Joe Atwill Takes on Covert Culture Shapers |354|

#41
if Josephus was pro-Roman (he was), and his writings keep showing up in the Bible (they do), then the Romans probably had a hand in trying to shape the Bible.

if Gloria Steinem was a CIA agent for 40 years (she was), it makes sense to look beyond her personality and conclude the CIA probably used feminism to shape our culture.
You missed my whole point. Why do you say the writings of Josephus show up in the Bible instead of saying that the Bible shows up in the writings of Josephus? Do you even have a reason? What if the Bible texts were edited later, as opposed to fabricated? Why take this particular stance as if it's the only logical one?

Again, why does the date the Romans allegedly fabricated also land on the same date that Daniel said the anointed one (Messiah/Christ) would come? Did the Romans come in and destroy the Temple to fulfill the prophecy in Daniel 9:20-27? https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Dan+9&version=NIV Note that the Hebrew is poorly translated. There is no English word for a period of 7 years. The Hebrew word for "seven" is also the Hebrew word for week. In Daniel, the author will write "seven of days" -literally- when talking about a week, but here "of days" has been left out and it is understood, even in the Dead Sea Scrolls commentaries, that it is "seven of years" instead of "seven of days". All that aside, the prophecy speaks of the people of the ruler coming in and destroying the Sanctuary of the Temple and setting up an "abomination that causes desolation" until the ruler is ended. Man, if I were the Romans, I would NOT want to jump on that boat! It really doesn't make sense.

Furthermore, let's stop talking about which scholars say the Bible is "pro-Roman". That is an appeal to authority fallacy. Why do those authors say the Bible is pro-Roman, and what do they mean by it? Do they mean that the Bible teaches people to obey the government? I can agree with that, but not specifically the Roman government. Any government. Can we discuss specific scriptures, and not just quote snipe them, but really discuss them in context? The interview includes this statement that Jesus predicts the Son of Man coming. But I've already shown that Jesus calls himself the Son of Man. I could provide other references on demand. But the point remains, the Gospels do not point to a Roman Messiah of any kind, no matter how much Josephus does.
 
#43
if Josephus was pro-Roman (he was), and his writings keep showing up in the Bible (they do), then the Romans probably had a hand in trying to shape the Bible.

if Gloria Steinem was a CIA agent for 40 years (she was), it makes sense to look beyond her personality and conclude the CIA probably used feminism to shape our culture.
This gets to my thoughts on the issue which are slightly different than most on either side of the divide so I'll put them out there for the record (any excuse!).

Of course the Romans had a hand in shaping the Bible (though not as much as Atwill claims but that's another story maybe) and of course Steinem was an operative and of course Leary blah blah blah. Obviously. If people can't see it then they can't see it.

But:

It doesn't matter. Here's why:

That's what the ruling elites DO. And they do it because those things (Feminism, Christianity, LSD etc etc) are a THREAT. To the existence of the sort of mind exemplified by the Roman Church. So they take it over rather than oppose it and cause more opposition.

It's a genius method: don't set up opposition. Just say you ARE the opposition. That's what they do.

They co-opt - they don't create.

But the point being missed is this: the thing that they are co-opting EXISTS by definition - that's why they need to neutralise it! The idea that they invented a given thing - which Atwill sails perilously close to - is (imo) ludicrous. If Feminism did not exist, if only in a nascent form, they sure as hell aren't going to invent it. If the 60s anti-war counterculture didn't exist again - would be the last thing they would create. Again, they don't create (and certainly don't create movements that ostensibly stand against everything they embody) - they pervert and derail.

So, following on from that, it's (to me) irrelevant what they do because the real thing is out there. Steinem is a tool - ok, there is still such a thing as Feminism (unless one opposes that which is a different topic!). The Romans corrupted the Bible, ok fine. No worries... there is still a 'teaching of Jesus' (real figure or not) that leads away from 'evil' and towards 'good' or however you want to frame it.

There's an old Arab saying "counterfeit gold only exists be cause real gold exists". I always think Atwill is arguing that the counterfeit gold is all there is - but at the end of the day that position is just as much a diversion and a game, and just as false, as the mind-games the atheists get up to.

Just my 2c!
 

Alex

Administrator
#44
This gets to my thoughts on the issue which are slightly different than most on either side of the divide so I'll put them out there for the record (any excuse!).

