Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
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07-06-2014, 06:45 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
I've just had another look at this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zlj5-iwKueQ

It is very good, and only goes for 10 minutes. What does everyone think?
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07-06-2014, 06:49 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(07-06-2014 06:35 PM)djkamilo Wrote:  
(06-06-2014 11:08 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Paul was a drama queen. He was also a liar. Need I say more?

So if he thinks he's getting killed for his cause, he's a drama queen? I really was going to try to deal with some issues in your points but it's really pointless

No it's not pointless...lots of people will read this....if you have something to say, say it.

I do think Paul was a drama queen. He exaggerated his predicament for effect....

"Ladies and gentlemen I've suffered from my beliefs, now it's your turn!"
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07-06-2014, 07:02 PM (This post was last modified: 07-06-2014 07:56 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(07-06-2014 06:35 PM)djkamilo Wrote:  
(06-06-2014 11:08 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Paul was a drama queen. He was also a liar. Need I say more?

So if he thinks he's getting killed for his cause, he's a drama queen? I really was going to try to deal with some issues in your points but it's really pointless

Paul, as best I can tell, was never attacked by anyone except Jews. The Romans employed 500 soldiers to protect him from angry Jews. It is said he was imprisoned in Rome, yet I think that was for his own safety (he really really pissed the Jews off) He wasn't really a prisoner, as he had access to pen and paper and the mailman while he was in Rome.

There is a Christian "tradition" that he was executed in Rome, but absolutely no contemporary evidence that that ever happened, just second century stories.

It was a common first and second century Christian sentiment that it was somehow noble and impressive to die for your religion. A lot of the literature from this time describing this is faked ( such as the letters of Ignatius). The early Christians weren't persecuted. Domitian, emperor from 81 to 96 sought out some Jews who were members of the house of David (as our mate Jeebus was supposed to be) but they weren't Christians, they were Nazarenes.
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07-06-2014, 07:10 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
I don't think I know "who is who", (as the first Paul in Acts is just left "high and dry" in a certain location), and another is picked up somewhere else, with no explanation. But one of them sure caused a lot of trouble in Jerusalem. I need to read that again. There was that "promised donation", ((where Paul PAID (ie a bribe) for his inclusion, at least temporarily)) in the leader's group in Jerusalem.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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07-06-2014, 08:01 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(07-06-2014 10:34 AM)cjlr Wrote:  
(07-06-2014 09:58 AM)Chas Wrote:  When someone digs up some correspondence between conspirators, then there would be evidence.

I'd settle for a good explanation of why the Romans started persecuting the religion they purportedly invented, just for doing what they invented it to do.

"lol conspiracy" is a wonderful explanation, in that once you've latched on to it, you needn't actually explain anything else.

http://www.amazon.com/Myth-Persecution-C...ndida+moss
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07-06-2014, 08:08 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(07-06-2014 06:25 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  
(07-06-2014 09:58 AM)Chas Wrote:  Oh, you have a doctorate Biblical Studies or History of the ANE? If not, then your argument from authority fails before it gets off the ground.

Of course I understand Atwill's method, it's the same as Carrier's or Ehrman's or Mark's.

I simply do not agree with his conclusions as his argument in unconvincing, as is Mark's. (I don't agree with Carrier, either.) Many of the claims are simply too forced and contrived.

When someone digs up some correspondence between conspirators, then there would be evidence.


N.B. Ellis is demonstrably a nut job. Just Google him and read his writings. Or just read his posts here on TTA.

Ok Chas...I hear you that you don't find the arguments convincing, and you want direct evidence. In fact I heard you each of the previous 7 times you've said exactly the same thing. I respect that opinion. There's no need to keep saying it.

Now...please...in your next post...take things just a little further. Tell me some specifics. Talk around the topic. Demonstrate you've genuinely considered the possibilities. For example, which claims are too forced and contrived and why? Or...the podcast about the Flavians being great propagandists doesn't support Atwill's theory because...."

Then other people (like me) can learn from you and the conversation moves forward.

That's a reasonable request and I will address it. However, for the next few days work demands take priority.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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07-06-2014, 08:36 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(06-06-2014 07:21 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  
(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

The one conclusion that pretty much everybody draws is that the texts where written by many different people. The are numerous inconsistencies within the testaments, and each testament adds a new flavor, or a new element to the jesus story that wasn't there before. If everyone was supposed to be on the same page then they got it wrong.

