Caesar's Messiah by Joseph Atwill

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Postby Infidel » Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:11 pm

Hi DaveL, I'm new to the forum. I read CM a few years ago and thought that although it made several good points, others seemed very streched. For example, suppose the gospels were written decades or more after Josephus wrote, at a time when Josephus' had been elevated almost to scriptural level. Now the gospel writers come along, and being intimately familiar with Joseph, write what we would call a prequal. Backdating stories seems to have been commonplace in Jewish writings anyway.

DaveL wrote:
In other cases, it seems even more obvious that Josephus is writing a set up. The best example is certainly Cannibal Mary, who makes a speech (to nobody - so how could it be recorded as a history) about how her child will be a byword to the world and a curse on the seditious varlets (i.e., Jewish rebels). She roasts the baby consistently with it being a passover sacrifice. This certainly seems like a deliberate set up for Jesus to come along as the human passover lamb.


Is it not also possible that the gospel writers and their audience were intimately familiar with Josephus' story and so indirectly referred to it?

Another example is the lunatic Jesus character of Josephus, who runs around on the Jerusalem city walls making crazy pronouncements, and then is killed by an artillery stone. Then Jesus is seen to make a series of prophesies to foresee this. It's really hard to see a purpose for the lunatic Jesus character in Josephus as anything other than a clownish false prophet foe Jesus to foresee.


...same observation.

- Infidel
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Re: From "history" to miracle tale

Postby DaveL » Wed Mar 02, 2011 6:52 am

dobbie wrote:But Josephus reports that 2200 Jewish rebels were captured, but didn’t suicide nor get done in by Romans soldiers on that occasion.

What does one do with the disparity?




dobbie, some crucial details are always switched around to make it slightly less than obvious. As Atwill says, if it were completely obvious, Christianity wouldn't be the world-wide religion it is today. There are many similarities remaining, however, sufficient to make it very unlikely to be accidental. I find amusing how the gospel says "about two-thousand" while Josephus says 2200. That is about 2000, certainly. There is drowning in both stories, and ill-conceived running.

One of the things that makes it compelling for me, is how after you recognize the initial similarities (i.e., Gadara, wild running, 2000, drowning), then there is another layer of puzzle. When we ask who is the demoniac, there's a clear answer that it has to be the rebel leader John. Out of noticing the initial similarties comes a puzzle the answer to which always provides some self-righteous Roman morality lesson.
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
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Postby DaveL » Wed Mar 02, 2011 7:32 am

Hi, Infidel. I'm glad to see it's still possible to register here. There seem to be a tremendous number of bots crowding out the real people. I thought maybe management had given up on this place. Thanks, Matt, if it was you still maintaining.


Infidel wrote:Is it not also possible that the gospel writers and their audience were intimately familiar with Josephus' story and so indirectly referred to it?


I think, if only the most basic parallels, such as Titus encircling and laying low Jerusalem, are accepted, then it is certainly possible that it's merely a case of borrowing from Josephus. (Although, even this one presents a problem for Christianity because it clearly shows that either the Son of Man is not Jesus or that Jesus is Titus.) If more parallels are accepted however seems to me it becomes increasingly clear that the gospels are satirical rather than sincere. One can't accept that Jesus as the passover lamb is based on cannibal Mary without acknowledging that Jesus wanting to have his flesh eaten is a joke about cannibalism during the seige of Jerusalem. At that point one must ask who wrote this satire and it seems the Flavians are by far the most obvious if not the only reasonable hypothesis. At that point it becomes secondary whether Josephus was written deliberately as a setup, since the Flavian origin of Christianity is the essential point.

About Cannibal Mary, why would Josephus have her give that strange speech that her baby will be a by-word to the world and take special care to state the baby is roasted like a passover lamb if he just wanted to record that there was cannibalism as a result of the siege? I gave lunatic Jesus as a similar example here and I think I could list others.