Of course the Romans had a hand in shaping the Bible
agreed... especially the bolded part :)
(though not as much as Atwill claims
agreed. Joe's awesome, and always seems extremely reasonable when I talk to him. I don't mind/worry about a little bit of hype :)

That's what the ruling elites DO. And they do it because those things (Feminism, Christianity, LSD etc etc) are a THREAT. To the existence of the sort of mind exemplified by the Roman Church. So they take it over rather than oppose it and cause more opposition.

It's a genius method: don't set up opposition. Just say you ARE the opposition. That's what they do.

They co-opt - they don't create.
totally agree.

But the point being missed is this: the thing that they are co-opting EXISTS by definition - that's why they need to neutralise it! The idea that they invented a given thing - which Atwill sails perilously close to - is (imo) ludicrous.
ok, but in terms of yr example, they were initially co-opting Judaism... I mean, that seems to be the primary goal of the Josephus character and his "revelation." so, how/when/why they decided to co-opt/influence Christianity is going to be largely lost to history, but Atwill has given us the lens thru which to look at the questions.

again, the most amazing part to me is how so many "scholars" miss this.


If Feminism did not exist, if only in a nascent form, they sure as hell aren't going to invent it. If the 60s anti-war counterculture didn't exist again - would be the last thing they would create. Again, they don't create (and certainly don't create movements that ostensibly stand against everything they embody) - they pervert and derail.
agreed... "shoot first and ask question later"... subvert first and figure what we'll do with it later.

So, following on from that, it's (to me) irrelevant what they do because the real thing is out there.
how do we distinguish the real thing from the genuine?

I don't believe Josephus really had a revelation showing Cesar was the Messiah. I don't believe Gloria Steinem has a genuine interest in advocating for the women of Syria.
 
#45
In a pre-digital pre-literate environment, memory and oral tradition is the only way for stories to get passed on, so memorability is key.

So if we think of narratives as organisms there are some features which can aid their survival - one key feature is archetypal themes and meaning which represent the struggles common to all of us. Also: brevity. So the most memorable narratives after being retold for generations will have the strongest archetypal themes packed into the shortest possible story which results in very dense and powerfully meaningful short stories, parables, and proverbs. As stories are told and re-told, the less memorable features drop off and the more powerful and memorable features remain distilling out deep meaning. The result is more meaning per word than any single author can contrive.

Another survival mechanism - depending on the political environment - pro-state or anti-state themes. Also: ritualization and institutionalization (body and blood, baptism, church) and familiarity and cultural appropriation - (for example Jesus (Iesous) probably sounded an awful lot like "hail zeus" and Christos similar to Krishna; then later a reinvention of pagan holidays).

If a large meteor struck Rome in those days, there would be millions of people telling and retelling stories about the event. Tales of heroism would emerge and after a few decades they would be distilled down to new versions of old archetypal themes.

Perhaps there was a truly phenomenal individual(s) around this time who struck the land like a meteor impact - highly intelligent gifted speaker and a mystic and who said some wise and revolutionary things which were a distillation and clarification of the lessons humanity had learned up to that point in history, and perhaps he performed some miracles and railed against the highly unpopular and oppressive Jewish establishment which was seen as a barrier to Roman progress (the Romans provided aqueducts, and other improvements to the common man's life)... stories got told and retold as they were remembered and the first 30 or 40 years or so before anything was written down there existed a fertile environment for narrative evolution resulting in one of the most densely meaningful and influential stories the world had yet seen. The story is of course even more powerful if considered to be entirely literally true (all story tellers intuitively know this - no one trying to engage an audience with a lively story reminds the audience that it isn't really true).

The degree to which a successful narrative contains pro-state or anti-state themes probably tells us as much about the political climate of the time and geographic region of development as it does about whether or not the narrative was co-opted or crafted out of whole cloth. If the people are feeling patriotic towards their state, they will love a pro-state narrative that echoes victories of the state. If the people are dissatisfied with the state and feel oppressed, they will not pass on patriotic narratives even if an agent of the state contrives to insert propaganda into the people's favorite stories. This might be why the synoptic gospels differ so much from the gospel of John in their treatment of the Jews - they were developed in different geographic regions with different political climates and attitudes towards the Jewish and Roman establishments.

So maybe there was some pro Roman propaganda inserted into the narrative in a contrived way or maybe the people felt good about Rome in those days and loved to see elements of Roman victories echoed within the stories. Maybe the old corrupt Jewish institutions had worn out their people and lost the propaganda war to the new hip relatively egalitarian Roman version of progress.

Just some more things to consider...