If I am going to be convinced by this theory, I would need some very compelling answers to these question:

1) If the romans invented Christianity, why did they do so a poor job of making people believe it within palestine?

2) Many of the leaders of Israel were already in Rome's pocket, it would have been easy to get them to distribute their gospels if they wanted to. Why such a subtle play of it? Why wasn't the government more involved?

3) Why did it take decades after Josephus writings for the first gospel to be written? If Titus commissioned it before he died, wouldn't that mean that Josephus and others would have been working on it starting some time around 81AD? If you are generous, the first writings of the gospel of matthew where published in 100AD and perhaps as late as 140AD. Why the time gap?

3) If the Romans invented christianity why did they kill so many christians?

4) If Paul was an agent of Rome or a product of their propaganda, why is the Jesus story as told by Paul so incomplete?

5) Why do the gospels tell such a different stories?

6) There wasn't widespread agreement on the canonicity of many of the new testament books until the second century AD, and it wasn't formalized until the late third century AD. How would you explain all these non canonized gospels, and how did the councils that chose the cannon know which ones where written by the Flavians and which ones weren't? How do we know which ones where written by the Flavians and which ones weren't?

7) Lastly, why isn't there more collaborating evidence? Doesn't it seem likely that if the religion was invented that there would be an official record, or someone who claims to have invented it, or at least some record of Romans pushing the faith?
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07-06-2014, 09:37 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(07-06-2014 08:36 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  
(06-06-2014 07:21 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  "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

The one conclusion that pretty much everybody draws is that the texts where written by many different people. The are numerous inconsistencies within the testaments, and each testament adds a new flavor, or a new element to the jesus story that wasn't there before. If everyone was supposed to be on the same page then they got it wrong.

If I am going to be convinced by this theory, I would need some very compelling answers to these question:

1) If the romans invented Christianity, why did they do so a poor job of making people believe it within palestine?

2) Many of the leaders of Israel were already in Rome's pocket, it would have been easy to get them to distribute their gospels if they wanted to. Why such a subtle play of it? Why wasn't the government more involved?

3) Why did it take decades after Josephus writings for the first gospel to be written? If Titus commissioned it before he died, wouldn't that mean that Josephus and others would have been working on it starting some time around 81AD? If you are generous, the first writings of the gospel of matthew where published in 100AD and perhaps as late as 140AD. Why the time gap?

3) If the Romans invented christianity why did they kill so many christians?

4) If Paul was an agent of Rome or a product of their propaganda, why is the Jesus story as told by Paul so incomplete?

5) Why do the gospels tell such a different stories?

6) There wasn't widespread agreement on the canonicity of many of the new testament books until the second century AD, and it wasn't formalized until the late third century AD. How would you explain all these non canonized gospels, and how did the councils that chose the cannon know which ones where written by the Flavians and which ones weren't? How do we know which ones where written by the Flavians and which ones weren't?

7) Lastly, why isn't there more collaborating evidence? Doesn't it seem likely that if the religion was invented that there would be an official record, or someone who claims to have invented it, or at least some record of Romans pushing the faith?

Re #3. They didn't. Amazon :
http://www.amazon.com/The-Myth-Persecuti...ersecution
"In The Myth of Persecution, Candida Moss, a leading expert on early Christianity, reveals how the early church exaggerated, invented, and forged stories of Christian martyrs and how the dangerous legacy of a martyrdom complex is employed today to silence dissent and galvanize a new generation of culture warriors.

According to cherished church tradition and popular belief, before the Emperor Constantine made Christianity legal in the fourth century, early Christians were systematically persecuted by a brutal Roman Empire intent on their destruction. As the story goes, vast numbers of believers were thrown to the lions, tortured, or burned alive because they refused to renounce Christ. These saints, Christianity’s inspirational heroes, are still venerated today.

Moss, however, exposes that the “Age of Martyrs” is a fiction—there was no sustained 300-year-long effort by the Romans to persecute Christians. Instead, these stories were pious exaggerations; highly stylized rewritings of Jewish, Greek, and Roman noble death traditions; and even forgeries designed to marginalize heretics, inspire the faithful, and fund churches.

