Story of Jesus Christ now proven to be a fabrication
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10-10-2013, 11:57 AM
RE: Story of Jesus Christ now proven to be a fabrication
(10-10-2013 11:30 AM)Chopdoc Wrote:  Not sure I agree with you about Ehrman's comportment, but one would get that impression from Carrier's blog. Here's Ehrmans' response to Carrier in which he gives his side of the story and reasons for breaking off the exchange. Seems pretty reasonable to me. Tell me what you think.

http://ehrmanblog.org/fuller-reply-to-richard-carrier/


This was actually covered in my link already. Ehrman's blog post is dated April 25'th 2012, while Carrier's recap covers teh entire debate before and after. Therein is a specific link to the specific response to just that blog post, and it can be read here.

http://www.freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/1151

Carrier Wrote:As promised Friday, here I shall reply to Ehrman’s longest reply to me to date (in Fuller Reply to Richard Carrier, mostly responding to my critique of his book). I won’t rehash the points I already addressed in my previous response (see Round One). Here I’ll just cut to the chase:

Was Pilate a Procurator?

Ehrman finally does what he should have done originally (take note of this trend: it confirms the entire point of my original critique), and asks an expert. But what he didn't do was read the scholarship I pointed him to (my article, which references the most definitive literature on the point: in fact it is rather important to this whole debate and my subsequent remarks here that we read my paper’s section on what a procurator was in the time of Jesus).


Carrier Wrote:When discussing his failure to mention that the mythicists had some scholarly support for their questioning of the passage on Christ in Tacitus, Ehrman misrepresents my argument in various ways. For example, he says:

Ehrman Wrote:Carrier says this is “crap,” “sloppy work,” and “irresponsible,” and indicates that if I had simply checked into the matter, I would see that I’m completely wrong.

First, I did not say he was completely wrong. In fact I said very much the opposite. Here is what I actually wrote (emphasis now added):

Carrier Wrote:That the overall consensus of scholarship, myself included, sides with Ehrman on the conclusion is true (I am sure the passage is authentic and has not been relevantly altered), but that does not change the fact that readers are being seriously misled by Ehrman’s characterization of the matter. For him to claim that mythicists “just made this up” because it was convenient for them is false. But more alarming to me is the fact that this demonstrates that he didn’t even check. And again, if he didn’t check this, what else didn’t he check? This kind of sloppy work, the failure to check his facts, to do any basic research we should expect of a scholar, and consequently to misrepresent his opponents and their position, and misinform the public about the debate, is the same kind of crap we get from the bad mythicists.

Notice. I did not say he was completely wrong, but that he was mostly right, and was only misleading readers by giving the impression that mythicists were on their own here.


Carrier Wrote:Conclusion

In the end Ehrman ducks behind the “it was just a pop book, you shouldn’t expect it to be all accurate and the like” defense. This requires no reply. The reader can judge for themselves whether that excuse only makes the whole matter worse. (Can you imagine him accepting that excuse from any of the mythicists he attacks?) He also tries to play the victim card and claim I violated my own principle of interpretive charity. But in fact I did not. I gave him the benefit of a doubt everywhere an innocent explanation was conceivable, exactly as my principle requires (for example, I assumed that when he wrote “Justin of Tiberius” for Justus of Tiberias on p. 50 that that was a mere typo). But my principle also states (exactly as he himself quotes it) that when no such interpretation is plausible, we ought to point that out, so the author can correct their error. Which is exactly what I did.

Thus, his attempt to twist a rule of interpretive charity into a monstrous absurdity doesn’t cut it, and only exposes how poor a grasp he has of logical reasoning. Authors don’t get to say the exact opposite of what they meant and then claim it is our responsibility to telepathically know that that is what happened. Authors don’t get to say things that clearly indicate they badly mishandled their sources, and then claim we are always to assume they never do that. Authors don’t get to say things that clearly indicate they didn’t check their facts, and then claim we are always to assume they nevertheless did. Indeed, as his own quote of me says, if you cannot reconcile a contradiction or error in my work, you should call me on it so I can correct myself. Well, I called him on it.