The escape of the naked man in the Garden of Gesthemane is a different kind of example. If one accepts that the gospel is referring to Titus' escape there where he was caught without armor, then that is a fine example of there being no reason for a sincere religious writer to interrupt the Jesus narrative with this non-Jesus detail. It again shows the gospel is not what it purports on the surface to be, I think, independent of whether Josephus is written with ulterior motive.
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
-- James Madison
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Dating Mark and Josephus

Postby dobbie » Wed Mar 02, 2011 10:50 pm

Infidel wrote:

Is it not also possible that the gospel writers and their audience were intimately familiar with Josephus' story and so indirectly referred to it?

What to do then with the conventional composition date for the Gospel of Mark, AD 70, give or take a year? Josephus published War of the Jews in late AD 70s.

Mark 5 tells the Gadara pig herd story. Seems it draws on a source similar to Josephus', if it drew from war history.
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Russell did it

Postby dobbie » Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:00 pm

DavL wrote:

I thought maybe management had given up on this place. Thanks, Matt, if it was you still maintaining.


By way of information, it was Russell:
http://forum.ironchariots.org/viewtopic.php?p=15870#15870
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Postby DaveL » Wed Apr 27, 2011 9:38 pm

dobbie wrote:DavL wrote:

I thought maybe management had given up on this place. Thanks, Matt, if it was you still maintaining.


By way of information, it was Russell:
http://forum.ironchariots.org/viewtopic.php?p=15870#15870


Heartfelt thanks to Russel! And, I would like to volunteer to help out, but it's not a good time for me right now. Also I don't know anything about forum software or even basic html and so forth. I'm far from computer illiterate, but my programming expertise is mostly confined to fortran, matlab, latex, and office.

In addition to holding down a full-time engineering job, I'm engaged heavily right now in my crackpot physics project, and over the last year or so it has been all the more consuming in that I've been involved in a couple of different detailed discussions with physicists about it. This is like being back in graduate school, where I get questions that require analysis to answer, and then as soon as I answer them I get more questions and so on. Sometimes the questions have been coming from Russia, which means I work late answering and send an answer off before I go to bed, only to have a reply needing another answer arrived the next morning. I don't mean to complain, as this is the most rewarding experience of my life, but it is making me feel harried a lot of the time and uncomfortable taking on new commitments.

Anyhow anyone uninterested in this story but interested in Caesar's Messiah and what I thought about the Flavian Signature can skip to the next post. I'll leave the rest of this one to tell my little physics story, and then I'll make another one about Caesar's Messiah.

I'm going to tell some of this story, because it's been discussed already on this thread, (and I've been ridiculed for it) and it's probably difficult or impossible for people (even physics majors) to know if I'm completely crazy, but now I'm in a position to provide some objective evidence that I'm not completely crazy after all. Also one of the themes in this thread (and pretty much every thread about Caesar's Messiah) is about whether somebody who is not a certified expert in a complicated and esoteric field can hope to make useful a contribution to it. I think sometimes an outsider can bring a fresh perspective and notice things that the experts have either overlooked or somehow trained themselves to miss. I think Atwill and I have both done this, but I am more fortunate at the moment to be dealing with physicists, who if you present with a good argument, will eventually examine it on its merits. This is what has happened for me with respect to my claim that special relativity is inconsistent with the principle of the conservation of angular momentum. A distinguished physicist has now examined my claim about angular momentum nonconservation and found that I am correct. Based on discussions with me, he looked at the problem independently, and using more sophisticated methods than I can field, and was quite surprised to find that he also could not obtain angular momentum conservation in the spin-orbit coupling problem. Then he asked various other physicists with appropriate expertise if they were aware of the problem and knew the explanation, but they didn't know of the problem or have an explanation.

I should explain, what I have been doing is re-examining the classical analysis of spin-orbit coupling, which is regarded as fully explained and fully explainable only with relativistic quantum theory, specifically via the Dirac theory of the electron. But, the semiclassical analysis is still used as a teaching aid, and has been thought to support the quantum mechanics analysis so far as it goes, so the fact that it seemed to be completely contradicting it was disconcerting. Also, angular momentum conservation is a very basic physics principle, and has strong support through symmetry considerations (there is a theorem by Emmy Noether that proves every symmetry leads to a conservation principle and vice versa), so it is simply not supposed to happen that angular momentum not be conserved.

