Caesar's Messiah by Joseph Atwill

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Postby DaveL » Fri Nov 21, 2008 1:58 am

dromedaryhump1 wrote:That you are admittedly both humourless, and obsessed ...


That is certainly not true.

I have not admitted to being either humorless or obsessed. I'm not either in any case.

Anyone who knows me personally knows I'm full of humor. Also, I've given talks to large audiences and made them laugh at some funny bits. It's a very enjoyable feeling to do this. Anybody who's done it knows what I'm talking about.

About being obsessed, call it what you like but I cerrtainly don't admit to it. Are we all here "obsessed" with atheism? Or are we just commited to making the world a better place?

What I think is that we as atheists are missing an opportunity by panning this idea of Atwill's. In the best case, dismissing it without fair consideration or merely leaving it to the so-called experts will be seen eventually as a cause of delay in making the world more sane, if it is eventually accepted. In the worst case civilization will fall on account of the irrationality of religion, and the failure of rational people to use all the available tools to combat it, where it might not have otherwise. Laugh if you like but this is what I believe.

Well I might get involved with chatting more but I'm very busy and most of my spare time goes into my physics project, which I hope will make me world famous in my lifetime, as one of the main discoverers of the cause of quantum behavior. Making scientific discoveries is rewarding in itself though and once you've felt the thrill all else pales in comparison. This year they gave the Nobel in physics to Nambu and another Japanese whose name escapes at the moment. Anyhow they asked that second guy how he felt about getting the big prize and he said, more or less, ho hum, it's nothing compared to actually making the discovery.

I would be happy to get the prize, though, although I don't expect I will even in the best case where I successfully finish my project, because I would like to have the influence that goes with it, and also it would translate into being able to do what I want to do all the time, rather than just part of the time. Short of the Nobel widespread acknowledgement should be adequate. I need just a little more progress though to convince physicists that what I believe is true.

I tell you this so you can ridicule me and my ideas rather than Atwill and his idea. It will bother me a lot less. Be advised though, the physicists are not ridiculing me. They are not generally agreeing with me yet, as a group, but they are letting me have my say and often saying kind words. But, my stuff is apparently too radical for any journal editors so far to get behind. Unless it's completely clear-cut and unassailable, which it certainly is not yet, I can see how publishing it is not good for the average journal editor (who may not even have tenure). Nobody has said it is wrong, though, and one editor has said outright that there is nothing incorrect in it.

For an amateur to get reviewed even by major journals is an achievement in itself, seems to me. Perhaps within a year though I will have a working quasi-classical model of positronium that reproduces the (spectrum) observations and so agrees with quantum theory, but does not require a quantum principle as an a priori assumption. Rather, quantum behavior will be seen to be a consequence of the intrinsic spin of elementary particles. I have already derived the Bohr model from this approach but the problem is that it is off by one step in the angular momentum quantum sequence. The Bohr model ground state has L=1 but clearly quantum theory is correct that the ground state L is zero. The Sommerfeld model however has been shown recently (by Bucher) to give the right answer, when properly interpreted. Where there is only one quantum rule in the Bohr model there are three in the Sommerfeld model. I will publish this winter, on at least the Cornell archive (arxive.org) where I have posting priveledges (which are not automatically available even to physics professors), a quasi-classical derivation of at least one of the three Sommerfeld quantum rules. I finished the derivation a few weeks ago. The one I have is that angular momentum always comes in multiples of h-bar. I have part of another, the space quantization one, that says only certain orientations of the orbit are allowed, already published on the Cornell archive. The third one is more abstract, the quantization of the radial action, which replaces the assumption of circularity of the Bohr model.

In the Bohr model there is an angular momentum quantization rule, same as the Sommerfeld model (which followed it) but in order to get quantization of the energy levels (and resulting discrete spectra) it takes a second constraint. This is because the energy of classical orbits, which in general for bound systems are ellipitical, depends only on the semimajor axis. So for a given amount of angular momentum there are many different possible orbital energies depending on both the semimajor axis and the eccentricity. The eccentricity needs to be constrained somehow and Bohr simply assumed circularity (e=0) because it worked. Sommerfeld removes this assumption and replaces it with formal quantization of the radial action. This allows many more possibilities and can be shown (only recently has it been done - look up Manfred Bucher on arxiv.org) to be in compete agreement with modern quantum theory. For Sommerfeld this is a postulate without any basis, other than to yield a target result, but my objective is to obtain it from the complex dynamics of classical electrodynamics with an ad hoc introduction of intrinsic spin. That is a simple statement of my project in its current form: to obtain all three Sommerfeld quantum rules from classical electrodynamics plus intrinisc spin involving Plank's constant. This is how the quantum behavior arises. (Actually I am not even the first to say this. David Hestenes said it unbeknownst to me until recently, in about 1975. He did not show how the spin can lead to quantization though. I have provided an explicit mechanism through an obscure relativistic effect known as Thomas precession.)