The degree to which a story is "literally" true is no longer very important to me for one because I think it is impossible to know and also because I'm almost certain no set of stories that has been retold for a few decades is 100% literally true. What IS important is that archetypes are "meta-true" or more real than real life. They are a distillation of a multitude of similar experiences down to what is really true and meaningful. Numbers are not concrete things we physically encounter, but they are meta-real and if one studies mathematics one concludes that the universe is an imperfect instantiation of perfect mathematical principles. Likewise "real life" is merely a series of imperfect instantiations of the ultimate truth of the archetypes.

It seems to me it will be impossible to ever fully resolve the historicity of Jesus... there's just too little "data" to go on either direction. I think it is obvious that Christianity got co-opted a few centuries later and that the church and state at that time considered the "original" Christian teachings to be a threat, but I'm not convinced that Christian writings were intentionally co-opted by Roman propagandists during the first century.... and more Skeptiko podcasts like this one aren't going to move me either way.
 
#46
It seems to me it will be impossible to ever fully resolve the historicity of Jesus... there's just too little "data" to go on either direction. I think it is obvious that Christianity got co-opted a few centuries later and that the church and state at that time considered the "original" Christian teachings to be a threat, but I'm not convinced that Christian writings were intentionally co-opted by Roman propagandists during the first century.... and more Skeptiko podcasts like this one aren't going to move me either way.
I drew a similar conclusion a page or so back in this thread. I also asked a question which remains for me: Particularly under this community's banner of "following evidence", why is this particular question of such interest? (The implicit point here for me being: there doesn't seem to be much, actual, evidence to follow in this arena.)
 

Alex

Administrator
#47
Hurmanetar said:
It seems to me it will be impossible to ever fully resolve the historicity of Jesus... there's just too little "data" to go on either direction. I think it is obvious that Christianity got co-opted a few centuries later and that the church and state at that time considered the "original" Christian teachings to be a threat, but I'm not convinced that Christian writings were intentionally co-opted by Roman propagandists during the first century.... and more Skeptiko podcasts like this one aren't going to move me either way.

I drew a similar conclusion a page or so back in this thread. I also asked a question which remains for me: Particularly under this community's banner of "following evidence", why is this particular question of such interest? (The implicit point here for me being: there doesn't seem to be much, actual, evidence to follow in this arena.)
as Joe explains in the interview, the evidence is the point by point (in some cases word for word) match between Josephus's War of the Jews and the Gospel of Mark.
 
#48
as Joe explains in the interview, the evidence is the point by point (in some cases word for word) match between Josephus's War of the Jews and the Gospel of Mark.
And as I've explained in detail, arguing against an Atwill fan on this very forum, such "evidence" is little more than, as Robert M. Price (no stranger to far-fetched speculation) put it, "the airy bricks" out of which "Atwill's cloudy castle is built."
 
#49
why is this particular question of such interest? (The implicit point here for me being: there doesn't seem to be much, actual, evidence to follow in this arena.)
My guess would be:
1) NDE reports sometimes include Jesus. If we take NDEs to be evidence of another realm, then multiple people having experiences with the same entity would seem to indicate that entity has an objective existence over there... and if that entity has an objective existence over there, then perhaps he does/did have one here too. If he never had an objective existence here, then does that tend to discredit the objective reality of NDE reports? Or can an entity exist purely as a "spirit" or a mode of being - a "Christ-consciousness" - which may be perceived as a personification while in the OBE/NDE state?
2) Jesus and the writings about him have been unarguably some of the most powerful and influential in the world. The "profane masses" require that the stories be told as if literally true in order to be life-altering. Destroying the historicity of Jesus frees the people from the oppression of some Christian institutions and doctrines of hell, but also sends people into chaos and meaninglessness having lost their map for reality and their moral imperatives.
3) Many people in the U.S. and the "post-Christian" West (including myself and Alex) have gone through a similar journey of being raised in Christianity, then deciding it is bullshit, then experiencing a loss of meaning and a loss of a map, then in a quest for truth and meaning rediscovering some of the same principles found in Christianity leading to the thought: "hey maybe it wasn't ALL bullshit, and if some of it was good and true, then exactly HOW MUCH of it was really true?" This question begs to be answered in order to answer the question about whether Christianity - one of the world's most powerful life and culture shapers - is worth saving and/or whether it should be reformed.
4) Many NDE reports contain moral imperatives that validate Christian teachings: that unconditional love is the highest virtue, there is an authority hierarchy, there is a life after death and a judgment of our actions and a hellish and heavenly type of experience, and some even describe a coming apocalypse.

So in short... settling the question of Jesus' historicity might not be too important for those of us who are able to abstract out the meaning from the stories (or other religions) and benefit from their wisdom while it has critical implications for society at large and the average person who is unable to abstract out this knowledge without belief in historicity.
 