So anyhow, this physicist (who I am not naming explicitly here because he probably doesn't need his name appearing on a Caesar's Messiah thread, but will be provided through a link below) then carried the analysis further than I've been able to, by explaining how quantum theory can get angular momentum conservation while classical electrodynamics does not. I think this is a very profound result that will ultimately at least change the way physics is taught. I think it will go further, but perhaps that's just me being crazy.

Here is a preprint of the paper that supports me:
http://arxiv.org/abs/1103.4092 . Look at the acknowledgement and conclusion sections, as well as the references, to see that I'm not making this up. The paper is now in peer review at European Journal of Physics, which is a mainstream pedagogical journal. That means, when it's published there, it will be teachable. The author of that paper has over 60 published papers, in maiinstream research and pedagogic journals, and as recently as this March in EJP.

The moral I want to make out of this story is that sometimes an outsider and amateur can come along and take a fresh look at something and see something that's being overlooked. In this case, the analysis that's still taught is 80 years old, by L. H. Thomas, but to some extent has been overcome by some recent new understandings in electrodynamics. It turns out that in the 1960s it was recognized that there was a missing momentum quantity that had to be accounted for in order to make electodynamics conserve linear momentum. (This is sometimes now called the "hidden" momentum.) The third edition (from 1998) of the standard graduate electrodynamics text, by Jackson, includes the hidden momentum, while the previous do not. The problem this raises, unrecognized apparently until I spotted it, is that introducing this extra term recovers linear momentum conservation, but breaks angular momentum conservation. So, L. H. Thomas's analysis that found angular momentum conservation was not incorrect for its time in this respect, but overlooks that linear momentum was not conserved in its approach.

Another general principle I would like to draw from this story, applicable to the Caesar's Messiah issue, is that the professionals, be they physicists or bible scholars, have some very sophisticated analysis methods to bring to bear. But they have to be brought to bear to have effect, and also they may sometimes be somewhat obscurative of an underlying simple truth. I got my result from simplistic Newtonian mechanics (modified as necessary to incorporate the relevant relativistic effect of the Thomas precession) and simple visual reasoning that if something is acknowledged to reduce a rate of precession, that the total angular momentum cannot be unaffected by this. Angular momentum could be conserved with or without Thomas precession, but not conserved in both cases. It's a curiosity how such a simple thing could be missed for so long, and why a humble engineer had to be the one to point it out. The situation is similar with Caesar's Messiah, I think, except, I have much less confidence in the objectivity of the biblical scholarship community than I do of physicists.
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
-- James Madison
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Postby DaveL » Wed Apr 27, 2011 10:29 pm

Now then, back to Caesar's Messiah, I finished the new Flavian Signature chapter, and I really enjoyed it a lot, and then I continued on rereading the next chapter (Eleazar - Lazarus: The Real Christ) and enjoyed that too!

I probably haven't been stressing enough that Caesar's Messiah is a fascinating and entertaining book, seems to me to anyone steeped in a Christian upbringing. Pretty much every single page has amazing insights about what are the real meanings of the most oft-repeated and taught parts of the NT. The new Flavian Signature chapter is indeed even more concentrated and straightforward than the original in this respect, but the original edition is still amazing in its own right. Seems to me one can jump into the middle almost randomly and be amazed within a page or two.

I haven't posted the link in a while have I? So here is the free edition, just go download it and browse it for the shear enjoyment, and before they call copyright and take it down: http://www.esnips.com/doc/b67761f4-ecd2 ... vent-Jesus


Now about the Flavian Signature chapter. It does seem very hard to argue with to me. But then I already thought that about the rest. At least, here he makes it very clear and straightforward, there are 34 enumerated and specific parallels between g Luke and WOTJ, and these are involving many oft-told gospel episodes, including the Good Samaritan, Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, assaulting of the moneylenders, and more. Some of the parallels are fairly bare-bones and simple, but mostly they are multiple-layered with a fair amount of supporting nuances that greatly enrich and support that they can't be accidental. And the order is preserved between the two sources of course, with less gaps in between the parallels here.

It turns out (surprise!) the true identity of the Good Samaritan is none other than Caesar Titus. It seems, one of the Roman legions was ambushed by Jewish rebels and in the attack lost much of their essential supplies and was faced with dire conditions. Titus then comes along and spares some supplies for the hard-pressed troops. What a sport.

