Joseph Atwill, Why the Bible is Pro-Roman |464|

Alex

Administrator
#61
There is a modern parallel to all this: Western intelligence agencies have in the past encouraged and supported Islamic Sufi orders as an antidote to Middle Eastern secular Nationalism. This is because Sufis, being mystical types, are generally less interested in world affairs than both standard Muslims and secular Nationalists. Sufism is, of course, definitely not an invention of Western intelligence agencies.
agreed. And I think it's an important perspective. I mean if we look at the roman christian thing as unique it's a lot harder to swallow. but if we understand religion co-opting as something that the romans did all the time with conquered people ( which it was) then it's easier to put this unique instance of it in perspective.


1) Did it work? Did Jews convert to Christianity on mass? Gentiles sure did, eventually.
2) Are there not Roman records chronicling the persecution of Christians before Josephus?
3) Why would the Romans persecute Christians to begin with? Why not encourage them?
4) Weren't early Christians persecuted because they refused to honour the cult of Caesar?

I dunno.
good questions... I could speculate but I really don't know. let us know if you come up with anything.
 

Alex

Administrator
#62
If Rome introduced Christianity to control the populace, and Mark’s Gospel was the initial tool,
I'm not sure I remember Atwill saying Mark was the "initial tool." rather the argument that atwill and other biblical scholars make is that it's unreasonable to believe that mark ( as well as the other gospels) are not "dependent" on josephus. in my experience I've found that this is a good place to do a full stop.

do you accept the evidence that the gospels seem to be dependent on josephus?

do you accept the evidence that the gospels are pro roman?
 
#63
I think you should report back and tell us how it went!

David
It was good... we spent most of our time in a small group with a few other families. Enjoyable to be social again with new people.

Have you ever revisited a place you used to be very familiar with? Or maybe just returned home after a long trip? All the gradual personal internal changes that accumulate day by day to you really surface into your consciousness when you find yourself in a previously familiar context. The main things I noticed were the things that were missing. There was a lack of Christian angst within me and I felt sorry for those still in the grip of it. No fears. No need to present a sanitized image of myself. No frustration at unanswered prayers. No suppression of niggling doubts. No drive to make converts. No conjured up love for those who don't deserve it. No social anxiety. No worries about marrying the right person. No need to come up with B.S. prayer requests. I felt extremely free. I felt like I could content myself with sitting on the back row, enjoying the music, mentally translating the myths into non-Christian vocabulary and metaphor. I felt like I could be disciplined enough withhold my heresies and blend in.
 
#64
I’m not sold on Atwill’s theories, both about Jesus and about Christianity as a socially engineered program initiated by the Romans. Maybe you can ask Atwill these questions the next time you have him on. Here are a few key reasons (and there are others) as to why I don’t accept his arguments:

First, regarding the social engineering argument: If Rome introduced Christianity to control the populace, and Mark’s Gospel was the initial tool, why did they wait 242 years to make Christianity the official state religion? And why in the interim period, from 70 AD, when Mark’s Gospel was likely written, until 312 when Constantine converted, were Christians viewed in a very negative light, leading to persecution, torture, and execution? Such treatment doesn’t seem to provide much motivation for people to adopt such a religion. There’s no doubt that the state took a position against the religion: For an early example, look up Roman Magistrate, “Pliny the Younger” (no, not the double IPA from Russian River Brewing Company ;-) He put Christians to death for merely stating that they were Christian.

Pertaining to the issue of whether Jesus was a real person of history, I keep hearing about Josephus, but Atwill never mentions the reference to Jesus found in the “Annals of Imperial Rome”, written by Publius Cornelius Tacitus:

“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 center 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.”

Concerning the Tacitus’ account, History.com quotes Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman: “As a Roman historian, Tacitus did not have any Christian biases in his discussion of the persecution of Christians by Nero. Just about everything he says coincides—from a completely different point of view, by a Roman author disdainful of Christians and their superstition—with what the New Testament itself says: Jesus was executed by the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, for crimes against the state, and a religious movement of his followers sprang up in his wake.

When Tacitus wrote history, if he considered the information not entirely reliable, he normally wrote some indication of that for his readers,” Mykytiuk says in vouching for the historical value of the passage. There is no such indication of potential error in the passage that mentions Christus.”

According to Athiest blogger (yes, that’s right, Atheist) Tim O’Neill, a seemingly unbiased truth-seeker, “Tacitus was one of the most reliable of all Roman historians and many first-century figures are known to us solely through his mention of them. This means his passing reference to Jesus in Annals XV.44 remains a fly in the ointment of the Jesus Myth hypothesis. Despite Tacitus’ reliability and the scholarly agreement that the reference is genuine, Mythicist ideologues have several ways by which they try to dismiss this reference; all of them characteristically weak.”