The traditional story of persecution is still taught in Sunday school classes, celebrated in sermons, and employed by church leaders, politicians, and media pundits who insist that Christians were—and always will be—persecuted by a hostile, secular world. Moss urges modern Christians to abandon the conspiratorial assumption that the world is out to get Christians and, rather, embrace the consolation, moral instruction, and spiritual guidance that these martyrdom stories provide."

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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07-06-2014, 09:42 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(07-06-2014 08:36 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  
(06-06-2014 07:21 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  "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

The one conclusion that pretty much everybody draws is that the texts where written by many different people. The are numerous inconsistencies within the testaments, and each testament adds a new flavor, or a new element to the jesus story that wasn't there before. If everyone was supposed to be on the same page then they got it wrong.

If I am going to be convinced by this theory, I would need some very compelling answers to these question:

1) If the romans invented Christianity, why did they do so a poor job of making people believe it within palestine?

2) Many of the leaders of Israel were already in Rome's pocket, it would have been easy to get them to distribute their gospels if they wanted to. Why such a subtle play of it? Why wasn't the government more involved?

3) Why did it take decades after Josephus writings for the first gospel to be written? If Titus commissioned it before he died, wouldn't that mean that Josephus and others would have been working on it starting some time around 81AD? If you are generous, the first writings of the gospel of matthew where published in 100AD and perhaps as late as 140AD. Why the time gap?

3) If the Romans invented christianity why did they kill so many christians?

4) If Paul was an agent of Rome or a product of their propaganda, why is the Jesus story as told by Paul so incomplete?

5) Why do the gospels tell such a different stories?

6) There wasn't widespread agreement on the canonicity of many of the new testament books until the second century AD, and it wasn't formalized until the late third century AD. How would you explain all these non canonized gospels, and how did the councils that chose the cannon know which ones where written by the Flavians and which ones weren't? How do we know which ones where written by the Flavians and which ones weren't?

7) Lastly, why isn't there more collaborating evidence? Doesn't it seem likely that if the religion was invented that there would be an official record, or someone who claims to have invented it, or at least some record of Romans pushing the faith?

Very good questions. I'll have a go at answering them. Firstly though, I want to point out a few things. I don't want to put myself forward as some sort of expert on Atwill. Or his groupie. There are many unanswered questions in his theory. My position is that I think his ideas deserve serious consideration, but they're not necessarily the last word on the way things were.

Some of the following answers will be just my opinions, not necessarily Atwill's.

I'm going to cut and paste a few things from my own writings. I do this at the risk of being too wordy, and therefore too long, and no one will read it. So be it. This stuff is complicated history and it takes to some effort to understand it.

- "The one conclusion that pretty much everybody draws is that the texts where written by many different people. The are numerous inconsistencies within the testaments, and each testament adds a new flavor, or a new element to the jesus story that wasn't there before. If everyone was supposed to be on the same page then they got it wrong."

AGREED. And this is one of the faults with Atwill's theory. Allow me to elaborate.

The Gospels were written to entice people to join a religious cult. They were value driven propaganda tools that integrated the theological, philosophical, and political ideals of the cult. Each Gospel was targeted at the people of the time, not for distant future generations. The Gospels were “proclaimed” in worship services to believers, to remind people of what they should believe.

They’re not “historical” documents. A “Gospel” is the “good news,” (from the Greek “euangelion.”) Not “the news.” Not the “good news and the bad news.” Just the “good news.”

Access to books was very limited and there was no mass media, so what the average person thought about the world was only what he’d learned from experience and what his parents and neighbors had told him, or maybe, if he was Jewish, what had been read to him from scripture. He had little or no understanding of science or reasoned critical thought, so believed in gods, ghosts, spirits, demons, witches, and the like. If there was sickness in a household, the local wizard or priest was called. It was an age in which myths were commonly considered truthful, and stories of magic and miracles were believed. Only some of the more educated people, who were relatively few in number, questioned belief in gods.

Modern biographies are usually based on factual accounts of a person’s life. In contrast, many ancient authors told stylized life stories. Documenting the actual thoughts, words, and actions of the character was attempted, but to do it accurately wasn’t thought of as particularly important, as biographies were written primarily to create legends and promote moral messages.

