Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
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13-06-2014, 05:20 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(11-06-2014 09:43 PM)John Wrote:  
(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I'll try to keep this answer brief and to the point. I've spent way too much good time trying to understand the history.

Thanks for the breakdown! I think I'll comment on the bits you wrote.



(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  This Jesus character, if he ever existed, must have been a Jew, not a Christian. His family and followers were Jews too.

I'm with you.

(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  His very Jewish family continued to exist and lead a bunch of fundamentalist Jews called the Nazarenes for a few hundred years after Jesus' death.

I'm not sure why you'd think his family had anything to do with the movement. Paul allegedly mentions one brother, James, and doesn't say anything about him. The Gospels on the other hand merely mention some of his siblings by name and give the impression that Jesus wasn't well received in his hometown, i.e. among the people he knew best. Apart from James (the Just, brother of Jesus?) I'm not aware of traditions that link his family members to the movement, except for maybe the one page long Epistle of Jude (probably pseudonymous), the author of which claims to be the brother of James and a servant of Jesus, weirdly enough.

In addition, if his family were active in the movement, it would seem extremely strange that there weren't people claiming to be his authoritative relatives, and others trying to debunk such claims, as is the case with Muhammad (fleas be upon him), where we have countless people to this day tracing their ancestry to the prophet's family, if not to the prophet himself.

(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  If one reads the gospels with a critical eye it is very obvious that this Jesus character was a political insurgent who tried to start a war with Rome. He he grew up in Galilee, an area with a long history of political upheaval against the Romans. He led a troop of young galilean men around the countryside, marched into Jerusalem, upset the tables in the temple, was arrested and crucified by the Romans. He has "zealot" written all over him. Yet in the gospels he is usually presented as a benign preacher who told people to love their enemies, for give everyone, pay their taxes to Rome, and turn the other cheek. What balderdash!

I'm not so sure how obvious this is. To my mind each gospel has quite a distinct character and I find their provenance to be an unresolved problem. They certainly don't look like a product of well thought out design to me.

I'm inclined to accept Markan priority as the least problematic hypothesis, but Mark is in so many respects absurd that I struggle to fathom who in their right mind would write something like it and what for -- to me Mark comes across as serious enough to not be a joke/satire, but it makes the closest followers of Jesus look like fools while elevating outsiders, e.g. gentiles, the centurion and women, and Jesus isn't all too appealing either. Matthew seems to get rid of the buffoonery but turns 180 in the question of law observance, whilst embellishing the plot with anything he finds in the OT that a superstitious first century jew might have associated with the messiah. Luke looks like a sad attempt of reconciliating differing views under the umbrella of fictitious history, and John is a chapter in itself.

I can see why someone would write Matthew, Luke or John, but Mark is just... weird. In any case, the liberty with which the derived synoptics treat the original one is so alarming that I dismiss them as disingenuous propaganda, albeit not Roman government one. If anything, the gospels seem to portray a long, messy rivalry between competing factions, and that within what came to be orthodoxy, nevermind the humongous pile of what came to be unorthodox literature.

(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  The Jews, at least the common Jews, were brainwashed by priests. They thought they were God's chosen people and that they were really special. Yet here they were suffering from the burdens of landlessness, taxation and violence. They dreamed about the Messiah would lead them in a battle against their Roman rulers and establish a kingdom of God on earth. They wanted to be what the Romans actually were... The people at the top of the pecking order.

I'm with you.

(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  So I think the Roman world invented the story of Jesus to convince the Jews that their Messiah had already been and gone and he wasn't a political King but some saviour of souls. I suspect they borrowed details of the real Jesus and reinvented his motives and his personality and his religion to suit themselves.

In light of how diverse the Christian literature was (or at least rapidly came to be), and how unaware Roman authors seemed to be about Christianity well into the 2nd century, I find this one difficult to square. There's also a huge stumbling block I find: Paul. More on that below.

(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  This was as best I can remember something I didn't read anywhere... it just grew in my mind. I found a number of other authors around the world that had the same suspicions and then I found Atwill who proposed how it was done.

I think the Flavians did invent "Jesus." I think Paul was working for the Roman government. As you so rightly point out, Paul knows bugger all about a flesh and blood Jesus… because he wrote before the Gospels. The gospels were written after the first Jewish war.

For the occasion, I re-read the 7 'authentic' letters of Paul with the mindset of trying to envision him as working for the Roman government. It didn't turn out well for the Flavians. In all the letters there was just one piece that I thought could be definitely considered pro-government:

Romans 13:1-7 Wrote:Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

In addition, outside of Latin names in the greetings in Romans and elswhere there was no sign of Paul associating with any Romans, let alone Roman officials, except for 2 bits in Philippians, which Paul supposedly writes from prison in Rome:

Philippians 1:12-14 Wrote:Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard [πραιτωρίῳ] and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

This looks like a weird thing to mention if Paul's working for the government, since apparently he'd be in prison for propagating the very thing the government want's him to propagate. It hardly makes sense as a lie either.

Philippians 4:22 Wrote:All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.

In light of what Paul wrote before, this can hardly be taken as confirmation that he's associating with the Roman elite, since they're the people who we're given to understand locked him up in the first place. Rather he seems to have made converts among the slaves (= lowliest in the household) and finds it worthwile to mention as a positive accomplishment whilst being incarcerated, to boost his reputation among the recipients, his supporters, I suppose.



Sadly that's all there's to it, apart from the overarching theme of love and benevolence, one piece in Romans seems to be the only thing in the Pauline corpus that a Roman government would wish to promulgate. I was actually disappointed to find so little support for the idea in Paul's letters. To the contrary, however, I did find quite a lot of material that would speak against Paul working for the government, in the Corinthian letters:



1 Corinthians 2:6-8 Wrote:We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

I realise that the mythicists take "the rulers of this age" to mean Satan/demons, but if you're working for the government and by the assumption that a Roman ruler crucified the Lord, you might wan't to choose your words more carefully or avoid such passages alltogether. Next we have:


1 Corinthians 4:3-4 Wrote:I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.

And

1 Corinthians 6:1,5-6 Wrote:If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!

If you're working for the government, it seems odd that you'd encourage people to avoid civil court and resolve disputes among themselves.


1 Corinthians 7:21 Wrote:Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. Even if you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever.

This reading (NRSV) is disputed, but in this interpretation Paul encourages slave converts not to pursue freedom (= be pro-government). The alternative reading (NIV, for instance) reads exactly the opposite and encourages slaves to seek freedom (= be anti-government), but in any case it is shortly followed by this rather unambiguous verse:

1 Corinthians 7:23 Wrote:You were bought with a price [Christ's crucifixion]; do not become slaves of human masters.

Which doesn't quite sound like something Caesar would approve of.

1 Corinthians 7:31 Wrote:[...], For this world in its present form is passing away.

Not exactly pro-government.

1 Corinthians 15:24-25 Wrote:Then the end will come, when he [Christ] hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

Not exactly pro-government.

2 Corinthians 2:4-6 Wrote:The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

Not exactly pro-government.


To these more or less anti-government quotes I'd add that, in general, Paul doesn't seem to be concerned with anything that I could imagine the government wanted to propagate, thus rendering him a rather lousy government employee. The following subjects are what Paul mostly rambles about:
  • abstaing from sexual immorality
  • abolishing food laws
  • ceasing the practice of (un)circumcision
  • loving just about everything
  • importance of faith without deeds
  • collecting money for his racket
  • guidelines for profesying
  • guidelines for glossolalia
  • covering head during prayer(!)
  • resurrection and judgement day
  • persecution of himself


If I had to describe Paul, I'd probably go with something like:


Manipulating hypocritical deluded raving lunatic.


How this guy ever made a single convert in the cradle of Western civilization is beyond me. Which is actually another big problem. Paul is almost exclusively concerned with gentiles, not the troublemaking jews who the Roman government would wish to see adopting more benign religious views. If Paul is trying to achieve that, then judging by his letters, he most definitely sucks at his job.



(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I think Marcion introduced Paul's writings to the catholic church in Rome in the 140s. I think Paul's Christ was then written into the Gospels. This could be why the original version of Mark (probably the first gospel to be written) didn't contain resurrection appearance of Jesus until much later in its life.

I haven't really done my homework thoroughly enough to have a take on the Marcionites, but so far from what I understand this sounds plausible. I'm intrigued by the idea that all of the extant gospels are 2nd century production and for the most part preceeded by Marcion and his forerunners. It's not like the 'genuine' Pauline epistles have a firm date either -- they make no reference to anything historical that could be verified, safe for the mention of King Aretas (2 Cor 11:32), which means that the dating has to rely on spurious works like Acts or questionable internal evidence, and thus, is fair game for speculation.

I'll share with you my spiel on Marcion...

Marcion
Marcion (110–160 CE) was a key figure in Christianity’s history. He may have been the son of a bishop, and hailed from Pontus, a region on the southern coast of the Black Sea in modern Turkey. He was a ship owner and financially well off. He travelled to Rome about 142–143 CE, and soon attracted a large following, as his wealth allowed him influence and position. (http://www.gnosis.org/library/meadmarcion.htm, http://www.sacred-texts.com/gno/fff/fff38.htm).

Some sources claim that Marcion was the first person to promote the Pauline Epistles, as prior to his emergence in Rome, we don’t directly hear of Paul, (other than in Ignatius’ letters, and they’re of doubtful authenticity.) No one knows how Marcion came across Paul’s letters, yet it’s possible that without Marcion, they might never have been published. Some commentators have hypothesized that Paul was, in fact, Marcion himself. I think that highly unlikely, as it would take a literary genius to invent Paul’s character.

The hero of Marcion’s canon was named Isu Chrestos - not “Jesus” or Yeshua. This is one of the reasons I suspect when “Paul” mentions “Jesus,” “Lord Jesus,” or “Jesus Christ,” such references are interpolations.

Marcion was a Docetist; someone who believed Christ was a spirit, an entity who sprung full-grown from the mind of God. Marcion’s (and Paul’s) Christ rescued people from the unattractive God of the Old Testament and the obligations of the Torah. He wasn’t the Messiah of Israel, the hero of Jewish expectations, but the savior of mankind.

Marcion thought that only Paul had understood the message of salvation facilitated by belief in Christ, which was precisely what the narcissistic Paul claimed too.
Marcion’s Pauline Epistles were Romans, Galatians, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Laodiceans (Ephesians,) Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon.

Marcion was an anti-Semite, and believed that people had inserted the Judaic elements of Paul’s writings after Paul’s death. He completely ignored the Old Testament and any other references to Judaism. His followers were the first Christians to completely break away from Judaism. He (correctly) regarded Yahweh as a primitive god: jealous, envious, vindictive, angry, cruel, intrusive, and judgmental. He didn’t deny Yahweh’s existence, and even acknowledged that he was the creator of the universe, but claimed that an entirely different, previously unknown, god had sent Isu Chrestos. This new god was one of love and benevolence, and had sent Isu Chrestos to replace Judaism’s legalism with mercy and tolerance.

Marcion’s Gospel is very similar to the canonical Luke, although about one third shorter. He called it the Euangelion—the “Good News”—and it wasn’t attributed to an author. The first three chapters of today’s Luke weren’t in it, so it lacked any genealogy, family, or birth story for Isu Chrestos. It’s commonly stated that Marcion shortened the original Luke; however, given that Marcion’s version probably appeared long before today’s “Luke,” it’s more likely that Marcion’s version was closer to the original.
He was the first commentator, in 140 CE, to propose the existence of a new canon, and therefore that a totally new religion, separate from Judaism, had come into being. His canon consisted only of the Euangelion and Paul’s ten letters. Marcion was, therefore, in one sense, the founder of New Testament Christianity.

His complete break with the Jewish epic was a direct challenge to emerging Catholic Christian orthodoxy. He was excommunicated from the Catholic Church around 144 CE, and labeled as a heretic. Polycarp, who couldn’t cope with competition, called him “the first born of Satan,” and other church fathers denounced him. That didn’t stop him. He returned to Asia Minor and continued to spread his ideas. His church expanded throughout much of the known world within his lifetime and remained very influential throughout the second century, when it was more successful than Catholicism. It continued to expand for more than a century, persevering alongside Catholic Christianity, and was its equal well into the fourth century, at which time the Catholics gained political power and forced the rejection and disbanding of most, but not all, Marcionite churches.

One of the oldest Christian churches ever found is Marcionite, dates from 318 CE, and is located in Syria. The inscription on a wall is dedicated to “The Lord and Savior Isu Chrestos.”

In its opposition to Marcion, the Roman Catholic Church would identify itself as the heir to Jewish tradition, and even claimed itself to be the new “true Israel.” So the fact that Marcion was opposed to Judaism meant he had enormous influence on the evolution of Catholic Christianity.

Tertullian, (160 – 220 CE) an influential theologian and a member of the Catholic Church, was highly critical of Marcion, and wrote five books criticizing him. Considering how things turned out, it’s eye-opening that he denigrated Marcion’s guru Paul as not being Jesus’ true apostle:
“I require to know of Marcion the origin of his apostles…since a man is affirmed to me to be an apostle whom I do not find mentioned in the Gospel in the catalogue of the apostles. Indeed, when I hear that this man was chosen by the Lord after He had attained His rest in heaven, I feel that a kind of improvidence is imputable to Christ, for not knowing before that this man was necessary to Him; and because He thought that he must be added to the apostolic body in the way of a fortuitous encounter rather than a deliberate selection; by necessity (so to speak), and not voluntary choice, although the members of the apostolate had been duly ordained, and were now dismissed to their several missions. Wherefore, O shipmaster of Pontus, if you have never taken on board your small craft any contraband goods or smuggler’s cargo, if you have never thrown overboard or tampered with a freight, you are still more careful and conscientious, I doubt not, in divine things; and so I should be glad if you would inform us under what bill of lading you admitted the Apostle Paul on board, who ticketed him, what owner forwarded him, who handed him to you, that so you may land him without any misgiving, lest he should turn out to belong to him, who can substantiate his claim to him by producing all his apostolic writings. He professes himself to be ‘an apostle,’ to use his own words, ‘not of men, nor by man, but by Jesus Christ.’ Of course, any one may make a profession concerning himself; but his profession is only rendered valid by the authority of a second person. One man signs, another countersigns; one man appends his seal, another registers in the public records. No one is at once a proposer and a seconder to himself. Besides, you have read, no doubt, that ‘many shall come, saying, I am Christ.’ Now if anyone can pretend that he is Christ, how much more might a man profess to be an apostle of Christ! But still, for my own part, I appear in the character of a disciple and an inquirer; that so I may even thus both refute your belief, who have nothing to support it, and confound your shamelessness, who make claims without possessing the means of establishing them.” (Against Marcion, Book V, Chapter 1, translated by the Rev. S. Thelwall.) How interesting! Tertullian, one of the founding fathers of Catholic Christianity, questioned Paul’s legitimacy. He was stating the obvious; Paul was only a self-appointed apostle and had no valid authority, because he never met Jesus. Paul’s status in Christian Churches has obviously grown since the time Tertullian wrote this.

