Caesar’s Messiah – The secret, hidden history of Christianity and the Gospels. If what Joseph Atwill is saying is only partially true, we are looking into the abyss. Joseph Atwill’s “Caesar’s Messiah”. This one can only be charitably be described as “way out there.” It does have the endorsement of a credentialed scholar or. In his book Caesar’s Messiah, Joseph Atwill argues that Jesus of Nazareth was the invention of the Roman Empire, and Josephus wrote the entire NT after AD.
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This one can only be charitably be described as “way out there. This is caessr sort of thing peer-reviewed periodicals like the Journal of Roman Studies would never print. So what’s the theme? I’ll lay it out in three categories, noting Atwill’s most notable and signifcant failures in each case:. The Roman Caessar theory Caesar’s Messiah is like this theory in terms of conspiracy-mindedness, viewing Christianity as an invention of the Roman establishment for a purpose.
It does exceed the credibility caewar the Piso theory by a razor-thin margin, inasmuch as it at least uses real people rather than inventing them out of nothing but semantics. But the virtues over the Piso theory stop there. This time, rather than the non-existent Piso family, it is the Emperor Titus who is said to be the mesiah of Christianity.
His goal was to create a “peaceful Messiah” figure for those rebellious Jews to follow, as a way of pacifying them; the joke being, that they would actually be worshipping Titus himself, unawares more on this below.
In on the conspiracy as well was Josephus, a client of the Flavian family of which Titus was a member, and who left clues in his works for later and more clever discerners. So now we have a description; let’s talk about errors:. Atwill’s conception, unfortunately, lacks a certain perspective; one may as well ask how early 20th century African-American society could have produced both a Malcolm X and a Martin Luther King.
The clue missed is that Jesus’ message was not one of peace, but mesdiah a sword, as he himself said — the Gospel message undermined the values then held current, via subtle influence rather than tawill force as the Sicarii preferred. If Atwill cannot see that Jesus’ message was not indeed, at its core, hostile to Roman authority and society in terms of the components it offered, then he needs to do some more research see here.
Furthermore, it is clear that Atwill fails on the point of ancient social psychology. He supposes that Jesus was invented to attract militaristic, messianic Jews; yet the figure of Jesus is precisely what a dedicated Sicarii atwoll least follow. Jesus would be regarded as being as far out of the ingroup jozeph could be conceived; he would even be taken by the Sicarii as a disgrace to YHWH. Indeed, Atwill openly caear himself, for he claims he cannot see how Judaism could produce such diametric opposites, yet he argues that Christianity was built to make these opposites attract.
Jossph supposes, in josepu words, that Judaism would not produce such a group; but he hypothesizes that Jews then converted to such a group. Yet that is unreasonable even in atsill, for such rebels would not approve of Jesus even as we caaesar him; the positive view of tax collectors, Roman officials, etc.
The idea that Christianity was intended to prevent the spread of messianic Judaism to the provinces  ignores the fact that Jews of the Diaspora were Hellenized enough that they did not support such a movement in the first place the misplaced hopes of the rebels, recorded by Josephus , notwithstanding. Atwill cannot have his cake and eat it too.
In addition, the idea he sees in Paul and Josephus that “the Romans were God’s servants” finds its roots in OT indications that punishers like the Assyrians and Babylonians were doing God’s will — and finds no particular favor for the Romans.
One also wonders why in the world Mwssiah would care to start a new religion for Jews that he had already soundly beaten on the battlefield. One also wonders how and why a mission to the Gentiles got started; indeed, why Titus would allow his own “Frankenstein’s monster” to get loose onto persons with whom he had no problems of loyalty.
Even more problematic for Atwill is what is said by Roman writers whose works he ignores. Tacitus’ comment in Annals joeph Atwill says nothing at all about this critical passage; nor does he mention Pliny’s letter to Trajan asking what to do about Christians. Atwill wishes to posit convenient forgetfulness as the cause of the loss of knowledge about Christian origins; and how credible is it that Hadrian and Pliny “forgot” this, or did not know about it? How credible is it that Domitian himself a Flavian persecuted Christianity and forgot that his own relatives had created it in the first place?
Why would some of those relatives actually become Christians? Atwill makes no effort to explain how Christianity spread; he offers a single paragraph on this saying that “wicked priests” introduced the religion to the masses Jewish? After atwiol while some began to believe, then many.
