Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
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06-06-2014, 04:49 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.

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

Those premises may or may not be based on evidence.

Quote: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.

That is not evidence, that is the argument.

Quote: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?

I am interested in calling out bogus ideas.

Quote: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.

Ellis's ideas were rejected because they made no sense. His methodology was absurd. He drew inferences from vague similarities and connections only he could see, and he insisted they were fact.

You Googled him? You couldn't have read much of his. He's a total nut job.

Quote: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".

I am intolerant of bad ideas, I am intolerant of calling a hypothesis a fact, and I am intolerant of calling supposition evidence.


And the sobriquet of 'terse and deadly' was bestowed by another credulous forum member too ready to spout nutty theories in response to my criticisms.
He also doesn't seem to understand the concept of evidence.

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, 04:58 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.

Paul as principle architect of Christianity makes sense to me. One of two things must have happened to Paul; one, he made the entire thing up, founding the region, or two he adopted and/or exaggerated the religion from an existing cult. The latter would be more likely of a historical Jesus had existed and inspired followers. In either event it might have suited Paul, both for credibility and for his ego, to say that he was divinely inspired. I don't have an objection to that. I don't see how that relates at all to the Flavians though. Perhaps that was the angle of the documentary and not the book. Give me some time and I will wade through your small novel and let you know what I think Tongue .
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06-06-2014, 05:24 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(06-06-2014 04:58 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  
(06-06-2014 04:16 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  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.

Paul as principle architect of Christianity makes sense to me. One of two things must have happened to Paul; one, he made the entire thing up, founding the region, or two he adopted and/or exaggerated the religion from an existing cult. The latter would be more likely of a historical Jesus had existed and inspired followers. In either event it might have suited Paul, both for credibility and for his ego, to say that he was divinely inspired. I don't have an objection to that. I don't see how that relates at all to the Flavians though. Perhaps that was the angle of the documentary and not the book. Give me some time and I will wade through your small novel and let you know what I think Tongue .

Paul's invention flows perfectly organically from his own culture, (and own need to maintain his own status). http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...other-look
Napoleon Complex, in my opinion. "Paul" is a Romanized insult, (small).
http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...other-look

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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06-06-2014, 05:56 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
I did my best to skim through what you wrote. There are some interesting coincidences in Josephus writings to some of the story in the gospels. The hardest part about attributing these stories to Josephus is that these stories did not make their way into scripture for some fifty years after the fact. That is a huge time gap, and a remarkably patient Caesar. The time line is the enemy of this theory. Christianity very clearly changed from how Paul preached it to how it was written of in the gospels. The likelihood that these stories had one principle source seems very remote.

Also, I take issue with how the the central themes of the gospels has been interpreted. It is true that there is no indignation and no resentment for these Romans who destroyed the temple in the text, and this seems suspect. I think it is more plausible that the writers of the new testaments where probably closer to Rome than they were to Israel. They had a political bias. Also, these attitudes and beliefs are very consistent with how the Jews handled the post exilic period after being conquered by the Babylonians in the 5th century BCE. This period was when much of the old testament was written, and the writers of the old testament chose to blame the leaders of Israel (mostly) and Judah (a bit) for displeasing the lord. To give credit to the Babylonians, or the Romans, or any other people for conquering Jerusalem would be the equivalent of saying their armies has conquered the will of god. The only acceptable explanation when hardship falls upon Israelis that god had become displeased with them, and allowed foreign enemies to subjugate them. Somehow they had broken the covenant with God and were being punished. The more egregious the harm the harm the better the evidence that they had displeased the lord. It would be both convenient and fitting to blame the Jews for the destruction of the temple and the death of jesus christ, with the latter perhaps being the cause of the former.

It should also be noted that during the during the first and second century CE the majority of Christians did not live in Palestine. They were trying to establish churches and religious institutions within Rome. It would have been very unwise indeed to be preaching a militaristic and abstinent message to your followers while trying to get along under Roman rule.