The Roman Church eventually pinched many of Marcion’s patrons, and Paul’s teachings became the essence of Catholic Christianity. Hence Marcion’s ghost is very much alive in Christian churches today. (http://messianicpublications.com/daniel-...marcion/). His anti-Jewish, anti-Old Testament, pro-Paul heresy lives on, but it was dogma that would have dismayed Jesus.
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13-06-2014, 05:30 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(11-06-2014 09:43 PM)John Wrote:  
(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I'll try to keep this answer brief and to the point. I've spent way too much good time trying to understand the history.

Thanks for the breakdown! I think I'll comment on the bits you wrote.



(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  This Jesus character, if he ever existed, must have been a Jew, not a Christian. His family and followers were Jews too.

I'm with you.

(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  His very Jewish family continued to exist and lead a bunch of fundamentalist Jews called the Nazarenes for a few hundred years after Jesus' death.

I'm not sure why you'd think his family had anything to do with the movement. Paul allegedly mentions one brother, James, and doesn't say anything about him. The Gospels on the other hand merely mention some of his siblings by name and give the impression that Jesus wasn't well received in his hometown, i.e. among the people he knew best. Apart from James (the Just, brother of Jesus?) I'm not aware of traditions that link his family members to the movement, except for maybe the one page long Epistle of Jude (probably pseudonymous), the author of which claims to be the brother of James and a servant of Jesus, weirdly enough.

In addition, if his family were active in the movement, it would seem extremely strange that there weren't people claiming to be his authoritative relatives, and others trying to debunk such claims, as is the case with Muhammad (fleas be upon him), where we have countless people to this day tracing their ancestry to the prophet's family, if not to the prophet himself.

(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  If one reads the gospels with a critical eye it is very obvious that this Jesus character was a political insurgent who tried to start a war with Rome. He he grew up in Galilee, an area with a long history of political upheaval against the Romans. He led a troop of young galilean men around the countryside, marched into Jerusalem, upset the tables in the temple, was arrested and crucified by the Romans. He has "zealot" written all over him. Yet in the gospels he is usually presented as a benign preacher who told people to love their enemies, for give everyone, pay their taxes to Rome, and turn the other cheek. What balderdash!

I'm not so sure how obvious this is. To my mind each gospel has quite a distinct character and I find their provenance to be an unresolved problem. They certainly don't look like a product of well thought out design to me.

I'm inclined to accept Markan priority as the least problematic hypothesis, but Mark is in so many respects absurd that I struggle to fathom who in their right mind would write something like it and what for -- to me Mark comes across as serious enough to not be a joke/satire, but it makes the closest followers of Jesus look like fools while elevating outsiders, e.g. gentiles, the centurion and women, and Jesus isn't all too appealing either. Matthew seems to get rid of the buffoonery but turns 180 in the question of law observance, whilst embellishing the plot with anything he finds in the OT that a superstitious first century jew might have associated with the messiah. Luke looks like a sad attempt of reconciliating differing views under the umbrella of fictitious history, and John is a chapter in itself.

I can see why someone would write Matthew, Luke or John, but Mark is just... weird. In any case, the liberty with which the derived synoptics treat the original one is so alarming that I dismiss them as disingenuous propaganda, albeit not Roman government one. If anything, the gospels seem to portray a long, messy rivalry between competing factions, and that within what came to be orthodoxy, nevermind the humongous pile of what came to be unorthodox literature.

(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  The Jews, at least the common Jews, were brainwashed by priests. They thought they were God's chosen people and that they were really special. Yet here they were suffering from the burdens of landlessness, taxation and violence. They dreamed about the Messiah would lead them in a battle against their Roman rulers and establish a kingdom of God on earth. They wanted to be what the Romans actually were... The people at the top of the pecking order.

I'm with you.

(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  So I think the Roman world invented the story of Jesus to convince the Jews that their Messiah had already been and gone and he wasn't a political King but some saviour of souls. I suspect they borrowed details of the real Jesus and reinvented his motives and his personality and his religion to suit themselves.

In light of how diverse the Christian literature was (or at least rapidly came to be), and how unaware Roman authors seemed to be about Christianity well into the 2nd century, I find this one difficult to square. There's also a huge stumbling block I find: Paul. More on that below.

(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  This was as best I can remember something I didn't read anywhere... it just grew in my mind. I found a number of other authors around the world that had the same suspicions and then I found Atwill who proposed how it was done.

I think the Flavians did invent "Jesus." I think Paul was working for the Roman government. As you so rightly point out, Paul knows bugger all about a flesh and blood Jesus… because he wrote before the Gospels. The gospels were written after the first Jewish war.

For the occasion, I re-read the 7 'authentic' letters of Paul with the mindset of trying to envision him as working for the Roman government. It didn't turn out well for the Flavians. In all the letters there was just one piece that I thought could be definitely considered pro-government:

Romans 13:1-7 Wrote:Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

In addition, outside of Latin names in the greetings in Romans and elswhere there was no sign of Paul associating with any Romans, let alone Roman officials, except for 2 bits in Philippians, which Paul supposedly writes from prison in Rome:

Philippians 1:12-14 Wrote:Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard [πραιτωρίῳ] and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

This looks like a weird thing to mention if Paul's working for the government, since apparently he'd be in prison for propagating the very thing the government want's him to propagate. It hardly makes sense as a lie either.

Philippians 4:22 Wrote:All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.

In light of what Paul wrote before, this can hardly be taken as confirmation that he's associating with the Roman elite, since they're the people who we're given to understand locked him up in the first place. Rather he seems to have made converts among the slaves (= lowliest in the household) and finds it worthwile to mention as a positive accomplishment whilst being incarcerated, to boost his reputation among the recipients, his supporters, I suppose.



Sadly that's all there's to it, apart from the overarching theme of love and benevolence, one piece in Romans seems to be the only thing in the Pauline corpus that a Roman government would wish to promulgate. I was actually disappointed to find so little support for the idea in Paul's letters. To the contrary, however, I did find quite a lot of material that would speak against Paul working for the government, in the Corinthian letters:



1 Corinthians 2:6-8 Wrote:We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

I realise that the mythicists take "the rulers of this age" to mean Satan/demons, but if you're working for the government and by the assumption that a Roman ruler crucified the Lord, you might wan't to choose your words more carefully or avoid such passages alltogether. Next we have:


1 Corinthians 4:3-4 Wrote:I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.

And

1 Corinthians 6:1,5-6 Wrote:If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!

If you're working for the government, it seems odd that you'd encourage people to avoid civil court and resolve disputes among themselves.


1 Corinthians 7:21 Wrote:Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. Even if you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever.

This reading (NRSV) is disputed, but in this interpretation Paul encourages slave converts not to pursue freedom (= be pro-government). The alternative reading (NIV, for instance) reads exactly the opposite and encourages slaves to seek freedom (= be anti-government), but in any case it is shortly followed by this rather unambiguous verse:

1 Corinthians 7:23 Wrote:You were bought with a price [Christ's crucifixion]; do not become slaves of human masters.

Which doesn't quite sound like something Caesar would approve of.

1 Corinthians 7:31 Wrote:[...], For this world in its present form is passing away.

Not exactly pro-government.

1 Corinthians 15:24-25 Wrote:Then the end will come, when he [Christ] hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

Not exactly pro-government.

2 Corinthians 2:4-6 Wrote:The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

Not exactly pro-government.


To these more or less anti-government quotes I'd add that, in general, Paul doesn't seem to be concerned with anything that I could imagine the government wanted to propagate, thus rendering him a rather lousy government employee. The following subjects are what Paul mostly rambles about:
  • abstaing from sexual immorality
  • abolishing food laws
  • ceasing the practice of (un)circumcision
  • loving just about everything
  • importance of faith without deeds
  • collecting money for his racket
  • guidelines for profesying
  • guidelines for glossolalia
  • covering head during prayer(!)
  • resurrection and judgement day
  • persecution of himself


If I had to describe Paul, I'd probably go with something like:


Manipulating hypocritical deluded raving lunatic.


How this guy ever made a single convert in the cradle of Western civilization is beyond me. Which is actually another big problem. Paul is almost exclusively concerned with gentiles, not the troublemaking jews who the Roman government would wish to see adopting more benign religious views. If Paul is trying to achieve that, then judging by his letters, he most definitely sucks at his job.



(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I think Marcion introduced Paul's writings to the catholic church in Rome in the 140s. I think Paul's Christ was then written into the Gospels. This could be why the original version of Mark (probably the first gospel to be written) didn't contain resurrection appearance of Jesus until much later in its life.

I haven't really done my homework thoroughly enough to have a take on the Marcionites, but so far from what I understand this sounds plausible. I'm intrigued by the idea that all of the extant gospels are 2nd century production and for the most part preceeded by Marcion and his forerunners. It's not like the 'genuine' Pauline epistles have a firm date either -- they make no reference to anything historical that could be verified, safe for the mention of King Aretas (2 Cor 11:32), which means that the dating has to rely on spurious works like Acts or questionable internal evidence, and thus, is fair game for speculation.

"In addition, outside of Latin names in the greetings in Romans and elswhere there was no sign of Paul associating with any Romans, let alone Roman officials, except for 2 bits in Philippians, which Paul supposedly writes from prison in Rome:"

True. But he would hardly advertise the fact that he was good mates with the Roman aristocracy. Let's not forget he was a Roman citizen. He also grew up in Tarsus. Tarsus was a large cosmopolitan city on the shore of the Mediterranean, and a thriving commercial center. In Paul’s day it was already ancient; a two-thousand-year-old seaport. A pagan religious cult, Mithraism, (discussed in chapter 7) which originated in Persia, was very popular there, and many other faith based groups flourished there as well (http://www.christianity-revealed.com/cr/...ism.html). Jews living there were a minority, yet, as was usual throughout the Diaspora at the time, they were tolerated and respected.

The book of Acts has Paul claiming his education was at Gamaliel’s school in Jerusalem. (Gamaliel was a well-known Jewish rabbi.)
“…brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, [and] taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day” (Acts 22:3, KJV.) Yet Paul writes nothing in his own letters about being Gamaliel’s student, or growing up in Jerusalem, so the author of Acts, who never claimed he knew Paul, may have been mistaken on these points.

What’s more, Paul portrayed himself as a top-class expert in Judaism, but he’s definitely not accepted as such by Jewish scholars today - and they of all people are most qualified to make such an assessment.
(http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articl...f-tarsus). Paul had only a moderate understanding of, and no real respect for Pharisaic Judaism. It’s obvious he wasn’t as endeared towards Judaism as a typical Pharisee should be. The account in Acts makes it clear that Paul was less than successful preaching to Jews who were zealous in their beliefs. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_the_Ap..._Judaism). In fact Paul preferred to preach to “Hellenized” Jews, or to Gentiles attracted to Judaism, because he thought he understood them, particularly the social problems “the Law” created for them.

Tarsus was not a center of Pharisaic teaching, and evidence for the existence of Pharisees living outside Palestine in Paul’s time is tenuous. It’s possible that the author of Acts invented Paul’s Pharisaic past to buttress the bond between Yeshua’s Judaism and Paul’s Christianity. On the other hand, some Pharisees put great store in the ideas of a heavenly afterlife, and angels and demons, beliefs that became important parts of Paul’s own theology.

He was reputedly a tent maker by trade, but this was hardly his calling in life. He was a passionate philosopher and theologian, and it’s obvious from his letters that what inspired him most was evangelizing others to convince them of his beliefs.
He spoke and wrote in Greek, and had a reasonable understanding of Greek culture and philosophy. He could probably speak Aramaic too, given that he argued with James, Peter and other Jews in Jerusalem. He changed his original name, Saul, to Paul, in honor of a Roman governor. Some scholars have suggested that Paul may not have been a Jew, because his theology is so obviously influenced by Gentile ideas. (http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and...was-paul). Yet I think he was Jewish in the sense that he’d been born into a Jewish family and had been raised as such. He certainly passed himself off as a Jew. He claimed,
“I was circumcised when I was eight days old. As for the law I was a Pharisee; as for working for religion, I was a persecutor of the Church, as far as the Law can make you perfect, I was faultless” (Phil. 3:5–6, NJB.) He declared he was educated in what he called the “…traditions of my ancestors,” (Gal 1:14, NJB) and he clearly had a moderate understanding of Jewish beliefs. Whether he had a genuine respect for those beliefs is another matter.

Paul was a Roman citizen, a status he may have inherited from his parents, (Acts 22:28) although how they came to be Roman citizens is unknown. His family would have enjoyed tax breaks because of this. In those times the prestige of having the same rights and status as a native Roman was attractive. In mercantile states and cities such as Tarsus, the fact that the government embraced the upper classes of the native population was one of the most successful weapons in the Roman arsenal, as it helped them control the common people. Paul would have been comfortable communicating with Romans, and with higher-ranking Jewish officials.

His education was obviously eclectic, as Jewish, Greek, Roman, Persian and other cultures influenced him. He was an urbane, well-travelled intellectual Jew from a well-off pro-Roman family that had successfully assimilated in a multicultural city. He probably spent much time in his youth discussing philosophical and theological issues with educated Greek friends. As a young man he would have enjoyed the lifestyle, freedom, and stimulation of living in a peaceful, successful part of the Roman Empire. He was from a very different world to Jesus, a zealot from the backwater of Galilee, who was very likely illiterate, xenophobic and poor. The differences between cosmopolitan, coastal, cultured Tarsus and heated, hostile Galilee would have been startling. Paul was at home with Romans and greatly admired their culture. Yeshua had grown up in a narrow-minded Jewish environment awash with deep resentment against Gentiles. Some of his friends and relatives had been killed under Roman rule (such as John the Baptist, and the thousands of Galileans killed by Roman soldiers in 4 BCE and 6 CE.) Paul and Yeshua were both Jews, but they could hardly have been more different.

After his so-called arrest he lived for two years in the royal palace at Caesaria.
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13-06-2014, 05:40 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(11-06-2014 09:43 PM)John Wrote:  
(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I'll try to keep this answer brief and to the point. I've spent way too much good time trying to understand the history.

Thanks for the breakdown! I think I'll comment on the bits you wrote.



(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  This Jesus character, if he ever existed, must have been a Jew, not a Christian. His family and followers were Jews too.

I'm with you.

(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  His very Jewish family continued to exist and lead a bunch of fundamentalist Jews called the Nazarenes for a few hundred years after Jesus' death.

I'm not sure why you'd think his family had anything to do with the movement. Paul allegedly mentions one brother, James, and doesn't say anything about him. The Gospels on the other hand merely mention some of his siblings by name and give the impression that Jesus wasn't well received in his hometown, i.e. among the people he knew best. Apart from James (the Just, brother of Jesus?) I'm not aware of traditions that link his family members to the movement, except for maybe the one page long Epistle of Jude (probably pseudonymous), the author of which claims to be the brother of James and a servant of Jesus, weirdly enough.