Well I guess I did that for fun, just to see what you all will make of it (or anyone who reads it anyhow which will certainly not be all.) But I wouldn't be doing it here and now but for that somebody (not me) posted that complete file of Caesar's Messiah for free on Scribd.com. I was planning to do it later, maybe next year after other things are done as I mention above. And it's not fun, as there are always so far in my experience some people who want to ridicule without fair consideration or offering substantive criticism. Substantive criticism does occur and that is not so bad. But people like you Hump and Richard Carrier I'm sorry to have to say I do find tiresome. If you don't think it's worth your time to look into because you think it's unlikely to be true, that's your perogative and I would respect that and would not fault you for saying so. But I don't think it's righteous to go on to make sweeping claims that it's crazy just because it doesn't meet your minimum standards for consideration.
Saying you think it is probably crazy is one thing but pronouncing it definitely crazy without a real justification and comparing it to every probably-crazy theory you can think of is another. Actually I would like to like you because I see a lot of good in what you are trying to do with your blog which I have looked at but this kind of behavior I don't find endearing, sorry to have to say.

Anyhow to wrap up, I urge again anybody who is the least bit interested in Caesar's Messiah should go up there before they get wise and take it down, and download it. If you just view it on site it sucks in their viewer and it will probably disappear before you finish. If you register you can download it in about 10 seconds because it's only a couple of megabytes as a PDF, and then it's very nice looking. It was certainly made from the same source code as the actual book. It's not a scan but the real thing. Download it and read it at your leisure or as you see fit.

One more thing I want to mention, I learned a new word last night reading something a Christian wrote on the Atheist Network DB: preterism. This Christian person was agreeing with the atheists that the Second Coming isn't going to happen, but for the reason that she believed it already has happened. She said there are a lot of people who believe this and that is what it's called. Here's the wikipedia page:

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

This is in line with what Atwill says but I hadn't seen it corroborated so neatly. Atwill says that 1000 years or so ago Josephus' Jewish War was often incorporated in the bible to illustrate how Jesus' prophesies had already come true. Nowadays of course it is mostly forgotten except maybe by bible scholars I guess. At least, I think, if people had prior exposure to the idea of preterism they would be much less likely to fall hook-line-and-sinker for the idea of a future Second Coming. Atwill's contention of course is that this is not some late addition to the story but a critical central element. I found it staggering almost, to learn that this kind of stuff was in the NT, given the degree to which modern Christianity goes out of its way to ignore it and offer up instead the Second Coming. You would think they'd be still bragging about how prescient their savior is. I think, the fact that they don't means somebody got paranoid that it was too easy to read the true story into that picture.

Sorry about the long post.
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
-- James Madison
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Postby dromedaryhump1 » Fri Nov 21, 2008 3:26 am

yikes.
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Postby Thousand » Sun Nov 23, 2008 3:42 am

donnyton wrote:Here's the problem: probabilities don't work in retrospect.

You can calculate probabilities of past events if you like--it's perfectly valid. But those probabilities only give you the likelihood of the events happening at a certain time. The ACTUAL probability of events that have already happened is 1, because those events have already happened.

If the weatherman said during the sunday news report it was a 50% chance of rain on monday, and it rained on monday, what's the likelihood that it rained on monday? (hint: it's not 50%)

Probability is relative to what information you base your probability on. There's a 100% chance it rained if you take into account the fact that it did rain. Suppose you don't know that it rained on Monday because you were inside most of the day. Then the probability based on the available information wouldn't be 100%. This has nothing to do with retrospect. It has to do with available information.

DavidL

I haven't read through absolutely everything, but let me say the less that is written the more effective each word is.

It's true people here aren't being completely fair to Atwill's idea. But time is limited and it's reasonable to spend it looking at ideas that are the most promising. I haven't given a fair consideration to flat earth or reptile conspiracy ideas, but given how unlikely they are to pan out, even though it would be very significant if they were true, it's probably not worth my time. Now if someone hit me with a concise and promising piece of evidence for either of those ideas, I would probably deem it worth my time to look further. Atwill's idea initially seems quite dubious, so I would similarly want concise and promising evidence to get me to look further.

About the gospels being rather roman friendly, I definitely had noticed that. I always figured it was because the gospels writers were scared of the romans. The romans were powerful and brutal, and weren't as progressive about human rights as 21 century americans.

As for parallels between the gospels and works of Josephus, I haven't looked into these, but even if the parallels are there, wouldn't the most simple explanation be the story from one group influenced the other, like how the noah's ark story was heavily influenced by earlier pagan versions? The key here is the most simple explanation. If you have enough imagination you could come up with any number of ways to explain all the data, for anything. The most simple explanation is the one that's most likely to be correct. Is there any data where the most simple explanation is the romans creating christiansity?
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Postby DaveL » Sun Nov 23, 2008 7:37 pm

Thousand wrote:
It's true people here aren't being completely fair to Atwill's idea. But time is limited and it's reasonable to spend it looking at ideas that are the most promising. I haven't given a fair consideration to flat earth or reptile conspiracy ideas, but given how unlikely they are to pan out, even though it would be very significant if they were true, it's probably not worth my time. Now if someone hit me with a concise and promising piece of evidence for either of those ideas, I would probably deem it worth my time to look further. Atwill's idea initially seems quite dubious, so I would similarly want concise and promising evidence to get me to look further.