Granted, Carrier does get the last word here (and a devastating one at that). But when combined with the point-by-point and play-by-play breakdown, Ehrman looks very much like he acted as if nobody would remember what he posted earlier and hold his feet to the fire. Like I said, even by the standards of Ehrman's own rebuttals, they all seem to fall very flat and he never seems to offer a sound defense or good answers. Then when it's all said and done, he basically stops and claims Carrier is essentially 'too mean' while having done almost nothing to redress the various flaws and problems pointed out by Carrier. I like Ehrman's work on Forged and Jesus Interrupted, but I'm worried by his inability to defend his work in this book from Carrier's thorough professional scrutiny and critique.

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10-10-2013, 12:30 PM
RE: Story of Jesus Christ now proven to be a fabrication
(10-10-2013 11:57 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  
(10-10-2013 11:30 AM)Chopdoc Wrote:  Not sure I agree with you about Ehrman's comportment, but one would get that impression from Carrier's blog. Here's Ehrmans' response to Carrier in which he gives his side of the story and reasons for breaking off the exchange. Seems pretty reasonable to me. Tell me what you think.

http://ehrmanblog.org/fuller-reply-to-richard-carrier/


This was actually covered in my link already. Ehrman's blog post is dated April 25'th 2012, while Carrier's recap covers teh entire debate before and after. Therein is a specific link to the specific response to just that blog post, and it can be read here.

http://www.freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/1151

Carrier Wrote:As promised Friday, here I shall reply to Ehrman’s longest reply to me to date (in Fuller Reply to Richard Carrier, mostly responding to my critique of his book). I won’t rehash the points I already addressed in my previous response (see Round One). Here I’ll just cut to the chase:

Was Pilate a Procurator?

Ehrman finally does what he should have done originally (take note of this trend: it confirms the entire point of my original critique), and asks an expert. But what he didn't do was read the scholarship I pointed him to (my article, which references the most definitive literature on the point: in fact it is rather important to this whole debate and my subsequent remarks here that we read my paper’s section on what a procurator was in the time of Jesus).


Carrier Wrote:When discussing his failure to mention that the mythicists had some scholarly support for their questioning of the passage on Christ in Tacitus, Ehrman misrepresents my argument in various ways. For example, he says:


First, I did not say he was completely wrong. In fact I said very much the opposite. Here is what I actually wrote (emphasis now added):


Notice. I did not say he was completely wrong, but that he was mostly right, and was only misleading readers by giving the impression that mythicists were on their own here.


Carrier Wrote:Conclusion

In the end Ehrman ducks behind the “it was just a pop book, you shouldn’t expect it to be all accurate and the like” defense. This requires no reply. The reader can judge for themselves whether that excuse only makes the whole matter worse. (Can you imagine him accepting that excuse from any of the mythicists he attacks?) He also tries to play the victim card and claim I violated my own principle of interpretive charity. But in fact I did not. I gave him the benefit of a doubt everywhere an innocent explanation was conceivable, exactly as my principle requires (for example, I assumed that when he wrote “Justin of Tiberius” for Justus of Tiberias on p. 50 that that was a mere typo). But my principle also states (exactly as he himself quotes it) that when no such interpretation is plausible, we ought to point that out, so the author can correct their error. Which is exactly what I did.

Thus, his attempt to twist a rule of interpretive charity into a monstrous absurdity doesn’t cut it, and only exposes how poor a grasp he has of logical reasoning. Authors don’t get to say the exact opposite of what they meant and then claim it is our responsibility to telepathically know that that is what happened. Authors don’t get to say things that clearly indicate they badly mishandled their sources, and then claim we are always to assume they never do that. Authors don’t get to say things that clearly indicate they didn’t check their facts, and then claim we are always to assume they nevertheless did. Indeed, as his own quote of me says, if you cannot reconcile a contradiction or error in my work, you should call me on it so I can correct myself. Well, I called him on it.