In addition, if his family were active in the movement, it would seem extremely strange that there weren't people claiming to be his authoritative relatives, and others trying to debunk such claims, as is the case with Muhammad (fleas be upon him), where we have countless people to this day tracing their ancestry to the prophet's family, if not to the prophet himself.

(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  If one reads the gospels with a critical eye it is very obvious that this Jesus character was a political insurgent who tried to start a war with Rome. He he grew up in Galilee, an area with a long history of political upheaval against the Romans. He led a troop of young galilean men around the countryside, marched into Jerusalem, upset the tables in the temple, was arrested and crucified by the Romans. He has "zealot" written all over him. Yet in the gospels he is usually presented as a benign preacher who told people to love their enemies, for give everyone, pay their taxes to Rome, and turn the other cheek. What balderdash!

I'm not so sure how obvious this is. To my mind each gospel has quite a distinct character and I find their provenance to be an unresolved problem. They certainly don't look like a product of well thought out design to me.

I'm inclined to accept Markan priority as the least problematic hypothesis, but Mark is in so many respects absurd that I struggle to fathom who in their right mind would write something like it and what for -- to me Mark comes across as serious enough to not be a joke/satire, but it makes the closest followers of Jesus look like fools while elevating outsiders, e.g. gentiles, the centurion and women, and Jesus isn't all too appealing either. Matthew seems to get rid of the buffoonery but turns 180 in the question of law observance, whilst embellishing the plot with anything he finds in the OT that a superstitious first century jew might have associated with the messiah. Luke looks like a sad attempt of reconciliating differing views under the umbrella of fictitious history, and John is a chapter in itself.

I can see why someone would write Matthew, Luke or John, but Mark is just... weird. In any case, the liberty with which the derived synoptics treat the original one is so alarming that I dismiss them as disingenuous propaganda, albeit not Roman government one. If anything, the gospels seem to portray a long, messy rivalry between competing factions, and that within what came to be orthodoxy, nevermind the humongous pile of what came to be unorthodox literature.

(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  The Jews, at least the common Jews, were brainwashed by priests. They thought they were God's chosen people and that they were really special. Yet here they were suffering from the burdens of landlessness, taxation and violence. They dreamed about the Messiah would lead them in a battle against their Roman rulers and establish a kingdom of God on earth. They wanted to be what the Romans actually were... The people at the top of the pecking order.

I'm with you.

(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  So I think the Roman world invented the story of Jesus to convince the Jews that their Messiah had already been and gone and he wasn't a political King but some saviour of souls. I suspect they borrowed details of the real Jesus and reinvented his motives and his personality and his religion to suit themselves.

In light of how diverse the Christian literature was (or at least rapidly came to be), and how unaware Roman authors seemed to be about Christianity well into the 2nd century, I find this one difficult to square. There's also a huge stumbling block I find: Paul. More on that below.

(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  This was as best I can remember something I didn't read anywhere... it just grew in my mind. I found a number of other authors around the world that had the same suspicions and then I found Atwill who proposed how it was done.

I think the Flavians did invent "Jesus." I think Paul was working for the Roman government. As you so rightly point out, Paul knows bugger all about a flesh and blood Jesus… because he wrote before the Gospels. The gospels were written after the first Jewish war.

For the occasion, I re-read the 7 'authentic' letters of Paul with the mindset of trying to envision him as working for the Roman government. It didn't turn out well for the Flavians. In all the letters there was just one piece that I thought could be definitely considered pro-government:

Romans 13:1-7 Wrote:Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

In addition, outside of Latin names in the greetings in Romans and elswhere there was no sign of Paul associating with any Romans, let alone Roman officials, except for 2 bits in Philippians, which Paul supposedly writes from prison in Rome:

Philippians 1:12-14 Wrote:Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard [πραιτωρίῳ] and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

This looks like a weird thing to mention if Paul's working for the government, since apparently he'd be in prison for propagating the very thing the government want's him to propagate. It hardly makes sense as a lie either.

Philippians 4:22 Wrote:All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.

In light of what Paul wrote before, this can hardly be taken as confirmation that he's associating with the Roman elite, since they're the people who we're given to understand locked him up in the first place. Rather he seems to have made converts among the slaves (= lowliest in the household) and finds it worthwile to mention as a positive accomplishment whilst being incarcerated, to boost his reputation among the recipients, his supporters, I suppose.



Sadly that's all there's to it, apart from the overarching theme of love and benevolence, one piece in Romans seems to be the only thing in the Pauline corpus that a Roman government would wish to promulgate. I was actually disappointed to find so little support for the idea in Paul's letters. To the contrary, however, I did find quite a lot of material that would speak against Paul working for the government, in the Corinthian letters:



1 Corinthians 2:6-8 Wrote:We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

I realise that the mythicists take "the rulers of this age" to mean Satan/demons, but if you're working for the government and by the assumption that a Roman ruler crucified the Lord, you might wan't to choose your words more carefully or avoid such passages alltogether. Next we have:


1 Corinthians 4:3-4 Wrote:I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.

And

1 Corinthians 6:1,5-6 Wrote:If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!

If you're working for the government, it seems odd that you'd encourage people to avoid civil court and resolve disputes among themselves.


1 Corinthians 7:21 Wrote:Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. Even if you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever.

This reading (NRSV) is disputed, but in this interpretation Paul encourages slave converts not to pursue freedom (= be pro-government). The alternative reading (NIV, for instance) reads exactly the opposite and encourages slaves to seek freedom (= be anti-government), but in any case it is shortly followed by this rather unambiguous verse:

1 Corinthians 7:23 Wrote:You were bought with a price [Christ's crucifixion]; do not become slaves of human masters.

Which doesn't quite sound like something Caesar would approve of.

1 Corinthians 7:31 Wrote:[...], For this world in its present form is passing away.

Not exactly pro-government.

1 Corinthians 15:24-25 Wrote:Then the end will come, when he [Christ] hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

Not exactly pro-government.

2 Corinthians 2:4-6 Wrote:The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

Not exactly pro-government.


To these more or less anti-government quotes I'd add that, in general, Paul doesn't seem to be concerned with anything that I could imagine the government wanted to propagate, thus rendering him a rather lousy government employee. The following subjects are what Paul mostly rambles about:
  • abstaing from sexual immorality
  • abolishing food laws
  • ceasing the practice of (un)circumcision
  • loving just about everything
  • importance of faith without deeds
  • collecting money for his racket
  • guidelines for profesying
  • guidelines for glossolalia
  • covering head during prayer(!)
  • resurrection and judgement day
  • persecution of himself


If I had to describe Paul, I'd probably go with something like:


Manipulating hypocritical deluded raving lunatic.


How this guy ever made a single convert in the cradle of Western civilization is beyond me. Which is actually another big problem. Paul is almost exclusively concerned with gentiles, not the troublemaking jews who the Roman government would wish to see adopting more benign religious views. If Paul is trying to achieve that, then judging by his letters, he most definitely sucks at his job.



(11-06-2014 05:19 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I think Marcion introduced Paul's writings to the catholic church in Rome in the 140s. I think Paul's Christ was then written into the Gospels. This could be why the original version of Mark (probably the first gospel to be written) didn't contain resurrection appearance of Jesus until much later in its life.

I haven't really done my homework thoroughly enough to have a take on the Marcionites, but so far from what I understand this sounds plausible. I'm intrigued by the idea that all of the extant gospels are 2nd century production and for the most part preceeded by Marcion and his forerunners. It's not like the 'genuine' Pauline epistles have a firm date either -- they make no reference to anything historical that could be verified, safe for the mention of King Aretas (2 Cor 11:32), which means that the dating has to rely on spurious works like Acts or questionable internal evidence, and thus, is fair game for speculation.

Re "I'm not so sure how obvious this is."

If something swims in the sea, in a school of fish, looks like a fish, and gets caught on a hook, that something is a fish. Jesus, if he existed, was part of the underdog class, and lived in a time and in a place that was a hotbed of political unrest. He had the right pedigree to be a zealot; he talked, lived, and associated with zealots, and he was killed as a zealot, so he obviously was a zealot. I think he fashioned himself as the head of a gang of Galilean militants, men who resented the fact that Romans were rulers in God’s holy land. They wanted to free their people from foreign command and create an illustrious Israel.

If we consider the bare facts of his life; that he was a poor Galilean peasant who led a band of Jewish men around Galilee, that he was hailed as a king, and then arrested and crucified in Jerusalem, the question must be asked why more historians in the past haven’t realized that he was a political insurgent.
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15-06-2014, 12:32 AM (This post was last modified: 15-06-2014 01:03 AM by John.)
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  
(11-06-2014 09:43 PM)John Wrote:  Thanks for the breakdown! I think I'll comment on the bits you wrote.




I'm with you.


I'm not sure why you'd think his family had anything to do with the movement. Paul allegedly mentions one brother, James, and doesn't say anything about him. The Gospels on the other hand merely mention some of his siblings by name and give the impression that Jesus wasn't well received in his hometown, i.e. among the people he knew best. Apart from James (the Just, brother of Jesus?) I'm not aware of traditions that link his family members to the movement, except for maybe the one page long Epistle of Jude (probably pseudonymous), the author of which claims to be the brother of James and a servant of Jesus, weirdly enough.

In addition, if his family were active in the movement, it would seem extremely strange that there weren't people claiming to be his authoritative relatives, and others trying to debunk such claims, as is the case with Muhammad (fleas be upon him), where we have countless people to this day tracing their ancestry to the prophet's family, if not to the prophet himself.


I'm not so sure how obvious this is. To my mind each gospel has quite a distinct character and I find their provenance to be an unresolved problem. They certainly don't look like a product of well thought out design to me.

I'm inclined to accept Markan priority as the least problematic hypothesis, but Mark is in so many respects absurd that I struggle to fathom who in their right mind would write something like it and what for -- to me Mark comes across as serious enough to not be a joke/satire, but it makes the closest followers of Jesus look like fools while elevating outsiders, e.g. gentiles, the centurion and women, and Jesus isn't all too appealing either. Matthew seems to get rid of the buffoonery but turns 180 in the question of law observance, whilst embellishing the plot with anything he finds in the OT that a superstitious first century jew might have associated with the messiah. Luke looks like a sad attempt of reconciliating differing views under the umbrella of fictitious history, and John is a chapter in itself.

I can see why someone would write Matthew, Luke or John, but Mark is just... weird. In any case, the liberty with which the derived synoptics treat the original one is so alarming that I dismiss them as disingenuous propaganda, albeit not Roman government one. If anything, the gospels seem to portray a long, messy rivalry between competing factions, and that within what came to be orthodoxy, nevermind the humongous pile of what came to be unorthodox literature.


I'm with you.


In light of how diverse the Christian literature was (or at least rapidly came to be), and how unaware Roman authors seemed to be about Christianity well into the 2nd century, I find this one difficult to square. There's also a huge stumbling block I find: Paul. More on that below.


For the occasion, I re-read the 7 'authentic' letters of Paul with the mindset of trying to envision him as working for the Roman government. It didn't turn out well for the Flavians. In all the letters there was just one piece that I thought could be definitely considered pro-government:


In addition, outside of Latin names in the greetings in Romans and elswhere there was no sign of Paul associating with any Romans, let alone Roman officials, except for 2 bits in Philippians, which Paul supposedly writes from prison in Rome:


This looks like a weird thing to mention if Paul's working for the government, since apparently he'd be in prison for propagating the very thing the government want's him to propagate. It hardly makes sense as a lie either.


In light of what Paul wrote before, this can hardly be taken as confirmation that he's associating with the Roman elite, since they're the people who we're given to understand locked him up in the first place. Rather he seems to have made converts among the slaves (= lowliest in the household) and finds it worthwile to mention as a positive accomplishment whilst being incarcerated, to boost his reputation among the recipients, his supporters, I suppose.



Sadly that's all there's to it, apart from the overarching theme of love and benevolence, one piece in Romans seems to be the only thing in the Pauline corpus that a Roman government would wish to promulgate. I was actually disappointed to find so little support for the idea in Paul's letters. To the contrary, however, I did find quite a lot of material that would speak against Paul working for the government, in the Corinthian letters:




I realise that the mythicists take "the rulers of this age" to mean Satan/demons, but if you're working for the government and by the assumption that a Roman ruler crucified the Lord, you might wan't to choose your words more carefully or avoid such passages alltogether. Next we have:



And


If you're working for the government, it seems odd that you'd encourage people to avoid civil court and resolve disputes among themselves.



This reading (NRSV) is disputed, but in this interpretation Paul encourages slave converts not to pursue freedom (= be pro-government). The alternative reading (NIV, for instance) reads exactly the opposite and encourages slaves to seek freedom (= be anti-government), but in any case it is shortly followed by this rather unambiguous verse:


Which doesn't quite sound like something Caesar would approve of.


Not exactly pro-government.


Not exactly pro-government.


Not exactly pro-government.


To these more or less anti-government quotes I'd add that, in general, Paul doesn't seem to be concerned with anything that I could imagine the government wanted to propagate, thus rendering him a rather lousy government employee. The following subjects are what Paul mostly rambles about:
  • abstaing from sexual immorality
  • abolishing food laws
  • ceasing the practice of (un)circumcision
  • loving just about everything
  • importance of faith without deeds
  • collecting money for his racket
  • guidelines for profesying
  • guidelines for glossolalia
  • covering head during prayer(!)
  • resurrection and judgement day
  • persecution of himself


If I had to describe Paul, I'd probably go with something like:


Manipulating hypocritical deluded raving lunatic.


How this guy ever made a single convert in the cradle of Western civilization is beyond me. Which is actually another big problem. Paul is almost exclusively concerned with gentiles, not the troublemaking jews who the Roman government would wish to see adopting more benign religious views. If Paul is trying to achieve that, then judging by his letters, he most definitely sucks at his job.




I haven't really done my homework thoroughly enough to have a take on the Marcionites, but so far from what I understand this sounds plausible. I'm intrigued by the idea that all of the extant gospels are 2nd century production and for the most part preceeded by Marcion and his forerunners. It's not like the 'genuine' Pauline epistles have a firm date either -- they make no reference to anything historical that could be verified, safe for the mention of King Aretas (2 Cor 11:32), which means that the dating has to rely on spurious works like Acts or questionable internal evidence, and thus, is fair game for speculation.

Hi John, thanks for this excellent post. A lot of work went into it and I really appreciate that. I'm going to address all of your points. I'm intrigued by what you've written about Paul and I'm not quite sure what I'm going to say to some of your points but give me some time and I'll get there.

I must start by "schooling" you a little about the Nazarenes. You don't seem to know much about them.

Hi Mark, sorry for the absence. Feel free to school me away Shy, I don't mind getting information thrown at me, especially when it's interesting quotes from the early church fathers, since I'm pretty much illiterate as far as the post Eusebian church fathers go. I'll be damned if I ever get through Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, and their sources.


