Caesar's Messiah by Joseph Atwill

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Caesar's Messiah by Joseph Atwill

Postby DaveL » Sat Oct 18, 2008 8:19 pm

Somebody has posted an entire copy of the out-of-print first edition here:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/4057179/Atwil ... Jesus-2005


I realize not everyone will agree with me but to me it seems simply obvious that Atwill is correct that the Roman Flavian imperial family created Christianity, and that they wanted posterity to know it. Because they wanted their feat to be appreciated, they left enough clues to leave no doubt.

I think all concerned atheists should be aware of the existence of this idea. Here is an opportunity to do so at no cost.
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Postby donnyton » Sat Oct 18, 2008 10:15 pm

Well, I haven't read the book, but personally I think the most likely story (and this is speaking in the face of little evidence for either side) is that an itinerate Jewish preacher had some good ideas but got the idea that he was God and was executed; subsequently his followers decided to deify him, and when the next generation of believers became the Catholic church, they realized that the religion was a marvelous tool to manipulate the (then still largely illiterate) masses.

After all, the Buddha story was pretty much about a prince who rejected his material wealth and starved himself out of curiosity. He supposedly discovered enlightenment and attracted some followers. That would be an oversimplification of the Indian Budda, but in China, where Buddhism spread to later, he is a god whose fingers stretch literally to the ends of the earth in folklore, and whose depiction changes from an emaciated guru to a fat golden deity.
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Postby DaveL » Sat Oct 18, 2008 10:42 pm

donnyton, you don't have to read very far into CM to see a list of problems with that line of reasoning. I don't want to reiterate them here.

On the other side of the coin, Atwill argues that there's a lot of evidence it happened otherwise. A lot of that evidence is the parallels between the writings of the Roman propagandist Josephus and the New Testament, but there is other historical evidence as well.
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Postby 7od » Mon Oct 20, 2008 11:00 pm

i've read a few chapters. i have to say that it seems to me like atwill is cherry picking his data much like the 911 conspiracy theorists do. while i wouldn't rule out roman involvement in the creation (or at least shaping) of christianity; however, atwills "parallels" between josephus and the new testament seem to me like someone saying they found an image of jesus on they're grilled cheese sandwich. it's an ink blot test and atwill makes it what he wants.

i come down on it roughly where bob price does: http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/rev_atwill.htm
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Postby DaveL » Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:44 am

7od wrote:i come down on it roughly where bob price does


Well then, if you agree with Price, I must suppose you agree with Price and Eisenman that the gospels are pro-Roman. Can you explain how that would be if not roughly as proposed by Atwill?
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Postby Sans_Deity » Thu Oct 23, 2008 5:08 pm

This is going to be a completely unfair comment, as I simply don't have time to debunk Atwill and don't plan on defending my opinion on it...so ignore the rest if that bothers you.

One good thing about Atwill's book is that it's slightly more scholarly and slightly less crazy than Acharya S.'s books. Unfortunately, that's like saying that Illuminati conspiracy theorists are slightly more reasonable than the Reptilian alien conspiracy theorists.
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Postby DaveL » Thu Oct 23, 2008 8:52 pm

Matt, I'm very interested in your opinion and will not be ignoring anything you have to say.

BTW, that was me that sent copies of CM to the ACA a couple of years ago I guess it was now.

I wasn't wanting to get in an extended debate either at the moment, although I am willing to put some effort into it, having started this. My main impetus at the moment was that I found that the file could be downloaded for free at the moment, and suspect it may be taken down for obvious reasons at some point. I feel that the importance of the CM idea transcends any commercial interests and that it's in the interest of civilization to see it disseminated as widely as possible as early as possible. I think a lot of people would probably be interested in at least perusing it but previously the price of entry was an obstacle. (For example, I would be interested in reading the Carotta book, although I think it must be far less compelling, and the reviews I've read would seem to so indicate, but so far I have not been willing to spend the $30 to be sure. But, I have bought probably a couple of dozen CM copies and given most of them away. It used to be $11 a pop for me, with Amazon prime, but that is also no longer possible as CM first edition is out of print, and the new edition is of higher price.)

