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The Romans created jesus





truespeed
Found this link on another forum.

Quote:
Atwill asserts that Christianity did not really begin as a religion, but a sophisticated government project, a kind of propaganda exercise used to pacify the subjects of the Roman Empire. "Jewish sects in Palestine at the time, who were waiting for a prophesied warrior Messiah, were a constant source of violent insurrection during the first century," he explains. "When the Romans had exhausted conventional means of quashing rebellion, they switched to psychological warfare. They surmised that the way to stop the spread of zealous Jewish missionary activity was to create a competing belief system. That's when the 'peaceful' Messiah story was invented. Instead of inspiring warfare, this Messiah urged turn-the-other-cheek pacifism and encouraged Jews to 'give onto Caesar' and pay their taxes to Rome."


Interesting stuff,I don't know enough about the subject to make any assumptions on the validity of the claims.
Bikerman
CRANK ALERT! CRANK ALERT!

Atwill is to skeptic atheism what William Lane Craig is to mainstream Christianity - ie a high profile, self-proclaimed expert who is embarrassing, and who the real scholars wish would piss-off and stop giving them a bad name. I share the sentiment.
Indi
Bikerman wrote:
CRANK ALERT! CRANK ALERT!

Atwill is to skeptic atheism what William Lane Craig is to mainstream Christianity - ie a high profile, self-proclaimed expert who is embarrassing, and who the real scholars wish would piss-off and stop giving them a bad name. I share the sentiment.

Except that mainstream Christians love Craig and think he's teh brilliants! Whereas mainstream atheists just think Atwill's an amusing kook.

(It's mainstream philosophers who think Craig is an embarrassment, not mainstream Christians, i'd say.)

Personally, i'm looking forward to Atwil's big reveal. It should be a bonanza for parody-writers. I'm musing posting my own theory about how Muhammad was a Chinese agent sent to stir up the people west of India into aggression so that China would have easier time conquering from the east. It would have worked, too, if the lizard people hadn't gotten involved.
Nilout
This is absolutely false!!!

There are so many problems with Atwill’s theory that I hardly know where to begin. First, the alleged parallels are anything but parallel. For example, Atwill says that when Jesus calls the disciples to be “fishers of men” this is a secret code related to a scene in the Jewish War.

Specifically, a scene describing how Emperor Titus’s troops would kill Jews who had escaped them in the Sea of Galilee by cutting off their hands or heads and shooting them with darts. Atwill says Jesus’ call to become a “fisher of men” is a reference to when the Romans “caught Jews like fish” in the battle of Lake Tiberias (Caesar’s Messiah, 39). Atwill’s book is full of these “parallels” that exist only if you already believe Atwill’s argument, which makes them poor evidence for his theory.

Second, if Atwill’s thesis is right, then not only did Jesus never exist, neither did Peter, James, or Paul. In fact, there would have been no Christians at all before the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70. But we know this isn’t true because the Roman historian Tacitus records in his Annals (Book 15, 44) that Emperor Nero blames the Great Fire in Rome, which took place three years before the Jewish revolt, on a group called Christians.

Even if Tacitus were in on the act, how could the Romans have fabricated the existence of churches such as those in Ephesus or Thessalonica that were supposed to have existed, according to the book of Acts, for decades before the Jewish revolt? Wouldn’t the first Jews who joined the Christian church realize something was not quite right about this movement that sprang up overnight?
Nilout
Moreover, nearly all scholars, including non-Christian scholars, agree that the New Testament documents represent a diverse writing style that cannot be attributed to a single author. Just a quick read of the four Gospels or a comparison of the Gospels to Paul’s letters makes this abundantly clear.

Even if these documents were written by one person in order to pacify the Judean Jews (which has almost a zero percent chance of being true), then that person did an amazingly bad job at creating a fake messiah for the Jewish elite to embrace.

The author of First Corinthians admits that the cross, or a dying messiah, represented a “stumbling block for Jews” (1:23). Now Paul, the real author of First Corinthians, just had to accept that fact and preach it, since Jesus’ crucifixion really happened. However, if the entire story was made up, then why create a fake messiah who would be rejected by the Jewish elite and instead be primarily embraced by Gentiles, who weren’t even a part of the plan to begin with? Why also create lots of other contradictory apocryphal Gospels, like the Gospel of Thomas, that compete with your fake religion that you hope the future Church will not deem canonical?

