 2:10–11, NJB.) The source of this was “Before me every knee shall bend, by me every tongue shall swear, saying ‘From Yahweh alone come victory and strength.’” (Isa. 45:23–24, NJB.) Paul replaced Yahweh with Christ, to fit with his own manufactured theology. One of Paul’s main themes was that Gentiles could be God’s special people too. He wrote,
“Well, we are those people; whether we were Jews or pagans we are the ones he has called. That is exactly what God says in Hosea: ‘I shall say to a people that was not mine, ‘you are my people,’ and to a nation I never loved ‘I love you’” (Rom. 9:24, NJB.) However a reading of chapters one and two of Hosea (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?sea...rsion=KJV) reveals that “God” wasn’t referring to Gentiles, but Jews whom he was accepting back under his wing after a misdemeanor. Paul changed the meaning of scripture to sell his own story to Gentiles living in Rome.

Just why “God” would need to talk to Paul via “a revelation of Jesus Christ,” when Jesus could speak for himself, is never explained in today’s Christian circles.

Mithras, the pagan god of an ancient Persian cult, had remarkable similarities with Paul’s Christ, and Paul’s home town was a major center of Mithraic belief. (http://jdstone.org/cr/files/paulandthepa...ism.html).
I think Paul manufactured his Christ to counter the dreams of the Nazarenes, who were hoping for a political messiah.

Paul’s theology was the product of a complex mishmash of concepts from other cults, innovative interpretations of Jewish scripture, his personal ambitions, his desire to undermine messianic Judaism, his own imagination, and maybe elsewhere (I think from the government.) He was clearly a master confabulator, inventing fictions and interpretations to support his own views. I don’t think any of his possible sources add any credibility to his theology.

He must have known he was fabricating, but didn’t let that niggle at his conscience. He was on a mission to snare converts, and the end justified the means. I suspect the more he thought and talked about the divinity of Christ, his sacrificial death, and his resurrection, the more real and useful these ideas became to him. I think it either didn’t bother him, or he wasn’t aware, that his ideas were fundamentally odd. He wouldn’t have wasted time questioning his own themes. He was too busy for that, too obsessed with winning people over. He wouldn’t have known his letters would one day be critically examined and compared with each other.

He was preaching and writing to people who, judged by today’s standards, were naïve, unsophisticated, isolated, and unread. Most of them would have had Paul’s epistles read to them. A well-written letter must have been impressive. When he appeared in person he was probably a self-righteous and confident teacher, which would have been enough to give him some credibility. He presumed his readers would be impressed by his claims that God inspired him, yet there’s clearly no objective reason why modern readers should be.

There is also good reason to think the Paul in Acts (actually there were at least two), was not the same dude who wrote the letters. At least some of the "journies" were made up, and have been demonstrated to have an impossible time line. The philosophies of the(se) Pauls are different. http://oyc.yale.edu/religious-studies/rl...lecture-14

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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