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#50
My guess would be:
1) NDE reports sometimes include Jesus. If we take NDEs to be evidence of another realm, then multiple people having experiences with the same entity would seem to indicate that entity has an objective existence over there... and if that entity has an objective existence over there, then perhaps he does/did have one here too. If he never had an objective existence here, then does that tend to discredit the objective reality of NDE reports? Or can an entity exist purely as a "spirit" or a mode of being - a "Christ-consciousness" - which may be perceived as a personification while in the OBE/NDE state?
Having to escort millions of people to the other side seems like one crappy afterlife, if you ask me. "Hey Jesus, that guy from Manhattan just jumped from a bridge and wants to see you!"

Frankly, I can't even tell why so many take these figures to (literally) be who the NDErs perceive them to be. Since ancient times, psychopomps were depicted as shapeshifters and overall tricksters, this does not seem different.

PD- But for the record, I will take Anubis.
 
#51
Having to escort millions of people to the other side seems like one crappy afterlife, if you ask me. "Hey Jesus, that guy from Manhattan just jumped from a bridge and wants to see you!"
This proves you aren't Jesus... ;)

Frankly, I can't even tell why so many take these figures to (literally) be who they are perceived by the NDErs.
Maybe because people have not been trained on how to analyze symbols and abstract their meanings and relationships, and also because NDErs often report everything seems "hyper-real" and not at all like a dream, but more solid than this reality.

Since ancient times, psychopomps were depicted as shapeshifters and overall tricksters.
"Psychopomps" ...new vocab for me... I like that word :)

Whenever a boundary is crossed, the trickster is nearby...

Jesus, I believe, is the archetypal good trickster who opposes corrupt hierarchy while the devil is the archetypal evil trickster opposing benevolent hierarchy.
 
#52
Having to escort millions of people to the other side seems like one crappy afterlife, if you ask me. "Hey Jesus, that guy from Manhattan just jumped from a bridge and wants to see you!"

Frankly, I can't even tell why so many take these figures to (literally) be who the NDErs perceive them to be. Since ancient times, psychopomps were depicted as shapeshifters and overall tricksters, this does not seem different.

PD- But for the record, I will take Anubis.
Try this on for size: we are all developing towards a goal - call it enlightenment or whatever - and we're all at varying stages. These stages are finite in number and various figures are personifications of these stages. They embody the stage we are at and the attitude we need to have to transcend that stage.

Moses, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad are all various metaphors and archetypes for an inner state. When we die we find ourselves in a realm which corresponds to the state we have achieved in life and the figure that represents that stage is encountered as the guide at that point in order that one can fully realise the 'Christ nature' or 'Buddha nature' or 'Muhammad nature' in order to transcend and move on to the next level.

Which is why reports differ. They are reports from people of differing levels of being receiving differing lessons.
 
#53
Being pretty familiar with Atwill thorugh many podcasts, I would challenge him as to the authenticity of the lost sea scrolls. More specifically, I would ask him how his analysis would hold up if they were a hoax. Is this really the only peice of literature that describes the jews as a spiritual messianic cult of freedom fighters against the empire? It is a rather flattering rewriting of history is it not?
 

Alex

Administrator
#57
Let's face it: we're all in way over our heads... and we're not sufficiently motivated to get above it.
per yr earlier post, I think there's reason to be a little more motivated :)

of course, for any of us raised in the Christian junior-MK-ultra tradition this stuff triggers instant cognitive dissonance. that's why I think it's such a great topic to drill into.
 

Alex

Administrator
#58
BTW I get that this stuff is "inside baseball" for a lot of folks, but for anyone looking to wrestle the "proof" thing regarding Josephus (entire vid is good, but the wall is something we actually have archaeological evidence for):

 
#59
http://changingminds.org/disciplines/storytelling/plots/propp/propp.htm

Joseph Campbell was also heavily influenced by formalism, although he's a much more subtle writer than Atwill. However you look at it it's an attempt at submitting cultural memes to a scientific framework, and doomed to failure for the same reason as Dawkins' adoption of memes as a placeholder for an unknown agent. A desire to atomise a complex story into bite-sized chunks, no matter what's left out in the process.
 
#60
Baseball, eh? Time to turn a double play.

The following are problems and errors I quickly discovered in just a breezy review of the first eight minutes of that video.