It's apparently true that of the people who read CM, a certain nonnegligible percentage will find it very convincing and feel compelled as I do to proselytize about it. This contention is supported by people putting up videos about it on You-tube, reviews on amazon, etc. Seems to me that the other Jesus mythology books like by Carotta and Acharya and others are not inspiring this kind of quasireligious fervor. My intent here is thus primarily to present the opportunity for people to look at as they see fit, and let the book do its work on them. I think there could be a "critical mass" effect where if there are enough people convinced of its truth, it could become at least common knowledge.

I want to say that I probably look at the CM idea from a different point of view than people who find it uncompelling. To start, it seems to me that based on that Jesus prophesies what Titus did, that would make Titus et al prime suspects in originating the myth. If not though, we have a condition that these would have to be either later insertions, or written into the story initially, but for other reasons than as argued in CM. To me the prophecies seem integral to the story and so I would discount the later insertion idea. If written in originally then it merely seems odd and unlikely to do it in this particular way, unless there is an ulterior motive as suggested by Atwill.

I would agree that a lot of the claimed parallels can seem strained and not particularly compelling on their own, and also since I know next to nothing about real bible scholarly thinking or Koine Greek or Hebrew etc I know I can't authoritatively judge whether a lot of them are likely or not. Nonetheless I feel that the basic idea is plausible enough, and there are so many weird things about xtianity that it explains so well, that I can't see how it can be other than basically correct. If one looks at it constructively rather than destructively, starting with the basic idea plus uncontested history plus the writings extant, it seems to me that one builds up a picture that can't be easily dismissed.

Also I would like to make a point that whenever you get human beings together you are liable to get conspiracies. It is not as if a conspiracy is the same sort of unlikely event as, say, a miracle or an extraterrestrial abduction. Rather, it is the implausibility of certain necessary aspects of certain conspiracies that makes them implausible. For example, the many conspiracies requiring massive and sustained coverups are rightfully judged unlikely on this account. But, I would argue, CM is not this sort a conspiracy. It is more of a governmental action. It is, some guys who had a motive and power and authority to commit an act, and even a bureaucracy for doing it (that is, creating imperial cults of the Caesars) merely did so. I have never been able to see why this is a ridiculous idea.

I want also to respond to a line of reasoning you put to me in an email a while ago, (if I may paraphrase based on old recollection) that you thought it unwise to support ideas such as CM until they are well established, due to the possible loss of face that might occur in the event of a later refutation in certain terms. One comment I have on this is that it is a bad premise. I would never expect or ask anyone to take any position that they did not feel they could back up, on this or any subject. All I would desire is that the idea be given fair consideration. Seems to me, if we can truly understand the origin of a dangerous idea, that this is a valuable tool in combatting it. So, all concerned atheists in my view ought to be interested in getting to the truth if it's accessible. I can't see how a rational and even skeptical discussion of this can ever be a bad thing. Clearly, anytime one discusses the general topic objectively the supernaturalists are going to be uncomforable, and for good reason. It points to the certain fact that, regardless of the truth or falsehood of any myth origin claims, there is never any real support for that anything supernatural ever happened. Can anyone doubt that the religionists would prefer that the lay atheist community not discuss these ideas and leave them to the scholarly community for possible consideration at some point in the indefinite future?

Later on I will hunt up a response I wrote a couple of years ago to Price's review. It got lost off of Infidelguy's forum but it has been reposted here and there. Seems to me Price never really substantially attacks CM. He agrees with some of it, then dismisses the rest as completely and obviously implausible. I think it entirely plausible, however, so I find his dismissal lacking. I would have expected someone with his knowledge to get more into the details of why it can't work, if he could. For example, Atwill has a lengthy description of what is really going on in the tomb. He develops that very elaborate timeline of people mistaking each other for angels, going to the wrong tomb, etc. If this holds up it is pretty amazing, while if not it should be easy to prove. Someday I will get around to it myself, perhaps, but seems reasonable to expect experts like Price to look into these kind of details rather than just issuing a broad dismissal. We have already heard that one from the xtians, after all.
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
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Postby 7od » Thu Oct 23, 2008 9:39 pm

DaveL wrote:Well then, if you agree with Price, I must suppose you agree with Price and Eisenman that the gospels are pro-Roman. Can you explain how that would be if not roughly as proposed by Atwill?