Further supporting a historical Jesus, here is an excerpt from a 2006 blog written by Bishop John Shelby Spong who is by no means a traditional Christian. Rather, Spong is viewed by many as a heretic and has received death threats from Fundamentalist Christians. One example of Spong’s views not aligning with mainstream Christianity is his rejection of the “sacrificial lamb” idea, whereby Jesus had to die to pay the price for the sins of humanity. Here are Spong’s comments on the historicity of Jesus:

“Paul writing to the Galatians around the year 51 C.E. chronicles his activities, including his consultations with Peter and others who were called by Paul "the pillars" of the Christian movement. This means that Paul knew Peter and others who were the disciples of the Jesus of history. Paul says that this meeting took place three years after his conversion (see Galatians 1:18-24). The best evidence that has been amassed to date the conversion of Paul was done by a 19th century church historian named Adolf Harnack, who places it no earlier than one year and no more than six years after the crucifixion. So Paul was in touch with disciples of Jesus within 4 to 10 years after the crucifixion. These disciples did not think of Jesus as a fantasy or a mythical person. Indeed myths take far longer than 4 to 10 years to develop. There is thus ample data to support the historicity of the man Jesus. Paul would hardly have given his life to a myth.

There are other things that are so counter-intuitive about the way the Jesus story has been told that to me they constitute compelling additional evidence for his historicity. One is that Jesus is said to have come out of Nazareth, a dirty, petty and insignificant town that had a dreadful reputation. It was said even in the New Testament that people asked "can anything good come out of Nazareth" (see John 1:46)? His Nazareth and Galilean origins were an embarrassment to the Jesus movement. No one creates a myth that will embarrass them. It was undoubtedly this embarrassment that helped to create the myth of his birth in Bethlehem. One does not try to escape a lowly place of origin unless that place is so deeply a part of the person's identity that it cannot be suppressed. Jesus of Nazareth was a person of history.”
Mark, deep thanks for this. It is brilliant.
 
#65
I'm not sure I remember Atwill saying Mark was the "initial tool." rather the argument that atwill and other biblical scholars make is that it's unreasonable to believe that mark ( as well as the other gospels) are not "dependent" on josephus. in my experience I've found that this is a good place to do a full stop.

do you accept the evidence that the gospels seem to be dependent on josephus?

do you accept the evidence that the gospels are pro roman?
The evidence for the Gospels being Pro-Roman and dependent on Josephus at this point is just what I've heard from Atwill, so I need to read his book to form a full opinion. Perhaps it was "my bad" for engaging in this discussion before reading his book. That said, there is other evidence for a historical Jesus, aside from Josephus and the Gospels, so that's where I was coming from. But most of all, I refer back to my first point which I can't seem to resolve. How would it make any sense for Rome to create a new religion to control people, yet punish people for adopting that religion? And not just for a short while, but for 242 years... If that was their plan, it seems they would have made it a positive for people to become Christians, but they made it a negative. What explanation is there for that?

And I think one needs to look at all the available evidence, not discarding some of it even if the Gospels contain some content from Josephus. The Gospels clearly don't borrow everything, because the sayings of Jesus (in "The Beatitudes", for example) are not in Josephus, but they are found in Luke, Matthew, and the non-canonical Thomas Gospel. John varies even more widely from the other Gospels and I would presume has much less of this parallel content.

It's pretty well known among Biblical scholars that the Gospel writers put some words in Jesus' mouth, and made certain things fit Old Testament prophecies (like the Bethlehem birth). So if they filled in historical blanks by leaning on Josephus it's not a deal killer from my perspective. The Gospels were written 40-70 years after the Crucifixion, relying on oral traditions, so it wouldn't surprise me if they leaned on other historical accounts for specific events and then dramatized them. So back to the question of a historical Jesus, you look at other sources to validate or invalidate and don't ignore the full body of data that's available.

Is it possible that the Gospels seem Pro-Roman because they're voicing anti-Jewish sentiment, which made it sound Pro-roman? Early Christianity was considered a Jewish sect, but there was a break a few decades down the road, due to issues that had been simmering for a long time. This had to do with Gentile Christians refusing to follow Jewish laws pertaining to things like diet, circumcision, etc. Since the Gospels weren't written until decades after the crucifixion, the Gospels likely carried more tone of disdain for traditional/fundamentalist Judaism because of this divide.