I'm actually quite aware of some of the issues that 'the Nazarenes' present, and it's a frustratingly complex picture, and by no means do I claim to be an expert in it. Here's more or less where I'm on the map. When I first realized that Paul's letters didn't know anything substantial about a historical Jesus, I naturally began to wonder where some of the 'historical' details of Jesus' life in the gospels arose from. One of the details was, of course, that he was supposedly from Nazareth. So I checked what the gospels actually had to say about 'Nazareth'. It turned out that Mark only mentions 'Nazareth' a few times (Mark 1:9, 1:24, 10:47, 14:67, 16:6), often as an adjective 'the Nazarene' (supposedly: 'the one from Nazareth'), in the (declined) form of Ναζαρηνὸς, though also with textual variants of Ναζωραῖός. Yet, other passages leave you with the curious impression that Capernaum was in fact his hometown (Mark 2:1, 3:20, 4:1, 6:1, 9:33).

Matthew on the other hand had a somewhat striking verse:

Matt 2:23 Wrote:"... and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene."

... with the greek forms of 'Ναζαρέτ' and 'Ναζωραῖός', respectively. This one seemed extremely suspicious, since it was a prophesy, and there was no clue of a reference to an OT passage to which it was supposedly linked to, which is to say, it was likely to stem from some apocryphal non-extant scripture or purely made up. On the whole, Matthew likewise mentions 'Nazareth' scarcely (4:13, 21:11, 26:71), with the same textual variants of Ναζαρηνὸς and Ναζωραῖός.

Luke mentions 'Nazareth' equally scarcely (1:26, 2:4, 4:16, 4:34, 18:37, 21:19) again with the same textual variatiants. The same with John (1:45, 1:46, 18:5, 18:7, 19:19), but unlike the others, John also gives the impression that 'Nazareth' was infamous and noted at the time:

John 1:46 Wrote:“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.


Looking at this it didn't at all seem clear to me that the tradition of 'Nazareth' stemmed from an obscure Galilean village, which went unnoted by the OT and Josephus (a Galilean), and was first recorded by Christians (Tertullian in Against Marcion IV.8, Origen quoting scripture in his Commentary on John, Eusebius with a weird quote from Sextus Julianus Africanus in Church Histories 1.7.14.) centuries after Jesus was supposed to have lived. The evidence for the village having existed before the term 'Nazarene' got into scripture is shaky to say the least, the best and only piece as far as I know is the inscription from Caesarea Maritima, which has been under heavy fire by mythicists.

In short, it seemed conceivable to me that the name of the village was rather a back-formation of 'a Nazarene', once I realized that such a sect actually had existed, but it was something of a conundrum by itself. What exactly was 'a Nazarene'? It's a question that I haven't really found a satisfactory answer to this day, despite a fair amount of effort in the past.

As far as scripture goes, the term 'Nazarene', at least in the case of Jesus, seemed to be connected with the term 'branch' (hebr. נֵ֖צֶר, ~netser) and the underlying connections to messianic prophesies in Isaiah:

Isaiah 11:1 Wrote:A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch (נֵ֖צֶר) will bear fruit.

I also looked into the etymology of a common Arabic word for 'Christian' (naṣraKnights who say NI!, نصراني) and got pointed to this excellent article which is quite a compendium of who called whom a nazarene in the ancient Middle East, and it also covers interesting connections of the word 'ḥani:f' (حنيف) to early Christianity, essentially suggesting that Islam could have born under the influence of a peripheral form of non-Nicean Christianity. The article, however, even though it's not strictly concerned with the issue, takes the position that "there is, in short, no sound reason to doubt that 'Nazarene' and 'Nazoraean' do in fact mean 'the man of Nazareth'.", with the following footnote:

Quote:For the preceding, see Schaeder's still fundamental article 'Ναζαρηνὸς, Ναζωραῖός' (Schaeder,1942), with a survey of the older literature. The lasting achievement of Schaeder's study is that it showed that there are no valid linguistic objections to the derivation of Ναζωραῖός, or of Mandaic n'ṣwr'y', from the name of Nazareth and thus took away the foundation for all the adventuresome theories that assigned some different meaning to those names; most of these had linked them to the Hebrew or Akkadian root n-ṣ-r, ‘to observe, watch over, guard’ (Aramaic n-ṭ-r, Arabic n-ẓ-r) and many had gone on to claim that the non-existent town of Nazareth was invented by the Christian tradition to account for Jesus's supposedly misunderstood epithet. The phantasmagoric school of Nazoraean studies has survived Schaeder's attack (e.g. with Gärtner), but it has not found much favour with competent Semitists.

But of course, just because there's no linguistic reason to hinder the derivation of the adjective from the name of the village, it doesn't mean that it actually happened that way.

As to what the Nazarenes where all about, I read a bunch of stuff quite some time ago about what they were supposedly adhering to, but at this point I scarcely recall anything besides vows and some code of conduct; it didn't really bring me further at the time when I was in much more need of familiarizing myself with orthodox scripture, and I recall the material being rather conjectural.



So, with that of my chest I think I'll comment a bit on what you wrote:



(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  You write

"I'm not sure why you'd think his family had anything to do with the movement."

Let me tell you why. This is long, but I believe seriously important if you want to understand the real history. Please read it.

The Nazarenes
Yeshua was a Nazarene, as stated in the bible: Acts referred to “Jesus Christ the Nazarene” (Acts 2:22, 3:6, 4:10, 6:14, 22:8, 26:9, NJB.) Most Christians assume the term “Nazarene” referred to the fact that Jesus came from the village of Nazareth. This was, after all, what Matthew claimed, (Matt. 2:23) but Nazareth the place was probably not the real origin of the term. On (almost) every occasion that Jesus was referred to as being “of Nazareth,” the real meaning is “the Nazarene” (http://www.essene.com/What is a Nazarene.htm.) As mentioned, Nazareth the village probably didn’t exist in Yeshua’s time. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxEJHO8KIXY). Calling him Jesus “of Nazareth” was a ploy to distract from his sectarian affiliations. The bible made it clear the term “Nazarene” referred to a sect, when in the book of Acts, Paul is accused of being a Nazarene.
“The plain truth is that we find this man a perfect pest; he stirs up trouble among Jews the world over, and is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect.” (Acts 24:5, NJB.) An important religious sect would not have been named after an obscure Galilean village.

As a rule, I take everything that's written in Acts with a ton of salt, but yes, I find it conceivable, like Acts suggests, that Paul was a 'Nazarene', an orthodox or a renegade one, whatever the label might have entailed back in the days.


(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Hugh Schonfield, who devoted his life to studying Judaism and Yeshua, claims Nazarenism was an ancient version of Judaism. (http://archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3A”Hugh J.Schonfield” AND subject%3A”Nazarenes”). He thought the original founder of the Nazarene sect may have been a Jewish-Arabian prophet named Essa in approximately 400 BCE. So, if he was right, they were already well established in Jesus’ time.

This is something I'll have to dive into.


(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Many eminent scholars have linked the Nazarenes with the Essenian sect at Qumran. One might consider the Nazarene sect a strongly developed messianic form of “Essenism.” (http://www.essene.com/History&Essenes/TrimmNazars.htm).
John the Baptist, Yeshua’s family, disciples and followers were all Nazarenes. The “pillars” Paul refers to (James, Peter, and John) in his second letter to the Galatians, were the leaders and key figures of this group after Yeshua’s death. They too were Jews, not Christians. They practiced circumcision, believed in baptism, and were strict about the Sabbath. They were vegetarians who didn’t approve of the slaughter of animals, either for food or sacrifice. They developed their own “Halacha,” which was their interpretation of the Torah. They were true believers in the power and glory of Israel, saw themselves as God’s chosen people, and were vehemently opposed to the Romans. I think they were zealots, willing to take the Romans on, which was why the Roman world considered a Nazarene “a pest” who “stirs up trouble among Jews the world over.”

Sounds more or less agreeable, although I'd note that, as far as I know, it's not clear if Peter was one of the Pillars, i.e. Cephas. To me the mess among the names of 'Simon', 'Peter' and 'Cephas' smells badly like later harmonization, with Cephas probably ranking higher than Peter, and Simon being who the hell knows, Paul doesn't mention the name. Based on Paul's letters, it's not at all clear what the power relations between Cephas and James were like. Galatians gives somewhat contradicting impressions, 1:18-19 leaves the impression that Cephas was #1 and James, the brother of the Lord, not even on par with him, 2:9 lists James before Cephas, albeit he could be a different James than the guy mentioned in 1:19. 2:11-12 also lean towards James > Cephas in my mind, and Paul confronting Cephas suggests that he's not the ultimate authority of the movement. Still, 1 Cor 9:5 stirs the whole mess, as Paul seems to imply that Cephas > the brothers of the Lord > apostles, so depending on whether James the Pillar = James the brother of the Lord, and whether Cephas the Pillar (& an apostle?) = Peter the apostle (& a Pillar?), you could have it either way. If James the Pillar is not 'a brother of the Lord', then he could be above Cephas in this equation if Paul's comparison doesn't apply to James (i.e. James doesn't "take a believing wife along with him"). Beautiful.


(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  They considered the temple was the house of God, but were opposed to the Sadducees who they regarded as Roman collaborators. They had a broad base of support among Jews throughout Judea and much of the Roman Empire. Many ordinary Jews and Pharisees would have considered the Nazarenes brothers in the struggle against Rome.

If that is the case then Paul seems to be out of line here, since he strenuously argues that the bodies of all Christians are the house of God, i.e. the Temple. He doesn't show any regard for the actual Temple in Jerusalem, which, if the traditional dates of his letters are ~correct, was still standing when he wrote his letters. To me he gives the impression of not wanting to have anything to do with the Temple. I guess that makes him a renegade then.


(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Yeshua became their chief after John the Baptist’s death, and he remained in charge for (probably) a few years. Leadership was inherited from blood relations, which explains it passing from John the Baptist to Yeshua, and after Yeshua’s death, on to James, his brother.

Do you have a quick reference for why you think leadership was inherited from blood relations? I've never come across this idea.


(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  James and the other Nazarenes didn’t think Yeshua was the son of God, or that he needed to die to save anyone from their sins (http://www.petahtikvah.com/Articles/nazarenes.htm). They believed he was a (human) prophet who they hoped could be Israel’s messiah.

We read very little about this group in the pages of history because mainly Gentiles wrote that history, and the early Christians ignored the Nazarenes, or wrote them off as heretics, or tried to claim that some of them believed in the divinity of Christ. I think the modern reader interested in Jesus should be interested in their story.

Sounds more or less agreeable.


(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  What Happened to the Nazarenes?

“It is to the Nazarene records that we ought chiefly to look for our knowledge of Jesus, and we must regard Nazarenism as the true Christianity. As the Nazarenes throughout the period of personal recollection and down to the third generation, that is to say at least seventy five years after the death of Jesus, denied his deity and his virgin birth, we must recognize that these are alien doctrines subsequently introduced by a partly paganized Church, as Justin Martyr in the middle of the second century more or less admits. The Church which received them had no other course open than to belittle the Nazarenes and denounce them as heretics. The historian here has no difficulty in detecting the real heretics.” (Hugh Schonfield)

The Nazarenes were Yeshua’s bona fide disciples. Much of their history is missing, probably because early Christians destroyed it. Yet their tale can be pieced together.
I think Paul masqueraded as a Nazarene in the 50’s and early 60’s. He sent what is now a famous letter to “the Romans,” urging them to obey their Roman rulers. He was trying to outgun Nazarene doctrine with his own pro government perspective. To all true Nazarenes, Paul was a heretic and a traitor to Judaism. The cordial relationship described in Acts is a fiction. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, (d. 236 CE) Tertullian, Origen, Epiphanius, (c. 310 – 403 CE, bishop of Salamis) and Jerome all confirmed that the Ebionites (as the Nazarenes were later called, see below) opposed Paul as a false Apostle. So Christian theology is not based on the historical Yeshua.

Sounds agreeable, I just don't share your ideas about Paul's agenda. Whatever motivated Paul to do what he did, a difficult question in and of itself, I don't think it was a cheque from the government. I'm inclined to think that Paul actually believed the BS that he spew across the Mediterranean, wouldn't be the first nutcase, but then again, asking for money was a recurring theme in his letters... go figure.


(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  The Roman Emperor Nero may have blamed the Nazarenes in Rome for the great fire of 64 CE, and persecuted them. Christians today often incorrectly call Nero’s casualties Christians. There’s a Christian “tradition” that this was when Peter was crucified, but there’s no contemporary evidence to confirm the claim.

Hegesippus, (c. 110 - 180 CE) a Christian chronicler of the early Church who may have been a Jewish convert, writes that after the death of James in 62 CE, the Nazarenes selected Symeon, (aka Simeon) son of Cleophas, to be their new leader. He was one of Yeshua’s relatives, possibly a cousin.

During the first Jewish war of 66-70 CE, some of the Nazarenes may have fled across the River Jordan to Pella. Yet many of them probably tried to defend Jerusalem and therefore perished. The survivors must have been bitterly disappointed by the defeat. The remaining rebels reorganized and moved back into Jerusalem in 72 CE, although they never recovered their status and influence after the war.

Prior to 80 – 90 CE, the Nazarenes were still worshipping in synagogues alongside Pharisees. Yet they soon began to be viewed by their fellow Jews as trouble causers, probably because of their nationalistic ambitions. The Pharisaic Jews referred to them as “minim” (Hebrew for heretic.) A heretic is someone who still remains within the faith, but believes in elements not acceptable to the orthodoxy, so mainstream Jews never considered them Christians. A deep schism formed, and by 90 CE, Nazarenes were excluded from some synagogues. I suspect some Jews opted out of Nazarenism, or were intimidated by it, because opposing Rome was dangerous.

For the most part this is new information for me, so I'll have to look into it.


(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  In his “Ecclesiastical History,” Eusebius of Caesaria wrote of the grandchildren of Jesus’ brother Jude, who were living in Galilee during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian, (81–96 CE) Vespasian’s son and Titus’ younger brother. (http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250103.htm, book 3, chapter 20.) He says they became dynastic leaders of various “Christian” (a misnomer) churches, and continued to be so up until the time of the Emperor Trajan (98–117 CE.)

These are the kind of tidbits I love most. Yes


(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Kamal Salibi, a former Emeritus Professor at the American University of Beirut, Department of History and Archaeology, wrote that after Symeon’s death, twelve others followed in turn whose names are preserved down to 135 CE (the time of the Second Jewish Revolt.) So there were fifteen leaders of the Nazarene sect after Jesus, all of who were circumcised Jews and relations of Jesus. The word “Desposyni” was reserved uniquely for Jesus’ blood relatives and literally meant “belonging to the Lord.” They governed the Nazarenes. Each carried one of the names traditional in Jesus’ family: Zachary, Joseph, John, James, Joses, Symeon, Matthias, and others, although no later Desposynos was ever called Yeshua.

