A biblical researcher, Joseph Atwill, claims controversially that there is convincing evidence that the story of Jesus and the Christian religion is an elaborate hoax. The New Testament accounts of the life of Jesus and his resurrection were fabricated by Roman rulers as part of an elaborate “imperial psychological warfare” to create tractable and docile subjects less prone to armed insurrection.
Atwill claimed there is evidence from comparison of the text of the New Testament and the War of the Jews written (c. 75 CE) by the Roman-Jewish historian Flavius Josephus that the New Testament was not written by Jewish fishermen from Galilee, but by first-century Roman aristocrats during the period of the Flavian Caesars — Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian.
The story of Jesus’ life was pure invention, an early but sophisticated system of “mind control” propaganda produced by Roman aristocrats of the Flavian era to pacify impoverished and restive Jewish populace at a time they were prone to militancy due to expectations of a mythical warrior savior or “Messiah.”
Atwill argued in his book Caesar’s Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus, that Roman aristocrats invented Jesus to justify slavery, pacify their poor subjects, and perpetuate their subjection to Rome. They invented Christianity’s teachings of love, charity, humility, peace, and pacifism as a sophisticated system of “mind control” to “produce slaves that believed God decreed their slavery,” Atwill argued on his website, Covert Messiah.
“Jesus Christ is a fabricated cover story for an Imperial psychological warfare operation born out of the First Jewish-Roman War in the first century.”
Atwill elaborated his theory further on his John Atwill’s Blog.
During the first century, expectations of an imminent fulfillment of the prophetic promise of a “warrior Messiah” who would liberate the Jews of the Judea Province from Roman oppression came to a head. This led to the emergence of the nationalist Zealots, who led an armed revolt against the Roman oppressors.
The Romans had to quell three major uprisings in Judea Province between 66 and 136 CE. The First Jewish-Roman War (66-73 CE), the Kitos War (115–117 CE), and the Bar Kokhba’s revolt (132–136 CE) proved very costly in terms of human lives and resources.
The First Jewish-Roman War led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of much of the Jewish populace.
Atwill argued that after the perpetual restiveness of the Jews flared up in the First Jewish-Roman War (66-73 CE), the Roman rulers realized that Jewish “zealotry” was an intractable problem and that they needed other means besides force to pacify the Jews.
The Flavian aristocrats soon hit on the idea of implementing psychological warfare as an alternative approach to subjugating the Jews permanently.
“They surmised that the way to stop the spread of zealous Jewish missionary activity was to create a competing belief system,” Atwill said. “That’s when the ‘peaceful’ Messiah story was invented. Instead of inspiring warfare, this Messiah urged turn-the-other-cheek pacifism and encouraged Jews to ‘give onto Caesar’ and pay their taxes to Rome.”
Atwill claimed that the astounding revelation came to him while comparing the text of Josephus’ Wars of the Jews with the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ life.
“Christianity was actually developed and used as a system of mind control to produce slaves that believed God decreed their slavery.”
Atwill claimed he observed an unmistakable pattern of parallels between the New Testament and Josephus’ work that suggested the life of Jesus, as narrated in the New Testament, was pure invention.
“I started to notice a sequence of parallels between the two texts,” Atwill wrote. “Although it’s been recognized by Christian scholars for centuries that the prophesies of Jesus appear to be fulfilled by what Josephus wrote about in the First Jewish-Roman war, I was seeing dozens more.”
“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 claimed. “This is clear evidence of a deliberately constructed pattern. The biography of Jesus is actually constructed, tip to stern, on prior stories, but especially on the biography of a Roman Caesar.”
He argued that scholars failed to notice the parallels because “[m]any of the parallels are conceptual or poetic, so they aren’t all immediately obvious.”
“The Roman Caesars left us a kind of puzzle literature… and the solution to that puzzle is ‘We invented Jesus Christ, and we’re proud of it.'”
Responding to the question whether he thought his revelation spells doom for Christianity, he said it was enough that he had furnished evidence of where the New Testament account of Jesus’ life came from.
“We’ve got the evidence now to show exactly where the story of Jesus came from,” he wrote. “Although Christianity can be a comfort to some, it can also be very damaging and repressive.”
“[Christianity is] an insidious form of mind control that has led to blind acceptance of serfdom, poverty, and war throughout history.”
This is not the first time that a researcher has suggested that Christianity, as it is known today, has clear Roman or Hellenistic (Greek) influences suggestive of its true origins.
According to Jerry Russell, writing on Post Flaviana, writers and researchers, such as Abelard Reuchlin and Cliff Carrington, had speculated that the Flavian emperors invented their form of Christianity and passed it down to us. Atwill’s unique contribution was pointing to other alleged parallels between Josephus’ War of the Jews and the New Testament.
Atwill claimed that the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem and the details of the life of Jesus in the New Testament suggest the deliberate construction of a satirical typological system in which Jesus foreshadows the military campaign of Emperor Titus that ended in the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.
[Photo by Thinkstock]