1. Atwill says the Romans had "fought against a messianic movement in Judea" and the gospels were meant to replace "that version of messianic Judaism." (~1:00)

First of all, the First Jewish War was not waged by a "messianic movement." It is a common error to conflate violence or militarism on the part of ancient Jews with some sort of messianic zeal or agenda. No one is recorded as claiming to be a messiah, or that his followers claimed him to be a messiah, or that he was fighting to bring about the arrival of a messiah. Bar Kokhba was hailed as a messiah by Rabbi Akiva during the later revolt of 132-135, but we're not even sure if he understood himself that way.

The first revolt failed spectacularly in part because it was not a cohesive movement. The militants were divided into multiple factions of aristocrats and commoners, and they spent more time fighting each other than the Romans.

2. Atwill identifies the "genre" of the Gospels as typology. (~1:52)

Typology is not a genre. Rather, it is a cultural-textual theory of history in which ancient Jews, and subsequently Christians, found linkages between what they believed were actions of God separated in time. Typology as a practice can be incorporated into various genres. The consensus of scholarship holds that the genre of the Gospels is ancient biography. See Richard Burridge, What Are the Gospels?: A Comparison with Graeco-Roman Biography 2nd ed. (Eerdmans: 2004). Burridge is a classicist who saw that some were beginning to argue the gospels are biographies, thought that they were wrong, and then changed his mind after extensive research.

3. Atwill says all the stories in the Gospels "are taken from another book," namely, the works of Josephus (~4:00).

Well, Robert M. Price says almost all the stories are midrash of the OT. Dennis MacDonald says they're reworked stories from Homer. Maybe there's a baseline problem with the mimetic theory here with such competing claims.

4. Atwill urges persons to compare the Gospels and Josephus in English translation to see the parallels for themselves. (~5:25)

MAJOR problem. As I demonstrated in my refutations of the Atwill fan in 2015, one needs to compare the original language to be certain about the potential parallels. I showed examples where the supposed convergence was an artifact of translation and disappeared when the actual Greek texts were juxtaposed.

5. Atwill says that both "ministries" of Jesus and Titus begin at the Sea of Galilee. Atwill compares the "fishers of men" account in the Gospels with the naval battle in Josephus (~6:30).

I found no less than three compounding errors here. And that is leaving out the critiques of Atwill's parallelomania that have already been raised.

5.1. Which Gospel chronology does Atwill prefer, and why? And how does he avoid the charge of selection bias? In Mark, the first narrative after Jesus' baptism and temptation is the calling of the first disciples from their boats (1:16-20). This is repeated in Matthew (4:18-22), who quite slavishly copies Mark's chronology throughout his Gospel. But in Luke, the beginning of Jesus' ministry is his synagogue sermon in Nazareth (4:16-30). Luke further narrates an exorcism, healings, and a preaching tour all before the "fishers of men" story. John provides a radically different version of Jesus' first recruitment of followers that has no "fishers of men" element and doesn't even take place in Galilee, but miles away, on the opposite side of the Jordan River from Judea.

So Atwill draws the parallel by randomly choosing the beginning of Jesus' public ministry in two of the four gospels. Or, more accurately, because Matthew copies Mark so thoroughly, one out of three gospel chronologies.

5.2. And it gets worse. The naval battle recounted in Josephus, War of the Jews 3.10.9 is not the first military action by Titus in Galilee. By this point, Titus has already participated in the siege of Jotapata (where Josephus fought on the side of the rebels), the capture of Tiberias, a battle outside Taricheae, and the seizure of that city. So, the so-called "beginning of Titus' ministry" occurs after multiple significant incidents.

5.3. And it gets even worse, because Titus doesn't appear to participate in the naval battle. Read it for yourself. His father Vespasian commands the makeshift Roman fleet and Titus isn't mentioned as being involved at all. In all likelihood, he remained onshore with the rest of the army.​

6. Atwill says that the "typology with Moses ends" in Matthew just before the so-called parallels with Titus begin. (~7:14)

Actually, I should point out that there are two errors here. First, the typology Atwill reviewed at the beginning of the video, the narrative set in Matthew 1-2, draws connections not between Jesus and Moses, but Jesus and Israel. The argument by Matthew here is that Jesus embodies in his person the "true Israel" and the "faithful son" of God (that Israel in its sins was not).

That being said, Matthew does draw connections between Moses and Jesus, and these occur throughout the Gospel. For example, Matthew organizes Jesus' teaching into five major discourses to reflect the five books of the Torah. The first of these is the Sermon on the Mount, which will occur in chapters 5-7, after the "fishers of men" episode.

Eight minutes in and all is sound and fury, signifying nothing.
 
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