Then, there's Jesus knocking on the gates of Jerusalem. Well, Titus also knocks on the same gates, but he does it with artillery stones. (There is much of this part already examined in more detail in the first edition, and how the Jerusalem sentries warn "The Son Cometh" (according to the 1915 Dent translation of WOTJ) when they spot an artillery stone, but that Whiston remarks that this must be typo and translates it to "stone" instead, in spite of there being no similarity between these two words in the Koine Greek.) I can't do it justice so here is an excerpt from the first edition:

In the 1915 Dent translation, this passage reads differently.
"THE STONE COMETH" was translated as "THE SON COMETH."
To determine the basis for this discrepancy I looked at the passage
in the oldest Greek versions of War of the Jews. They all show the
phrase as "ho huios erchetai" "huios" being the Greek word for
"son." Modern translators have arbitrarily substituted the word they
believed Josephus intended to use here (stone), refusing to translate
the actual Greek word that appears in the oldest extant manuscripts.
This is interesting because the word petros, which scholars have chosen
to translate "stone," is in no way linguistically similar to the
word huios "son," which is actually found in the passage.

Whiston was aware that the original word in the phrase is
"huios." In his translation of Josephus he left the footnote below, in
which he attempts to explain how it came to pass that all the ancient
works he used for his translation had used the Greek word huios for
son. His explanation is fascinating in that it is an example of the
kind of cognitive dissonance that he and other scholars have used to
avoid seeing what is right in front of them. He admits that the only
language in which "stone" and "son" might have been mistaken for
one another, Hebrew, is not the language in which Josephus wrote
War of the Jews. He also argues that alternative translations—arrow
or dart—are "groundless conjectural alteration." Therefore, he really
has no alternative than to accept the word as it is written—that is,
"SON." However, he does not wish to do this either, leaving him
with no explanation.
What should be the meaning of this signal or watchword,
when the watchmen saw a stone coming from the engine,
"The Stone Cometh," or what mistake there is in the reading,
I cannot tell. The MSS., both Greek and Latin, all agree
in this reading; and I cannot approve of any groundless conjectural
alteration of the text from "ro" to "lop," that not the
son or a stone, but that the arrow or dart cometh; as hath
been made by Dr. Hudson, and not corrected by Havercamp.
Had Josephus written even his first edition of these books
of the war in pure Hebrew, or had the Jews then used the
pure Hebrew at Jerusalem, the Hebrew word for a son is so
like that for a stone, ben and eben, that such a correction
might have been more easily admitted. But Josephus wrote
his former edition for the use of the Jews beyond Euphrates,
and so in the Chaldee language, as he did this second edition
in the Greek language; and bar was the Chaldee word
for son, instead of the Hebrew ben, and was used not only
in Chaldea, etc. but in Judea also, as the New Testament
informs us. Dio lets us know that the very Romans at Rome
pronounced the name of Simon the son of Giora, Bar Poras
for Bar Gioras, as we learn from Xiphiline. Reland takes
notice, "that many will here look for a mystery, as though
the meaning were, that the Son of God came now to take
vengeance on the sins of the Jewish nation;" which is
indeed the truth of the fact, but hardly what the Jews could
now mean; unless possibly by way of derision of Christ's
threatening so often made, that he would come at the head
of the Roman army for their destruction. But even this
interpretation has but a very small degree of probability.138


Whiston mentions the seventeenth century scholar and theologian
Reland's interpretation of the phrase. It is a most straightforward
understanding and based, of course, on the word "SON" being
the word Josephus wrote. Reland understood that the phrase relates
to the coming of the Son of God described in the New Testament.
Further, Whiston's next comment—"which is indeed the truth of the
fact, but hardly what the Jews could now mean; unless possibly by
way of derision of Christ's threatening so often made, that he would
come at the head of the Roman army for their destruction"—is so in
accord with my thinking as to need almost no clarification. Whiston
is specifically taking the position that I am arguing, that Christ's
prophecies relate to the coming war between the Romans and the
Jews, and that the "Son of God" would lead the Roman army. It is a
small step then to the position that all of Jesus' warnings regarding
the coming of the Son of God, who will bring destruction with him,
202 CAESAR'S MESSIAH
are predicting the Son of God who actually was at the head of the
Roman army, Titus.
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
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Postby Matt VDB » Wed Jun 15, 2011 2:10 pm

Sigh.
It's sad to see so many self-declared skeptics falling for such a silly, silly, unscholarly book.
This is hardly the first book to come out on this subject: other amateurs (Atwill was a math teacher if I remember correctly) have brought out books comparing Jesus to Caesar, Augustus, Vespasian, Horus, Mithras, Krishna, and any number of other ancient figures.