When you are talking about ancient texts like this one all you can do is make educated guesses, and many times "evidence" could just as easily be interpreted by another as just coincidence. If you approach everything like that you end up with no theory. However, the evidence within the texts themselves paint a pretty clear picture. There where multiple authors of the new testament, over a long period of time, in many places and by many people. The languages and writing styles used in the most authentic texts attest to that. Could all of these people have been inspired or coerced by the Flavians? I mean sure, anything is possible. But when you put up the evidence side by side; coincidences in the writings of Josephus with some of the stories in the new testament a liberal interpretation of the material (at best), as compared to decades of rigorous etymological studies of the texts, the latter clearly carries more weight. I'm sorry, I see the evidence, I appreciate the similarities in the two texts, but I don't see Atwill's theory as the most plausible explanation. The existing theories have decades of study and research behind them and don't have any of the problems that Atwill's theory does.
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06-06-2014, 06:24 PM (This post was last modified: 06-06-2014 06:47 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(06-06-2014 04:16 PM)Simon Moon Wrote:  Richard Carrier does a pretty thorough dismantling of Atwill's thesis, here -

http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/4664

I really like Richard Carrier and I have used his ideas a lot in my book. However I think he really misses the mark in his discussions about Atwill. Here is why....

He writes

"I think Atwill is a total crank," OOPS! Not A good start when discussing someone who is obviously quite intelligent and has spent many years studying Josephus, the dead sea scrolls and the Gospels.

He writes
"(1) The Roman aristocracy was nowhere near as clever as Atwill’s theory requires."
Wrong. They were. They were great propagandists, and very familiar with and comfortable controlling popular opinion.

"(2) We know there were over forty Gospels, yet the four chosen for the canon were not selected until well into the 2nd century, and not by anyone in the Roman aristocracy. Likewise which Epistles were selected."

This is a good point and one that Atwill doesn't address. It doesn't, however totally negate Atwill's theory.

"(3) The Gospels and the Epistles all contradict each other far too much to have been composed with a systematic aim in mind."

True, but the Gospels were interpolated and edited for 200 years after they were first written (a fact Atwill fails to acknowledge.)

"(4) The Gospels and the Epistles differ far too much in style to have come from the same hand,"

Atwill doesn't say they all came from the same hand.

(5) "Christianity was probably constructed to “divert Jewish hostility and aggressiveness into a pacifist religion, supportive of–and subservient to–Roman rule,” but not by Romans, but exasperated Jews like Paul, who saw Jewish militarism as unacceptably disastrous in contrast with the obvious advantages of retooling their messianic expectations to produce the peaceful moral reform of society. The precedents were all there already in pre-Christian Jewish ideology and society (in Philo’s philosophy, in Essene and Qumranic efforts to solve the same problems, and so on) ..."

This point actually support supports Atwill's theory.

"so we don’t have to posit super-genius Aryans helping the poor little angry Jews to calm down."

But we do. And there is no reason why we shouldn't.

"(6) Pacifying Jews would not have been possible with a cult that eliminated Jewish law and accepted Gentiles as equals, and in actual fact Christianity was pretty much a failure in Palestine."

True. That doesn't mean the attempt wasn't made.

"...in the Diaspora, where the Romans rarely had any major problems with the Jews."

False. Claudius expelled Jews from Rome. There were numerous Jewish uprisings throughout the diaspora, most notably in Alexandria.

"(7) If the Roman elite’s aim was to “pacify” Palestinian Jews by inventing new scriptures, they were certainly smart and informed enough to know that that wouldn’t succeed by using the language the Judean elite despised as foreign (Greek).[*]"

Yet Jews in the diaspora spoke Greek.

Also, one way to undermine Judaism was to dilute its numbers with tax paying Greek speaking gentiles.

And how do we know that the gospels were not translated into Aramaic as well?

"(8) The Romans knew one thing well: War. Social ideology they were never very good at."

No. They (particularly the Flavians) were very good at social engineering. Propaganda was a major tool in their armoury.
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06-06-2014, 06:37 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
Carrier writes this about Atwill...