Thanks Thousand I appreciate you thoughts. I have already said, I fault no one for not diving into it, only those who would make sweeping claims without having read it and/or make false or unsupported comparisons to obviously crazy stuff.


It's obvious even to me I'm not the best person to give a concise reason you should look into it. The Turton review that's posted above was enough to get me to buy the book.


Thousand wrote:
About the gospels being rather roman friendly, I definitely had noticed that. I always figured it was because the gospels writers were scared of the romans. The romans were powerful and brutal, and weren't as progressive about human rights as 21 century americans.




Well maybe but seems to me they're really really friendly to Roman authority. Then beyond the gospels there's Romans saying your current ruler is your god, as I think Matt was saying (in an unrelated context) on the show last week.

I got a laugh watching Gibson's Passion and seeing how pro-Roman (and anti-Jewish) it is. Not that I like Mel (I like to say, I prefer Mel Brooks to Mel Gibson, and History of the World to The Passion) but I think he is just conveying the intent of the gospels accurately. People don't seem to appreciate how anti-Jewish the story is inherently. I remember Hitchens wrote a column after the Passion came out saying it was only tiny bits of the gospels that are anti-Jewish and shame on Mel for emphasizing them. i think though that there is more anti-Jewishness than Hitchens recognizes, and that what there is is critically central to the story.




Thousand wrote:
As for parallels between the gospels and works of Josephus, I haven't looked into these, but even if the parallels are there, wouldn't the most simple explanation be the story from one group influenced the other, like how the noah's ark story was heavily influenced by earlier pagan versions? The key here is the most simple explanation. If you have enough imagination you could come up with any number of ways to explain all the data, for anything. The most simple explanation is the one that's most likely to be correct. Is there any data where the most simple explanation is the romans creating christiansity?



I agree the simplest explanation is most likely to be true, with the provision I hope you mean to include that the explanation must also be maximally consistent with the data.

I think the Roman creation of christianity is at least plausibly the simplest explanation, even without Atwill's parallels. That is, it seems the simplest to me, and various people (Bruno Bauer, others up to Acharya) have made this claim over the years even without seeing what Atwill sees between Josephus and the gospels. That preterism topic on wikipedia even is indicative. In the article there is another term I hadn't heard, replacement theology, that is exactly what Atwill is proposing was being done deliberately by Rome. The catholic church does go way way back, well before Constantine and almost to Domitian, doesn't it? I mean, isn't this standard history? What's the simpler explanation for why this Jewish-offshoot religion springs up so successfully in Rome than that the Roman imperial cult apparatus was pushing it. Unless Atwill is lying, the cults of the caesars had a structure essentially identical to the catholic church.

This is something for donnyton. I found this review of the Terrence Witt book. I won't be spending the money on that one, rest assured.

http://web.mit.edu/~bmonreal/www/Null_P ... eview.html

One more thing: I've been promising to provide my response to the Price review that I wrote a couple of years ago. It was on the IG DB but he had a crash or something and all the stuff I had there is gone now, but somebody reposted it on this apologetics site:

http://www.apologetics.com/forums/ubbth ... 962&page=4

It's the fifth post down the page.

Before you get to my response to Price, there is a cool post by a guy intending to cut down Atwill's thesis but actually supporting, or at least conveying, it perfectly. He graphically shows 11 parallels, in the same order but with differerent amounts of other details in between. He says, because there is varying amounts of unparallel stuff in between, the thesis is invalidated. This is simply not true on its face. this is exactly what we would expect if this is being written as a puzzle as Atwill argues. however, it would be invalidated if there were any significant number of other prospective parallels equally as good as Atwill's, occurring in random order between the two texts. Seems to me someone who wanted to kill the thesis, of which there are many, would come up with these. Somebody at the IIDB did try to do this, not totally seriously I will grant, but the offered alternative parallels did not approach Atwill's in convincingness to my mind.
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 » Sun Sep 19, 2010 4:27 pm

Below is a repost of the reply to the Price review of CM, both of which are linked above. I want to get another copy of it up because there is only other one I know still available online, and I just read a new amazon review by some popinjay saying the Price review somehow destroys Atwill. Nothing could be further from the truth.



Paragraph (1) seems a fair overview of CM.