Granted, Carrier does get the last word here (and a devastating one at that). But when combined with the point-by-point and play-by-play breakdown, Ehrman looks very much like he acted as if nobody would remember what he posted earlier and hold his feet to the fire. Like I said, even by the standards of Ehrman's own rebuttals, they all seem to fall very flat and he never seems to offer a sound defense or good answers. Then when it's all said and done, he basically stops and claims Carrier is essentially 'too mean' while having done almost nothing to redress the various flaws and problems pointed out by Carrier. I like Ehrman's work on Forged and Jesus Interrupted, but I'm worried by his inability to defend his work in this book from Carrier's thorough professional scrutiny and critique.

I hear you, and didn't notice the dates of reply/response in the back and forth. I was referring to Ehrman's comment about disappearing down the "black hole" of online replies to replies of replies. I agree that one has a responsibility to defend his/her work, but a person can spend a lifetime fending off legitimate (and illegitimate) attacks. At some reasonable point, you just have to move on and let whomever have the last word.

Thanks for responding. That's why I like this place.
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10-10-2013, 01:45 PM
RE: Story of Jesus Christ now proven to be a fabrication
(10-10-2013 12:30 PM)Chopdoc Wrote:  I hear you, and didn't notice the dates of reply/response in the back and forth. I was referring to Ehrman's comment about disappearing down the "black hole" of online replies to replies of replies. I agree that one has a responsibility to defend his/her work, but a person can spend a lifetime fending off legitimate (and illegitimate) attacks. At some reasonable point, you just have to move on and let whomever have the last word.

Thanks for responding. That's why I like this place.


No problem. I happen to think Carrier makes the better case here, but if he were to make similar mistakes to the ones he call Ehrman out on, I'd hope somebody else would hold his feet to the fire as well. And Ehrman's still a good scholar, he just wrote a somewhat sloppy book that shouldn't be accepted uncritically just because of his excellent prior work.

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10-10-2013, 04:55 PM
RE: Story of Jesus Christ now proven to be a fabrication
(10-10-2013 06:35 AM)RaisdCath Wrote:  
(09-10-2013 03:27 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I'm still here! I'm glad I'm missed! No babies on the way LOL

I'm really intrigued by Atwill's theory. I do believe that Christianity was invented by the Roman government to undermine militant Jews. Just whether Atwill has got all his details right I'm not totally sure. I don't think he's a crackpot.

Here's what I have written about his theory in my book. It's been subtly improved upon since I last posted it. It is a bit long but I assure you it's very interesting if you can get through it...

Atwill’s Theory
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 spent ten 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 2005 book “Caesar’s Messiah” (http://www.amazon.com/Caes+ars-Messiah-R...ks&ie=UTF) that he thinks intellectuals under Titus’ direction created the gospels, incorporating a skillful satire of Jewish messianic dreams that becomes apparent on reading Josephus’ “Wars of the Jews” and his “The Life of Flavius Josephus.”

Titus had decimated militant Judaism in 70 CE, but he couldn’t get the Jewish prisoners to worship him as Lord. The revolt may have been crushed, but the religion that inspired it wasn’t, and was still a threat to the Pax Romana. 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 its followers 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 for two reasons; firstly to act as a theological barrier against the spread of messianic Judaism, and secondly 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 himself. 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 considered Vespasian and Titus divine, or been pleased to help propagate the myth. Titus supported and financed the publication of his “Wars of the Jews.”

There were plenty of people in the Flavian household who, like Josephus, were familiar enough with Judaism to help create Christianity. 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 was 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. Vespasian had already been deified by the Roman Senate. Jesus and Titus were both were sent on a mission from God, their father. 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.

There are events from the ministry of Jesus that closely parallel Titus’ military campaign in the first Jewish war. 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.

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 south-east of the Sea of Galilee. The people of Gadara were known as “Gadarenes.” (http://www.keyway.ca/htm2001/20010621.htm).

Atwill thinks the “demon possessed man” is a satire of John of Gischala. This is how Josephus describes John
“Yet did John demonstrate by his actions that these Sicarii were more moderate than he was himself, for he not only slew all such as gave him good counsel to do what was right, but treated them worst of all…he filled his entire country with ten thousand instances of wickedness” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews.)

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.

Here is part of Matthew’s version of the story:
“And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? (Matthew 8;28-29 KJV.) What’s “the time” the “devils” are referring to? It could have been the capture of John and Simon at the end of the campaign.