The authors and editors didn’t need to appeal to reason or common sense to sell their sort of story. The events they described, if they occurred at all, had happened decades earlier in another part of the world, and their audience had neither the means nor the inclination to check out the facts. What was important was to have written works appealing enough to compete with scores of other interesting cults so that an unsophisticated audience would be impressed. They wrote stylized biographies using the standards of the time. They may not have considered themselves dishonest, but judged by modern standards, they were.

There was no such thing as a printing press, so in the first few hundred years of each Gospel’s existence, translators, editors, interpreters, and interpolators altered the original writings by adding or subtracting whatever they thought might be useful. So the dates that are commonly given for the authorship of each Gospel (ranging from 70 CE to 180 CE) are only of limited usefulness, as they can only be thought of only as when the first drafts were composed. (http://www.maplenet.net/~trowbridge/NT_Hist.htm). It was only in the later fourth century that the Gospels finished evolving.

Atwill should have acknowledged this.
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07-06-2014, 10:12 PM (This post was last modified: 07-06-2014 10:19 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
"1) If the romans invented Christianity, why did they do so a poor job of making people believe it within palestine?"

You're absolutely right that they did have almost no success in Palestine.

Let's assume that my theory that Paul was a Roman government agent is correct. He spent some of his time in Palestine. This was in the 50s and early 60s. We know from secular history that Palestine was a hotbed of political dissent in the 50s and 60s. Zealots terrorised the countryside. Messianic fervor was in the air throughout Palestine in the 60’s. James’s death (62CE) helped fan the flames of the smoldering resentment that many Jews felt towards the Romans. Law and order slowly broke down in Jerusalem and throughout Judea.

Unpopular appointments to the temple priesthood (not a new phenomenon in Jewish history) only made the situation worse. Fights broke out between powerful Jewish families in Jerusalem. Zealots roamed the country districts and sicarii terrorized the streets of Jerusalem. Roman procurators, who were often corrupt, failed to keep the peace, and in frustration ruthlessly executed many, which further inflamed the bad feelings and made it easy to blame Rome for the unrest. To live in “God’ s land” was a nightmare for all Jews and their imperial masters.

In November 66 CE, zealots slew more than six hundred Roman troops and drove the rest out of the city. Gessius Florus, the Roman procurator, fled to Caesarea, and Jerusalem came under the command of a number of Jewish factions. This was a large-scale Jewish revolt. I think Yeshua had tried to do this thirty years earlier, so if he’d been alive he would have been very excited. The kingdom of God was one small step closer to becoming a reality.

This contrasts starkly with the traditional totally false picture told about life in Jerusalem in the book of Acts, with thousands of Jews said to have been converted to Christianity.

Why was the new propaganda so unsuccessful? I think it was because if you had been born a Jew, then priests have been brainwashing you and your family since the day you were born. You were told you were one of God's chosen people. Your penis was made to look different. You could only eat kosher food. You kept holy the sabbath. You could only marry other Jews... And she had to be a virgin to maintain the purity of the Jewish race. Your temple was magnificent. You just thought you were so fucking special. Along comes this character named Paul, and he said all of that was no longer relevant, that Jews and Gentiles were the same in God's eyes, and that the laws of the Torah were basically redundant because of the new kid on the block, the Christ.

Jews didn't buy this. It's possible that some Helenized Jews bought into it but the whole damn spiel was heresy to true Jews. Paul turned his attention to gentiles, because he thought as he was getting nowhere with traditional Jews, it was easier to weaken them by downplaying their exclusivity and diluting their faith with his version of Judaism (Christianity)

I think Paul was trying to stop the war. Traditional fundamentalist jews, particularly poor peasant Jews, dreamed about their Messiah... he was to be a political leader that set up the kingdom of God on earth. This kingdom of theirs would've put the Jews where they thought they belonged; At the top of the world's pecking order. Paul replaced this hoped-for political Messiah with his Christ, the mythical son of God who had already been and gone. He replaced the Jewish earthly kingdom of God with the spiritual kingdom of heaven and voila! Christianity was born.

It was propaganda that just didn't work, and it never stopped the first Jewish War. It was only after the war that the Jesus character was invented, which I think was the government's second attempt to undermine jewish messianic aspirations.
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