Sextus Julius Africanus’ (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articl...africanus) reference to “Desposyni” is preserved by Eusebius:
“For the relatives of our Lord according to the flesh, whether with the desire of boasting or simply wishing to state the fact, in either case truly, have handed down the following account... But as there had been kept in the archives up to that time the genealogies of the Hebrews as well as of those who traced their lineage back to proselytes, such as Achior the Ammonite and Ruth the Moabitess, and to those who were mingled with the Israelites and came out of Egypt with them, Herod, inasmuch as the lineage of the Israelites contributed nothing to his advantage, and since he was goaded with the consciousness of his own ignoble extraction, burned all the genealogical records, thinking that he might appear of noble origin if no one else were able, from the public registers, to trace back his lineage to the patriarchs or proselytes and to those mingled with them, who were called Georae. A few of the careful, however, having obtained private records of their own, either by remembering the names or by getting them in some other way from the registers, pride themselves on preserving the memory of their noble extraction. Among these are those already mentioned, called Desposyni, on account of their connection with the family of the Saviour. Coming from Nazara and Cochaba, villages of Judea, into other parts of the world, they drew the aforesaid genealogy from memory and from the book of daily records as faithfully as possible. Whether then the case stand thus or not no one could find a clearer explanation, according to my own opinion and that of every candid person. And let this suffice us, for, although we can urge no testimony in its support, we have nothing better or truer to offer. In any case the Gospel states the truth.” (Eusebius, Historica Ecclesiae, 1:7:11.)

Jeez, I've read this passage but my attention was caught by the fact that Nazara was located in Judea, not Galilee. Didn't cross my mind to check who exactly the desposyni were supposed to be. Big Grin


(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Eusebius also preserved an extract from a work by Hegesippus, (c.110–c.180) who wrote five books of Commentaries on the Acts of the Church. The extract refers to the period from the reign of Domitian (81–96) to that of Trajan, (98–117) and includes the statement that two Desposyni brought before Domitian later became leaders of the churches:
“There still survived of the kindred of the Lord the grandsons of Judas, who according to the flesh was called his brother. These were informed against, as belonging to the family of David, and Evocatus brought them before Domitian Caesar: for that emperor dreaded the advent of Christ, as Herod had done.

So he asked them whether they were of the family of David; and they confessed they were. Next he asked them what property they had, or how much money they possessed. They both replied that they had only 9000 denaria between them, each of them owning half that sum; but even this they said they did not possess in cash, but as the estimated value of some land, consisting of thirty-nine plethra only, out of which they had to pay the dues, and that they supported themselves by their own labor. And then they began to hold out their hands, exhibiting, as proof of their manual labor, the roughness of their skin, and the corns raised on their hands by constant work.
Being then asked concerning Christ and His kingdom, what was its nature, and when and where it was to appear, they returned answer that it was not of this world, nor of the earth, but belonging to the sphere of heaven and angels, and would make its appearance at the end of time, when He shall come in glory, and judge living and dead, and render to every one according to the course of his life.

Thereupon Domitian passed no condemnation upon them, but treated them with contempt, as too mean for notice, and let them go free. At the same time he issued a command, and put a stop to the persecution against the Church.

When they were released they became leaders of the churches, as was natural in the case of those who were at once martyrs and of the kindred of the Lord. And, after the establishment of peace to the Church, their lives were prolonged to the reign of Trojan.” (Eusebius, Historica Ecclesiae, 3:20.)

Eusebius wrote that they didn’t fight in the second war (132-6 CE) against the Romans, as they considered Simon bar Kochba, the Jewish commander, to be a false messiah. After this war, the fifteenth Nazarene leader was exiled with the remaining Jewish population when the Emperor Hadrian banned all Jews from Jerusalem.
Over the next few centuries, the Nazarenes headed by Yeshua’s relatives continued as a movement that some Jews joined. They were well respected in their own locales. They moved northeastward, eventually making their way to the Tigris-Euphrates basin, spreading throughout Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia.

The early Christians considered them a heretical sect, so ignored and later suppressed them. Justin Martyr denigrated their beliefs. The developing orthodox Catholic Church deliberately called them the “Ebionites,” “the poor ones” (although Jews did not consider this term derogatory; in fact they used the term to refer to the righteous.) Christians prior to Irenaeus didn’t use this term. He wrote “Those who are called Ebionites agree that the world was made by God; but their opinions with respect to the Lord are similar to those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates.” (These men were Gnostics who believed Jesus was a very human teacher.) “They use the Gospel according to Matthew only, and repudiate the Apostle Paul, maintaining that he was an apostate from the law. As to the prophetical writings, they endeavor to expound them in a somewhat singular manner: they practice circumcision, persevere in the observance of those customs which are enjoined by the law, and are so Judaic in their style of life, that they even adore Jerusalem as if it were the house of God” (Against Heresies 1:26.)

The Gospel according to Matthew that Irenaeus refers to was probably the same Gospel that Jerome (342–420 CE) and Epiphanius (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13393b.htm) called the “Gospel of the Nazarenes/Hebrews,” which was written in Aramaic. Jerome mentions that he made translations of it into Greek and Latin. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, no significant part of this Gospel survives today. Some scholars believe that it was loosely linked to canonical Matthew, which fits with Matthew being the most pro-Jewish Gospel of the four. It’s possible that this was how some facts about Yeshua the Nazarene insurrectionist made it into the Gospels.

Much later, Eusebius considered the Nazarenes heretics because “they regarded [Jesus] as plain and ordinary, a man esteemed as righteous through growth of character and nothing more, the child of a normal union between a man and Mary; and they held that they must observe every detail of the Law—that by faith in Christ alone they would never win Salvation” (Ecclesiastical History 3.7.) I think Irenaeus and Eusebius depicted the Nazarenes correctly in these quotes.

Gentile Christians came to refer to them indiscriminately as “Jewish Christians” because of their link with Jesus, yet this was another misnomer, because they never were Christians.

By the beginning of the fourth century, the Roman Catholic Church was becoming dominant and there were confrontations with Jews, including the Nazarenes. With the Synod of Elvira, held in 306 CE, prohibitions against eating, marriage, and sex with Jews were enacted in the Roman Empire. Nazarenes were included in this ban, which in effect excluded them from all social and religious association with those in the growing Gentile Christian church.

The Emperor Constantine appointed Sylvester as the head bishop of the Catholic church in 313 CE. According to the Irish Jesuit historian Malachi Martin, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malachi_Martin) a meeting took place in 318 CE in Rome between Pope Sylvester I and the Desposyni. Sylvester provided sea travel for the Nazarene leaders as far as the Roman port of Ostia, thirty kilometers west of Rome. The fact that Sylvester thought it necessary to meet with them suggests that he was curious, yet he initiated the meeting with the intention of exerting his pontifical authority over them.

The Nazarene leaders who appeared before Pope Sylvester quite rightly thought they represented Yeshua’s true legacy. They were, after all, his blood relations, part of at least three well-known lines of legitimate blood descent from Yeshua’s family. They were eight in number, and Joses, the oldest of them, spoke on their behalf. They bluntly refused to recognize the Roman church as having any authority, and made the following demands:
(1) that the confirmation of the Christian bishops of Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus and Alexandria be revoked;
(2) that these bishoprics be conferred on members of the Desposyni;
(3) that the Law be reintroduced, which included the Sabbath and the Holy Day system of Feasts, and
(4) that Christian Churches resume sending money to the Desposyni Church in Jerusalem, which was to be regarded as the “Mother Church.”

Such bold claims must have come as a surprise to Sylvester, who refused their demands. They were told that the leadership of Jesus’ church had moved to Rome, and that they had no jurisdiction. Sylvester must have known his church was the impostor, but that didn’t concern him. The politics of power were more important than the truth. This was the last known formal dialogue between Christian and Nazarene leaders.

A few years later Nazarenes began to surface in southern Upper Egypt. In this remote locale, far from the center of Gentile Christianity, they continued to practice their beliefs.

In 364 CE, the Catholic Council of Laodicea decreed anathema on any “Jewish Christians” who continued to observe the seventh-day Sabbath. Historical references to Nazarenes became scarce thereafter. The few remaining believers petered out.

To summarize, the Nazarenes were a Jewish sect that, at least in the first century, had strong anti Gentile political ambitions. Christianity, something quite separate, became a religion for Gentiles. It stole Yeshua the Nazarene’s identity to create Jesus, and reinvented him, not only as its founder, but also as God incarnate and the savior of the world. Christians then suppressed the Nazarenes, who struggled on for about four centuries before they disappeared.

If Yeshua, his family, and his original admirers could speak today, they’d be dumbfounded at the distortion of their legacy.

References:
Eisenman, Robert H. “James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls”
Klinghoffer, D. 1965 “Why The Jews Rejected Jesus”. Doubleday. United States Of America.
Lockhart, D. 1997 “Jesus The Heretic”. Element Books. Dorset.
Lockhart, D. 1999 “The Dark Side Of God”. Element Books. Dorset
Schonfield, H. 1969 “Those Incredible Christians”. Bantam. New York.
Thijs Voskuilen and Rose Mary Sheldon co-wrote “Operation Messiah”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4kTNS18ses
http://ia600401.us.archive.org/34/items/...onites.mp3
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebionites
http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Ebionites
http://douglaslockhart.com/pdf/THE NAZORAEAN SECT.pdf
http://www.yashanet.com/library/nazarene_judaism.html
http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/ebionites.html
http://www.yashanet.com/library/temple/nazarenes.htm for the above information.
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=b7bn...2C&f=false
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=jVyz...on&f=false
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_the_Hebrews
http://www.conorpdowling.com/library/council-of-elvira
http://www.askwhy.co.uk/christianity/0370Ebionites.php
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/te...ippus.html


Curious indeed, I guess this explains why one might think Jesus' family had a bearing on the movement. But in all honesty, as far as the trustworthiness of the Church Fathers' content goes, it seems to be on par with what Acts has to say. Definitely worth knowing though!

On the whole I'd say that the picture looks still disturbingly conjectural, something along the lines of: If there was a Yeshua and if he was a Nazarene and if he had a family and if they succeeded by blood and if they had anything to do with those Nazarenes that the Church Fathers quote... I don't know, maybe I'll evolve on the idea once I've read more of the referenced material.

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16-06-2014, 02:44 AM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(15-06-2014 12:32 AM)John Wrote:  
(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Hi John, thanks for this excellent post. A lot of work went into it and I really appreciate that. I'm going to address all of your points. I'm intrigued by what you've written about Paul and I'm not quite sure what I'm going to say to some of your points but give me some time and I'll get there.

I must start by "schooling" you a little about the Nazarenes. You don't seem to know much about them.

Hi Mark, sorry for the absence. Feel free to school me away Shy, I don't mind getting information thrown at me, especially when it's interesting quotes from the early church fathers, since I'm pretty much illiterate as far as the post Eusebian church fathers go. I'll be damned if I ever get through Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, and their sources.


I'm actually quite aware of some of the issues that 'the Nazarenes' present, and it's a frustratingly complex picture, and by no means do I claim to be an expert in it. Here's more or less where I'm on the map. When I first realized that Paul's letters didn't know anything substantial about a historical Jesus, I naturally began to wonder where some of the 'historical' details of Jesus' life in the gospels arose from. One of the details was, of course, that he was supposedly from Nazareth. So I checked what the gospels actually had to say about 'Nazareth'. It turned out that Mark only mentions 'Nazareth' a few times (Mark 1:9, 1:24, 10:47, 14:67, 16:6), often as an adjective 'the Nazarene' (supposedly: 'the one from Nazareth'), in the (declined) form of Ναζαρηνὸς, though also with textual variants of Ναζωραῖός. Yet, other passages leave you with the curious impression that Capernaum was in fact his hometown (Mark 2:1, 3:20, 4:1, 6:1, 9:33).

Matthew on the other hand had a somewhat striking verse:

Matt 2:23 Wrote:"... and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene."

... with the greek forms of 'Ναζαρέτ' and 'Ναζωραῖός', respectively. This one seemed extremely suspicious, since it was a prophesy, and there was no clue of a reference to an OT passage to which it was supposedly linked to, which is to say, it was likely to stem from some apocryphal non-extant scripture or purely made up. On the whole, Matthew likewise mentions 'Nazareth' scarcely (4:13, 21:11, 26:71), with the same textual variants of Ναζαρηνὸς and Ναζωραῖός.

Luke mentions 'Nazareth' equally scarcely (1:26, 2:4, 4:16, 4:34, 18:37, 21:19) again with the same textual variatiants. The same with John (1:45, 1:46, 18:5, 18:7, 19:19), but unlike the others, John also gives the impression that 'Nazareth' was infamous and noted at the time:

John 1:46 Wrote:“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.


Looking at this it didn't at all seem clear to me that the tradition of 'Nazareth' stemmed from an obscure Galilean village, which went unnoted by the OT and Josephus (a Galilean), and was first recorded by Christians (Tertullian in Against Marcion IV.8, Origen quoting scripture in his Commentary on John, Eusebius with a weird quote from Sextus Julianus Africanus in Church Histories 1.7.14.) centuries after Jesus was supposed to have lived. The evidence for the village having existed before the term 'Nazarene' got into scripture is shaky to say the least, the best and only piece as far as I know is the inscription from Caesarea Maritima, which has been under heavy fire by mythicists.

In short, it seemed conceivable to me that the name of the village was rather a back-formation of 'a Nazarene', once I realized that such a sect actually had existed, but it was something of a conundrum by itself. What exactly was 'a Nazarene'? It's a question that I haven't really found a satisfactory answer to this day, despite a fair amount of effort in the past.

As far as scripture goes, the term 'Nazarene', at least in the case of Jesus, seemed to be connected with the term 'branch' (hebr. נֵ֖צֶר, ~netser) and the underlying connections to messianic prophesies in Isaiah:

Isaiah 11:1 Wrote:A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch (נֵ֖צֶר) will bear fruit.

I also looked into the etymology of a common Arabic word for 'Christian' (naṣraKnights who say NI!, نصراني) and got pointed to this excellent article which is quite a compendium of who called whom a nazarene in the ancient Middle East, and it also covers interesting connections of the word 'ḥani:f' (حنيف) to early Christianity, essentially suggesting that Islam could have born under the influence of a peripheral form of non-Nicean Christianity. The article, however, even though it's not strictly concerned with the issue, takes the position that "there is, in short, no sound reason to doubt that 'Nazarene' and 'Nazoraean' do in fact mean 'the man of Nazareth'.", with the following footnote:

Quote:For the preceding, see Schaeder's still fundamental article 'Ναζαρηνὸς, Ναζωραῖός' (Schaeder,1942), with a survey of the older literature. The lasting achievement of Schaeder's study is that it showed that there are no valid linguistic objections to the derivation of Ναζωραῖός, or of Mandaic n'ṣwr'y', from the name of Nazareth and thus took away the foundation for all the adventuresome theories that assigned some different meaning to those names; most of these had linked them to the Hebrew or Akkadian root n-ṣ-r, ‘to observe, watch over, guard’ (Aramaic n-ṭ-r, Arabic n-ẓ-r) and many had gone on to claim that the non-existent town of Nazareth was invented by the Christian tradition to account for Jesus's supposedly misunderstood epithet. The phantasmagoric school of Nazoraean studies has survived Schaeder's attack (e.g. with Gärtner), but it has not found much favour with competent Semitists.