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

The understanding that a “generation” lasted about forty years comes from the Torah.
“And the Lord's anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the Lord, was consumed. (Numbers 32;13 KJV.)

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.)

The theory explains why “Jesus” would say
“And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.’ (Matthew 5:41 KJB.) Roman soldiers conscripted people to carry their packs for a mile. And,
“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. (http://www.ukapologetics.net/09/AD70.htm).

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 perception. 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. ( http://thehistoryofrome.typepad.com/the_...roved.html , http://thehistoryofrome.typepad.com/the_...a-day.html ).

Using religion for the good of the state was a well-established practice in ancient Rome; it had a long tradition of absorbing the religions of its opponents. It was easier and more cost effective than allowing those 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 (ie Titus) as if he’d been the messiah they’d 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, who were more likely to obey the government. That’s ironic, because the real Yeshua, if he ever existed, had tried to start an insurrection against the government.

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 emerged from Rome itself. It explains why Rome created Jesus, a pacifist preacher. It’s why “Jesus” referred to Jews (his own companions!) who rebelled against Rome as a “wicked generation.” It’s 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 explains 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’s 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 promoting Christianity. If these people were “Christians,” they were so in name only, as they couldn’t have believed in their own spoof.

Propaganda was a powerful tool in Roman times, just as it is today. Public opinion was 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 and the hoi polloi, people Josephus referred to as “slaves” and “scum.” They fancied Christianity might flourish before the Gospels’ satirical level became widely known. The gospels were designed to become apparent as satire only to the more educated classes who could recognize the parallels in Josephus’ works.

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 rationalism, and Judaism’s monotheism, subservience and faith. Jesus’ injunctions to love your enemies, turn the other cheek, aspire to poverty, dream about heaven, think like children and pay your taxes take on a cynical meaning, because they were invented to pacify peasants and slaves. 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 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 grin on his face for the last two millennia. His invention grew into a much larger monster than he could ever have imagined.

This theory ties in with 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 could have started in Paul’s day; Rome was trying to prevent a war with the Jews. Atwill will be writing another book that helps explain Paul’s role in the scheme.

There is, however, in my opinion, what seems to be a few minor problems with the theory. Atwill has proposed the four gospels were originally written under Titus’ direction, yet it’s a fact that no first century source ever specifically mentions the existence of any of the four Gospels (see http://www.harrington-sites.com/f5.htm). 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 doesn’t comment about the fact there are now four gospels. It’s fairly well established that Mark was written first. I find it hard to imagine why the government would invent four different accounts, although it’s possible. It seems more likely they wrote one, the original version of Mark, and the others evolved from this as the second century progressed.

The theory to some degree undermines all the painstaking work and alternative theories of numerous historians, including linguists familiar with Greek and Aramaic. I think it needs to be remembered that 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.

If Josephus had a hand in the gospels’ stories, why didn’t he mention Jesus in his own writings? I think Josephus’ works were more 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.

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 guesswork.

I haven’t done justice to all of Atwill’s ideas, so I encourage those interested to read his book and watch him talk on youtube. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g40Eck6gW7U , http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zlj5-iwKueQ ).

Where does this leave my theory that there existed an historical Yeshua who tried to start a war with Rome? I admit it makes a “non existent” Jesus more probable, yet I don’t think the ideas are mutually exclusive. 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 the foundation for 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 the gospels probably deliberately undermined their story about him. It’s possible that the gospels’ original authors used details about Yeshua sourced from the gospel of the Nazarenes (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/go...ans.html), or details from it were added in at a later date, in an effort to make them appear more credible.

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. It’s very difficult to picture a watered down version of Judaism based on a crucified Galilean gaining a momentum of its own without some structural support. Those Christian apologists who claim it was only because Christian teachings were so pure and attractive have overactive imaginations.

As time went by, and the Flavian government was no more, I suspect Christian churches became self-funding and self-promoting, at least until the fourth century when the government once again patronized them. The fact that the faith started as propaganda was never, obviously, public knowledge, and by the time the mid second century came around there were multiple versions of Christianity all with their own idiosyncratic ideas. The Jews were decisively defeated for a second time, and no one remembered, and no documentation was kept, about why the whole show was created in the first place.