In paragraph (2) Price lauds the "monumental" work of Robert Eisenman, who "was able to show ... how thoroughly pro-Roman is New Testament Faith". So, Price agrees that the New Testament is thoroughly pro-Roman. I will return to this shortly as Price does in paragraph (3). I would first observe that if Eisenmen is really "damning with faint praise" in his CM back-cover comment that "if what Joseph Atwill is saying is only partially true, we are looking into the abyss", then he needn't have associated his name with the book at all. One suspects Eisenman is going out on an academic limb here. One would like to hear more from Eisenman himself regarding CM, rather than Price's guesses about it. In any case, as any reader will know, CM is a very self-contained and compelling argument for the lay or novice NT reader. One is left wondering not so much what the scholars have to say about it, as why haven't they seen this long ago, it's so obvious!

In paragraph (3) Price returns to describing and supporting the pro-Roman slant of NT writing, and tells us that the theory "that Josephus had something to do with it, does not [seem] unreasonable on the face of it." So clearly this situation begs of some explanation. Dr. Price clearly does not like Atwill's. Does he have a preferred explanation? In paragraph (4) we learn that some other authors have proposed "somewhat similar" theories of Roman origins. He proposes "we might find one of these ... explains many of the same things ... without the disdvantages." Somehow I doubt however that Dr. Price would find any theory of a Roman origin of Christianity acceptable, given his further comments in paragraphs (5) and (6) on the "sublime" character of NT writing. Surely any theory of a cynical authorship by Romans will run into these same objections. But given that Price has already accepted (as Eisenman "showed") that the NT is pro-Roman, then what is Price's explanation, or what possible origin could there be other than a Roman one? We are left wondering what pro-Roman writers there were in the first century other than Roman ones.

We understand from paragraph (6) that Price has great love and respect for the NT. It's not hard to understand how a cynical origin of it is a great dissappointment. Atwill though is not arguing that it is lacking in beauty or literacy. The writers were very learned, had supporting resources, and were (even Josephus) writing for their lives.

Paragraph (7) asks if we can "imagine" that Josephus wrote with the intent that his work would be compared with the Gospels. (Certainly I can imagine it; what I want to know is does he have any hard argument for why it can't be true. Apparently, he doesn't.) For his counterexample, he picks the Testimonium Flavianum, which Atwill brilliantly argues is authentic rather than forged. But this is the least apt of examples in that the thesis of CM does not rest on it in the least, and that unlike most of the parallels identified in CM, the TF does not correspond to any particular event of the Gospels but rather is related only generally. Why doesn't Price address instead the story of Cannibal Mary? We would certainly like to know what possible explanation there is for this obviously (due to the complete implausibility of the speech made by a mother roasting and eating her own child) fictional piece, other than a spoof on Jesus as the Passover Lamb. Or, more properly, as the set up for the cynical in-joke that Jesus assumption of that role becomes. I would like to know what possible other explanation Dr. Price with his great learning and intellect (I mean no sarcasm here) can offer to explain what is going on with Cannibal Mary. We might conclude, the only extant explanation is Atwill's.

Paragraph ( 8 ): Price finds implausible the central idea of CM that the Gospels describe a ministry of Jesus that foreshadows the Judean campaign of Titus. His treatment here doesn't do justice to CM. It's not just a matter of parallels, it's equally or more important that the parallel events happen in the same order in both the NT and Josephus' Jewish War. The odds of this happening by chance are remote. For example, there are 720 possible different orderings of 6 events (the formula is 6! = 6*5*4*3*2 = 720). Even if the linkage is not airtight on some parallels, the occurrence in proper order is not susceptible to interpretation and so has great relevance, which Price omits to mention (or take issue with as it is one of the main pillars of CM). Price, like Carrier as described in my post above, makes the scholarly mistake identified in CM of demanding close "verbal correspondence" rather than looking at the nature and meaning of the events they describe. The reader should judge for one's self whether this parallelism is compelling. This reader's reaction was, "Why wasn't I informed of this sooner?"

In paragraph (9) Price addresses Atwill's gospel reading that turns the events at Jesus' tomb into a comedy of errors. What Price doesn't mention is that any reader can build and test Atwill's timeline for themself based on the precise time cues written into the Gospels themselves. Price is apparently granting that Atwill's construction of the timeline has no errors. At least, those of us who haven't gotten around yet to actually drawing out the time line are hoping he is checking. Also, as Atwill points out, it might be surprising that all four gospels have clear (and contradictory if read "straight") time indications in them unless there is some special meaning to it. If the gospel was being told straight, but the writer wasn't sure the time, it's clearly much better to not state it than to state it and have it be contradicted elsewhere. Here we have four occurrences where a time is stated and it would seem to contradict the others. Yet there is an alternative meaning from the stated times, and it's all part of the larger fabric of conspiracy.

In paragraph (10) Price states that it's not possible that the writers "designed the New Testament as a tool to intellectually uplift the messianic rebels". Dr. Price and I apparently have different definitions of impossible. However I also don't think Atwill is completely serious when he makes this claim. The fact that the religious zealot messianic rebels (then as now) are never going to pick up these kind of clues is not lost on either Atwill or the NT writers. It's all part of the joke. If you'd paid more attention in math class you wouldn't be flipping burgers today.