Mark
 
#66
agreed. And I think it's an important perspective. I mean if we look at the roman christian thing as unique it's a lot harder to swallow. but if we understand religion co-opting as something that the romans did all the time with conquered people ( which it was) then it's easier to put this unique instance of it in perspective.



good questions... I could speculate but I really don't know. let us know if you come up with anything.
Here are a few answers and another issue. First, in regard to Christian Persecution, here's a link to a short BIO on Pliny the Younger and another link that details his execution of Christians for refusing to recant their religion in the first Century AD.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/pliny_the_younger.shtml

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/maps/primary/pliny.html

Here's a more detailed chronicle of the overall persecution picture over several centuries, as reported by PBS:
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/why/martyrs.html

Here's the additional issue: Most Biblical scholars date Mark to about 64-70 AD, but Josephus earliest work, History of the Jewish War dates to between 75–79, and The Antiquities of the Jews dates to 93AD, both later than the date range attributed to Mark. Maybe the scholars are wrong about the dating of Mark, I don't know.

I'm not trying to bash Atwill, I just don't think he's addressed all of these questions. And the purpose of the forum, as I understand it, is to discuss things like this to get at the truth as best we can.
 

Alex

Administrator
#67
The evidence for the Gospels being Pro-Roman and dependent on Josephus at this point is just what I've heard from Atwill, so I need to read his book to form a full opinion. Perhaps it was "my bad" for engaging in this discussion before reading his book. That said, there is other evidence for a historical Jesus, aside from Josephus and the Gospels, so that's where I was coming from.
that's fine. And I'm not trying to stifle the debate or your points. it's just been my experience that methodically walking the path josephus is the quickest way to the answer.

start here... this is what josephus was writing about

1601436941529.png
 

Alex

Administrator
#68
...I posted the photos of the arc because I think it brings a reality to the history... at least it does for me.

so the romans kicked ass on those pesky rebels in judea and then bragged like heck about it. then they hired (or more likely invented) a fictional character to chronicle the history. that's where josephus comes in.

So there's no way this biased history should make its way into the bible, right? I mean there's no way the gospel writers are going to use this distorted boastful history written by the romans in their book. I mean, there's no way they're going to rewrite the same stories that josephus has as prophecy of jesus, right?
 
#71
that's fine. And I'm not trying to stifle the debate or your points. it's just been my experience that methodically walking the path josephus is the quickest way to the answer.

start here... this is what josephus was writing about

View attachment 1803
I'll look into this in greater detail when I can make time, and I will consider the argument. But it still doesn't answer why Christians were treated poorly, looked down on, and in some cases executed, for more than two centuries after the Gospel of Mark. Atwill's argument implies that Rome should have been promoting the new religion, not persecuting people for following it. Neither does this dismiss the other sources of evidence for the existence of historical Jesus I shared, including the paragraph from The Annals of Imperial Rome, by Tacitus, and the information conveyed in the Spong quote. For now, I'm letting this rest because of time constraints (i.e. I still have a job...)
 
#72
In the Ziewe interview one of my favorite lines is "if someone in an NDE says he saw Jesus then he saw Jesus'" (paraphrasing Jurgen). I am not a Christian either, but I have noted Jesus' dramatic and revered presence in the afterlife, in many of the accounts given to us by higher spirits.

I studied under a Buddhist teacher for awhile; if she ever says she met the Buddha in an NDE or an ADC, then my guess is she probably did.

To me there are divine incarnations who lived and died as humans and who live again in the afterlife.

:)
 
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#73
In the Ziewe interview one of my favorite lines is "if someone in an NDE says he saw Jesus then he saw Jesus'" (paraphrasing Jurgen). I am not a Christian either, but I have noted Jesus' dramatic and revered presence in the afterlife, in many of the accounts given to us by higher spirits.

I studied under a Buddhist teacher for awhile; if she ever says she met the Buddha in an NDE or an ADC, then my guess is she probably did.

To me there are divine incarnations who lived and died as humans and who live again in the afterlife.

:)
One of the difficulties is that often in an NDE a person will encounter an anonymous being or presence, and experience a feeling of overwhelming love, compassion, acceptance. The problem is that in many cases the person themselves decides that this being is called 'abc'. I don't doubt that there are powerful spiritual beings encountered during these experiences. But identification of these beings by name seems based upon expectation in most cases. I recall one such case where a person having an NDE meets such a being and falls to their knees and humbles themself at the feet of the being. They are told to get up and stop being so silly, as it turn out the being is only a little bit more advanced, is just an ordinary run-of-the-mill powerful spiritual being. In another case a person found themself in a space which was illuminated by a powerful light. They couldn't figure out where the light was coming from. When they did meet another being, it was explained that the light was coming from that person, they were their own source of light.
 