The truth about the origin of Christianity makes a fascinating discussion. All historians have their own opinions, and to some degree we all make educated guesses about Yeshua, 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 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, the origin of the whole Christian saga reeks of political propaganda.

Mark....facinating response. Could you please post the name of your book?
Thanks!

Hi Raisedcath, thank you for showing interest in my book. Sometimes I take a while to reply because I'm in Australia, so there's 14 hour time difference with USA.

My book is called "Get Over Christianity by understanding it." It's at the publishers at the moment so should be released sometime in the next couple of months. As Christopher Hitchens would say "available at fine bookstores everywhere" LOL not really, it's available only from Amazon as an ebook or paperback.

It's actually much more than just a book because it contains many hundreds of links to relevant articles and documentaries, so it's a good resource about the history and legitimacy of Christianity.
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10-10-2013, 05:58 PM (This post was last modified: 10-10-2013 09:38 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Story of Jesus Christ now proven to be a fabrication
(10-10-2013 09:46 AM)PersephoneK Wrote:  
(09-10-2013 11:41 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  Your 4th point is spot on! Paul knew nothing if any of it was real. He set out to just start his own religion and filled in blanks with vague references that seemed to fit the "prophesy" but with his own odd beliefs attached.

None of that is remotely what most experts believe. Only the mythicists of which most people in this thread appear to be. What is the big deal with accepting that Jesus probably existed? It doesn't change anything about how destructive religion is? In fact, I think it gives it more power. The insignificant Jewish preacher was transformed into god by superstition and flawed human thinking over 2000 years. This is a lesson in skeptical and critical thinking education if I ever heard one.

RE..
"None of that is remotely what most experts believe."
Huh? Are you suggesting that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written in the first century and didn't change in any way over the next 200 years? If so you are rather credulous, and have no good understanding of how the new Testament canon developed. For example, the resurrection in Mark was only added probably in the third century. No one even mentioned the names of the four authors until Irenaeus in the 180's CE. There was no one universally controlling church doctrine to determine what was in the Canon and what wasn't until well into the fourth century. Look up about the Gnostics and Marcionites. The reality is that the early church fathers were creators of dogma not preservers of such. I think the gospels only achieved their present form in the early fourth century... they did exist before then, but would've only borne a passing resemblance to how we now read them. This is what I connclude in my book about the writing of the new Testament...

"The church fathers were the more educated members of the early Christian churches. Yet they were narrow-minded, superstitious, and mendacious. Some of them forged documents. They displayed very little critical faculty; no story was too silly, no falsehood too glaring, no argument too weak to prevent them teaching it with full confidence of its truth. They thought it was permissible, and even commendable, to assert falsehoods for the sake of selling faith. They were the tabloid journalists of their day. It’s on their testimony and others of their ilk that today’s Christian assumes the Gospels are truthful.

It’s obvious to me that these characters, and others with the same attitude, edited and interpolated the New Testament. Some altered quotations from the Septuagint to create phony prophecies concerning Jesus. Someone added a resurrection story to the Gospel of Mark. Someone attributed the authorship of the Gospels to Jesus’ apostles. Someone probably inserted into Matthew’s Gospel that Jesus wanted to start a new church with Peter at its head. Someone probably inserted Jesus’ name into Paul’s writings. Some wrote literature in Paul’s name. Someone wrote Acts to try to link Yeshua’s disciples with Paul’s theology. Some incorporated traditions from other cults into the new one. There are countless other examples of their dishonesty. There was a corrupt culture in the early Christian church.

There are no excuses for this. Fiction touted as truth, uncritical scholarship, and appeals for faith are unacceptable to an educated audience.

They were using the type of arguments that some groups in that era considered acceptable. Yet there were men of their time and before them such as Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, Celsus, Cicero, Philo, Seutonius, Tacitus and others, who employed much higher standards of scholarship. Their compositions are believable, consistent and still read well, whereas most of these Christian writings don’t.