"But I won’t waste any further time debating it with anyone who doesn’t take facts and logic seriously. I fully expect this thread to be descended upon by armies of time-wasting cranks, possibly Atwill himself, and I refuse to let this suck away any more of my time and labor, on what I now know will be an inevitable getting of nowhere. So I am stating right now: I am done with arguing this crap. So if you don’t like what I have to say and refuse to listen to me, I will stop posting your comments. Period."

This is childish.

Don't forget people like Carrier sell books. His books are excellent by the way. Yet what Atwill has written undermines some of what Carrier has written. Carrier probably thinks that compromises his ideas and his sales. Carrier has to call Atwill a crank, because if Atwill's theory is true, it means Atwill has worked out something that Carrier didn't. There are egos involved here, which is obvious from the tone of the writing. Bart Ehrman is in a similar boat.
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06-06-2014, 07:07 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(06-06-2014 05:56 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  I did my best to skim through what you wrote. There are some interesting coincidences in Josephus writings to some of the story in the gospels. The hardest part about attributing these stories to Josephus is that these stories did not make their way into scripture for some fifty years after the fact. That is a huge time gap, and a remarkably patient Caesar. The time line is the enemy of this theory. Christianity very clearly changed from how Paul preached it to how it was written of in the gospels. The likelihood that these stories had one principle source seems very remote.

Also, I take issue with how the the central themes of the gospels has been interpreted. It is true that there is no indignation and no resentment for these Romans who destroyed the temple in the text, and this seems suspect. I think it is more plausible that the writers of the new testaments where probably closer to Rome than they were to Israel. They had a political bias. Also, these attitudes and beliefs are very consistent with how the Jews handled the post exilic period after being conquered by the Babylonians in the 5th century BCE. This period was when much of the old testament was written, and the writers of the old testament chose to blame the leaders of Israel (mostly) and Judah (a bit) for displeasing the lord. To give credit to the Babylonians, or the Romans, or any other people for conquering Jerusalem would be the equivalent of saying their armies has conquered the will of god. The only acceptable explanation when hardship falls upon Israelis that god had become displeased with them, and allowed foreign enemies to subjugate them. Somehow they had broken the covenant with God and were being punished. The more egregious the harm the harm the better the evidence that they had displeased the lord. It would be both convenient and fitting to blame the Jews for the destruction of the temple and the death of jesus christ, with the latter perhaps being the cause of the former.

It should also be noted that during the during the first and second century CE the majority of Christians did not live in Palestine. They were trying to establish churches and religious institutions within Rome. It would have been very unwise indeed to be preaching a militaristic and abstinent message to your followers while trying to get along under Roman rule.

When you are talking about ancient texts like this one all you can do is make educated guesses, and many times "evidence" could just as easily be interpreted by another as just coincidence. If you approach everything like that you end up with no theory. However, the evidence within the texts themselves paint a pretty clear picture. There where multiple authors of the new testament, over a long period of time, in many places and by many people. The languages and writing styles used in the most authentic texts attest to that. Could all of these people have been inspired or coerced by the Flavians? I mean sure, anything is possible. But when you put up the evidence side by side; coincidences in the writings of Josephus with some of the stories in the new testament a liberal interpretation of the material (at best), as compared to decades of rigorous etymological studies of the texts, the latter clearly carries more weight. I'm sorry, I see the evidence, I appreciate the similarities in the two texts, but I don't see Atwill's theory as the most plausible explanation. The existing theories have decades of study and research behind them and don't have any of the problems that Atwill's theory does.

You've lost me.

You write..."The hardest part about attributing these stories to Josephus is that these stories did not make their way into scripture for some fifty years after the fact. That is a huge time gap, and a remarkably patient Caesar."

Josephus' account of the first Jewish war was published in A.D. 78. (see below) The gospels were probably written between A.D. 70 and A.D. 100 (Atwill would say in the 70's) The first Jewish war was from 66 to 73 AD. I've failed to follow your point.

