Jesus myth
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08-01-2014, 05:34 AM
RE: Jesus myth
(04-01-2014 09:31 PM)maklelan Wrote:  
(04-01-2014 09:19 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  So basically the Council is what made the Holy Spirit part of the Trinity, nowhere else.

Not exactly. The relationship of the Spirit to God was a topic of later theological debate between the Pneumatomachi and Cappadocian leaders. Nicea was strictly the relationship of Jesus to God, with the notion of homoousios (consubstantial) introduced to settle the dispute. They created the idea that Jesus and God were two "persons" within one "being."

Yeah. Gobbledygook.
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08-01-2014, 06:17 AM (This post was last modified: 08-01-2014 06:25 AM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Jesus myth
Hey guys.... In my humble opinion any discussion on the historicity of Jesus needs to include discussion of Joseph Atwill's theory.

Yes... I've posted this before, but it's been updated and better worded and expanded upon. I put it here for your consideration....

Atwill’s Theory

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

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

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

Titus helped his father in the running of government affairs until his father’s death in 79 CE, when he became emperor. He was deified shortly after his own untimely death from natural causes in 81 CE. The historian Seutonius says of him
“I have likewise been informed by many persons, that he was remarkably quick in writing short-hand, would in merriment and jest engage with his secretaries in the imitation of any hand-writing he saw, and often say, ‘that he was admirably qualified for forgery.’" (The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, section 466.)

Josephus was an adopted member of the imperial family. He lived in the imperial palace, and was their official historian. He would have been pleased to help propagate the myth that Vespasian and Titus were divine. Titus supported and financed the publication of his “Wars of the Jews.” His histories were used as the building blocks for the creation of the Gospels.

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

Titus had his writers backdate Jesus’ ministry to c.30 CE, thereby enabling “Jesus” to foresee events in the future war. There are remarkable similarities between Titus and Jesus. Titus, at the time of his military campaign in Palestine, was in his late 20’s, just like Jesus. The Roman Senate had already deified Vespasian, so Jesus and Titus were both were sent on a mission from God, their father.

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

We read in Luke chapter eight
“And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee. And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness. And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them. Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked. When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country. Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed. Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again.” (Luke 8;26-38 KJV.)

This is an odd tale. There’s no theological or moral principle that can be gleaned about demons entering a herd of swine that then drowned. Why would the demons wish to enter swine, and why do these swine rush into the lake? The answer is that the story makes sense as a satire of Josephus’ description of the battle of Gadara. Gadara was located east of the Jordan River on a mountain about 10 kilometers southeast of the Sea of Galilee. The people of Gadara were known as “Gadarenes.” (
Atwill thinks the “demon possessed man” is a satire of John of Gischala. This is how Josephus describes John
“Yet did John demonstrate by his actions that these Sicarii were more moderate than he was himself, for he not only slew all such as gave him good counsel to do what was right, but treated them worst of all…he filled his entire country with ten thousand instances of wickedness” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews.)
Josephus describes the battle of Gadara:
“These things were told Vespasian by deserters…Accordingly, he marched against Gadara…but Placidus…slew all that he overtook, as far as Jordan; and when he had driven the whole multitude to the riverside…he put his soldiers in array over against them…At which flight, hand to hand, fifteen thousand of them were slain, while the number of those that were unwillingly forced to leap into Jordan was prodigious.” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews.)

John was the rebel leader who commanded “legions” of the Sicarii, so he “infected” many people, who were denigrated as swine. These people were slain or drowned in the river Jordan.

Josephus writes of a starving woman, named Mary, trapped inside Jerusalem during the war, who, before she in desperation eats her own child, cries out
“…be thou a fury to these seditious varlets and a myth to the world, which is all that is now wanting to complete the calamities of us Jews” (A varlet is a dishonest person.) Atwill thinks this is a lampoon of Christ, whose mother was Mary, and whose body is literally eaten by Christians. Josephus is not just ridiculing Christ, but saying that he is a myth intended to “complete” the destruction of Judaism. It fits with the idea Christianity was created to promote anti-Semitism. I find this convincing, as there’s no other sensible explanation for the phrasing.