None of these church fathers were honest enough to publicly admit what their peers such as Celsus pointed out; their faith was formed on a foundation of manufactured nonsense. How could anyone today be convinced of the divinity, the miracles, or the teachings of Jesus after considering what these characters had to contend?'

Also... if you are going to claim that Paul's letters are evidence for the existence of a once living flesh and blood Jesus you're going to have to come up with some evidence. Please do so and I'll sit up and pay attention. The only place in the Bible in which Paul talks about what a once leaving human character actually said or did is when he discusses the last supper, and that is almost certainly an interpolation. Paul's Christ was a ghost. If you don't believe me go back and read your bible.

RE
"Only the mythicists of which most people in this thread appear to be. What is the big deal with accepting that Jesus probably existed?"
Mate...you're making assumptions. I hear that you're feeling a bit "lazy," but you should actually read what I wrote...
"Where does this leave my theory that there existed an historical Yeshua who tried to start a war with Rome? I admit it makes a “non existent” Jesus more probable, yet I don’t think the ideas are mutually exclusive. 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 the foundation for 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 the gospels probably deliberately undermined their story about him. It’s possible that the gospels’ original authors used details about Yeshua sourced from the gospel of the Nazarenes (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/go...ans.html), or details from it were added in at a later date, in an effort to make them appear more credible."
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10-10-2013, 06:00 PM
RE: Story of Jesus Christ now proven to be a fabrication
(10-10-2013 11:22 AM)Logisch Wrote:  OMG I HATE JESUS, THIS IS THE BEST CONFIRMATION BIAS EVER! I'll immediately repost to facebook without looking up facts because it sounds good and I like it because it sounds good to me!
/logical fallacy

Guilty as charged, but I don't hate the Jesus character.
Posting on fb was a way for family and friends to look at the article and begin to dig for themselves to discover if it was true or not and not take it at face value.

This way they get to be skeptical and step into my shoes for a little bit.
And I get to enjoy the moment of posting crap to fb without researching it.

At least give me one day out of the year to enjoy a purely anti-religious moment.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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10-10-2013, 06:39 PM
RE: Story of Jesus Christ now proven to be a fabrication
(10-10-2013 11:15 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Your blog piece was an attempt to invalidate the entire discussion. It's there for anyone to read.

You name not one scholar you have studied, except Ehrman, yet keep make sweeping generalizations. From your statements, (the usual Christian clap-trap), concerning the non-Christian sources, it appears you have no real knowledge of the subject. ? "Most scholars say" ? Really ? Show me the poll.
More generalizations. No substance. Nothing in the actual argument addressed.
You have presented not one piece of evidence to believe, (apart from the usual false debunked junk). If they were writing 75 years later, ... no newspapers, no records of ANY kind, Herod's secretary who talks about FAR less important things, yet never mentions this, Philo, who talks about FAR less important things fails to mention this, nd all the other dying and rising gods, who "were a dime a dozen", (Dr. Carole Fontaine), such as Simon of Perea are VERY similar, ... announced by Gabriel, died, and rose in 3 days), you have no "proof" that this one of many Jesuses (Yeshua ben Josef), actually existed.

Um... it was a blog post, not a dissertation for a scholarly journal. The evidence is out there for you to find. I cited Ehrman because his books contain a wealth of factual evidence and citations you can follow for yourself. For the most part, he writes about what is common knowledge in academia, not necessarily his own opinion, so I find his popular writings to be quite useful for understanding the current evidence and what scholars know on the subject. I don't have the time nor inclination to do your thinking or research for you. Its all there in plain sight. The "jesus didn't exist" tripe is actually beyond silly.

Believe whatever you want to believe. You'll be in the crazy minority, but whatevs.

"If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things." ~Rene Descartes.
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10-10-2013, 06:54 PM
RE: Story of Jesus Christ now proven to be a fabrication
(10-10-2013 05:58 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  RE..
"None of that is remotely what most experts believe."
Huh? Are you suggesting that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written in the first century and didn't change in any way over the next 200 years?