"Martin McNamara writes: "All of Josephus' four extant works are important sources for Jewish history and tradition. The first to be composed was The Jewish War—an account of the war of the Jews against the Romans. Josephus himself tells us that he wrote two versions of this. The first one was in his own vernacular, i.e. Aramaic, and composed for 'the up-country barbarians', i.e. the Aramaic-speaking Jews of the Parthian kingdom, especially those of Babylon. This edition is lost. The extant Greek version is an adaptation by Josephus himself of the Aramaic work. It was published about A.D. 78, when Josephus was about 40 years old. The next work to be published was The Jewish Antiquities, about sixteen years later (A.D. 94 or so). It appears that soon before the publication of The Antiquities Justus of Tiberias had published his history of the Jewish War, with serious accusation of misconduct during the war in Galilee directed against Josephus. It is possible that Josephus' third and autobiographical work, the Life, was published at the same time as the Antiquities and as a reply to Justus. Some scholars, however, maintain that the Life was published about A.D. 96, and may have appeared together with a second edition of the Antiquities that appeared between A.D. 93/94 and 100. Josephus' final extant work to be published was Against Apion, or to give its original title, On the Antiquity of the Jews. In the first part of this work Josephus sets out to refute the detractions and contentions of anti-Semitic writings. In the course of doing so he excerpts from a large number of works no longer extant. In the second part Josephus gives his positive defence of the Jewish people, setting forth the inner value of Judaism and its superiority over Hellenism. In this we have a rather full presentation of Jewish halakah as known to Josephus." (Intertestamental Literature, p. 239)"
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06-06-2014, 07:09 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(06-06-2014 05:56 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  I did my best to skim through what you wrote. There are some interesting coincidences in Josephus writings to some of the story in the gospels. The hardest part about attributing these stories to Josephus is that these stories did not make their way into scripture for some fifty years after the fact. That is a huge time gap, and a remarkably patient Caesar. The time line is the enemy of this theory. Christianity very clearly changed from how Paul preached it to how it was written of in the gospels. The likelihood that these stories had one principle source seems very remote.

Also, I take issue with how the the central themes of the gospels has been interpreted. It is true that there is no indignation and no resentment for these Romans who destroyed the temple in the text, and this seems suspect. I think it is more plausible that the writers of the new testaments where probably closer to Rome than they were to Israel. They had a political bias. Also, these attitudes and beliefs are very consistent with how the Jews handled the post exilic period after being conquered by the Babylonians in the 5th century BCE. This period was when much of the old testament was written, and the writers of the old testament chose to blame the leaders of Israel (mostly) and Judah (a bit) for displeasing the lord. To give credit to the Babylonians, or the Romans, or any other people for conquering Jerusalem would be the equivalent of saying their armies has conquered the will of god. The only acceptable explanation when hardship falls upon Israelis that god had become displeased with them, and allowed foreign enemies to subjugate them. Somehow they had broken the covenant with God and were being punished. The more egregious the harm the harm the better the evidence that they had displeased the lord. It would be both convenient and fitting to blame the Jews for the destruction of the temple and the death of jesus christ, with the latter perhaps being the cause of the former.

It should also be noted that during the during the first and second century CE the majority of Christians did not live in Palestine. They were trying to establish churches and religious institutions within Rome. It would have been very unwise indeed to be preaching a militaristic and abstinent message to your followers while trying to get along under Roman rule.

When you are talking about ancient texts like this one all you can do is make educated guesses, and many times "evidence" could just as easily be interpreted by another as just coincidence. If you approach everything like that you end up with no theory. However, the evidence within the texts themselves paint a pretty clear picture. There where multiple authors of the new testament, over a long period of time, in many places and by many people. The languages and writing styles used in the most authentic texts attest to that. Could all of these people have been inspired or coerced by the Flavians? I mean sure, anything is possible. But when you put up the evidence side by side; coincidences in the writings of Josephus with some of the stories in the new testament a liberal interpretation of the material (at best), as compared to decades of rigorous etymological studies of the texts, the latter clearly carries more weight. I'm sorry, I see the evidence, I appreciate the similarities in the two texts, but I don't see Atwill's theory as the most plausible explanation. The existing theories have decades of study and research behind them and don't have any of the problems that Atwill's theory does.

"It is true that there is no indignation and no resentment for these Romans who destroyed the temple in the text, and this seems suspect."

