Mod+ Is the Bible a political con job? This scholar says the proof is right in front of us |289|

I'm not allowed to post in this forum, but I'm going to interject here in a way that I hope will be helpful to move this discussion forward.

Gilius: I think folk have been too harsh towards you on your presentation, particularly your use of colours. I think its actually a pretty clever and simple way of showing exactly what you're comparing in each section.

You have been criticized for not engaging in actual discussion and there the criticism in justified IMO. I think that you think that bytsetting it out so clearly it makes your argument and conclusions self evident and that makes further discussion is unnecessary. I think you should be open to the fact that there may be different ways of interpreting what you're pointing out that merit discussion.

In refusing to discuss the matter in any detail but continuing to post more comparisons you effectively turn off your audience. In refusing to engage you miss the chance to convince others but also the chance to critically evaluate your own position and spot potential flaws.

Anyhow, I think there are people here who want to engage your topic seriously. My suggestion is do so, and if not, there is little point in simply continuing to post more comparisons.
Arouet, with all due respect I began the discussion with a series of questions about the parallels on page 4, but nobody bothered answering them. Nobody else has begun any serious discussion in response to the 40+ parallels - except for some nit-picking.
Arouet, with all due respect I began the discussion with a series of questions about the parallels on page 4, but nobody bothered answering them. Nobody else has begun any serious discussion in response to the 40+ parallels - except for some nit-picking.
I think you started off engaging, and responded to some points, but then you started posting funny pictures and accusing another poster of being a paid shill (or paid critic). Otherwise you've just posted more of the same.

Anyhow, just my $0.02. You can take it or leave it. Up to you.
OK guys, I leave you with this...

During the beginning of this study I didn't realise - but this is very bad anti-semitism! This is when the temple of Jerusalem was destroyed - so this is the part the Romans really wanted to hit home big time. Before I didn't even know what "Woe to you, blind guides" meant, but now everything is so clear. The Romans don't let out at all... the Flavian psychopaths are in your face here!
A fellow poster asked that I find the time to continue demonstrating problems with the Atwill hypothesis. I will try to make some comments here and there as I have the capacity. I won't directly criticize one of gilius' tables in this post. What I will do, briefly, is quote a few sources in biblical scholarship on the presence of counter-Roman themes in the New Testament.

First, from Unveiling Empire: Reading Revelation Then and Now, by Wes Howard-Brook and Anthony Gwyther (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1999):

For [John of Patmos], Rome was not an order with which one could cooperate. It was, instead, an incarnation of "Satan." It was both a ferocious Beast and a seductive Whore. John did not write his book to manufacture a crisis for a people who had become complacent about the empire. Rather, he tried to reveal that this complacency about Rome was the crisis, if only they had "apocalyptic eyes." The primary struggle in which the ekklesiai [Greek: churches, literally assemblies] were urged to participate was resisting assimilation into the dominant Roman imperial ethos. The issue was whether those ekklesiai who had faithfully resisted Rome would continue in that practice, and whether those who had been co-opted by Rome could be renewed in their resistance.

John's confrontation with the empire should not be reduced to a simple critique of the imperial cult, as many academics and church people have argued. In fact, the critique of Rome in Revelation is far broader than that of the imperial cult. While the imperial cult was a clear sign that the Roman Empire had transgressed the prerogatives of God, Revelation casts a critical eye on Rome's economic exploitation, its politics of seduction, its violence, and its imperial hubris or arrogance. To oppose the Roman Empire necessarily involved a rejection of the spirituality that helped the empire run like a well-oiled machine. Yet the rejection of that spirituality, manifest in the imperial cult, was part of a total rejection of the empire. This is a consequence of the inseparability of religion and politics in antiquity. (p. 116, emphasis mine)
An example of counter-imperial language is the repeated use of "kingdom/empire," or the Greek word basileia:

The claim by John that empire belongs to the followers of Jesus contains the implicit subclaim: empire does not belong to Rome. This claim, by one who was a prophet in a circle of tiny ekklesiai, was, of course, ludicrous, if one accepted Rome's mythology. Yet Revelation claims that Rome's imperium had ceased in the ekklesiai who resisted it. This claim, if voiced loudly and publicly, was tantamount to treason, yet it is repeated throughout the text:

You have made them an empire and priests to our God and they have imperial rule over the earth. (5:10)

The empire of the world became the empire of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will have imperial rule for ever and ever. (11:15)

The salvation and the power and the empire of our God and the authority of his Christ has come. (12:10)

(p. 225)
On counter-imperial themes in the letters of Paul, see Neil Elliott, "The Apostle Paul and Empire," in Richard A. Horsley, ed., In the Shadow of Empire: Reclaiming the Bible as a History of Faithful Resistance (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008):

Though long read in strictly religious terms as the earliest documents of Christian theology, Paul's letters were written in language that would have borne powerful political connotations to its first hearers....

Paraphrasing the English word gospel with "good news" evacuates the Greek word euangelion of its political resonance. It was used, most famously in an inscription (dated 9 BCE) honoring Augustus, to announce or celebrate the emperor's accession to power.

By describing himself as the appointed messenger of a "lord" whose imminent arrival he expected, and by warning the assemblies in each city to prepare to meet this lord at his parousia, Paul would have sounded like a diplomatic herald, speaking in the name of an approaching conqueror (Caesar was also regularly hailed as kyrios [lord], preparing the cities of a province for a coming change in regime... (p. 98)

We do not hear other itinerant philosophers or moralists on Paul's landscape using such politically provocative language. (p. 99, emphasis mine)

What caused the change in Paul's direction was his realization that God had raised the crucified Jesus. Paul calls it a "revelation" (in Greek, apokalypsis) and this revelation made sense precisely in terms of Jewish apocalypticism. If God had in fact vindicated Jesus as the one who would "rise to rule the nations" (Rom. 15:12; Isa. 11:10), then God's redemption and vindication of Israel against an ungodly empire would soon and inevitably follow. Paul, and the Jerusalem apostles, drew another consequence as well. Isaiah's prophecy that the nations would submit to the messiah and worship God alongside Israel was being fulfilled in Paul's mixed assemblies of Judeans and non-Judeans. (p. 104)

The Thessalonians "turning to God from idols" (1 Thess. 1:9) involved more than a change in religious beliefs; it required disengagement from the civic honors regularly given to the emperor and the gods of Rome...The "sudden destruction" that he predicted would fall upon those who proclaimed, "There is peace and security" (5:2-3) had a specific target: we now recognize that phrase as a clear allusion to the emperor Claudius' propaganda. (p. 104f., emphasis mine)
The introduction to Warren Carter's essay, "Matthew Negotiates the Roman Empire," in the same volume edited by Richard Horsley:

Matthew's Gospel portrays the Roman imperial order as standing under divine condemnation. In the Sermon on the Mount and other teachings, as well as in his actions, Matthew's Jesus outlines practices for an alternative society that his followers are to enact. (p. 117, emphasis mine)
Turning to Ched Myers, Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark's Story of Jesus. Twentieth Anniversary Edition (Orbis Books, 2008). On the use of the term "gospel" at the beginning of Mark, and it's employment as a means of critiquing Roman pretensions:

A Hellenistic expression (literally "glad tidings"), it was, according to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, "a technical term for 'news of victory,'" especially in military battles. In the Roman empire it was especially associated with political propaganda...It promoted the paternal and benevolent colonial image of ROme throughout its far-flung provinces...

Roman propaganda focused upon eulogizing Caesar as the "divine man." This ideological strategy is well documented in coins of the period, and of course in the later emperor cults of Asia Minor. The accession to power of a new ruler was cause for "glad tidings," and celebrations and sacrifices always followed...