But of course, just because there's no linguistic reason to hinder the derivation of the adjective from the name of the village, it doesn't mean that it actually happened that way.

As to what the Nazarenes where all about, I read a bunch of stuff quite some time ago about what they were supposedly adhering to, but at this point I scarcely recall anything besides vows and some code of conduct; it didn't really bring me further at the time when I was in much more need of familiarizing myself with orthodox scripture, and I recall the material being rather conjectural.



So, with that of my chest I think I'll comment a bit on what you wrote:



(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  You write

"I'm not sure why you'd think his family had anything to do with the movement."

Let me tell you why. This is long, but I believe seriously important if you want to understand the real history. Please read it.

The Nazarenes
Yeshua was a Nazarene, as stated in the bible: Acts referred to “Jesus Christ the Nazarene” (Acts 2:22, 3:6, 4:10, 6:14, 22:8, 26:9, NJB.) Most Christians assume the term “Nazarene” referred to the fact that Jesus came from the village of Nazareth. This was, after all, what Matthew claimed, (Matt. 2:23) but Nazareth the place was probably not the real origin of the term. On (almost) every occasion that Jesus was referred to as being “of Nazareth,” the real meaning is “the Nazarene” (http://www.essene.com/What is a Nazarene.htm.) As mentioned, Nazareth the village probably didn’t exist in Yeshua’s time. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxEJHO8KIXY). Calling him Jesus “of Nazareth” was a ploy to distract from his sectarian affiliations. The bible made it clear the term “Nazarene” referred to a sect, when in the book of Acts, Paul is accused of being a Nazarene.
“The plain truth is that we find this man a perfect pest; he stirs up trouble among Jews the world over, and is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect.” (Acts 24:5, NJB.) An important religious sect would not have been named after an obscure Galilean village.

As a rule, I take everything that's written in Acts with a ton of salt, but yes, I find it conceivable, like Acts suggests, that Paul was a 'Nazarene', an orthodox or a renegade one, whatever the label might have entailed back in the days.


(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Hugh Schonfield, who devoted his life to studying Judaism and Yeshua, claims Nazarenism was an ancient version of Judaism. (http://archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3A”Hugh J.Schonfield” AND subject%3A”Nazarenes”). He thought the original founder of the Nazarene sect may have been a Jewish-Arabian prophet named Essa in approximately 400 BCE. So, if he was right, they were already well established in Jesus’ time.

This is something I'll have to dive into.


(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Many eminent scholars have linked the Nazarenes with the Essenian sect at Qumran. One might consider the Nazarene sect a strongly developed messianic form of “Essenism.” (http://www.essene.com/History&Essenes/TrimmNazars.htm).
John the Baptist, Yeshua’s family, disciples and followers were all Nazarenes. The “pillars” Paul refers to (James, Peter, and John) in his second letter to the Galatians, were the leaders and key figures of this group after Yeshua’s death. They too were Jews, not Christians. They practiced circumcision, believed in baptism, and were strict about the Sabbath. They were vegetarians who didn’t approve of the slaughter of animals, either for food or sacrifice. They developed their own “Halacha,” which was their interpretation of the Torah. They were true believers in the power and glory of Israel, saw themselves as God’s chosen people, and were vehemently opposed to the Romans. I think they were zealots, willing to take the Romans on, which was why the Roman world considered a Nazarene “a pest” who “stirs up trouble among Jews the world over.”

Sounds more or less agreeable, although I'd note that, as far as I know, it's not clear if Peter was one of the Pillars, i.e. Cephas. To me the mess among the names of 'Simon', 'Peter' and 'Cephas' smells badly like later harmonization, with Cephas probably ranking higher than Peter, and Simon being who the hell knows, Paul doesn't mention the name. Based on Paul's letters, it's not at all clear what the power relations between Cephas and James were like. Galatians gives somewhat contradicting impressions, 1:18-19 leaves the impression that Cephas was #1 and James, the brother of the Lord, not even on par with him, 2:9 lists James before Cephas, albeit he could be a different James than the guy mentioned in 1:19. 2:11-12 also lean towards James > Cephas in my mind, and Paul confronting Cephas suggests that he's not the ultimate authority of the movement. Still, 1 Cor 9:5 stirs the whole mess, as Paul seems to imply that Cephas > the brothers of the Lord > apostles, so depending on whether James the Pillar = James the brother of the Lord, and whether Cephas the Pillar (& an apostle?) = Peter the apostle (& a Pillar?), you could have it either way. If James the Pillar is not 'a brother of the Lord', then he could be above Cephas in this equation if Paul's comparison doesn't apply to James (i.e. James doesn't "take a believing wife along with him"). Beautiful.


(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  They considered the temple was the house of God, but were opposed to the Sadducees who they regarded as Roman collaborators. They had a broad base of support among Jews throughout Judea and much of the Roman Empire. Many ordinary Jews and Pharisees would have considered the Nazarenes brothers in the struggle against Rome.

If that is the case then Paul seems to be out of line here, since he strenuously argues that the bodies of all Christians are the house of God, i.e. the Temple. He doesn't show any regard for the actual Temple in Jerusalem, which, if the traditional dates of his letters are ~correct, was still standing when he wrote his letters. To me he gives the impression of not wanting to have anything to do with the Temple. I guess that makes him a renegade then.


(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Yeshua became their chief after John the Baptist’s death, and he remained in charge for (probably) a few years. Leadership was inherited from blood relations, which explains it passing from John the Baptist to Yeshua, and after Yeshua’s death, on to James, his brother.

Do you have a quick reference for why you think leadership was inherited from blood relations? I've never come across this idea.


(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  James and the other Nazarenes didn’t think Yeshua was the son of God, or that he needed to die to save anyone from their sins (http://www.petahtikvah.com/Articles/nazarenes.htm). They believed he was a (human) prophet who they hoped could be Israel’s messiah.

We read very little about this group in the pages of history because mainly Gentiles wrote that history, and the early Christians ignored the Nazarenes, or wrote them off as heretics, or tried to claim that some of them believed in the divinity of Christ. I think the modern reader interested in Jesus should be interested in their story.

Sounds more or less agreeable.


(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  What Happened to the Nazarenes?

“It is to the Nazarene records that we ought chiefly to look for our knowledge of Jesus, and we must regard Nazarenism as the true Christianity. As the Nazarenes throughout the period of personal recollection and down to the third generation, that is to say at least seventy five years after the death of Jesus, denied his deity and his virgin birth, we must recognize that these are alien doctrines subsequently introduced by a partly paganized Church, as Justin Martyr in the middle of the second century more or less admits. The Church which received them had no other course open than to belittle the Nazarenes and denounce them as heretics. The historian here has no difficulty in detecting the real heretics.” (Hugh Schonfield)

The Nazarenes were Yeshua’s bona fide disciples. Much of their history is missing, probably because early Christians destroyed it. Yet their tale can be pieced together.
I think Paul masqueraded as a Nazarene in the 50’s and early 60’s. He sent what is now a famous letter to “the Romans,” urging them to obey their Roman rulers. He was trying to outgun Nazarene doctrine with his own pro government perspective. To all true Nazarenes, Paul was a heretic and a traitor to Judaism. The cordial relationship described in Acts is a fiction. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, (d. 236 CE) Tertullian, Origen, Epiphanius, (c. 310 – 403 CE, bishop of Salamis) and Jerome all confirmed that the Ebionites (as the Nazarenes were later called, see below) opposed Paul as a false Apostle. So Christian theology is not based on the historical Yeshua.

Sounds agreeable, I just don't share your ideas about Paul's agenda. Whatever motivated Paul to do what he did, a difficult question in and of itself, I don't think it was a cheque from the government. I'm inclined to think that Paul actually believed the BS that he spew across the Mediterranean, wouldn't be the first nutcase, but then again, asking for money was a recurring theme in his letters... go figure.


(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  The Roman Emperor Nero may have blamed the Nazarenes in Rome for the great fire of 64 CE, and persecuted them. Christians today often incorrectly call Nero’s casualties Christians. There’s a Christian “tradition” that this was when Peter was crucified, but there’s no contemporary evidence to confirm the claim.

Hegesippus, (c. 110 - 180 CE) a Christian chronicler of the early Church who may have been a Jewish convert, writes that after the death of James in 62 CE, the Nazarenes selected Symeon, (aka Simeon) son of Cleophas, to be their new leader. He was one of Yeshua’s relatives, possibly a cousin.

During the first Jewish war of 66-70 CE, some of the Nazarenes may have fled across the River Jordan to Pella. Yet many of them probably tried to defend Jerusalem and therefore perished. The survivors must have been bitterly disappointed by the defeat. The remaining rebels reorganized and moved back into Jerusalem in 72 CE, although they never recovered their status and influence after the war.

Prior to 80 – 90 CE, the Nazarenes were still worshipping in synagogues alongside Pharisees. Yet they soon began to be viewed by their fellow Jews as trouble causers, probably because of their nationalistic ambitions. The Pharisaic Jews referred to them as “minim” (Hebrew for heretic.) A heretic is someone who still remains within the faith, but believes in elements not acceptable to the orthodoxy, so mainstream Jews never considered them Christians. A deep schism formed, and by 90 CE, Nazarenes were excluded from some synagogues. I suspect some Jews opted out of Nazarenism, or were intimidated by it, because opposing Rome was dangerous.

For the most part this is new information for me, so I'll have to look into it.


(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  In his “Ecclesiastical History,” Eusebius of Caesaria wrote of the grandchildren of Jesus’ brother Jude, who were living in Galilee during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian, (81–96 CE) Vespasian’s son and Titus’ younger brother. (http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250103.htm, book 3, chapter 20.) He says they became dynastic leaders of various “Christian” (a misnomer) churches, and continued to be so up until the time of the Emperor Trajan (98–117 CE.)

These are the kind of tidbits I love most. Yes


(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Kamal Salibi, a former Emeritus Professor at the American University of Beirut, Department of History and Archaeology, wrote that after Symeon’s death, twelve others followed in turn whose names are preserved down to 135 CE (the time of the Second Jewish Revolt.) So there were fifteen leaders of the Nazarene sect after Jesus, all of who were circumcised Jews and relations of Jesus. The word “Desposyni” was reserved uniquely for Jesus’ blood relatives and literally meant “belonging to the Lord.” They governed the Nazarenes. Each carried one of the names traditional in Jesus’ family: Zachary, Joseph, John, James, Joses, Symeon, Matthias, and others, although no later Desposynos was ever called Yeshua.

Sextus Julius Africanus’ (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articl...africanus) reference to “Desposyni” is preserved by Eusebius:
“For the relatives of our Lord according to the flesh, whether with the desire of boasting or simply wishing to state the fact, in either case truly, have handed down the following account... But as there had been kept in the archives up to that time the genealogies of the Hebrews as well as of those who traced their lineage back to proselytes, such as Achior the Ammonite and Ruth the Moabitess, and to those who were mingled with the Israelites and came out of Egypt with them, Herod, inasmuch as the lineage of the Israelites contributed nothing to his advantage, and since he was goaded with the consciousness of his own ignoble extraction, burned all the genealogical records, thinking that he might appear of noble origin if no one else were able, from the public registers, to trace back his lineage to the patriarchs or proselytes and to those mingled with them, who were called Georae. A few of the careful, however, having obtained private records of their own, either by remembering the names or by getting them in some other way from the registers, pride themselves on preserving the memory of their noble extraction. Among these are those already mentioned, called Desposyni, on account of their connection with the family of the Saviour. Coming from Nazara and Cochaba, villages of Judea, into other parts of the world, they drew the aforesaid genealogy from memory and from the book of daily records as faithfully as possible. Whether then the case stand thus or not no one could find a clearer explanation, according to my own opinion and that of every candid person. And let this suffice us, for, although we can urge no testimony in its support, we have nothing better or truer to offer. In any case the Gospel states the truth.” (Eusebius, Historica Ecclesiae, 1:7:11.)

Jeez, I've read this passage but my attention was caught by the fact that Nazara was located in Judea, not Galilee. Didn't cross my mind to check who exactly the desposyni were supposed to be. Big Grin


(12-06-2014 02:35 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Eusebius also preserved an extract from a work by Hegesippus, (c.110–c.180) who wrote five books of Commentaries on the Acts of the Church. The extract refers to the period from the reign of Domitian (81–96) to that of Trajan, (98–117) and includes the statement that two Desposyni brought before Domitian later became leaders of the churches:
“There still survived of the kindred of the Lord the grandsons of Judas, who according to the flesh was called his brother. These were informed against, as belonging to the family of David, and Evocatus brought them before Domitian Caesar: for that emperor dreaded the advent of Christ, as Herod had done.

So he asked them whether they were of the family of David; and they confessed they were. Next he asked them what property they had, or how much money they possessed. They both replied that they had only 9000 denaria between them, each of them owning half that sum; but even this they said they did not possess in cash, but as the estimated value of some land, consisting of thirty-nine plethra only, out of which they had to pay the dues, and that they supported themselves by their own labor. And then they began to hold out their hands, exhibiting, as proof of their manual labor, the roughness of their skin, and the corns raised on their hands by constant work.
Being then asked concerning Christ and His kingdom, what was its nature, and when and where it was to appear, they returned answer that it was not of this world, nor of the earth, but belonging to the sphere of heaven and angels, and would make its appearance at the end of time, when He shall come in glory, and judge living and dead, and render to every one according to the course of his life.

Thereupon Domitian passed no condemnation upon them, but treated them with contempt, as too mean for notice, and let them go free. At the same time he issued a command, and put a stop to the persecution against the Church.

When they were released they became leaders of the churches, as was natural in the case of those who were at once martyrs and of the kindred of the Lord. And, after the establishment of peace to the Church, their lives were prolonged to the reign of Trojan.” (Eusebius, Historica Ecclesiae, 3:20.)

Eusebius wrote that they didn’t fight in the second war (132-6 CE) against the Romans, as they considered Simon bar Kochba, the Jewish commander, to be a false messiah. After this war, the fifteenth Nazarene leader was exiled with the remaining Jewish population when the Emperor Hadrian banned all Jews from Jerusalem.
Over the next few centuries, the Nazarenes headed by Yeshua’s relatives continued as a movement that some Jews joined. They were well respected in their own locales. They moved northeastward, eventually making their way to the Tigris-Euphrates basin, spreading throughout Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia.

The early Christians considered them a heretical sect, so ignored and later suppressed them. Justin Martyr denigrated their beliefs. The developing orthodox Catholic Church deliberately called them the “Ebionites,” “the poor ones” (although Jews did not consider this term derogatory; in fact they used the term to refer to the righteous.) Christians prior to Irenaeus didn’t use this term. He wrote “Those who are called Ebionites agree that the world was made by God; but their opinions with respect to the Lord are similar to those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates.” (These men were Gnostics who believed Jesus was a very human teacher.) “They use the Gospel according to Matthew only, and repudiate the Apostle Paul, maintaining that he was an apostate from the law. As to the prophetical writings, they endeavor to expound them in a somewhat singular manner: they practice circumcision, persevere in the observance of those customs which are enjoined by the law, and are so Judaic in their style of life, that they even adore Jerusalem as if it were the house of God” (Against Heresies 1:26.)