Yes it is very suspicious isn't it! It makes it look very much as if the Gospels were a Roman product.
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06-06-2014, 07:21 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(06-06-2014 05:56 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  I did my best to skim through what you wrote. There are some interesting coincidences in Josephus writings to some of the story in the gospels. The hardest part about attributing these stories to Josephus is that these stories did not make their way into scripture for some fifty years after the fact. That is a huge time gap, and a remarkably patient Caesar. The time line is the enemy of this theory. Christianity very clearly changed from how Paul preached it to how it was written of in the gospels. The likelihood that these stories had one principle source seems very remote.

Also, I take issue with how the the central themes of the gospels has been interpreted. It is true that there is no indignation and no resentment for these Romans who destroyed the temple in the text, and this seems suspect. I think it is more plausible that the writers of the new testaments where probably closer to Rome than they were to Israel. They had a political bias. Also, these attitudes and beliefs are very consistent with how the Jews handled the post exilic period after being conquered by the Babylonians in the 5th century BCE. This period was when much of the old testament was written, and the writers of the old testament chose to blame the leaders of Israel (mostly) and Judah (a bit) for displeasing the lord. To give credit to the Babylonians, or the Romans, or any other people for conquering Jerusalem would be the equivalent of saying their armies has conquered the will of god. The only acceptable explanation when hardship falls upon Israelis that god had become displeased with them, and allowed foreign enemies to subjugate them. Somehow they had broken the covenant with God and were being punished. The more egregious the harm the harm the better the evidence that they had displeased the lord. It would be both convenient and fitting to blame the Jews for the destruction of the temple and the death of jesus christ, with the latter perhaps being the cause of the former.

It should also be noted that during the during the first and second century CE the majority of Christians did not live in Palestine. They were trying to establish churches and religious institutions within Rome. It would have been very unwise indeed to be preaching a militaristic and abstinent message to your followers while trying to get along under Roman rule.

When you are talking about ancient texts like this one all you can do is make educated guesses, and many times "evidence" could just as easily be interpreted by another as just coincidence. If you approach everything like that you end up with no theory. However, the evidence within the texts themselves paint a pretty clear picture. There where multiple authors of the new testament, over a long period of time, in many places and by many people. The languages and writing styles used in the most authentic texts attest to that. Could all of these people have been inspired or coerced by the Flavians? I mean sure, anything is possible. But when you put up the evidence side by side; coincidences in the writings of Josephus with some of the stories in the new testament a liberal interpretation of the material (at best), as compared to decades of rigorous etymological studies of the texts, the latter clearly carries more weight. I'm sorry, I see the evidence, I appreciate the similarities in the two texts, but I don't see Atwill's theory as the most plausible explanation. The existing theories have decades of study and research behind them and don't have any of the problems that Atwill's theory does.

"I think it is more plausible that the writers of the new testaments where probably closer to Rome than they were to Israel. They had a political bias. Also, these attitudes and beliefs are very consistent with how the Jews handled the post exilic period after being conquered by the Babylonians in the 5th century BCE. This period was when much of the old testament was written, and the writers of the old testament chose to blame the leaders of Israel (mostly) and Judah (a bit) for displeasing the lord. To give credit to the Babylonians, or the Romans, or any other people for conquering Jerusalem would be the equivalent of saying their armies has conquered the will of god. The only acceptable explanation when hardship falls upon Israelis that god had become displeased with them, and allowed foreign enemies to subjugate them. Somehow they had broken the covenant with God and were being punished. The more egregious the harm the harm the better the evidence that they had displeased the lord. It would be both convenient and fitting to blame the Jews for the destruction of the temple and the death of jesus christ, with the latter perhaps being the cause of the former."

I totally agree, and so would Atwill.

"Could all of these people have been inspired or coerced by the Flavians?"

Well, Atwill's theory refers only to the original versions of the four gospels. He says nothing about the other contents of the new Testament, including Paul's letters. Could the original versions of the four gospels have been inspired by the Flavians? Absolutely yes in my opinion.

