My brother and I just drove for two days to get from Guadalajara to South Texas and the topic of Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of Rome" came up. He commented that the multi-volume work is required reading at British universities and some Ivy League colleges in the U.S., or used to be. Gibbon, I'd been told, concludes that the fall of the of the Roman Empire was not caused by decadence, lead in the drinking water, and pagan orgies but by introduction of Christianity. So it isn't exactly new what one finds in a new book by a Biblical scholar who says Romans were force-fed Christian myth and dogma as the official state religion because the pagan masses were unruly. (Pity the pagani didn't have James Madison to guide them to a separation of church and state, but then Seneca had already blabbed about religion being true to fools, false to the wise, and an aid to rulers.) I shot the photo in Colima, State of Colima, Mexico, and titled it "Peeling Christ." The New Civil Rights Movement has the story: http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/bible-scholar-jesus-never-live...
Well, James, the first thing we must look at is that Constantine decided he would be victorious if he adopted the sign of the cross. I'm sure this "state religion" idea got him a few more soldiers and also got the ball rolling on sorting through and throwing out some of the various writings of 300 AD that they eventually decided to call our bible. Already we have a false story of everything from beginning to the end of times. This by binding the books together.
Now enters Jesus, spoken of through the "gospels" part of the writings, and he seems documented in other bible books too. It's the bible that documents Jesus best, and then we have those other writers that document Jesus, all using the writings of each other to back up their claims. Let's see:
1. Bible documenting Jesus
2. Various men throughout history using each others writings to document Jesus
You can assume that Jesus is well documented, but it appears he might be a total myth. Take your pick!
'Jesus of Nazareth was a Jewish hot dog seller made good'
I've come across this story a couple of times; it could certainly be true. But I tend to doubt "top-down" explanations for cultural phenomena such as religion, as opposed to "bottom-up" ones.
People create mythical/religious explanations for things they don't understand; this doesn't require any persuasion to do so from any authorities with any agenda. Ever heard of the cargo cults? This is just the wikipedia article, but the relevant information is there: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_cult
No authority had to invent John Frum; the people did it and the tribal authorities simply helped to perpetuate an existing myth. It's much more typical for authorities to exploit existing superstitions than for them to create new superstitions out of whole cloth. It's simply much easier.
Christianity, with its constant focus on the afterlife and "end times" prophecies, is exactly the sort of apocalyptic cult one would expect to arise when the Roman empire was on the verge of collapse. I don't think anyone had to design it; it sprung up naturally like so many other religions have--and still do.
Considering my previous post saying:
1. The bible documents Jesus
2. Various men throughout history use each others writings to document Jesus
We now find that we have a lot of writings to document Jesus and his existence, but look where the writings all came from. Now let's add the fact that St. Paul (the apostle that nobody trusted) proclaimed that 500 brethren saw Jesus alive and risen from the dead all at one time. Most of them, he claimed, were alive at the time of his writings. That's a pretty big claim, and more than enough for Christians today, but where did the claim come from? Again, it's the bible.
Jesus died, was buried and resurrected, then ascended into heaven --only to come back again later to be a witness unto Paul and over 500 people together at one time, but where is Jesus today? The gullible say he is in heaven and that's why you can't see him. Why did he appear to Paul and others to give a kick start to Paul's brand of Christianity?
Looks to me like Paul, as a Roman citizen, helped set up something needed at that time. Christians claim Paul ended up under house arrest and was later executed. What if Paul was under house arrest for his own protection. That poor blessed saint and martyr, that liar for personal purposes, St. Paul.
Perhaps Constantine saw all of this a little later when he would pick and choose the various books, having them bound into one story, and call it the holy bible. At that time we officially have a record based on what we call the bible, Paul himself, and other writers quoting each other over time, --then it's declared as truth by the emperor himself!
WELL, it all must be true then, right?
The "Jesus was entirely invented" story is an old one and has been deconstructed before. The same author even has trumpeted this "theory".
All very true, Cassandra. You might note that my posts on this subject in no way proclaim Atwill as being correct. He is only correct in the idea of Jesus not existing, and this is also the belief of Richard Carrier, whose blog you have re-posted here. Carrier by far makes more sense.
I had noticed, yes, I've just been seeing everyone jumping on this particular bandwagon without any fact checking and it has become a bit of a pet peeve as a result.
I have said this many times in chat before the article was published. It doesn't take much to understand how ancient stories are constructed and told. We really have to be aware of the evolution of human literature over time. The bible was the first mass produced book because it contains human wisdom and the progress of human consciousness.
During the period of Christ's alleged existence, Augustus Caesar was the emperor of Rome and was frequently referred to as "Son of a god", alluding to the fact that Romans considered Julius Caesar to be a god on earth.
Another important thing to note during that period is the constant conflict between the Romans and Parthians for control of the Levant. Parthians are really Persians, and they invented the concept of Paradise. A word that means garden. A garden is a fresh and lush environment in the middle of the mostly desert landscape of the middle east, and thus considered sacred. Its all about sustenance and the human stomach.
Bon Apetit :)
I recently heard of a lecture in England about how the Caesars made up the whole Jesus story. It sounds interesting, but I'm holding off on jumping on any bandwagons until I see some peer review.
I believe in Caesar Christ. He might calm the multitudes. Make the way easier.
If you read the book "Atheist Manifesto", by Michel Onfray, you'll find an interesting account of how the myth of Jesus may have come together. Onfray, too, surmises, that Jesus never existed as an historical person, neither as a radical Jewish Rabbi nor as the Divine Son of God.
Excellent book, Anthony. It starts off almost apologetically, but I think that is a rhetorical device to suck in the believers, because he really lays it on thick as the work progresses. I put the book up there with Hitchens and Harris and Dawkins.