The Gospel according to Matthew that Irenaeus refers to was probably the same Gospel that Jerome (342–420 CE) and Epiphanius (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13393b.htm) called the “Gospel of the Nazarenes/Hebrews,” which was written in Aramaic. Jerome mentions that he made translations of it into Greek and Latin. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, no significant part of this Gospel survives today. Some scholars believe that it was loosely linked to canonical Matthew, which fits with Matthew being the most pro-Jewish Gospel of the four. It’s possible that this was how some facts about Yeshua the Nazarene insurrectionist made it into the Gospels.

Much later, Eusebius considered the Nazarenes heretics because “they regarded [Jesus] as plain and ordinary, a man esteemed as righteous through growth of character and nothing more, the child of a normal union between a man and Mary; and they held that they must observe every detail of the Law—that by faith in Christ alone they would never win Salvation” (Ecclesiastical History 3.7.) I think Irenaeus and Eusebius depicted the Nazarenes correctly in these quotes.

Gentile Christians came to refer to them indiscriminately as “Jewish Christians” because of their link with Jesus, yet this was another misnomer, because they never were Christians.

By the beginning of the fourth century, the Roman Catholic Church was becoming dominant and there were confrontations with Jews, including the Nazarenes. With the Synod of Elvira, held in 306 CE, prohibitions against eating, marriage, and sex with Jews were enacted in the Roman Empire. Nazarenes were included in this ban, which in effect excluded them from all social and religious association with those in the growing Gentile Christian church.

The Emperor Constantine appointed Sylvester as the head bishop of the Catholic church in 313 CE. According to the Irish Jesuit historian Malachi Martin, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malachi_Martin) a meeting took place in 318 CE in Rome between Pope Sylvester I and the Desposyni. Sylvester provided sea travel for the Nazarene leaders as far as the Roman port of Ostia, thirty kilometers west of Rome. The fact that Sylvester thought it necessary to meet with them suggests that he was curious, yet he initiated the meeting with the intention of exerting his pontifical authority over them.

The Nazarene leaders who appeared before Pope Sylvester quite rightly thought they represented Yeshua’s true legacy. They were, after all, his blood relations, part of at least three well-known lines of legitimate blood descent from Yeshua’s family. They were eight in number, and Joses, the oldest of them, spoke on their behalf. They bluntly refused to recognize the Roman church as having any authority, and made the following demands:
(1) that the confirmation of the Christian bishops of Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus and Alexandria be revoked;
(2) that these bishoprics be conferred on members of the Desposyni;
(3) that the Law be reintroduced, which included the Sabbath and the Holy Day system of Feasts, and
(4) that Christian Churches resume sending money to the Desposyni Church in Jerusalem, which was to be regarded as the “Mother Church.”

Such bold claims must have come as a surprise to Sylvester, who refused their demands. They were told that the leadership of Jesus’ church had moved to Rome, and that they had no jurisdiction. Sylvester must have known his church was the impostor, but that didn’t concern him. The politics of power were more important than the truth. This was the last known formal dialogue between Christian and Nazarene leaders.

A few years later Nazarenes began to surface in southern Upper Egypt. In this remote locale, far from the center of Gentile Christianity, they continued to practice their beliefs.

In 364 CE, the Catholic Council of Laodicea decreed anathema on any “Jewish Christians” who continued to observe the seventh-day Sabbath. Historical references to Nazarenes became scarce thereafter. The few remaining believers petered out.

To summarize, the Nazarenes were a Jewish sect that, at least in the first century, had strong anti Gentile political ambitions. Christianity, something quite separate, became a religion for Gentiles. It stole Yeshua the Nazarene’s identity to create Jesus, and reinvented him, not only as its founder, but also as God incarnate and the savior of the world. Christians then suppressed the Nazarenes, who struggled on for about four centuries before they disappeared.

If Yeshua, his family, and his original admirers could speak today, they’d be dumbfounded at the distortion of their legacy.

References:
Eisenman, Robert H. “James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls”
Klinghoffer, D. 1965 “Why The Jews Rejected Jesus”. Doubleday. United States Of America.
Lockhart, D. 1997 “Jesus The Heretic”. Element Books. Dorset.
Lockhart, D. 1999 “The Dark Side Of God”. Element Books. Dorset
Schonfield, H. 1969 “Those Incredible Christians”. Bantam. New York.
Thijs Voskuilen and Rose Mary Sheldon co-wrote “Operation Messiah”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4kTNS18ses
http://ia600401.us.archive.org/34/items/...onites.mp3
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebionites
http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Ebionites
http://douglaslockhart.com/pdf/THE NAZORAEAN SECT.pdf
http://www.yashanet.com/library/nazarene_judaism.html
http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/ebionites.html
http://www.yashanet.com/library/temple/nazarenes.htm for the above information.
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=b7bn...2C&f=false
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=jVyz...on&f=false
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_the_Hebrews
http://www.conorpdowling.com/library/council-of-elvira
http://www.askwhy.co.uk/christianity/0370Ebionites.php
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/te...ippus.html


Curious indeed, I guess this explains why one might think Jesus' family had a bearing on the movement. But in all honesty, as far as the trustworthiness of the Church Fathers' content goes, it seems to be on par with what Acts has to say. Definitely worth knowing though!

On the whole I'd say that the picture looks still disturbingly conjectural, something along the lines of: If there was a Yeshua and if he was a Nazarene and if he had a family and if they succeeded by blood and if they had anything to do with those Nazarenes that the Church Fathers quote... I don't know, maybe I'll evolve on the idea once I've read more of the referenced material.

Hey thanks for all the excellent work you put into this really good reply. I'll get round to responding to it soon.
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28-12-2014, 02:53 AM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
Hi everyone, I've dug this thread out of the vault because I have spent the last few days rereading Atwill's book and have decided to rewrite my spiel on it. I know this is long, and you have read some of it before, but I now think I'm doing Atwill's ideas much more justice than I had done previously, so I want to record this for posterity.

Anyone who is interested in the origins of Christianity should at least know about this even if they don't agree with it.

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 is a fascinating and intriguing theory about the origin of the Gospels proposed by the contemporary writer Joseph Atwill.

Atwill spent many years studying the Gospels, the Dead Sea scrolls and Josephus’ works, and he 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. This idea happens to neatly fit with my own strong suspicion that Christianity originated as Roman government propaganda. Atwill’s theory, if true, is mind-blowing stuff. It does take some intellectual energy to understand, and is a little disorienting, and requires the reader to have some knowledge of the first Jewish war, but I suggest it is well worth making the effort to understand it.

Atwill writes in his book “Caesar’s Messiah” (http://www.amazon.com/Caes+ars-Messiah-R...ks&ie=UTF) that he thinks the original Gospel authors were intellectuals employed as scriptwriters working under Titus’ direction in the imperial palace. These people incorporated a skillful satire of Jewish Messianic dreams in their writing. This satire becomes apparent on reading Josephus’ “Wars of the Jews” and his “The Life of Flavius Josephus” and comparing them with details in the Gospels.

Titus had decimated militant Judaism in 70 CE, but he could not get the Jewish prisoners he had taken back to Rome to worship him, even under torture. The revolt may have been crushed, but the religion that inspired it was not. It became obvious that the Jewish religion was still a threat to the Pax Romana (Roman peace.)

There were still Jews dreaming about their Messiah, so Atwill thinks Titus transformed himself into the embodiment of the Jew’s dreams by creating a story about Jesus that closely paralleled his own (Titus’) story of his exploits in Palestine. Titus commissioned the Gospels to be written, and in so doing had a derivative of Judaism created that tried to get Jews worshipping him (as Jesus) without them knowing it. The idea was to undermine Messianic Judaism so that Jews would settle down under Roman rule. If this theory is true, the Jesus story is, in reality, Titus’ story. Titus wanted to give a new God to the Jews, a god of love … himself, instead of the bully they were accustomed to (Yahweh.) The Flavians’ agenda was to tame Judaism by transforming it into a cooperative, government friendly religion by creating some new scripture that would act as a theological barrier against the spread of Messianic Judaism.

Would Titus have been interested in such an endeavour? The military suppression of Jewish insurgents had already taken three years out of his life. He had a mistress, Bernice, who was Jewish. Titus had brought back 97,000 Jewish prisoners from Palestine to Rome. It is obvious that the control of Jewish behaviour would have been an important topic commonly discussed in the Flavian household, one very relevant to Titus personally, and one crucial to the stability of the government.

It is well known that Titus helped his father, Vespasian, in the running of government affairs until his father’s death in 79 CE, when Titus himself became emperor. The contemporary historian Seutonius says of Titus

“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.)

Atwill thinks Josephus’ writings, and in particular his “Wars of the Jews,” were used as the building blocks for the creation of the Gospels. Josephus was an adopted member of the imperial family, and he clearly had a cordial relationship with both Vespasian and Titus. Josephus lived in the imperial palace, and was the Flavian’s official historian. He even changed his name to Flavius Josephus. It is an established fact that Titus supported and financed the publication of Josephus’ “Wars of the Jews.” These are very interesting facts, as they mean that many things we know about the ancient Jews, as reported by Josephus, were written with a degree of pro Roman bias.

To create the Gospels required a good understanding of Judaism and Jewish Messianic dreams. The authors, probably based in the imperial palace in Rome, would have had copies of Jewish Scripture, and may have used the ones taken from the temple in 70 CE.

There were plenty of people in Rome who, like Josephus, were familiar enough with Judaism to help create Christianity. Thousands of rabbis had been taken back to Rome as prisoners after the war (66-70 CE.) Tiberias Alexander, a Jew, was chief of staff to Titus during the siege of Jerusalem. Tiberias Alexander was also the nephew of Philo, a well-known Jewish philosopher. Josephus was a Jew. John of Gischala, one of the main leaders of the Jewish revolt, survived the war and was not executed. Atwill believes John’s and Josephus’ inside knowledge of the struggle against Rome could have been used by the Flavians to help create the Gospels.

There were many similarities between Titus and Jesus. Vespasian was considered a god, and Titus too was deified shortly after his own untimely death from natural causes in 81 CE. So Titus was the son of a god, and became a god too, just like Jesus. Jesus and Titus both were sent on a mission from God, their father. Titus, at the time of his military campaign in Palestine, was in his late 20’s, just like Jesus.

Titus had the writers of the Gospels backdate Jesus’ ministry to c.30 CE, which may have been the time that a real life Jewish insurgent (Yeshua) had tried to create a ruckus in Jerusalem and was executed for his efforts. Some of the words of “Jesus” were then made out to be predicting events that actually occurred in the first Jewish war (66-70 CE.)

There are numerous events from the ministry of Jesus, as portrayed in the Gospels, that closely parallel Titus’ military campaign.

Both began their three-year campaigns 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 might sound like a nice story, but it takes on a more grotesque meaning if read in conjunction with Josephus’ “Wars of the Jews,” in which there is a story of a battle between Jews and Titus’ Roman troops who literally follow him into battle on the same sea of Galilee:

“But now, when the vessels were gotten ready, Vespasian put upon ship-board as many of his forces as he thought sufficient to be too hard for those that were upon the lake, and set sail after them. Now these which were driven into the lake could neither fly to the land, where all was in their enemies' hand, and in war against them; nor could they fight upon the level by sea, for their ships were small and fitted only for piracy; they were too weak to fight with Vespasian's vessels, and the mariners that were in them were so few, that they were afraid to come near the Romans, who attacked them in great numbers. However, as they sailed round about the vessels, and sometimes as they came near them, they threw stones at the Romans when they were a good way off, or came closer and fought them; yet did they receive the greatest harm themselves in both cases. As for the stones they threw at the Romans, they only made a sound one after another, for they threw them against such as were in their armor, while the Roman darts could reach the Jews themselves; and when they ventured to come near the Romans, they became sufferers themselves before they could do any harm to the ether, and were drowned, they and their ships together. As for those that endeavored to come to an actual fight, the Romans ran many of them through with their long poles. Sometimes the Romans leaped 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 either their heads or their hands; and indeed they were destroyed after various manners every where, till the rest being put to flight, were forced to get upon the land, while the vessels encompassed them about [on the sea]: but as many of these were repulsed when they were getting ashore, they were killed by the darts upon the lake; and the Romans leaped out of their vessels, and destroyed a great many more upon the land: one might then see the lake all bloody, and full of dead bodies, for not one of them escaped. And a terrible stink, and a very sad sight there was on the following days over that country; for as for the shores, they were full of shipwrecks, and of dead bodies all swelled; and as the dead bodies were inflamed by the sun, and putrefied, they corrupted the air, insomuch that the misery was not only the object of commiseration to the Jews, but to those that hated them, and had been the authors of that misery. This was the upshot of the sea-fight. The number of the slain, including those that were killed in the city before, was six thousand and five hundred. (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, book 3, chapter 10 section 9)

Josephus goes on to relate how the next day, the Roman troops fished hundred of Jewish bodies out of the water. So Titus’ troops became “fishers of men” on the Sea of Galilee. Hence the unusual wording takes on a rather macabre meaning.

We read in Luke chapter eight that Jesus and his disciples visit the country of the Gadarenes:

“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 is no theological or moral principle that can be gleaned about demons entering a herd of swine that then drowned. Why were there so many demons, that enter swine, and why do these swine rush into the lake and drown?
The probable 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, and that the Flavians referred to Messianic Jews as demons. 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 describes the battle of Gadara between Placidus, a Roman tribune, and John’s supporters:

“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 of Gischala was the rebel leader who commanded “legions” of the Sicarii; so it can be surmised that John “infected” or “filled his entire country” with his rebellious ideas, and the people he commanded were denigrated as “swine.” Many of these people were slain, or drowned in the river Jordan, just like the “infected” or “possessed” pigs in Luke’s Gospel. John of Gischala surrendered to Titus, which in Luke was the equivalent of the man being “healed.” The man who had been possessed by demons sat submissively at the feet of Jesus, just like John who was taken in chains back to Rome by Titus. The two stories occurred in exactly the same part of Palestine. The parallels are difficult to ignore.

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, who was (supposedly) killed by his own people, and whose body is literally (according to some) eaten by Christians. Josephus, who Atwill thinks was privy to the creation of the Gospels, was making a grim joke for the Flavians’ amusement by saying that Christ is a manufactured
“by-word to the world” and a myth intended to
“complete” the
“calamities of us Jews.” This passage fits with the idea Christianity was created to promote anti-Semitism. Military suppression of the Jews was the first step, suppressing their religious beliefs by substituting fabricated new ones helped complete their calamities. I find this concept convincing, as it is an obvious explanation for the above phrasing.

Jesus repeatedly said
“…repent for the kingdom of God is at hand…” (Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:15.)