Atwill appeals to the use of “typology” by the Flavians — who learned the technique josepy Judaism — as evidence of Christianity’s Flavian origins. The claim that the Flavians had to borrow “typology” is wrong to begin with; even the ancient pagans thought in terms of probabilities prior recurring themes and actions so there was no need to borrow the idea from Judaism. Otherwise, Atwill assumes, as Helms does, that use of typology proves wholesale invention; and that claim we have refuted in the linked article.
It is linked as well with Atwill this his third aspect: No, there’s no thesis of Homer being copied here; but Atwill uses some of the same principles as HEGM to make its own case. One chapter early on is devoted to finding parallels between Jesus’ recruitment of disciples to be “fishers of men” and Titus’ campaign on the Sea of Galilee.
The prime comparison speaks for itself as unreasonable: Atwill parallels Jesus’ “become fishers of men” statement to the Roman act of dispatching Jews who had fallen into the sea during a naval battle by hitting them with darts or cutting off their hands — thus becoming “fishers of men” because the Romans “caught like fish” the Jews in the lake. It is hard to say how one “fishes” men being killed and allowed to sink and drown. For Atwill, it is proof enough to stretch the point to make this “grim comedy” .
It gets no better, as Atwill stretches between Matt and Luke for the two phrases associated with the fishers of men story by each, “do not be afraid” and “follow me,” and makes mdssiah into a parallel of Josephus reporting how Titus not saying these words, no; but telling his men not to desert him caesra rather, implicitly, follow him into battle. And more, as Atwill hops around Matthew and Luke ranfomly, turning a mention by Josephus of a ” Coracin fish” as a parallel to a condemnation of the city of Chorazain in Matthew The city’s name means “smoking furnace” and has nothing to do with fish.
In a second story, Atwill draws a connection between a Mary in Josephus see more on this below and the one in the NT; namely, that the former is said to be “pierced through her very bowels and marrow” because of hunger, while the latter is to be “pierced through your own soul” Luke 2: His rationale cawsar “soul” and “bowels” are synonymous does not work for it is merely jpseph tenuous, contrived connection of josepn same type above, making josepb who kill men in the water with darts and swords into “fishers”.
Those who need as reminder of how this sort of theorizing can be casear are reminded that it is just as easy to do the same elsewhere, as for example we did with Atwill and Kennedy.
When there are no constraints, as there are when Atwill operates, any such connection can be made. His further appeal to the former Mary’s roasting and eating of her infant son as a “blackly comic”  type of moseph Passover lamb! Atwill also cannot understand how it is that the eating of this infant would prompt this Mary to say, “Come on; messiah thou my food, and be thou a fury to these seditious varlets, and a by-word to the world, which is all that is now wanting to complete the calamities of us Jews.
A score of Atwill’s errors are the result of not recognizing as MacDonald did, though less often that some commonality reflects a commonplace. The use of spittle by both Jesus and Vespasian to heal an illness  reflects then-current perceptions that a holy man’s spittle had healing messiaj — not a unique point mesxiah contact between Jesus and Vespasian.
Atwill also omits how Vespasian healed a man’s withered arm, by stomping on it — which finds no parallel with Jesus. But perhaps his largest messizh of this sort and overall is finding commonality in names. He marvels that there was a “Jesus” who preached and a “Jesus” who also led rebels against Titus on the Sea of Galilee  — oblivious to the point that as we have heard so much about, related to the “James ossuary” “Jesus” was atwll common a name for Jews of that period as “Bob” is for men today.
He makes the same error concerning “Mary” a name held by up to a third and at least a fourth of Jewish women of this era; thus, despite Atwill, there messiqh no oddity in two sisters having variations of that same name , and his caewar that the Romans turned “Mary” into a “nickname for female rebels”  is shown erroneous.
And the same error is made with “Simon. Like MacDonald, Atwill also freely roams all over the texts to make his tenuous connections. He treats the Gospels as a uniform whole in other words, the conspiracy is assumed in order to prove it so that, for example, he pulls the use of the word “Gethsemane” from Mark and combines it with Jesus’ bloody sweat mentioned only in Luke to create a whole parallel  to what are also two separate stories in Josephus.
Joe Atwill | Caesar’s Messiah, Altered History, & Exposing the Oligarchs
This caeaar is explained as part of the whole scheme josfph only Atwill has been able to discover, a scheme that “kept the comedy from being too obvious” other than to “readers alert enough to combine elements from different versions” and speaks as well of Atwill’s magnified self-perception as it does of his creativity. As with MacDonald, Atwill joseeph constrained to explain why generations of intelligent and credentialed scholars he is, by the way, merely a “businessman” have missed these points for thousands of years.