Paragraph (11): the interpretation is "ludicrous" but "there are indeed surprising parallels between Josephus and the gospels that traditional exegesis has never been able to deal with adequately ...". (I wonder what other lay books are out there where we can read about them if not in CM.) Price goes on ".. surely the more natural theory is the old one, that the gospel writers wrote late enough to have borrowed from Josephus and did so." This is what we have been waiting for, information about what is the conventional explanation for all of these strange parallels that were not necessarily first noted by Atwill. But this theory is obviously inadequate in light of what has been noted by others but made finally clear by Atwill, that something is very funky with Josephus. I but not Price pointed out Cannibal Mary and neither does Price discuss that according to Atwill, the events of the Jewish War as related by Josephus precisely conform to the prophesies of the Book of Daniel. We would like Dr. Price to inform us about whether this is already accepted or if new whether it is a vast mistake of Atwill's. There are many aspects of it and if it were "ludicrous" there must be something to disprove it with. If true, or already accepted wisdom, then clearly we have Josephus actively modifying history to suit the purposes of the Flavians, specifically to obtain deification by the Roman Senate and thus have the same right to power enjoyed by the Julian emporers starting with Gaius Julius Caesar. This should be anything but surprising in light of Josephus' proclamation of Vespasian as the true messiah and his adoption as Vespasian's son. Something is badly wrong with mainstream scholarship if only an outsider can have a suspicion that Josephus is working a Flavian agenda.

In paragraph (12) we again have Price lauding Atwill ("Here is one of Atwill's most attractive suggestions", that Jesus' prediction of the fall of Jeruselum and Josephus' account of it in the JW "stem from the same source, Josephus and his Flavian collaborators". After this I don't understand what Price is getting at in this paragraph. (I may edit this later if I figure it out.) The fact that Jesus prophesied in specific detail (the encirclement and seige, and the dismantling "stone on stone" of the temple) what would later be executed by Titus and chronicled by Josephus was interesting news to me but certainly not to biblical scholars. But bits of Josephus here also are clearly fictional and when dwelt on seem to have a portentous meaning. Does everybody here already know about the insane Jesus of JW who is killed by an artillery stone? There is definitely something up with that, Atwill or no. Then Atwill argues further that combining accounts in the gospels and the JW, one can deduce that Titus set up encampment at Jeruselum 40 years to the day (that is, exactly one "generation") from the ostensible crucifixion. What are we poor lay readers to make of this, if not as Atwill argues?

In paragraph (13) Price ridicules Atwill's assertion that "Joseph of Arimathea" and "Joseph bar-Matthias" are similar sounding and that this may have some significance. Am I the only one foolish enough to be taken in by Atwill here? I guess then that the rest of this fascinating chapter of CM, on the common use and reuse of the names of the messianic Matthias family in the gospels, and what the intent of it was, will be more news to the scholarly community and will encounter the usual interminable delay of evaluation due to the long required interval of unsubstantive ridicule.

In paragraph (14) Price tells us that somebody named Weeden has already noted the "striking parallels between the Passion story ... and the Josephus story of Jesus ben-Ananias ...". Price tells us that the conventional explanation is that Mark simply borrowed this from Josephus. We are looking at Josephus in a suspicious new light now, though. Might this be worth re-examination?

Paragraph (15): "What about Roman-tilting anti-Judaism of the Gospels? ... the old explanations are quite natural and adequate." The new (Atwill) explanation however is compelling and part of a whole. It deserves at least fair consideration.

Finally, closing paragraph (16): "Atwill's envisioned satire seems so complex as to be incoherent". It's a problem of too many names for too few characters, and sometimes the converse. Price neglects to mention that Josephus hmself tells us to "value not this business of names". It is certainly complex, but so is chemistry. The pertinent question is, is it true? To start with, I want to know, is it refutable. I haven't seen it refuted yet, by either Price or Carrier"


Edit: Fixed spelling of "portentious". That's been bothering me for a long time.

Incidentally, on the subject of amateurs contributing to scholarly fields, American Journal of Physics is publishing something I wrote, possibly next month. That is what the galleys said but I'm not sure it's a reliable date. But it is surely and formally accepted and finalized for publication. AJP is a mainstream journal, although more a pedagogical journal than a research journal, but it'll do fine for now. My paper is a comment on a paper they published, which the authors agreed with except they said it doesn't make a difference. So I wrote a response to their response and will submit that to AJP in a few days I hope. My parts are both on arxiv now:

http://arxiv.org/abs/1005.3841

http://arxiv.org/abs/1009.0495

Unfortunately the authors of the original paper didn't put their response on arxiv so it isn't available until AJP publishes it.