Finally, how would the Romans get enough Jews who were willing to commit apostasy, blasphemy, and die as martyrs for the Empire in order to preach this new “gospel” to an illiterate world?
LxGoodies
Roman elite shaped christianity, indeed.. but to my humble knowledge that started in the end 3th century (Theodora) to beginning of the 4th century (Constantine), not in the 1st century..

The book is online,

https://archive.org/details/CaesarsMessiahTheRomanConspiracyToInventJesus

It's nice to introduce (yet another) theory about certain historical events.. but to be scientifically sound, it should have coherence: history IS storytelling, but it should explain things in a complete context, illustrated by archeological finds. No story about Jezus exists which meets these criteria. Jezus is not historical science, like Atwell seems to suggest. On the contrary ! any proposition about the historical Jesus, or even 1st century Roman political machinations in the direction Atwell suggests, is speculation, because nothing supporting this conspiracy theory Romans vs. Jews is actually documented in Roman sources. The crucifixion is entirely undocumented, except for one single example of graffity in Pompeii, which hardly indicate any purpose,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexamenos_graffito

This is the only reference, aside Flavius Josephus' two sentences about Jezus. No Roman senate debates were annotated about Jezus, no plans, no propositions exist to eliminate him, no chronicle references to the event, no judicial documents, no reference any emperor said anything about christianity in the 1st century.

About "the jews" on the other hand, there exists an elaborate saga about Titus and his father, of them conquering Israel and gaining enough prestige from that to found a Flavian dynasty of emperors. That's the Roman story about the jews. The Romans have suppressed jewish uprisings three times.

The story Atwell invented sounds quite plausible.. indeed, the new testament explicitly instructs the reader to pay Roman taxes. The peacefull directives could have a benevolent influence on the jewish convert.

On the other hand, I wonder, if christianity could serve as Roman propaganda.. e.g. why is Jezus being tried and executed by Romans ? And if you say it's the jews, if the intention would have been to pacify a jewish uprising, why do the jews get blamed for the crucifixion of their socalled "saviour" ? It seems quite strange anyway, assuming that the jews would ever accept a "saviour" imposed onto them by non-jews..

Here's another objection. It took Rome another 300 years before christianity became widespread.. If christianity were means to pacify people to keep them harmless for the elite, why would Trajanus Decius a.d. 249 persecute christians ? Questions.. questions.. loose ends, etc etc

Nilout wrote:
Second, if Atwill’s thesis is right, then not only did Jesus never exist, neither did Peter, James, or Paul. In fact, there would have been no Christians at all before the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70. But we know this isn’t true because the Roman historian Tacitus records in his Annals (Book 15, 44) that Emperor Nero blames the Great Fire in Rome, which took place three years before the Jewish revolt, on a group called Christians.

As for these texts, Tacitus (and Paulus) should be read in the context of their time, too. Paulus directed his writings to Romans and would have been "politically correct" (e.g. Rom.13) doing so. Same reason why Luke told his Greek-Roman audience to pay the emperor taxes

Tacitus lived in the 2nd century when he was writing about Nero. At Tacitus time, a damnatio memoriae was in place regarding Nero and he could have made it all up to let Nero look a coward. Nero had become a token bad guy anyway. Of course, christians embrace the story because it is early and it refers to christians. The actual content.. I would take with a few grains of salt. It could well be mythology.

..
Indi
LxGoodies wrote:
The crucifixion is entirely undocumented, except for one single example of graffity in Pompeii, which hardly indicate any purpose,

Your facts are confused.

There was no Christian graffiti found in Pompeii. There is one particular graffiti believers claim is Christian, but is obviously not.

The graffiti you are referring to was not found in Pompeii. It was found in Rome. And it was probably done 200 years after the alleged crucifixion.

It is not documentation of the crucifixion. If anything, it is merely documentation of the existence of Christians in Rome, and the fact that people mocked them, 200 years after the founding of Christianity. (Just as likely, it has nothing to do with Christianity at all. There were dozens of minor cults in the area at the time, many of which are almost identical to Christianity (and there is strong evidence that the reason for that is that Christianity simply plagiarized some of their beliefs and claimed them as their own).) But that's hardly news to anyone. We know there were Christians in Rome as early as the first century, and that they were persecuted there.

Also, the passages in Josephus about Jesus are widely held to be forgeries inserted by later Christian writers.

LxGoodies wrote:
The story Atwell invented sounds quite plausible.. indeed, the new testament explicitly instructs the reader to pay Roman taxes. The peacefull directives could have a benevolent influence on the jewish convert.