The reason is not because the parallels are compelling, but simply because, if you try hard enough, you can find parallels between pretty darn near everything.

DaveL wrote:I probably haven't been stressing enough that Caesar's Messiah is a fascinating and entertaining book, seems to me to anyone steeped in a Christian upbringing. Pretty much every single page has amazing insights about what are the real meanings of the most oft-repeated and taught parts of the NT. The new Flavian Signature chapter is indeed even more concentrated and straightforward than the original in this respect, but the original edition is still amazing in its own right. Seems to me one can jump into the middle almost randomly and be amazed within a page or two.

What's funny is how these 'amazing insights' seem to not get any traction whatsoever among the scholarly community (which is composed of Jews, Christians, deists, atheists, agnostics,...). Strangely, most of these are of the opinion that Jesus was simply an apocalyptic preacher, and they have zero interest in this math teachers' book.

Could that be because his arguments are, in fact, crap?
Sorry for the comparison, but you sound like a creationist reading Ken Ham's latest book and talking about all the 'amazing insights' you're getting that have somehow eluded the experts for centuries.
It turns out (surprise!) the true identity of the Good Samaritan is none other than Caesar Titus. It seems, one of the Roman legions was ambushed by Jewish rebels and in the attack lost much of their essential supplies and was faced with dire conditions. Titus then comes along and spares some supplies for the hard-pressed troops. What a sport.

Erm, yes. Talk about seeing analogies where you want to see them.
First of all, a legion getting ambushed and rescued by other legions happened in just about every single war the Romans ever had to fight, so how we can get from the parable of the Samaritan to Titus specifically is a mystery.
Second, there's no clear analogy here other than the fact that it's one person helping another person. The rest of the story (the inn, leaving the wounded man at the inn and telling the ward to take care of him) does not have any analogy whatsoever with Titus coming to save his legion.

Scholars laugh at this kind of simplistic reasoning.
Then, there's Jesus knocking on the gates of Jerusalem. Well, Titus also knocks on the same gates, but he does it with artillery stones.

Ermmmm, yeah. Another shallow analogy which is only impressive until you start thinking about it.

Never mind that there is no story of Jesus knocking on the gates of Jerusalem in gLuke.
(There is much of this part already examined in more detail in the first edition, and how the Jerusalem sentries warn "The Son Cometh" (according to the 1915 Dent translation of WOTJ) when they spot an artillery stone, but that Whiston remarks that this must be typo and translates it to "stone" instead, in spite of there being no similarity between these two words in the Koine Greek.) I can't do it justice so here is an excerpt from the first edition:

And here's another instance where Atwill pretends like his interpretation is somehow perfectly logical considering the alternatives.
This is ridiculous: the fact that the siege of Jerusalem by the Roman legions is described perfectly in Luke 19:41-43 makes perfect sense by the traditional interpretation: the Gospel of Luke (and all the other gospels) are written after 70 CE, in other words, after this siege has already taken place.
So it makes perfect sense that the early apocalypticist Christian movement saw this siege and the destruction of Jerusalem as a sign that the Apocalyps was going to come soon, and so they include it as a "prediction" by Jesus in the gospel.

Atwill's explanation is in no way better or more parsimonious here. The traditional interpretation works perfectly.
And hell, these are some of Atwill's strongest arguments. Once you get to some of the other analogies (like him comparing Jesus picking some fishermen as apostles to the Roman legions landing in Palestine, because the invaders were "fishing" for men with their spears... ermmmm, yeah sure Atwill) it becomes patently clear how little Atwill really has to offer and how hard he has to try to get even the faintest analogy.