From this there emerges yet another dimension of Mark's title. He is serving notice that he is challenging the apparatus of imperial propagation. His dramatic prologue...heralds the advent of an "anointed" leader, who is confirmed by the Deity and who proclaims a "kingdom." In other words, Mark is taking dead aim at Caesar and his legitimating myths. From the very first line, Mark's literary strategy is revealed as subversive. Gospel is not an inappropriate title for his story, for Mark will indeed narrate a battle. But the "good news" of Mark does not herald yet another victory by Rome's armies; it is a declaration of war upon the political culture of the empire. (p. 124f., emphasis mine)
As critics of Atwill have pointed out, this alleged conspiracy would have to be crafty and sneaky enough to hide the true meaning of "Jesus" and, at the same time, dumb-as-dirt to undermine their project with subversive political language. That, and Paul was sowing the seeds of this counter-imperial society well before Jerusalem's walls fell...
I don't have an opinion on whether this source is reliable or not but am posting in case anyone might know more about the publications mentioned...

Personal Experiences of a Catholic Priest
Translated from the German Second Edition
Translation corrected and revised by Joseph F. Greber and Elsa Lattey (2006)
One day I unexpectedly received two deliveries of a publication.
These publications ... contained proof that a document by the Jewish author Flavius Josephus had
been most brazenly falsified in favor of the Christian religion by Christian
copyists, who had made Flavius Josephus, a despiser of Christ, into one of
his admirers.

There were also many references in these publications that had been
sent to me to the intentional falsifications of the writings of the early

I am wondering if alterations to original manuscripts might be a better explanation than the theory which Atwill is proposing? Does anyone know anything about which books these might have been? I assume they were written in German before 1932.

UPDATE: I googled "copyists altered works by flavius josephus" and got some hits but I don't know how this information impacts Atwills thesus if at all. Can anyone comment on that?

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I don't know of any significant claims in the scholarship about alterations to Josephus apart from the Testimonium Flavianum. I can't say if selecting between the options of authenticity, partial authenticity, and total interpolation make much of a difference for this already shoddy thesis, although my prima facie hunch is that authenticity would better serve the alleged conspiracy. That being said, I tend to think myself that the entire passage is fake or, if not, that we cannot reliably recover the original.

Book review: Did Jesus Exist?
There aren't too many areas where some New Agers and some dedicated atheists find common ground, but one of them is the question of the historical reality – or unreality – of Jesus Christ. If you Google Jesus + myth, you'll come up with thousands of websites arguing that Jesus never lived – that he was invented by his earliest followers, who were influenced by astrology, numerology, pagan myths, and even Hinduism.*

Enter Bart D. Ehrman. Ehrman is a professor of New Testament studies at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He is not a Christian; he describes himself as an agnostic inclined toward atheism. So we’re not dealing here with a conservative or fundamentalist Christian committed at the outset to the accuracy of biblical accounts. Quite the contrary; Ehrman is very skeptical of much of the material reported about Jesus in the Gospels, and believes that what we can know about him with any high degree of certainty is limited to only a few core statements.

Nevertheless, he is convinced that Jesus was a real historical figure. And in this he is far from alone. As Ehrman takes pains to point out in Did Jesus Exist?, virtually all of his colleagues in academia agree with this basic proposition. He writes:

I should say at the outset that none of this [Jesus-as-myth] literature is written by scholars trained in New Testament or early Christian studies teaching at the major, or even the minor, accredited theological seminaries, divinity schools, universities, or colleges of North America or Europe (or anywhere else in the world)….

But a couple of bona fide scholars – not professors teaching religious studies in universities but scholars nonetheless, and at least one of them with a Ph.D. in the field of New Testament – have taken this position and written about it. Their books may not be known to most of the general public interested in questions relating to Jesus, the Gospels, or the early Christian church, but they do occupy a noteworthy niche as a (very) small but (often) loud minority voice….

