American Biblical scholar Joseph Atwill will be appearing before the British public for the first time in London on the 19th of October to present a controversial new discovery: ancient confessions recently uncovered now prove, according to Atwill, that the New Testament was written by first-century Roman aristocrats and that they fabricated the entire story of Jesus Christ. His presentation will be part of a one-day symposium entitled “Covert Messiah” at Conway Hall in Holborn (full details can be found at http://www.covertmessiah.com).
Although to many scholars his theory seems outlandish, and is sure to upset some believers, Atwill regards his evidence as conclusive and is confident its acceptance is only a matter of time. “I present my work with some ambivalence, as I do not want to directly cause Christians any harm,” he acknowledges, “but this is important for our culture. Alert citizens need to know the truth about our past so we can understand how and why governments create false histories and false gods. They often do it to obtain a social order that is against the best interests of the common people.”
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.”
Take “give unto Caeser what is Caeser’s” and make a career out of it.
This would be incredibly fascinating a supposition but imo is not very plausible; as far as I know, the Romans never bothered with propaganda anywhere else and the figure of Jesus seems very much in line with the sort of itinerant counterculture preacher in vogue around the time of the Dead Sea Scrolls. And that seems like a lot of hard work when they still went ahead and killed all the Jews anyway and never sanctioned Jesus worship as an official state cult. I mean, before killing all the Jews you know.
In other words, cite please. Would like to see original texts where this theory is borne out. It would be absolutely hilarious if true.
That sounds like the sort of situation where you think you’ve come up with something so big, so new, so revolutionary that you WANT to believe that it’s true – the only characteristic that makes it different from fraud. That reminds me of that book which claimed the Chinese had discovered the Americas before Columbus. (Then again, the theory that the Vikings had been there first was long thought to be a myth, until archeological evidence validating it turned up.)
However, Atwill’s claim flies in the face of the historical evidence; and it doesn’t explain why Nero, most famously, would persecute those who believed a scheme, if we believe Atwill, to pacify rebels in the Roman Empire.
Well, googling even a bit seems like he made a book in 2005 on this same topic and now he has found proof in 2013 that it’s true. Nothing is impossible but I lean toward marketing scheme, somewhat by default.
He blames the “Jews” for burning Rome during Nero. Hmm.
I am fairly agnostic, except when Pedro Alvarez comes to bat with runners in scoring position against my team in the playoffs. Having said that, I wonder why this is getting even the kind of play that would warrant posting here as anything but “This is rather silly.”
uk.prweb.com is where you go to post PR notes. That’s as in “Public Relations”. As in: “Anyone can write any damn thing they want, because this isn’t news, this isn’t even editorial, this is information offered in persuasion to entice a person to make a purchase.”
Which is what this is.
There are terrific intellectual arguments based in peer-reviewed evidence, historical archaeology and anthropology to argue for and against Christianity as a religion. This is hoo haw for the gullible.
What is interesting in itself is that this sort of revisionism sounds the kind of thing unlikely to appeal to the British (even though their own official religion exists for little more than because Tubby Wants A New Wife). What Atwill does belongs more in the unmistakably American tradition of the Mormons/Scientology/Revivalism and its counterpart, the shrill atheism that rose in response to it.
Hell (?), I’m not even sure what is Atwill’s purpose in doing this. To sell books? To become influential and respected? To take the place of the scholar who said the world began in 4004 B.C.?
It’s more painful when you see a respected academic make a few leaps of logic based on what he wants to believe. I’m thinking of someone like Leslie Alcock, a respected archeologist. He wrote a book called Arthur’s Britain, which is rather interesting in itself, but displays a similar rationalization, or rather a pretty obvious syllogism:
Here is what was obviously a late Roman/Dark Ages fort of major importance.
King Arthur is traditionally associated with the late Roman/Dark Ages period.
Here is Camelot.
It did not invalidate or diminish the importance of his archeological findings, which were sound and factual in their description, as was expected of a professional archeologists. However, the problems began when he let his romantic imagination take over: there was no physical evidence tying Arthur to the place, let alone that he existed at all, even though Alcock went through all the historical material (none of which was contemporary to Arthur’s alleged lifetime).
In other words, he tried too much, and failed. And he ended up distancing himself from his conclusions.
As for Gavin Menzies’ books regarding the Chinese discovery of America and the subsequent visit of a Chinese fleet to the Mediterranean, it’s been thoroughly debunked, beginning with claims of a Chinese fleet on visit to Venice and Florence in the 15th century that nobody mentioned, on ships so large that even the modern Suez Canal (not dug for another 400+ years) would not have allowed them to pass. And in his third book he prattled on about Atlantis and stuff, which thoroughly finished him off.
I’m gonna go ahead and disagree the Romans were not good at propaganda. The Romans were so good at propaganda that the best masters of propaganda ever, the Nazis, copied them completely, down to their symbols and salute.
I can easily believe this. Turn their stupid Messiah figure into a pacifist? What a great strategy. Like others haven mentioned though, it probably won’t hold up to scrutiny.
The Italian fascists appropriated the symbols and salute before the Nazis, who certainly were influenced to some extent by Mussolini. However, I will agree that the Romans were very good propagandists.