Titus is the “son of man” who “laid low” many Galilean towns, surrounded Jerusalem and destroys the buildings therein, all as predicted by “Jesus,” nearly forty years after “Jesus” spoke them.
“For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” (Luke 19:43-44 KJV.) Many Jews had been trapped inside Jerusalem’s walls because they didn’t know the Romans, who encircled the city, were coming.
Jesus repeatedly says
“…repent for the kingdom of God is at hand…” (Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:15.) Yet he never makes it clear what is the sin people need to repent for. In reality, Titus (ie Jesus) wanted 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 predicted the annihilation of a “wicked generation,” (of Jews) which is precisely what Titus achieved in real life. They were wicked because they’d rebelled against Rome.

Titus destroyed the Temple in 70 AD, as “foretold” by “Jesus.”
"As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (Luke 21:6 KJV, see also Matt. 24:1 and Mark 13:1.)
Jesus said
“And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.’ (Matthew 5:41 KJB.) It was Roman law that soldiers could conscript anyone at random to carry their packs for a mile. Jesus suggested they should double the distance.
Jesus said,
“But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me,” (Luke 19;27 KJV) which is precisely what Titus did.
It explains why “Jesus” said
“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” (Matthew 21;43 KJV.) “He” was saying that the nation of Israel had been rejected as the people of God, and Gentiles had replaced them.

It also explanations why “Jesus” was able to predict the future, as noticed by the credulous (or dishonest) Eusebius:
“If anyone compares the words of our savior with the other accounts of the historian (Josephus) concerning the whole war, how can one fail to wonder, and to admit that the foreknowledge and the prophecy of our Saviour were truly divine and marvelously strange.” (Church History, Book III, Chapter VII.) Eusebius failed to realize, or admit, that the Gospels’ authors had used Josephus to create Jesus. Even some modern Christian apologists still think Jesus predicted the future. (

Josephus even claimed the “government of Vespasian” was, in effect, the messiah predicted in scripture.

“What did the most to induce the Jews to start this war, was an ambiguous oracle that was also found in their sacred writings, how, about that time, one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth. The Jews took this prediction to belong to themselves in particular, and many of the wise men were thereby deceived in their determination. Now this oracle certainly denoted the government of Vespasian, who was appointed emperor in Judea.” (Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 6.312-313.)
Vespasian’s reign (69 – 79 CE) was notable for the fact that he, with his son Titus by his side, is well known to have been a great propagandist; someone very proficient at controlling popular opinions. They were particularly good at promoting the public’s respect for imperial authority. Vespasian was said to have restored a blind man’s site using spittle and to have healed a cripple (do these sound familiar?) He sold the idea that he’d bought peace to the empire. He was a strong patron of the arts and letters, and commissioned many authors to write “Flavian versions” of history. (,

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

There’s no doubt the Flavians were antagonistic towards Jews after the war. Vespasian imposed a special tax on everyone in the empire who practiced Judaism, ( in much the same way the rest of Europe imposed restrictions on Germany after World War 1. The Romans and Europe both failed to prevent a second war. There were three tools the government used to control the Jews; military might, economic suppression, and propaganda.

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

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

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

This theory complements the hypothesis that Paul’s Christianity originated as part of a government plot. Paul probably wrote well before the Flavians, yet there’s a good reason why similar propaganda about a Christ could have started earlier, in Paul’s day; Rome was trying (unsuccessfully, as it turned out) to prevent a war with the Jews. Atwill will be writing another book that helps explain Paul’s role in the scheme.
There is, however, in my opinion, what seems to be a few minor problems with the theory. Atwill has proposed the four Gospels were originally written under Titus’ direction, yet it’s a fact that no first century source ever specifically mentions the existence of any of the four Gospels, (see at least as they’re now named. 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. Or, the current author’s names were never attached to them until much later.

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

The theory to some degree undermines all the painstaking work and alternative theories of numerous historians, including linguists familiar with the Greek. I think it needs to be remembered that the Gospels were edited and interpolated for at least a couple of hundred years after they were first written, so all such endeavors are bound to come to different conclusions. To what degree any number of authors with different ethnicities, education and writing styles altered the Gospels is a subject requiring much guesswork.

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

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

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

There are many reputable scholars who don’t buy into Atwill’s theory. His ideas turn the whole ballgame of New Testament scholarship around 180°, and I suspect that treads on a few toes. It’s disappointing that some commentators resort to ad hominem attacks against him. Even if he’s wrong, he’s an honest, informed commentator who has given us all something to think about.