I feel that I'm making real progress on my amateur physics project. For example, one of my papers is now reposted on a Princeton professor's webpage. I take that as an endorsement of that I'm doing things correctly, and breaking new ground. (I haven't communicated with said professor directly. A different mainstream physicist of stature contacted me and mentioned it, which was how I found out.) Also I anticipate that I will get a proper review of my new paper, as opposed to being dismissed out of hand as an amateur. I have another one almost done that I hope will show much more convincingly than the previous ones that Thomas precession violates angular momentum conservation, and that at least part of quantum behavior is a consequence of that nonconservation.

Also I started a little blog to serve as a central source for quantum skeptical writings (mostly by others but some by me) in case anyone's interested: http://quantumskeptic.blogspot.com/

edit: fixed spelling of "Testimonium Flavium"
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
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Postby DaveL » Tue Oct 12, 2010 3:00 pm

Now that you can no longer download CM from Scribd, I want to mention again that you can still read it in place in entirety or download it for free from esnips:

http://www.esnips.com/doc/b67761f4-ecd2 ... vent-Jesus



You have to register to download it but it's free and then you will get a nice PDF file that's obviously built from the original dvi or source file that made the book. It's not very big either. Getting a hard copy of the book nowadays costs close to a hundred bucks last time I checked, due to it being out of print.

Atwill's website says he has a new book coming out early next year with a new publisher. It seems to be an updated version of CM and with a new title. I guess that's why they took it down on scribd.
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 » Mon Dec 27, 2010 7:05 pm

There is a promo for a Caesar's Messiah documentary film on YouTube now here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/caesarsmess ... GdRDLRZaoo


I also found an interesting thread about when the gospels were written, on TalkRational forums. What's interesting to me is that Koyaanisqatsi is arguing quite eloquently for a Flavian origin of Christianity, without any apparent awareness of Atwill's book, or the existence of the tight parallels between the gospels and Josephus' War of the Jews. He seems to have arrived at the idea that the Flavians invented Christianity purely based on the circumstantial evidence.

http://talkrational.org/showthread.php?t=18966&page=4
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
-- James Madison
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Okay but it's a stretch

Postby dobbie » Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:49 am

I'm not a bible theist, but I found it hard to see a mimic of the Gospel of Mark 5 involving 2000 swine-rebels jumping off a cliff and into the sea. In Josephus, there was not a close story. The following shows the pertinent details in Josephus:

Wars of the Jews

by Flavius Josephus
Book IV, Chapter 7

How the Romans under Vespasian took Gadara

"3. [Vespasian] marched against Gadara, the metropolis of Perea, which was a place of strength, and entered that city on the fourth day of the month Dystrus [Adar] ... And as now the Roman army was just upon them, the people of Gadara admitted Vespasian with joyful acclamations, and received from him the security of his right hand, as also a garrison of horsemen and footmen ... as to their wall, they had pulled it down before the Romans desired them so to do, that they might thereby give them assurance that they were lovers of peace, and that, if they had a mind, they could not now make war against them.

Me again: No similarity so far.

"4. And now Vespasian sent Placidus against those that had fled from Gadara ... while he returned himself to Cesarea, with the rest of the army. But as soon as these fugitives saw the horsemen that pursued them just upon their backs, and before they came to a close fight, they ran together to a certain village, which was called Bethennabris, where finding a great multitude of young men, and arming them, partly by their own consent, partly by force, they rashly and suddenly assaulted Placidus and the troops that were with him.

Me again: Still no similarity so far.

"These horsemen at the first onset gave way a little, as contriving to entice them further off the wall; and when they had drawn them into a place fit for their purpose, they made their horse encompass them round, and threw their darts at them.

"So the horsemen cut off the flight of the fugitives, while the foot terribly destroyed those that fought against them; for those Jews did no more than show their courage, and then were destroyed; for as they fell upon the Romans when they were joined close together ... and, like the wildest of wild beasts, rushed upon the point of others' swords; so some of them were destroyed, as cut with their enemies' swords upon their faces, and others were dispersed by the horsemen."

[color=brown]Me again. So far: No given 2000 pigs or rebels. Nobody jumping off a cliff. Nobody drowning in a lake. No men like “wild beastsâ€
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What about Christianity in 40s AD?

Postby dobbie » Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:30 pm

I've read only up to page 20 of a downloaded copy of "Caesar's Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus," by Joseph Atwill (2005).

The author says the Roman government composed the Gospels, so that the 1st-century-AD militaristic messianic movement would be opposed by a pacifistic messianic movement. He writes:

• Christianity did not originate among the lower classes in Judea. It was a creation of a Roman imperial family, the Flavians.

My comment: Well, the Flavian Dynasty lasted from 69 AD to 96 AD. So if Christianity was really already underway in 40s AD, how does the author account for Christianity's existence earlier?

source
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Postby DaveL » Sat Jan 15, 2011 6:52 pm

I'll respond to dobbie's second post first, because it will be brief.