And this is ignoring the fact that the idea that the gospels were written by followers of Titus makes no sense from the standpoint of textual criticism (this isn't the way the texts are made). And ignoring the fact that he needs massive amounts of assumptions to even get his thesis off the ground (a massive conspiracy of which all evidence was erased, etcetera).

Academic scholars laugh at this stuff. The amount of assumptions and supposition Atwill makes is staggering, and when you compare to the Apocalyptic Jesus of Ehrman, Vermes, Frederiksen and Allison, it's clear that the latter simply offers a far more parsimonious case.

I'd urge you to read those scholars first, and then go back to Atwill and see how shallow his stuff really is.
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Postby DaveL » Wed Jun 15, 2011 7:27 pm

Matt VDB wrote:The reason is not because the parallels are compelling, but simply because, if you try hard enough, you can find parallels between pretty darn near everything.


These parallels preserve order and location and have a remarkable richness, often. The fact that they often have a cruel sarcastic humour to them, and a sanctimonious Roman morality message, makes them all the more compelling, to me.

You are not going to find quality parallels that preserve the order and location of the gospels, to any significant degree, in any other reasonable candidate work than Josephus' War of the Jews. Can you suggest another and provide some examples?

I'll respond more fully later. Jesus doesn't knock directly on the gates, it's true. But there is knocking going on. I will have to get to my computer that has the new edition on it to provide the passage reference. The parallels are usually not that obvious. They get across in other ways: in the supporting details, in the clever but vicious humor, in the ordering and location.

For me it becomes clear when you see the big picture of what the Flavians were trying to do, and how they made it plain for posterity. Nobody has seen this prior to Atwill. Other people have recognized that Jesus is constructed from available mythologies, certainly, and the comparisons to Julius Caesar by Carotta are not necessarily inconsistent with Atwill. Other people have recognized that the gospels are rather pro-Roman and that Titus and Vespasian are the people who actually did fulfill the Son of Man prophecy. This just all goes to show that there is a pretty strong circumstantial case that the Flavians invented Christianity, and known prior to Atwill. Atwill however is the first to recognize that the gospels are a retelling of Titus' campaign. This will ultimately be devastating to Christianity. I would rather this be sooner than later.
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
-- James Madison
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Postby DaveL » Thu Jun 16, 2011 4:52 am

Now I can give the passage in GLuke that Atwill says is the parallel to the arrival of Titus and his three legions at Jerusalem. It is 11:5-2. Unfortunately the electronic edition is rigged so it can't be copied and pasted from, but it is the one where Jesus talks about a man who needs three loaves (in parallel to Titus having three legions to feed) and pounds on his friend's door in the middle of the night to ask for them. (Josephus also relates how the third legion arrives in the middle of the night.) Jesus says "he who asks shall receive, knock and it shall be opened for you". Also, the final passage says if he asks for an egg, he shall not be given a scorpion, shall he? Atwill says "scorpion" was the nickname of the artillery piece the ballista. So this is really a joke, because that is exactly what the Jewish rebels are going to get.

This may not be all that compelling or convincing in isolation, but it is only one of 34 ordered parallels between GLuke and Josephus. Also I am stilll only synopsizing it.

I was stating it loosely when I said they were both (Titus and Jesus) knocking at the gates. There is a series of parallels between Jesus' entry to Jerusalem and that of Titus, however, that is fairly elaborate. More importantly, Jesus does not directly represent Titus, but rather foresees him. Hence the man who knocks is not Jesus himself but some unidentified person, who represents Titus.
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
-- James Madison
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Postby DaveL » Sat Jun 18, 2011 4:06 am

Matt VDB wrote:Erm, yes. Talk about seeing analogies where you want to see them.
First of all, a legion getting ambushed and rescued by other legions happened in just about every single war the Romans ever had to fight, so how we can get from the parable of the Samaritan to Titus specifically is a mystery.
Second, there's no clear analogy here other than the fact that it's one person helping another person. The rest of the story (the inn, leaving the wounded man at the inn and telling the ward to take care of him) does not have any analogy whatsoever with Titus coming to save his legion.

Scholars laugh at this kind of simplistic reasoning.