So, you're post is rather long and I have a life to live so won't address all points. But to answer your first question, my answer is... yes, the Gospels were probably written in the first century, but no we don't have originals or even copies from the first century, and yes of course they changed over the next 200 years. Scholars, through careful analysis and study, can piece much of that out. I think you and I agree on much of the history of the documentation of the Bible, just not on the motives and conclusions.

Also, the Gospels were not written to be historical documents. They were written for many reasons, mostly involving trying to convert people to the faith.

And, hey... i don't claim to be a scholar. Last time I checked, this was an atheist forum on the internet, not a scholarly journal. I totally can get things wrong and am always learning more. That's why I rely on scholarly consensus unless I have good reasons not to. So far... haven't seen those reasons.

Cheers,
PersephoneK

"If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things." ~Rene Descartes.
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10-10-2013, 06:55 PM
RE: Story of Jesus Christ now proven to be a fabrication
(10-10-2013 06:39 PM)PersephoneK Wrote:  
(10-10-2013 11:15 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Your blog piece was an attempt to invalidate the entire discussion. It's there for anyone to read.

You name not one scholar you have studied, except Ehrman, yet keep make sweeping generalizations. From your statements, (the usual Christian clap-trap), concerning the non-Christian sources, it appears you have no real knowledge of the subject. ? "Most scholars say" ? Really ? Show me the poll.
More generalizations. No substance. Nothing in the actual argument addressed.
You have presented not one piece of evidence to believe, (apart from the usual false debunked junk). If they were writing 75 years later, ... no newspapers, no records of ANY kind, Herod's secretary who talks about FAR less important things, yet never mentions this, Philo, who talks about FAR less important things fails to mention this, nd all the other dying and rising gods, who "were a dime a dozen", (Dr. Carole Fontaine), such as Simon of Perea are VERY similar, ... announced by Gabriel, died, and rose in 3 days), you have no "proof" that this one of many Jesuses (Yeshua ben Josef), actually existed.

Um... it was a blog post, not a dissertation for a scholarly journal. The evidence is out there for you to find. I cited Ehrman because his books contain a wealth of factual evidence and citations you can follow for yourself. For the most part, he writes about what is common knowledge in academia, not necessarily his own opinion, so I find his popular writings to be quite useful for understanding the current evidence and what scholars know on the subject. I don't have the time nor inclination to do your thinking or research for you. Its all there in plain sight. The "jesus didn't exist" tripe is actually beyond silly.

Believe whatever you want to believe. You'll be in the crazy minority, but whatevs.

So you've got no evidence, just assert something, and have the balls to say you're a skeptic ? Really ? Silly to you maybe. The minority makes no difference, (seriously, the "argumentum ad populum") and you have in no way demonstrated that, just asserted it. We're supposed to believe someone who made such uneducated mistakes, yet thinks she can rant about what should or shoud not be discussed by atheists. All Ehrman says is : "it's in Paul ,and the gospels". He rants against the "mythicists", and in the end, he's got nothing except what the Christies use.
Be happy to be in your "majority, just like all flat earthers once were.

You need do nothing for me dear, I AM IN academia.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein
Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music - Friedrich Nietzsche
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10-10-2013, 06:58 PM
RE: Story of Jesus Christ now proven to be a fabrication
(10-10-2013 05:58 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Also... if you are going to claim that Paul's letters are evidence for the existence of a once living flesh and blood Jesus you're going to have to come up with some evidence. Please do so and I'll sit up and pay attention. The only place in the Bible in which Paul talks about what a once leaving human character actually said or did is when he discusses the last supper, and that is almost certainly an interpolation. Paul's Christ was a ghost. If you don't believe me go back and read your bible.

Ok, just caught this. I did claim that, and included the reasons in my blog post. Paul says in Galatians that he visited Peter and James (Jesus' brother) for 15 days 3 years after he converted to Christianity. Why would he do so? I'm sure for 15 days they talked a lot about what Jesus did and didn't do, and it probably would have come out of their talks that Jesus didn't exist if that were the case. Seems odd that Paul continues his ministry in light of learning Jesus wasn't real. You can dismiss this evidence, but Bible scholars the world over do not. Read the evidence they've accumulated if you want to know the details. Journals are out there.

"If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things." ~Rene Descartes.
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