Dobbie, Atwill does not believe there were any Christians prior to the 70s CE. He believes that Christianity usurped much of the history, including persecutions, of the messianic Jewish tradition that was then present. He says essentially that this is the lesson of the Dead Sea Scrolls. They show no evidence for a Christianity that reflects the teachings of Jesus of the NT, but rather only the view of a messiah as a military leader who would free the Jews from Roman subjegation.

Also, Atwill argues that the Pauline literature was fabricated by the Flavians as well, but later than the canonical gospels. It was written later under commission of Titus' brother and successor Domitian (aka, "The Holy Ghost"). This bit is not mentioned in that edition of CM, but he had it posted on his website for a while. Perhaps it will be in the new book said to be coming out this year. He has a similar amount of justification for these claims as for the Josephus/gospel parallels. I can't hope to do it justice here.

Somewhere above Matt Dilihunty makes the similar claim that CM is refuted by the Pauline literature being generally accepted by scholars as from the 50s CE. In response to this, I looked at the Pauline literature article on wikipedia. It says right in the wikipedia article that scholars date it only contextually. That is, the events taking place in the story are used to place it in the 50s CE. So they have made an assumption that the literature is sincere in arriving at this dating. Therefore this cannot refute the CM hypothesis that it is a deliberate fabrication, as we all should understand. With this kind of logic, we would have to conclude that Gone With the Wind was written in the 1860s.
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
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Postby DaveL » Sat Jan 15, 2011 7:42 pm

Now, about the Demonaic of Gadara parallel.

Dobbie, I'm curious, did you write your post prior to reading the Atwill explanation of it? On your next post you said you had only read the first 20 pages so far. If so then maybe you willl yet be convinced when you read his explanation. I have to admit, if I had just read the bible and Josephus side by side I probably would have reached the same conclusion as you did. I had to read that chapter again to refresh on it (it's been several years now since I read it) but having done so I find it still quite compelling.

We can preface by observing that the two passages in question are definitely set in the same place.

Atwill's reading is that the legion of demons springing from one head represents how one rebel leader, "John", is credited by Josephus with corruptiong many into becoming rebels. Josephus actually does say, the indolent actions of many reduced to his "one head".

Also, when the Roman army approached Gadara, the leaders of the town wanted a rapprochement, and the rebels within the town fled. Josephus describes them as fleeing frantically.

Josephus describes the band of rebels that Titus' army fights as "larger than a band of theives but smaller than an army." In other words, a legion. Why not just say legion? Because it is a joke and a puzzle.

The number of swine that drown is said to be "about 2000" in the Demonaic story. It seems worth observing, there is really no need to name a number here. I wonder if you can have a herd of pigs that large. Pigs don't just graze like sheep, and I don't think. Don't they have to root around for food? So maybe that outlandishly large number is there solely to go with the (only) number mentioned in the Josephus story, the number of rebels who did not drown, but were captured. Naturally, it is not 2000, but rather 2200, which is "about 2000". The negation, of one group drowning to the parallel group not drowning, is fairly typical in how these parallels work. Many little details are switched about to slightly obscure things, but enough remains to make it pretty clear. It's indisputable that drowning is a common feature of both stories. Then the whole thing is placed in the context of being one of a sequence that preserves order, and as I mentioned is located in the same place. In this case, the location is not even hidden, whereas other times, such as the parallel events at the Garden of Gesthemane, it has to be inferred.

edit: This is a quote from CM that sums it up nicely:


66 CAESAR'S MESSIAH
"While the structure of this satire is more complex than the others
I have shown, the humor itself is very straightforward. It simply
denigrates the Sicarii as demons and unclean spirits, and the people
they recruited as swine. No doubt this was the way the Flavian family
felt about the rebels."




I would like to recommend again that anyone who has any interest in looking into this, now or later, should download the file now while you still can. To reread this, I tried at first to just read it on esnips, but the reader sucks. So I opened the pdf file and what a pleasure it was. Also if you have an e-reader or are planning to get one it will be great on that. It is clearly a pdf created from the same source that created the book. It used to be available for free from scribd, then they were charging five bucks, and then they took it down, presumably at the request of the publisher of the new book. So who knows for how long this one at esnips will be available. You'll have to register to download, but so far as I know it's still free.


http://www.esnips.com/doc/b67761f4-ecd2 ... vent-Jesus

Also here again is the promo video for the documentary said to be upcoming. It's kind of cheesy but I like it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGdRDLRZ ... r_embedded
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
-- James Madison
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Atwill insists too much

Postby dobbie » Sun Jan 16, 2011 2:52 am

>byDaveL: Dobbie, Atwill does not believe there were any Christians prior to the 70s CE.<
Yes, that is right, now that I have read further and watched a YouTube one-hour interview with Atwill, I see that he is also what I call a historical revisionist.

