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Was Jesus a Roman Hoax?

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3/21/2016 3:05:13 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
A scholar thinks so:

"Joseph Atwill, who is the author of a book entitled "Caesar's Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus", asserts that Christianity did not begin as a religion, but was actually a sophisticated government propaganda exercise used to pacify the [Jewish] subjects of the Roman Empire."

Atwill's claims are based on what he described as important and revealing parallels between a first-person account of first-century Judea (an ancient Roman province now part of Israel and Palestine) and the New Testament.

"What seems to have eluded many scholars is that the sequence of events and locations of Jesus ministry are more or less the same as the sequence of events and locations of the military campaign of (Emperor) Titus Flavius as described by Josephus," Atwill wrote in a blog on his web site.

Atwill believes that the story of Jesus was actually copied and created from the biography of the Roman emperor.

I will return presently to a handful of oddities that Atwill rightly points out, providing tasty food for further thought. But first I want to provide a broad sketch of the sense I think Atwill's theory would make of New Testament phenomena, which is not to say it is the only theory that might account for these features. Picture a religious ethic of conspicuous compromise with the occupying authorities, a gospel that tells its believers not to resist any who confiscate their property, but to pay Roman taxes and to carry a legionary's field pack twice the distance stipulated by Roman law. Imagine a story that blames not just Jews but implicitly nationalistic, messianic Jews for the destruction of their temple. A story that has the messiah predict that the kingdom will be taken from Jews and given to a more worthy nation. Keep in mind how the preacher of this sect befriends Jews who collaborate with Rome and eulogizes a Roman centurion for having faith unparalleled among Jews. He is declared innocent by Roman authorities but nonetheless is done in by Jewish rulers. Then think of how the predictions of the fall of Jerusalem a single generation later correspond so closely to Josephus' account of the events, and furthermore, how Josephus even mentions Jesus as a righteous man and even as the messiah of prophetic prediction (though he himself had proclaimed Vespasian the proper object of such prophecy). When someone suggests that Christianity may have been a "safe," denatured, Roman-domesticated, messianic Methadone to replace the real and dangerous messianic heroin of the Zealots, and that Josephus had something to do with it, it does not sound unreasonable on the face of it.
--- Robert M. Price

Price goes on to (scathingly) criticize many other aspects of the book, but he does categorize the above as "tasty food for thought". Comments?