It can be argued Jesus never made it clear what the sin was that people needed to repent for. In reality, Titus (ie Jesus) forced 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 a well-known Roman law that soldiers could conscript any civilian 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) (Matthew 16;4, 17;7, Luke 11;29) which is precisely what Titus achieved in real life. The Jews were wicked because they had rebelled against Rome, and they had done so for at least a generation before Titus put an end to their rebelliousness.

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 “house” Jesus refers to was, in fact, the city of Jerusalem. There were originally many factions of Jews in Jerusalem. They squabbled amongst themselves. Jesus (ie Titus) might have bought peace, (ie the surrender of the city) but that never happened. Titus eventually faced two factions of Jews in Jerusalem, each of which had earlier been made up of a number of factions. Hence the house was divided against itself. Surely this similarity cannot be attributed to just coincidence!

The divided house or divided kingdom theme is again 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. (Jesus, 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 Jewish kingdom, divided against itself, realized too late that they should not have been fighting amongst themselves, as it weakened them and led to their defeat. Titus was the god who cast out devils (Jewish insurgents.) The Jews, trapped inside Jerusalem’s walls, had the Flavian version of the “kingdom of God” imposed on them by Roman troops.

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.

This theory 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.)

Jesus was saying that the nation of Israel had been rejected as God’s people, and Gentiles had replaced them. The Gospel authors were saying that the Jews had proven themselves unworthy as God’s favorites, so were being replaced by Gentiles, albeit with a somewhat different understanding of who God was and what the “kingdom of God” was.

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.” (Jesus, Luke 14:28-32, KJV.)

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” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 5, 6, 258.) The tower was never finished because it collapsed when its foundations fell through.

So Jesus talked about the decisions involved in building a tower, Titus, after some deliberation as to where to put a tower, actually built one, and in both scenarios the towers were never finished. Jesus promoted negotiation between unmatched warring kings, and Titus, the Roman leader, had an army that outnumbered the Jews, and tried to negotiate a Jewish surrender with the Jewish leaders. Surely these specific double parallels are not just coincidence!

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,” also made a victorious entry into Jerusalem, which was preceded by a barrage of stones flung by the “engines” of the Roman army. The Jews standing on the walls of Jerusalem “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 “THE SON COMETH” whereas it would make more sense for the warning to have been about a stone or rock! It could be said (with some poetic licence) that the stones “cried out” that the Son of God was coming.

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, where Titus is involved in an encounter with a band of armed Jewish insurgents. 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. Atwill thinks that Titus was “naked,” (figuratively speaking) as he was wearing no armor.

“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 by a large troop of men that occur in gardens in exactly the same place near the Mount of Olives. In the Mark’s Gospel there is an anonymous naked young man, and in Josephus’ writing Titus is “naked”, (wearing no armor) and both these characters escape unharmed. The point of these parallels may have been to separate the identities of the two “kings,” Jesus and Titus - in other words, to separate the “king” who lives (Titus) from the one who is crucified (Jesus.)

Titus surrounded Jerusalem, built an embakment around it, and tried to negotiate a peaceful surrender of the inhabitants. When that failed, he destroyed the buildings therein. It is made out in Luke’s Gospel that Jesus wept over Jerusalem and predicted the exact same events.

“Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:41 - 44 KJV.)

Jesus was weeping because the author of Luke knew that Jerusalem would be a thorn in the side for Roman administrators for the next forty odd years, but the people of Jerusalem would not know that due to their obstinancy, the Romans would ultimately cause their downfall. There can be no doubt that the destruction of Jerusalem has been retrospectively placed in Jesus’ repetoire.

This neatly explanations why Jesus was able to predict the future, as noticed by the naive (or dishonest) Eusebius (the fourth century Christian historian):

“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. Justin Martyr and Tertullian made the same mistake. Some modern Christian apologists still, perhaps erroneously, think Jesus predicted the future. (http://www.ukapologetics.net/09/AD70.htm).

Josephus even claimed the “government of Vespasian” was 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, Wars of the Jews 6.312-313.)

So a pro Roman propagandist (Josephus) claimed that the Jewish Messiah was, in fact, the Roman bureaucracy. This could be why the Gospels, and in particular Matthew’s Gospel, make a big deal out of the idea that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah.

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. The Flavians were particularly good at promoting the public’s respect for imperial authority. Vespasian was said to have restored a blind man’s site using spittle and to have healed a cripple (do these sound familiar?) Vespasian promoted the idea that he had bought peace to the empire. Vespasian, was a strong patron of the arts and letters, and commissioned many authors to write “Flavian versions” of history. He was a wily old bird. (http://thehistoryofrome.typepad.com/the_...ved.html). It is entirely plausible that the Gospels were one such Flavian version of history.

Using religion for the good of the state was a well-established practice in ancient Rome; there was a tradition of absorbing the religions of its opponents. To do so neutralized the perception of 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 their gods.

In this case new scripture was created to subdue stubborn Jews and to stroke Titus’ ego by surreptitiously getting naïve Jews to worship him, as if Jesus had been the Messiah they had all been waiting for. “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, which is ironic, because the real Yeshua, if he ever existed, had tried to start an insurrection against the government.

There is no doubt that the Flavians still felt antagonism towards Messianic Jews, even after the war. Vespasian imposed a special tax on all Jews in the empire, (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.

It seems there were three tools the Roman government used to try 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, did not in fact emerge from a Jewish 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 Yeshua, who was probably a political insurgent, was sometimes portrayed as a pacifist preacher. It is 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 may be why the true identities of all the four Gospel authors are unknown. It is one possible reason why the Gospels were first written in Greek, a language that would have been foreign to Jesus, and why the Gospels are 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 (by some) 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 could not have believed in their own spoof. It is why the first Christian churches had a hierarchy based on Roman, not Jewish, (and not Nazarene) principles.

Propaganda was a powerful tool in Roman times, just as it is today. Public opinion was easily manipulated, because people did not have the means to check out the facts. Atwill thinks the Flavians did not intend sophisticated, educated people (like us) to read the Gospels as serious literature or history. The Gospels were written for militant Jews, people Josephus referred to as “slaves” and “scum,” and for gullible Gentiles, the hoi polloi, the common people. At the time, only the upper tier of people, the more educated, were expected to recognize the parallels in Josephus’ works. Perhaps it was no big secret, at the time, amongst the rulers in Rome. It was too subtle a deception to be ever widely recogised or understood by the common people.

If this theory 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; that between Hellenism with its polytheism, cleverness and inclusivity, and Judaism’s monotheism, faith and exclusivity.

The multiculturalist Jesus’ injunctions to love your enemies, turn the other cheek, aspire to poverty, be content with misery, to dream about heaven, be afraid of hell, think like children and pay your taxes, take on a more profound and rather cynical meaning, because they were intended 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 did not have the intellectual armor to guard against it, and it eventually grew way beyond the wildest dreams of the Flavians.

Christians may have been unwittingly worshipping Titus Flavius for nearly 2000 years! If so, Titus, lying in his grave, has had an embarrassed, ashamed expression on his face for the last two millennia. The creation he helped invent grew into a much larger monster than he could ever, in his wildest dreams, have imagined.

This theory may be thought of as complementing the hypothesis that Paul’s Christianity originated as part of a government plot too. Paul probably wrote well before the Flavians, yet there is a good reason why similar propaganda about a Christ (but not yet about a Jesus, as discussed) could have started earlier, in Paul’s day; the Roman administration under Nero was trying (unsuccessfully, as it turned out) to prevent a war with the Jews. As mentioned, Paul unambiguously implies in one of his letters (Philippians) that he is in contact with Nero’s household. He also promoted submission to Roman authorities. There would have been bureauocrats in the government’s administration who could have worked with Paul some years earlier, who would later work with the Flavians. Atwill has said he will be writing another book that helps explain Paul’s role in the scheme.

There are, however, what seem to be a few minor problems with the theory. Atwill has proposed the four Gospels were originally written under Titus’ direction, yet it is 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 are 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 is well established that Mark was written first. It seems unlikely that the government would invent four separate accounts, although it is 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. It needs to be remembered that all 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, agendas and writing styles altered the Gospels is a subject requiring much guesswork. Atwill does not acknowledge this fact, although that does not detract from the thrust of his theory.

If Josephus had a hand in writing the Gospels’ stories, why did not Josephus specifically mention a (fictional or real) Jesus in his own writings? 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 would not have wanted his genuine histories confused with the tongue in cheek satire of the Gospels. Josephus would have been embarrassed to have written about the Jesus character (and the childish miracle stories.) The Roman ruling classes, as a whole, regarded all stories of god’s, magic and miracles with derision. These concepts were useful tools to control the people, but were not considered real. It was to be left to overzealous Christians in the fourth century to add Jesus in to Josephus’ account. (http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/josephus-etal.html).

What is more, maybe Josephus did not want the parallels between the Gospels and his histories to be too obvious. If Josephus did know of an historical Yeshua, he may have avoided mentioning him, because the account may have clashed with the Gospels. Or, Josephus may have written an historical report about Yeshua that was removed by Christians.

Atwill does not 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 my guess and say that these versions of Christianity, in common with Paul’s ramblings, 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.)

Atwill does not mention the Nazarenes, who are an essential part of the Jesus story, although that does not detract from the main theme of his theory.

Some people are under the impression Domitian (emperor from 81-96 CE) persecuted Christians, which would negate the idea that the Flavians created the Gospels, but the evidence that Domitian persecuted Christians is very weak (http://bibleworld.com/domper.pdf). There is good evidence Domitian sought out any “sons of David” and that, in doing so, he interrogated the Nazarenes, but they were not Christians. In fact Clement I, said by the Vatican to be the fourth pope, may have been a member of the Flavian family. (http://www.preteristarchive.com/StudyArc...ome.html).

If what Atwill theorizes is in fact true, he has uncovered the biggest scam ever in world history, and there are seriously important implications for the legitimacy of Christianity. I think anyone who lightly dismisses the story just told has either failed to grasp the depth of Jewish-Gentile antagonism in the first century, or underestimates the cleverness of the ancient Roman government, or else does not appreciate how strongly Christianity has shaped our modern world.

There are many reputable scholars who do not buy into Atwill’s theory. There is today an entire academic industry built around studying early Christianity. Experts on the topic hold positions in universities. People write books about Jesus and the early Christians. If Atwill’s theories are considered correct, all of a sudden there is very little of real substance left to discuss, and maybe that treads on a few toes, because many of the previously unknown questions are answered, and well answered, and the whole topic of Christianity loses its importance and intrigue. Atwill’s ideas turn the ballgame of New Testament scholarship around 180°. All these people would be left looking a little sheepish. Then consider the priests and preachers and assorted hangers on who make a living, or even just those who derive a sense of purpose, out of teaching and proselytizing Christianity. If Atwill is right, they too might be out of a job and have egg on their faces. It is perhaps, therefore, not surprising that some people resort to ad hominem attacks against Atwill, although it is a little disappointing that otherwise good historians sometimes do so.

Even if Atwill’s theory as a whole is wrong, there are still elements of it that ring loud and true. He has given us all something to think about, particularly by pointing out the parallels between the Gospels and the works of Josephus. 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 have not done justice to all of Atwill’s evidence. Those interested can read his book and watch him talk on youtube. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g40Eck6gW7U, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uN9ATGqLNo8).

Where does this leave the theory that there existed an historical Yeshua who tried to start a war with Rome? Atwill acknowledges that it is possible the Jesus character may have been a real individual, who he too thinks was a militaristic zealot. It is 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 is 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 prior to the first Jewish war, so the Gospels could also have been deliberately written to undermine their story about Yeshua. It is 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 this happened, Titus turned Yeshua into Jesus, and Jesus was really Titus.

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. There is no specific evidence (that I know of) to support this idea, but the reality is that no one knows for sure how or why Christianity spread in the first century.

The tale told in Acts (written much later, perhaps in the early second century) about the miracle working Paul and the miracle working Christian disciples of Jesus, is obviously manufactured, as it is totally implausible. It is hard to imagine an improbable 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 probably have a too simplistic understanding.

The propaganda plot never achieved its aim of suppressing militant Judaism, 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 perhaps the government no longer subsidized it, but by this time the new religion had taken on a life of its own in various forms. This could be why Christian Churches became self-funding and self-promoting.

The fact that the faith may have 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 (probably) 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 for political reasons, 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 was not until the fourth century that the government (Constantine’s) once again actively patronized Christian Churches again, and it was for a similar reason – to control people’s behavior.

The origin of Christianity makes for a fascinating discussion. All historians have their own opinions, and make educated guesses, because reliable specifics are so lacking. We will probably never definitively know the whole story, unless startling facts are one day discovered in the bowels of the Vatican (and it is hard to imagine them ever letting that happen) or somewhere else.

While the exact details about the authorship of the Gospels, or of Paul’s motivations, or of whether an historical Jesus ever existed, are uncertain, 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 have been conned. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zlj5-iwKueQ).
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30-12-2014, 01:03 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(28-12-2014 02:53 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  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.

Fascinating stuff, if there are any official documents to lend credence to this, it should be found somewhere as a letter communicating what message to promote from these presbyters, though this would be the type of information that would be kept hidden.

Maybe a competing cult would gladly share this information, (Gnostics?) but they wouldn't be an officially sanctioned Roman religion and not be privy to such communication from Rome.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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30-12-2014, 01:16 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(30-12-2014 01:03 PM)TheInquisition Wrote:  
(28-12-2014 02:53 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  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.

Fascinating stuff, if there are any official documents to lend credence to this, it should be found somewhere as a letter communicating what message to promote from these presbyters, though this would be the type of information that would be kept hidden.

Maybe a competing cult would gladly share this information, (Gnostics?) but they wouldn't be an officially sanctioned Roman religion and not be privy to such communication from Rome.

Imagine what could be stored in the Vatican archives.

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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30-12-2014, 01:21 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(30-12-2014 01:16 PM)Full Circle Wrote:  
(30-12-2014 01:03 PM)TheInquisition Wrote:  Fascinating stuff, if there are any official documents to lend credence to this, it should be found somewhere as a letter communicating what message to promote from these presbyters, though this would be the type of information that would be kept hidden.

Maybe a competing cult would gladly share this information, (Gnostics?) but they wouldn't be an officially sanctioned Roman religion and not be privy to such communication from Rome.

Imagine what could be stored in the Vatican archives.

Yeah, and that's exactly why they will always be stored there.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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30-12-2014, 01:34 PM
RE: Atwill Documentary...excellent stuff
(30-12-2014 01:21 PM)TheInquisition Wrote:  
(30-12-2014 01:16 PM)Full Circle Wrote:  Imagine what could be stored in the Vatican archives.

Yeah, and that's exactly why they will always be stored there.

Interesting reading.

CHURCH HISTORY
What’s hidden in the Vatican Secret Archives?


http://www.cruxnow.com/church/2014/09/01...-archives/
[Image: article-2286483-18589DC7000005DC-239_634x400.jpg]

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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