The interviewer brings up the question of Christians before AD 70, and Atwill answers that nobody really knows when the Gospels were written. Well, I didn’t buy into it. Besides, if nobody really knows (according to him), then neither does he. So there’s no reason for me to simply trust him on that score. The dating of the Greek Gospels is controversial, but not as controversial as he made it out to be.

I’m afraid that the more he talked in the interview, the more I was biased against his proposition. I’m no fan of Christianity, but I found his “evidenceâ€
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Postby DaveL » Fri Jan 28, 2011 7:57 am

dobbie wrote: ....now that I have read further and watched a YouTube one-hour interview with Atwill, I see that he is also what I call a historical revisionist.

The interviewer brings up the question of Christians before AD 70, and Atwill answers that nobody really knows when the Gospels were written. Well, I didn’t buy into it. Besides, if nobody really knows (according to him), then neither does he. So there’s no reason for me to simply trust him on that score. The dating of the Greek Gospels is controversial, but not as controversial as he made it out to be.


Sorry, I'm not seeing the historical revisionism. Of course, Atwill is speaking loosely when he says nobody really knows when the gospels were written, because he does believe he knows when they were written. So I would agree this is a poor choice of words, but he's correct in observing that there's no firm evidence establishing when they were written. If some people think they know, then he's disagreeing, not revising.


Personally I find it surprising the Tacitus writing is not more widely accepted as proof of Christianity before the 70s. (I want to observe that strictly this is independent from when the gospels were written, but no matter because obviously the proven existence of Jesus-worshipping Christians before the 70s would be a problem for the CM thesis.) It seems pretty hard to explain as unrelated or an interpolation. I also don't find it all that meaningful if Eusebius or other early apologists never remarked about it in writing. If the historicity of Jesus was not then considered in doubt, why would they need to? I think probably Tacitus was just remaining loyal to his Flavian benefactors, and continuing to promote a religion he contributed to creating under Domitian.

From Atwill's, or anyone's point of view who buys in to the CM thesis, the reality of the literary parallels simply trumps any but the firmest of evidence that Christianity existed before the 70s. We think that there is simply no way the parallels are accidental or not meaningful. If there was convincing evidence that Christianity existed before the 70s, we would still have to reconcile this with the existence of the parallels. It would not be all that difficult to reconcile, really, one would simply have to suppose that the Flavian Christianity was used to supplant the preexisting real one. But it's not necessary because there's no real evidence there ever was a real Christianity. The lack of evidence for one in the DSSs is of course what Atwill says got him interested in looking deeper into Christianity origins.


[quote="dobbie"]I’m afraid that the more he talked in the interview, the more I was biased against his proposition. I’m no fan of Christianity, but I found his “evidenceâ€
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.
-- James Madison
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Whether Christians were martyred in Rome

Postby dobbie » Fri Jan 28, 2011 8:59 pm

>byDavidL: Sorry, I'm not seeing the historical revisionism. ... Of course Atwill is correct in observing that there's no firm evidence establishing when they were written. If some people think they know, then he's disagreeing, not revising.<
You're correct and I can only agree. Though, when I said Atwill was something of an historical revisionist, I meant (tacitly) the part where he claims that, in Rome, just Jewish rebels were punished and no Christians were ever martyred.

>Personally I find it surprising the Tacitus writing is not more widely accepted as proof of Christianity before the 70s.>

I posted a little something about it (but perhaps you’ve seen it already) in the following message: Post subject: Is Tacitus’ segment okay?
http://forum.ironchariots.org/viewtopic.php?t=4138

>I also don't find it all that meaningful if Eusebius or other early apologists never remarked about [Tacitus] in writing. If the historicity of Jesus was not then considered in doubt, why would they need to?<

While that’s a viable point, Christian writers such as Eusebius seemed to have jumped on every opportunity to show secular historical evidence, to support first century Christianity. They were fond to say they read this thing or heard that thing about first century Christians. So it’s odd they didn’t bring up the Tacitus thing in their apologetics. Nevertheless, of course the oddity itself can’t bring closure to whether the Tacitus segment is authentic. It's really a matter of personal bias--and mine is that it's indeed a bit unexpected that the Christians writers say nothing on it.
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What to do with the seeming parallels

Postby dobbie » Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:55 pm

Parallels ...
>byDavidL: If there was convincing evidence that Christianity existed before the 70s, we would still have to reconcile this with the existence of the parallels.<
Yes, you're right, the parallels won’t go away. Researchers have mentioned them before. They suspect that somebody drew from Josephus or his sources. But, as I have mentioned before, I’m not personally tempted to suspect Josephus himself co-authored the Gospels.


What's not in the DDS ...
>The lack of evidence for one in the DSSs is of course what Atwill says got him interested in looking deeper into Christianity origins.<
Well, I’m far from being a Dead Sea Scrolls expert myself, but I understand that they are all copies of stuff that was composed in the first century BC. So if that’s the case, we can’t expect to find any “historyâ€
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