That doesn't really seem plausible. It requires ignoring all the belligerent passages - "I came not to bring peace, but a sword" or "sell your cloak and buy a sword" - and all the passages that talk down earthly kingdoms and say the only real king is Jesus. It also requires forgetting that whenever Roman leadership (such as the centurion or Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect), the Roman leadership tacitly acknowledged that Jesus was greater than them.

Even the "render unto Caesar" bit isn't really meant to be deferential to Rome... it's kind of a backhand swipe really. Jesus repeats over and over that worldly goods are sinful, that you should throw away all you own, and that being rich means you can't be a good person (the old "camel through the eye of a needle" thing). The only time in the entire story that he freaks out and gets violent is when people are doing stuff with money in the temple. Basically, he makes it abundantly clear that money is just garbage that makes you sinful and that you should give it away and dedicate your life to worship. So when he says that money is the property of Caesar, it's not exactly a compliment.

But the biggest problem of all may be that the Jewish people just weren't that restless. There were like two major incidents, but both were arguably provoked by the Romans and could have easily been avoided if the Romans were really nervous about Jewish revolts. The rest of the time, the Jewish people got on quite well with Rome. There was no need to engineer a religion to pacify them.

Bottom line: Joseph Atwill has a cute story that might actually make an interesting book or film, but because he actually takes the wacky idea seriously, he's a kook.
LxGoodies
Indi wrote:
LxGoodies wrote:
The crucifixion is entirely undocumented, except for one single example of graffity in Pompeii, which hardly indicate any purpose,

Your facts are confused.

There was no Christian graffiti found in Pompeii. There is one particular graffiti believers claim is Christian, but is obviously not.

The graffiti you are referring to was not found in Pompeii. It was found in Rome. And it was probably done 200 years after the alleged crucifixion.

It is not documentation of the crucifixion. If anything, it is merely documentation of the existence of Christians in Rome, and the fact that people mocked them, 200 years after the founding of Christianity. (Just as likely, it has nothing to do with Christianity at all. There were dozens of minor cults in the area at the time, many of which are almost identical to Christianity (and there is strong evidence that the reason for that is that Christianity simply plagiarized some of their beliefs and claimed them as their own).) But that's hardly news to anyone. We know there were Christians in Rome as early as the first century, and that they were persecuted there.

Also, the passages in Josephus about Jesus are widely held to be forgeries inserted by later Christian writers.

Thx for correcting me on Aleximenos' graffiti, I've always assumed the dating was Flavian (1st century). When it is found in Rome that is not needed.

I referred to the crucifixion not being documented. You're talking about early christianity. Early christianity is sparsely documented. There exist graves marked with the fish sign and later graves with Chi-Rho symbols. Chri Rho is documented as christian, the fish is not. It was used earlier (link)

It was common Roman purpose, to incorporate foreign deities in their system of gods. Early christianity in Rome may have existed as a sect derived from a sect. It is not clear who founded it before 60AD.

This is not documented in independent sources. No independent source existed at the time. The first chroniqeur who mentions christianity as it is percieved now is Tacitus in 116AD, with his story about Nero:

Tacitus (116AD) wrote:

""Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ
Indi
LxGoodies wrote:
Early christianity is sparsely documented.

More precisely, it is sparsely documented by non-Christian sources. We have plenty of stuff written by Christians about themselves - some of it probably true (like Paul's letters - the real ones, not the fakes), a lot of it quite obviously fake (like Acts and most of the Gospels).

You're right in the sense that we can't really trust Christian sources the same way we can trust non-Christian sources - in that sense, early Christianity is extremely poorly documented. But we can learn some things about early Christians from their writings - we just have to take them with a heavy grain of salt.

LxGoodies wrote:
Early christianity in Rome may have existed as a sect derived from a sect. It is not clear who founded it before 60AD.

Most likely it was just a sect of Judaism. There were dozens messianic sects of Judaism at the time. Mainstream Judaism was waiting for the Messiah, but there were plenty of candidates* who each had their own cult following. Some where actually real people - like Simon bar Kokhba - some where mythological. (In fact, it was only in the disastrous aftermath of the Bar-Kokhba revolt that Judaism clamped down on messianic claims.)

*(Note that most of the people in that list were real people, Jesus being the only possible exception. Not listed are the dozens mythological claimants.)