The authors of this skeptical literature understand themselves to be "mythicists" – that is, those who believe that Jesus is a myth…. His life and teachings were invented by early storytellers. He never really lived….

The reality is that whatever else you may think about Jesus, he certainly did exist.​

Much of the book is devoted to backing up this claim with an extensive and highly interesting discussion of ancient literary sources. I won't attempt to summarize this presentation, which is both readable and concise (though sometimes a bit repetitive). I think any open-minded person – anyone not already committed to the mythicist perspective – would find it convincing.

Having established with a very high degree of probability that there was a real person named Jesus operating in first century Palestine as a prophet and wonderworker, and that he was crucified by the Romans around the year 30 A.D., Ehrman goes on to critique the more serious proponents of the Christ-myth hypothesis. But early on, before he deals with the scholars who need to be taken seriously, he has a little fun with the non-scholars who've tackled this subject in popular books and on innumerable websites.

Since these are the authors who seem to have the most influence in both New Age and materialist circles, it's worth quoting some of what Ehrman has to say. In what is quoted below, the material in square brackets is Ehrman's, not mine.

In 1999, under the nom de plume Acharya S, D. M. Murdock published the breathless conspirator's dream: The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold….

The book is filled with so many factual errors and outlandish assertions that it is hard to believe that the author is serious. If she is serious, it is hard to believe that she has ever encountered anything resembling historical scholarship. Her "research" appears to have involved reading a number of nonscholarly books that say the same thing she is about to say and then quoting them. One looks in vain for the citation of a primary ancient source, and quotations from real experts (Elaine Pagels, chiefly) are ripped from their context and misconstrued....

The basic argument of the book is that Jesus is the son-god: “Thus the son of God is the sun of God."...

Just to give a sense of the level of scholarship in this sensationalist tome, I list a few of the howlers one encounters en route, in the order in which I found them....

The "true meaning of the word gospel is 'God's Spell,' as in magic hypnosis and delusion" (45). [No, the word gospel comes to us from the old English term god spel, which means "good news" – a fairly precise translation of the Greek word euaggelion. It has nothing to do with magic.]....

The church father “Irenaeus was a Gnostic" (60). [In fact, he was one of the most virulent opponents of Gnostics in the early church.]​

Augustine was "originally a Mandaean, i.e., a Gnostic, until after the Council of Nicaea" (60). [Augustine was not even born until 19 years after the Council of Nicaea, and he certainly was no Gnostic.]

Ehrman has even more to say about the hapless Acharya, with whom I had a brief contretemps online way back in 2007 (see the comments thread of this post). Even in that discussion, Acharya managed to produce another "howler," when she misidentified the author of Revelation as James (it was someone named John; he identifies himself in the text.)

-> (Cut)


Made me realize how all religions may included eternal truths such as the "golden rule" eg. Christ and Confucius(700 years earlier) the thought of heaven Christ and Confucius,and how both Christ and Confucius never wrote anything down.It was others who wrote things down,this means they could write lies or truth,inaccuracies deliberate or accidental.Link:
one tid bit that adds support for this -- I've heard that trade/exchange of good and ideas was much more common during the first century than previous thought. the Gospel writers and the Gnostics we borrowing and weaving in a lot of stuff that was floating around.
The Gospels are molded to fit Josephus - not the other way round! :)
Josephus wrote all of his surviving works after his establishment in Rome (c. AD 71) under the patronage of the Flavian EmperorVespasian. As is common with ancient texts, however, there are no surviving extant manuscripts of Josephus' works that can be dated before the 11th century, and the oldest of these are all Greek minuscules, copied by Christian monks - Wiki
Without an original work - how can one assert that "we" in the modern day know what the heck Josephus actually wrote? A thousand years of copying by people who had motivation to change the text to match their beliefs and it is going to be perfectly accurate to the original? c'mon man
I guess you must have missed the bits about genociding various nations that were in the way of the Israelites
and the explicit orders to kill the women and children and animals
not to mention all the other barbarities in that awful book