i agree with price in that i don't find the stated parallels compelling. as far as pro-roman, i'm certainly not the person anyone should look to for biblical expertise, but i feel comfortable at least saying that the gospels are not anti-roman, and given the hostilities one might expect from jewish authorship of the day, that might equate to pro-roman. but even if there was no other current explanation as to why that would be, that doesn't in anyway affect my position on the legitimacy of the given premise. my answer is, i'm not sure, but i don't think josephus did it.

whether or not there was an actual jesus, i still think the easiest solution to "where does christianity come from" is a natural evolution of jewish and pagan folklore hybrid. the government conspiracy is a hard pill to swallow, and given that the evidence for that claim is buried in untangling potential parallels between the war of the jews and the gospels, those parallels had better be pretty damn impressive.
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Postby DaveL » Fri Oct 24, 2008 4:11 am

7od wrote: whether or not there was an actual jesus, i still think the easiest solution to "where does christianity come from" is a natural evolution of jewish and pagan folklore hybrid. the government conspiracy is a hard pill to swallow, and given that the evidence for that claim is buried in untangling potential parallels between the war of the jews and the gospels, those parallels had better be pretty damn impressive.


For me the parallels are just the icing on the cake. They allow it to be known with essential certainty what otherwise is merely a strong circumstantial case, or might have been the result of later insertions. And, I do find them very impressive, especially the cannibal Mary story in Josephus. I can't see how that can be anything other than a setup for the joke of Jesus as the Passover Lamb. It brings the monstrosity of the whole thing home for me. It is also true without doubt that the Cannibal Mary story is the approved propaganda of the Flavian dynasty, Titus having written the dedication on the cover page proclaiming as much. The Cannibal Mary story in Josephus is certainly no later insertion and so if one accepts this as related to Jesus then the rest of the thesis must follow just from that, seems to me.

Anyhow I appreciate that you read some of it before expressing an opinion and I hope you at least found it entertaining. If so you can probably find more things in it that are at least thought provoking, if you read on. Also, Atwill continues to forge ahead and now is claiming that the Holy Ghost is really Titus's brother Domitian. He wanted to get in on the deal and after Titus died according to Atwill Domitian had the Pauline literature written. He names the writer but I can't recall exactly who. Also, he proposes Josephus was not a real person but rather a fabrication and that Pliny the Elder wrote a lot of Josephus. This is on Atwill's forum for which now you have to register just to peruse, unfortunately.
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
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Postby dromedaryhump1 » Fri Oct 24, 2008 11:43 pm

Holy Ghost is really Titus's brother Domitian. He wanted to get in on the deal and after Titus died according to Atwill Domitian had the Pauline literature written. He names the writer but I can't recall exactly who. Also, he proposes Josephus was not a real person but rather a fabrication and that Pliny the Elder wrote a lot of Josephus.

etc., etc., etc.

There are people who will tell us that 911 was initiated by Bush; that the gov't is covering up UFO space alien visitations; and the pyramids were build by aliens, so why should anyone be surprised that someone would create a Jewish/Roman "conspiracy theory" for Christianity, and that it will attract followers?

The small portions of the book I read make one thing very clear: the concepts he fronts is that every personage and doctrinal concept in Christianity "really" means something or someone else. Uh huh.
I did the same thing with Star Wars, and it's " obvious to me" that Jabba the Hutt is really meant to be Howard Taft.

By the way... what exactly ARE Atwill's credentials? I can't find anything about his back ground, training in biblical scholarship, 1st century history, early Hebraic studies, etc. Nada. How do his credentials compare to those of Price, Ehrman, Kirsch, Friedman, Carroll, Spong, et al? I do notice that the book was self published by Atwill... for whatever that may infer.
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Postby donnyton » Sat Oct 25, 2008 2:10 am

That does strike me as really strange, as Atwill doesn't have a site or anything where we can actually look at his background and position of authority. Reminds me of this guy:

http://www.nullphysics.com/menu_author. ... e%20Author

Who wrote a book claiming to have found a grand unifying model of physics but is apparently...a CEO of a biomed company? And not unsurprisingly, his book's not just crazy--it doesn't even make sense, with statements like 1^M={1^M/∞^3}∞^3 (which, for anyone who forgot algebra, simplifies to either 1 = 1 or 1^M = undefined)