The reasons to think that the Good Samaritan referred to by Jesus is Titus are (according to Atwill):
1) The Twelfth Legion is ambushed on the same road (from Jerusalem to Jericho)
2) Josephus and "Luke" both use the same Greek word for robber in describing the assailants
3) Titus had just come from Samaria
4) Titus and the Good Samaritan of gLuke both spend one night in lodging taking care of the victim before moving on

So, there is not so much as to make it overwhelmingly obvious, but it's not simply a comparison of reprovisoning with a kind act. How many other ambushes of Roman legions happened on the same road referred to in Luke, and were reprovisioned by someone who had just come from Samaria? Probably not too many.

This could be taken as merely coincidental if it were isolated and the only similarity between gLuke and Josephus, but it is but one of 34 identified parallels, that are in the same order in gLuke and Josephus.
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
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Postby DaveL » Sat Jun 18, 2011 6:05 am

Matt VDB wrote:And here's another instance where Atwill pretends like his interpretation is somehow perfectly logical considering the alternatives. This is ridiculous: the fact that the siege of Jerusalem by the Roman legions is described perfectly in Luke 19:41-43 makes perfect sense by the traditional interpretation: the Gospel of Luke (and all the other gospels) are written after 70 CE, in other words, after this siege has already taken place.
So it makes perfect sense that the early apocalypticist Christian movement saw this siege and the destruction of Jerusalem as a sign that the Apocalyps was going to come soon, and so they include it as a "prediction" by Jesus in the gospel.


Atwill is arguing there that taking the words as written makes sense, and that the passage has been interpolated to make it conform to a conception that Josephus is writing a staight history. Atwill, here and elsewhere, takes the words as written and makes sense of them. There are really no contradictions in his interpretation of the gospels.

I wouldn't go so far as to say it makes "perfect sense" that the writers of the gospels based the Son of Man prophecy on Titus' seige, and yet meant it to represent some later apocalypse. Far from it actually. If the authors didn't want to refer to Titus' seige, they could have made something else up. It seems rather to me that they went to considerable lengths to make it clear that they were referring to Titus, by describing the manner (encirclement, which I will grant was not uncommon) and the timing (when some present would still be living, and then the actuality is a biblically-significant 40 years, to the day according to Atwill), and equally importantly, the place. Jesus stands in the temple complex and says all the buildings are going to be taken doiwn, and the temple so that no stone is on another. There is only one person who did that, it's Titus, and it's still that way today. There were more Jewish rebellions against Rome, but only Titus took down that temple, because it never got rebuilt.

If you were to argue that they were referring to Titus, and that they meant it to show Jesus' prophesying prowess, then you would of course be in agreement with the preterists. According to Atwill this line of thinking was very common in bygone times. But the vulnerabilty of these lines of reasoning is that if Jesus is referring to Titus' coming, not his own, then one will eventually have to suspect the meaning of the gospels is not the surface one.

Matt VDB wrote:Atwill's explanation is in no way better or more parsimonious here. The traditional interpretation works perfectly.


Well I think it is both better and more parsimonius, but even were I to grant that it is as you claim, then we would still have two valid explanations and there is no precedence that should be given just to one that is presently in more common sway. Let them both be evaluated on their merits. Atwill's interpretation has a unifying power that is breathtaking, however, seems to me. It doesn't have the problem of many contradictions that plagues the conventional interpretation.
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
-- James Madison
DaveL
 
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Postby DaveL » Sat Jun 18, 2011 6:32 pm

Matt VDB wrote: And hell, these are some of Atwill's strongest arguments. Once you get to some of the other analogies (like him comparing Jesus picking some fishermen as apostles to the Roman legions landing in Palestine, because the invaders were "fishing" for men with their spears... ermmmm, yeah sure Atwill) it becomes patently clear how little Atwill really has to offer and how hard he has to try to get even the faintest analogy.


That is not my favorite parallel, but it's not really all that weak, seems to me, when you consider just how hokey and contrived the idea of somebody teaching fisherman to be "fishers of men" is. It's just calling out for an alternate interpretation. The argument is that these incidents took place at the same location, and are at the start of both Jesus' ministry in the Galilee and Titus' campaign there.