I haven’t done justice to all of Atwill’s evidence, so I strongly encourage those interested to read his book and watch him talk on youtube. (,,

Where does this leave my theory that there existed an historical Yeshua who tried to start a war with Rome? Atwill acknowledges that it’s possible the Jesus character may also be very loosely based on a real individual, who he too thinks was a militaristic zealot. It’s not hard to imagine Jewish and Roman intellectuals deciding to use the memory of a political activist crucified under Pontius Pilate roughly forty years earlier as part of a very tall tale. It’s a clever ploy to mix a little truth into an account to make it appear more legitimate. The Nazarenes of the late first century still thought highly of their hero Yeshua, and they were significant players in the events, so the Gospels could have been deliberately written to undermine their story about him. It’s possible that the Gospels’ original authors used details about Yeshua sourced from the gospel of the Nazarenes, ( and deliberately turned the story of a brave wannabe messiah into a pro-Roman pacifist.
If the government created the Gospels, they would have also employed presbyters to promote the new religion. This would explain how Christianity appeared in many different parts of the empire toward the end of the first century. I admit I have no specific evidence to support this idea, but the reality is that no one knows how or why Christianity spread in the first century. I can’t imagine an implausible pro-Roman story about a crucified Galilean, who was really the son of the Jewish God, gaining a momentum of its own without financial support. Those Christian apologists who claim it was only because Christian teaching was so pure and attractive have a too simplistic understanding.

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

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

I think while we may be unsure of the exact details about the authorship of the Gospels, or of Paul’s motivations, or of whether an historical Jesus ever existed, the origin of the whole Christian saga reeks of political propaganda. Christians today who choose to believe the Vatican’s (ie Rome’s) version of events should be asking themselves if they’ve been conned.
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08-01-2014, 08:58 AM
RE: Jesus myth
Hasn't his guy been debunked like a bunch of times already? Why post this again?

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08-01-2014, 09:43 AM
RE: Jesus myth
Robert Price doesn't think much of Atwill's theory.
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08-01-2014, 09:50 AM
RE: Jesus myth
(08-01-2014 12:44 AM)Taqiyya Mockingbird Wrote:  Point of information: After seeing and experiencing, firsthand, Carrier's personal conduct online WRT his involvement in the inception/launch of the "AtheismPlus" experiment/debacle/abortion, I wouldn't trust/use his word as a source of information for ANYTHING, whatsoever. I wouldn't trust the sonofabitch to tell me if the fucking sun was out.

Perhaps..... It appears that Robert Price and Richard Carrier are in agreement on many things regarding the Christ Myth theory.
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08-01-2014, 04:08 PM
RE: Jesus myth
(08-01-2014 08:58 AM)WillHopp Wrote:  Hasn't his guy been debunked like a bunch of times already? Why post this again?

Yes...a lot of people don't like his ideas. I do.

Sorry to post it again....I know it's long....but it is fascinating (once you get your head around it.) I find the bit about Mary eating the body that was to be a myth to the world, the Demons infecting the swine, and the fishers of men thing, convincing.

For me, the theory explained how Christianity took off. Nowhere else have I read how Christianity first was promoted and why.

What really put the icing on the cake for me was when I read elsewhere how the Flavians were great propagandists (which isn't actually in his book.)
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08-01-2014, 04:21 PM
RE: Jesus myth
But debunking isn't opinion, this idea was refuted. Or am I missing something?

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08-01-2014, 10:07 PM
RE: Jesus myth
(08-01-2014 04:21 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  But debunking isn't opinion, this idea was refuted. Or am I missing something?

Well.... There is a fair bit of opinion involved in this. Thanks for posting Robert Prices' comments, I haven't read them before. He seems quite sensible. Note that he doesn't totally dismiss all of Atwill's ideas. Also, this was written in 2005. Atwill all has revised his book and written an updated version in which is arguments more expensive and better developed.
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08-01-2014, 10:34 PM (This post was last modified: 08-01-2014 10:57 PM by EvolutionKills.)
RE: Jesus myth
(08-01-2014 10:07 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  
(08-01-2014 04:21 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  But debunking isn't opinion, this idea was refuted. Or am I missing something?