#74
One of the difficulties is that often in an NDE a person will encounter an anonymous being or presence, and experience a feeling of overwhelming love, compassion, acceptance. The problem is that in many cases the person themselves decides that this being is called 'abc'. I don't doubt that there are powerful spiritual beings encountered during these experiences. But identification of these beings by name seems based upon expectation in most cases. I recall one such case where a person having an NDE meets such a being and falls to their knees and humbles themself at the feet of the being. They are told to get up and stop being so silly, as it turn out the being is only a little bit more advanced, is just an ordinary run-of-the-mill powerful spiritual being. In another case a person found themself in a space which was illuminated by a powerful light. They couldn't figure out where the light was coming from. When they did meet another being, it was explained that the light was coming from that person, they were their own source of light.
I agree completely. I think Jurgen was talking about a case where Jesus appears in an NDE or ADC in his unquestionable persona. Jurgen, like me, is used to the many accounts by afterworld spirits of Jesus' existence there. My avatar in this forum is Silver Birch, a very high collective spirit group which cites Jesus' presence in their dimension and revers his spiritual beauty. Another respected source is called Imperator, who spoke through medium Stanton Moses. ...This is another way to counter the claims of Atwell. Why would Jesus have a renowned presence in the afterlife if he had not appeared as a human incarnation initially? :) P.S. This has nothing to do with religion. Jesus and other high spirits such as the Buddha can all exist in the afterlife without being representatives of any particular religion; their earthly incarnations LED to the formation of a specific religion by others, but they themselves were simply enlightened masters. (My own view is that if they viewed the religion that was spawned in their name they would run the other way. Buddhism and Hinduism in many ways became as horrid as Christianity.)
 
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#75
The Reactionary part is what got me interested in Orthodoxy. The fact that Orthodoxy was able to survive the murder of 80 million Christians by Marxism indicates they are doing something right.

They are the only major denomination today actively resisting enslavement by the Marxist New World Order.

You might enjoy this email propaganda newsletter from Russian Faith .com https://russian-faith.com/pages/subscribe-our-mailing-list

They publish approximately bi-weekly. It's pretty slick and well-done.
That's 80 BILLION, with a "B" - geez, get your facts strait.
 
#76
That's 80 BILLION, with a "B" - geez, get your facts strait.
Incorrect. Communism murdered about 200 million innocent people in the 20th century.

If we exclude non-Christian Asians murdered by the likes of Mao, Pol Pot and the Kim Jung(s), that leaves about 80 million Christians genocided in Europe, South America, and the Near East by Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Che, Tito, et al.

I encourage you to study Marxist Critical Theory enough to learn it is merely the latest societal weapon in the 2,000 year-old existential war to exterminate Christians and Christianity.
 

Alex

Administrator
#79
I'll look into this in greater detail when I can make time, and I will consider the argument. But it still doesn't answer why Christians were treated poorly, looked down on, and in some cases executed, for more than two centuries after the Gospel of Mark. Atwill's argument implies that Rome should have been promoting the new religion, not persecuting people for following it. Neither does this dismiss the other sources of evidence for the existence of historical Jesus I shared, including the paragraph from The Annals of Imperial Rome, by Tacitus, and the information conveyed in the Spong quote. For now, I'm letting this rest because of time constraints (i.e. I still have a job...)
thanks for this... and yes there's a level of complexity here that we don't usually talk about... it just gets too messy.

the short answer for me is that there is a lot of history to unpack. consider our own history. think about how much rewriting of history we've experienced in our lifetime.

I think there's an analogy here. I've chosen to focus on josephus because it seems to be a cornerstone to bible-tells-me-so-christianity (versus christ-consciousness christianity). so, I don't try to explain the treatment of christians in the 3rd and 4th centuries ( even though I think your point is an interesting one) in order to point out that the historical account of josephus and the bible is irreconcilable with what most christians believe.

again, that's why the pro-roman conspiracy is super interesting to me... and seems more obvious the further I dig into it. for example, the biography of Josephus is really hard to believe when you step back from it. the idea that Romans landed in Galilee to begin a major military campaign and just happened to pick up this Jewish general/traitor along the way, and then asked him to serve as their primary historian of the events... boy, that's pretty hollywood.

hope this clarifies where I'm coming from and why I stay laser-focused on josephus as the most straightforward way to challenge the traditional christian narrative.
 

Alex

Administrator
#80
In the Ziewe interview one of my favorite lines is "if someone in an NDE says he saw Jesus then he saw Jesus'" (paraphrasing Jurgen).

:)
thx... I totally agree with this. the distinction I'm making is that if someone reads in a history book that george washington chop down a cherry tree it doesn't mean that he chopped down a cherry tree.
 
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