It helps if you see it as a game or riddle, to find the hidden meaning behind these kind of sappy gospel stories. Would you really argue that you could do this with some other work of literature besides War of the Jews? I'd be interested in what could be done with any work from any period. It would be of interest to identify what other isolated passages could be related to gospel episodes, and the quality of the relation (which can be ranked objectively by counting common elements) and then how many from a single work. Then is the order preserved. And how many of the other parallel works are set exactly one biblical generation after the events of the gospels? It seems obvious to me that no other work is going to come close to working, other than WOTJ.


Matt VDB wrote: And this is ignoring the fact that the idea that the gospels were written by followers of Titus makes no sense from the standpoint of textual criticism (this isn't the way the texts are made).


Are you referring to something like the "Q" hypothesis? As if it's an established fact? The CM thesis disagrees with "Q," of course. It completely removes the need for it, and explains the gospel differences as deliberate and understandable, rather than inadvertent and haphazard.

The real question here is not whether these parallels are deliberate or accidental, it's whether they exist at all. The choreography of the empty tomb story cannot be accidental, it can only be real or a mistake. Multiple authors can't create a choreography working independently. It is either real, or Atwill has cooked his books. I would think that if he had, somebody like Price would take him apart. As I have mentioned upthread, the mere existence of time cues in the different versions is incongruous, as it is unneeded for an independent narrative but when present sets up the potential for contradiction with other purported reports of the events.


Matt VDB wrote:And ignoring the fact that he needs massive amounts of assumptions to even get his thesis off the ground (a massive conspiracy of which all evidence was erased, etcetera).


I'm not seeing this at all. All it takes is either Titus thinking this up himself, or one of his intellectuals proposing it and selling him on it. After that, they have a whole bureacracy, the Caesarian Cult, dedicated to creating and promoting religions. Atwill argues, the known early Christian churches all coincide with known offices of the Caesarian cults (such as in the Decapolis, for example, where the Demoniac of Gadara is said to have gone to proclaim Jesus' miracles after being freed from his demons. Or is this John the rebel leader taken prisoner and forced to write a gospel for his life?)

What did they need with secrecy? They could indoctrinate slaves, and burn competing literature. Lots of Jews doubtlessly knew what was going on, but that was just too bad for them. The Arch of Titus of course depicts the looting of the temple and the undoubtable confiscation of all the literature held there. Suppressing competing literature was within the Flavian Caesars' power, but not within the power of an early Christianity arising innocently.

It is only fair to compare this scenario for a Christianity origin through the powerful Caesarian cult (which I don't think anybody denies is essentially the forerunner of the RCC, the only issue here is when the Caesarian cult got in the game) with the idea that it somehow grew up indigenously and innocently, either from a historical Jesus or not. I'll take the deliberate creation hypothesis as the more parsimonius. Certainly we do know that religions can be created cynically and from whole (or almost whole) cloth. Witness Mormonism or Scientology.


Matt VDB wrote:Academic scholars laugh at this stuff. The amount of assumptions and supposition Atwill makes is staggering, and when you compare to the Apocalyptic Jesus of Ehrman, Vermes, Frederiksen and Allison, it's clear that the latter simply offers a far more parsimonious case.

I'd urge you to read those scholars first, and then go back to Atwill and see how shallow his stuff really is.


They should spend their time dismantling it rather than laughing, if they can. They should know, it's not going away unless refuted. I have not seen anyone try very hard, so far. Certainly Price didn't lift a finger. If you know of somewhere there's a real refutation going on, please let me know.
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
-- James Madison
DaveL
 
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Postby DaveL » Wed Jun 29, 2011 6:25 am

Atwill torments the poor Catholics here:

http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=571372

Is AskSeekKnock24 for real, do you think?
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
-- James Madison
DaveL
 
Posts: 95
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2007 7:35 pm

Atwill on Christian radio now

Postby DaveL » Sun Dec 18, 2011 3:15 am

Atwill is being interviewed right now by a Christian theologian on a two-hour program with call-ins:

http://freedomslips.com/

Here's what he says about it:

http://caesarsmessiah.com/blog/
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
-- James Madison
DaveL
 
Posts: 95
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2007 7:35 pm

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