Well.... There is a fair bit of opinion involved in this. Thanks for posting Robert Prices' comments, I haven't read them before. He seems quite sensible. Note that he doesn't totally dismiss all of Atwill's ideas. Also, this was written in 2005. Atwill all has revised his book and written an updated version in which is arguments more expensive and better developed.

It's my understanding that the key objection to Atwill, especially by other mythicists like Price and Carrier, is that he makes huge assumptions without the evidence to back them up. It might like interesting as a whole package, but kind of falls apart piece by piece as it fails to support itself with substantial evidence instead of self reinforcing conjecture.

Richard Carrier - Atwill’s Cranked-up Jesus

Joseph Atwill - Richard Carrier: The PhD That Drowned at Gadara

Thomas Verenna - No, Joe Atwill: Rome Did Not Invent Jesus

Joel L. Watts - Joe Atwill, Bill O’Reily, and Josephus sitting in a tree…

Aaron Adair - The Roman Jesus Propaganda of Joseph Atwill

Richard Carrier - Luke and Josephus (2000)

For those who don't want to tread through all of the links, here's Carrier's 8 main objections to Atwill's thesis.

Richard Carrier Wrote:There are at least eight general problems with his thesis, which do not refute it but establish that it has a very low prior probability, and therefore requires exceptionally good evidence to be at all credible:

(1) The Roman aristocracy was nowhere near as clever as Atwill’s theory requires. They certainly were not so masterfully educated in the Jewish scriptures and theology that they could compose hundreds of pages of elegant passages based on it. And it is very unlikely they would ever conceive of a scheme like this, much less think they could succeed at it (even less, actually do so).

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

(3) The Gospels and the Epistles all contradict each other far too much to have been composed with a systematic aim in mind. Indeed, they contradict each other in ways that often demonstrate they are deliberately arguing with each other. From the ways Matthew changes Mark; to the way the forged 2 Thessalonians actually tries to argue 1 Thessalonians is the forgery; to how the resurrections depicted in Luke and John are deliberate attempts to refute the doctrine of resurrection defended originally by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 and 2 Corinthians 5; to how some Epistles insist on Torah observance while others insist it can be discarded; to how Luke’s nativity contradicts Matthew’s on almost every single particular (and not just in placing the event in completely different periods ten years apart); to how Acts blatantly contradicts Paul’s own account of his conversion and travels; to how John invents a real Lazarus to refute a point Luke tried to make with a fictional Lazarus; and so on. (I discuss some of these, and more, in my forthcoming book On the Historicity of Jesus.)

(4) The Gospels and the Epistles differ far too much in style to have come from the same hand, and many show signs of later doctoring that would problematize attempts to confirm any theory like Atwill’s. For example, Mark 16:9-20, John 20 vs. 21, the hash job made of the epistle to the Romans, etc. Even the fact of how the canon was selected creates a problem for Atwill’s research requirements–for instance, the actual first letter to the Corinthians is completely missing, yet Paul refers to its existence in “our” 1 Corinthians.

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

(6) Pacifying Jews would not have been possible with a cult that eliminated Jewish law and accepted Gentiles as equals, and in actual fact Christianity was pretty much a failure in Palestine. Its success was achieved mainly in the Diaspora, where the Romans rarely had any major problems with the Jews. The Jewish War was only fought in Palestine, and not even against all the Jews there (many sided with Rome). How would inventing a religion that would have no chance of succeeding in the heart of Palestine but instead was tailor made to succeed outside Palestine, ever help the Romans with anything they considered important?

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

(8) The Romans knew one thing well: War. Social ideology they were never very good at. That’s why Rome always had such problems keeping its empire together, and why social discontent and other malfunctions continued to escalate until the empire started dissolving. Rome expected to solve every problem militarily instead–and up until the 3rd century Rome did so quite well. The Jewish War was effectively over in just four years (any siege war was expected to take at least three, and Vespasian was actually busy conquering Rome in the fourth year of that War). So why would they think they needed any other solution?

With all that counting against Atwill, he has a very high burden to meet. And he just doesn’t. He actually has no evidence at all for his thesis, except “Bible Code”-style readings of coincidences among texts, which he seems only to read in English and not the original Greek, all the while relying on egregious fallacies in probabilistic reasoning.

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08-01-2014, 10:40 PM
RE: Jesus myth
Copy and paste much?
(not sure if anyone noticed lol)

Atir aissom atir imon
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