I'm not trying to be too hard on Atwill--I haven't read the book, and neither will I have time in the near future to read it through. But even as a semi-sympathizer when it comes to Jesus conspiracies, my skepticism switch automatically turns on when someone pushes a book that claims to have some revolutionary scientific or historical truth.
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Postby DaveL » Sat Oct 25, 2008 3:51 am

Atwill has no relevant professional credentials, is my understanding. He does have some support in the community, though, as evidenced by the cover blerbs. Robert Eisenmann I believe was instrumental in getting the Ulysees edition published. I think Atwill has a paper maybe with Eisenmann in a peer-reviewed journal.

Donnyton your null-physics guy's work does not appear very interesting, I would agree. Still I don't see a need to take a certain position about it. Probably there is nothing to it, though, would be my guess. I might read his stuff if he had something real out there for free, but he wants $59 for it. The teasers don't look very quantitative or interesting. He appears unaware that gravitational potential energy is of opposite sign to all other forms of energy and so a universe can indeed in principle spring into existence from nothing, contrary to his claims. If he had anything scientific to say, you'd think he'd have a peer-reviewed paper or at least a paper on the ophysics preprint archive (arxiv.org). To get on there you don't have to pass peer review per se but you do have to be endorsed by someone with authority to endorse in the subfield your paper is in. Endorsers will have a significant publication history in the mainstream, peer-reviewed journals. Anyhow it is not impossible to for an amateur to get on there, I know.

Did you know I'm a crackpot amateur physicist, myself? I wrote about in my intro thread. But, I do have a paper on the preprint archive (that's how I know how it works), and I'm not selling a book for personal profit. Rather, I'm trying to extend my work to the point it's publishable in a peer-reviewed journal. I tried to get what I have so far published, and generally I got fair treatment from the physicists, but it's too controversial to be published right now given that it does not work out quite right. If I can get it to come out like I'd like, then I expect to have no problem getting it in print. But, I also think physicists are a lot more objective than bible scholars and are a lot more willing to publish something completely contrary to the conventional wisdom, as my stuff is.

About Domitian and the Holy Ghost, I wish Atwill hadn't taken his site private so I could link to it. He has some very cool parallels. Better than the Acharya/Zeitgeist Jesus/Horus parallels etc. Atwill's arguments are generally a step beyond such as Acharya's in that they typically involve the sequentiality aspect as well, which is a huge quantitative difference. Also, I've heard Price directly dispute some of Acharya's whereas he does not take as much specific issue with Atwill, seems to me. Maybe I will listen to that Atwill-Price "debate" tomorrow to refresh my recollection. I have the file. It can probably still be bought from IG for a couple of bucks. There are some Atwill interviews on Youtube, too, for free.
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
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Postby dromedaryhump1 » Sat Oct 25, 2008 10:11 pm

Atwill has no relevant professional credentials, is my understanding.


Ah. I see.
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Postby DaveL » Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:01 pm

dromedaryhump1 wrote:
Atwill has no relevant professional credentials, is my understanding.


Ah. I see.



If you think lack of credentials proves one can't make a contribution, here is a disproof:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_heaviside

Heaviside "changed the face of science and mathematics".
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
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Postby dromedaryhump1 » Sun Oct 26, 2008 12:09 am

i have zero interest in arguing this with you. You accept Atwill's theory at face. Fine. People will believe anything on the flimsiest of excuses. Just look at any Creationistt... it's in the Bible is good enough for them. I am an atheist. As such I have a skeptical nature. I like corroboration. I place a value on the opinions of people who have attained a high degree of credibility in their field.

But lets not play games here. The difference between Atwill and Heaviside is legion. Heaviside, while self taught, focused on mathematics, physics, and electrical engineering his entire life. These were his driven areas of education , his areas of singular commitment, his chosen vocation, his entire life's devotion . He used that education, experimentation, self advancement, and hands on experience to make contributions in his field. He was a unique intellect.

Now, tell me ... what was Atwill's life long focus/vocation that was foundational for his theory and is firm basis for his Hebraic, early Christian, and Roman scholarship that puts him on a par with the scholars I mentioned above...or equal to Heaviside in terms of a life long immersion in his field for that matter?
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