His explanations that everyone else has been unable, as he has, to “contradict a deeply ingrained belief”  and that their religious leanings have rendered their intellect “powerless”  to discern the truth speaks for itself in terms of what he must do to explain this, and it also speaks for itself that he must use the “apparent vagueness”  of the alleged parallels as a supposed proof of the validity of his thesis.
Finally, let’s note some of Atwill’s most peculiar errors:. This is partly false, partly misleading. The advanced structure of pontiff and college did not exist until much later, when indeed, Roman influence abounded Atwill is mistaken to ascribe the title of “pope” to men as early as Clement I ; it was not used as a title for one man until St.
It was also not until much later that Rome was chosen as the church’s headquarters, despite being also the center of persecution  with Jerusalem destroyed, Rome is no more an odd choice than New York would be today. The authority structures and sacraments, however, mirror the Jewish synagogue — and a universal structure of everything from religions to fireman’s clubs, which had communal meals and organizational structure built on the same basic model.
Atwill also misuses Clement’s letter to Corinth, which does not say anything about the “church’s authority structure There are even more errors where Atwill’s use of the popes is concerned. He hints at malfeasance in that Irenaeus names the “sixth” pope Sixtus; it would not uoseph to him that the one with the strained imagination was Sixtus himself, in choosing the name, not Irenaeus.
He also says that the name of the third pope, Anacletus, means “irreproachable” and connects this to the letter to Timothy that says that a bishop must be “irreproachable”; he is confusing anegkletos “irreproachable” with anacletos “called forth, invoked”.
Caesar’s Messiah – Wikipedia
The question is asked , ” It is a better question why Titus published in Greek material that was intended to target people who mainly spoke Aramaic and Hebrew. Atwill misreads  Jesus’ prophecy as saying a “Son of Man would come to Judea There is the standard error reading Matt. Atwill makes much of Titus using the word “repent” as Jesus did.
The word itself is used dozens of times in the Old Testament; and the theme itself is all over the OT, and no doubt it and its permutations appear in other secular works. But Atwill claims, “Jesus never gives an answer to the question” of “exactly what sin does he wish the Jews to repent of” .
Does Hoseph suppose that Jesus joesph supposed to be walking around with a list of every particular and unique sin every person has committed and announcing them to each person one at a time?
The obvious answer to the question is, “whatever sin you have done”. The same error concerning “Immanuel”  that Miller has answered here. The standard error concerning Zachariah and Berechiah , used for Atwill’s purposes, as he explains away the lack of match to what is said by Jesus in terms of the exact name and location as part of the way of obscuring the joke.
No source is cited for this attribution. Atwill carelessly attributes the words of John the Baptist to Jesus . In the end, creativity is Atwill’s most-used method, and the number of props and contrivances he must use to hold up his theory, undoes his credibility as a researcher. Atwill again and again says that this or that point in the NT is some sort of “joke” or “satire” on caaesar historical event concerning Titus. The method is epistemically useless because it is unfalsifiable; Atwill is also inevitably unable to explain why the jokes are actually funny.
As subjective as humor is, Atwill’s mere word that X was “funny” to the Flavians rings hollow. His further claims that the histories of both Josephus AND the Gospels were “fictitious”  bespeak a writer of the sort who would rather believe that Jesus had an unknown evil twin who faked his Resurrection appearances than accept that the Resurrection actually occurred.
It took Atwill several years, apparently, to get up the gumption to make a reply, although to be fair, it may have been delayed because he was spending so much time looking for scholarly credibility, which atwilo always in short supply for any theory for which it is required that one purse their lips and wear ruby slippers to make it believeable.
It caeszr clear that Atwill fails on the point of ancient social psychology. Of course, I never claimed Christianity was invented to convert the Sicarii zealots in Judea, an absurd idea. I wrote that the religion was designed to be a theological barrier to prevent the spread of the militarized messianic movement to Jews living throughout the empire.
Or, by extension, Jews with the same sentiments? A chief impetus for this idea, Atwill says , was that he could not conceive of how Judaism could produce two movements so diametrically opposed as the warlike Sicarii and the “peace”-advocting Jesus.
So Atwill is clearly trying to divert from his outstanding failure to address the far more critical point concerning ancient social psychology, of which, he knows absolutely nothing e.