There is good reason to believe that there were also Jewish sects that worshipped John the Baptist, and Mary Magdalene, and Peter, and Judas (who was actually a real person, but by the time Christians came around, "Judas" was a mythological figure, only very loosely inspired by the real Judas), and many more. In fact, it is likely that many of the stories in the Gospels that refer to these characters are meant to be insults to the other sects. For example, consider the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist... the story makes a point of John the Baptist acknowledging that he is not the Messiah, and recognizing Jesus as the true Messiah. This story was likely written as a sort of "****** you" to the cults who claimed John the Baptist was the Messiah, taking their mythical Messiah and making him bow down to the Christian's mythical Messiah. Incorporating the characters of other sects into their myths, then making them flawed (like making Judas a traitor, or having Peter deny Jesus out of cowardice) was a way of asserting dominance over them - like saying "sure, your beliefs are real... but ours are better than yours, so come join us".

Neither Romans nor Jews bothered to differentiate between these many messianic Jewish cults and mainstream Judaism. Early Christians were probably just considered to be Jews, both by Romans and other Jews - although mainstream Jews probably considered them fringe loonies, much the same way modern Christians look at wacky Christian sects like snake handlers and tent revivalists.

Somehow by the time of Nero, Christians came to be noted more so than other messianic cults. The most likely reason for this is that Romans and mainstream Jews misunderstood their beliefs as wildly psychotic. For example, they misinterpreted the Communion as literally eating Jesus's body and drinking his blood; ie, cannibalism (which, ironically, while it wasn't true for early Christians, is true for modern Catholics). They also apparently misunderstood Christians referring to each other as "brothers and sisters" to mean they practised incest. There is also some evidence that the Christian cults that existed at the time were actually quite irritating to their neighbours - real jerks, actually. (Pliny's letter and Trajan's response, for example, suggests that Romans were simply fed up with putting up with Christian assholery and were actually looking for excuses to torment them. You also get the same sense from Tacitus.) They were, in a way, the Scientologists of their day, although without the celebrity names.

And so, when Nero went looking for a scapegoat for the Great Fire, Christians were probably the natural choice. At the time, there was significant unrest between the Jews and Romans (it would erupt a few years later into the First Jewish-Roman War), so he probably would have wanted to give some sort of sign of appeasement to the Jews. Identifying the Christians as a heretical sect would have stroked Jewish ego quite a bit. Plus, as i said, Christians were wildly unpopular in Rome. They were a natural target for persecution.

LxGoodies wrote:
The first chroniqeur who mentions christianity as it is percieved now is Tacitus in 116AD, with his story about Nero:

Tacitus (116AD) wrote:

""Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ

Tacitus is a good source, but what irritates me about those who use him is that they use him as evidence of the existence of Jesus - or of the factuality of the events of the Crucifixion... when in reality the only thing he is evidence for is the existence of Christians. Which is not really that shocking, because we have plenty of other evidence that Christians were a thing in Rome by the end of the first century - like Pliny.

You, however, have it right: Tacitus mentions Christianity... not Christ or the Crucifixion. All Tacitus says is, basically: "Nero blamed the fire on Christians. Oh, yeah, Christians are this silly little cult that worships a guy called Christ, who was executed by Pilate. Anyway, the Christians faced persecution...." And he never cites any sources for that second sentence there, and even gets some facts about Pilate wrong... so clearly he didn't do any in depth research. He was just showing off that he knew something about those wacky Christians.

That... or... the bit with the details about Pilate were added later by Christians. That is, the original text may have just said "Christians are this silly little cult that worships a guy called Christ." There is strong evidence for that, too - we know the Annals were messed around with by Christians; there is a chunk mysteriously missing around the dates where Jesus was supposedly executed... it is likely Christians tossed it out because it not only didn't provide any evidence of Jesus, it contradicted the Gospels. And aside from the mistakes about Pilate, the text as we have it implies that Christians were a rather large population, when in reality they would have been just a handful of people. And, most tellingly, when scribes who had early copies of the Annals were writing about the historical evidence for Jesus... not a single one mentions what Tacitus said. Not until a thousand years later, at least.

But whether it's a Christian fraud or not, the passage really doesn't provide any evidence for Jesus's existence. It was written almost a hundred years after Jesus supposedly lived, and all it's doing is repeating Christian mythology that we know was well-established around 30 years earlier.

That's not to say it isn't interesting. One thing we're not quite sure about is at what point "Christians" stopped being just a peculiar sect of Judaism, and started to be recognized as a separate, independent religion. Tacitus tells us that happened around the time of the Great Fire (and other evidence from other sources agrees). That's interesting info.
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