"as compared to decades of rigorous etymological studies of the texts, the latter clearly carries more weight." But there's hundreds of different conclusions to all this study. It's a mess. There's not enough facts to work with, usually only the texts themselves. There is a reason for the confusion. The texts were written, then rewritten, then rewritten, etc etc
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06-06-2014, 07:33 PM (This post was last modified: 06-06-2014 07:55 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(06-06-2014 05:56 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  I did my best to skim through what you wrote. There are some interesting coincidences in Josephus writings to some of the story in the gospels. The hardest part about attributing these stories to Josephus is that these stories did not make their way into scripture for some fifty years after the fact. That is a huge time gap, and a remarkably patient Caesar. The time line is the enemy of this theory. Christianity very clearly changed from how Paul preached it to how it was written of in the gospels. The likelihood that these stories had one principle source seems very remote.

Also, I take issue with how the the central themes of the gospels has been interpreted. It is true that there is no indignation and no resentment for these Romans who destroyed the temple in the text, and this seems suspect. I think it is more plausible that the writers of the new testaments where probably closer to Rome than they were to Israel. They had a political bias. Also, these attitudes and beliefs are very consistent with how the Jews handled the post exilic period after being conquered by the Babylonians in the 5th century BCE. This period was when much of the old testament was written, and the writers of the old testament chose to blame the leaders of Israel (mostly) and Judah (a bit) for displeasing the lord. To give credit to the Babylonians, or the Romans, or any other people for conquering Jerusalem would be the equivalent of saying their armies has conquered the will of god. The only acceptable explanation when hardship falls upon Israelis that god had become displeased with them, and allowed foreign enemies to subjugate them. Somehow they had broken the covenant with God and were being punished. The more egregious the harm the harm the better the evidence that they had displeased the lord. It would be both convenient and fitting to blame the Jews for the destruction of the temple and the death of jesus christ, with the latter perhaps being the cause of the former.

It should also be noted that during the during the first and second century CE the majority of Christians did not live in Palestine. They were trying to establish churches and religious institutions within Rome. It would have been very unwise indeed to be preaching a militaristic and abstinent message to your followers while trying to get along under Roman rule.

When you are talking about ancient texts like this one all you can do is make educated guesses, and many times "evidence" could just as easily be interpreted by another as just coincidence. If you approach everything like that you end up with no theory. However, the evidence within the texts themselves paint a pretty clear picture. There where multiple authors of the new testament, over a long period of time, in many places and by many people. The languages and writing styles used in the most authentic texts attest to that. Could all of these people have been inspired or coerced by the Flavians? I mean sure, anything is possible. But when you put up the evidence side by side; coincidences in the writings of Josephus with some of the stories in the new testament a liberal interpretation of the material (at best), as compared to decades of rigorous etymological studies of the texts, the latter clearly carries more weight. I'm sorry, I see the evidence, I appreciate the similarities in the two texts, but I don't see Atwill's theory as the most plausible explanation. The existing theories have decades of study and research behind them and don't have any of the problems that Atwill's theory does.

"The existing theories have decades of study and research behind them and don't have any of the problems that Atwill's theory does."

The very fact that there are so many theories which you seem to give equal credit to doesn't add up. There are scores of them. Who wrote Mark? No one knows for sure. When? No one knows for sure. Was he a Jew or a Gentile? No one knows for sure. How did he know of a Jesus, if at all? Was his Jesus story entirely new or was it loosely based on someone who existed? No one knows for sure. The same can be said for all the Gospels. The reality is the "existing theories," when considered in their totality, are far less believable and markedly more disjointed than Atwill's theory.

Yes... A lot of clever, seriously obsessive individuals over the centuries have tried to figure out who wrote the Gospels and when and what was the authors' relationship to an historical figure, but I strongly suspect all these people have failed to see the wood for the trees. The answer to the puzzle lies in Josephus. The reason the whole Christian juggernaut (originally) took off throughout the Empire was because the government planted little seeds everywhere where there were Jewish communities. It was a lot less expensive than having to go to war again. And yes Chas, I have no direct incontrovertible evidence for this supposition, (so there's no need to quip up...again) just a very strong suspicion, supported by circumstantial evidence.
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