One more for who’s who?

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by Neil Godfrey

Just when you think a job is done…..

John Loftus of Debunking Christianity posts this:

Former Pastor Dr. Calvin Kelly Leaves His Faith, Recommends Joseph Atwill’s Book “Caesar’s Messiah”

I copy here the newspaper extract that John Loftus posted on his site. But John has more personal comment than I do so I don’t want to appear to be stealing his post. The treatment Calvin received from those he had long thought of as his family is horribly familiar, too.

Sigh… one more html edit for the Who’s Who page….

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Neil Godfrey

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33 thoughts on “One more for who’s who?”

  1. A courageous and clear minded act, that is happening more and more often. In one instance an ex-pastor bought 70 copies of Caesar’s Messiah to give to his former congregation.

    The public is waking up. Note that there have been over 2 million views of the Caesar’s Messiah documentary on You Tube and 100.000 copies sold. This has all come about through word of mouth. I do not advertise, though I will debate all sane comers.

    1. Hey Joe, let’s debate!

      I think the New Testament is putting forth Jesus as a replacement for Caesar. Jesus is portrayed as saying only the trivial things are to be rendered unto Caesar, while the important things are rendered unto God. Also, at his death in Mark, the soldier identifies Jesus as the true son of God, not Caesar. And, if Carrier is right, the whole point of Jesus’ death and resurrection is to render null and void the corrupt, Roman loving temple cult. In this regard, the Jesus cult was an anti-temple sect, like the Qumran sect.

      Maybe, in the resurrection appearance claims present, for instance, in the Pre-Pauline Corinthian Creed, the first Christians saw Jesus as greater than the Roman emperors, who also are said to have escaped death. In this regard, Rome tried to enforce its mighty power against Jesus by killing him, but the Hebrew God’s power was greater and He resurrected Jesus.

      Justin Martyr writes:

      “What about your dead emperors, whom you always esteem as being rescued from death and set forth someone who swears to have seen the cremated Caesar [Augustus] ascending from the pyre into the sky?” (Justin Martyr, First Apology, 21.3).”

      Jesus seems to be being presented as greater than the Caesars because while the Caesars overcoming death accomplishes nothing for the world, Jesus’ sacrifice replaces the temple sacrifices (although Paula Fredriksen has recently put forth a non-atonement theory of Paul).

      Also, Randel Helms points out that:

      “The syncretic flavor of Mark is at once evident from his reproduction of a piece of Augustan imperial propaganda and his setting it beside a tailored scripture quote. “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God” closely matches the formula found on a monument erected by the Provincial Assembly in Asia Minor (1st century BCE): “Whereas… Providence… has… brought our life to the peak of perfection in giving us Augustus Caesar… who, being sent to us and to our descendants as a savior…, and whereas… the birthday of the god has been for the whole world the beginning of the gospel (euaggelion) concerning him, let all reckon a new era beginning from the date of his birth.”

      So, the gospel of Mark seems to be poking fun at the Caesars.

      Mark 12:17 also seems to establish that only trivial things are to be rendered unto Caesar, whereas the true esteem is to be given to God. And who can forget Jesus’ assault on the Roman loving, corrupt temple cult? Paul also makes a note that Jesus was crucified by the rulers of this age (1 Corinthians 2:8), and so Christ’s resurrection flies in the face of Rome’s supposed power over the Jews.”

      Also, Craig Koester’s “Revelation” commentary says:

      “The section climaxes by noting that [Jesus] holds seven stars in his right hand (Rev 1:16). This cosmic imagery conveys sovereignty. An analogy appears on a coin from Domitian’s reign that depicts the emperor’s deceased son as young Jupiter, sitting on the globe in a posture of world dominion. The coin’s inscription calls him “divine Caesar, son of the emperor Domitian,” and the imagery shows him extending his hands to seven stars in a display of divinity and power. John has already identified Jesus as the ruler of kings on earth (1:5), and the imagery of the seven stars fits the book’s larger context, which contrasts the reign of Christ with that of imperial Rome. (p. 253).”

      Brandon D. Smith comments on Koester’s “Revelation” commentary that:

      “Koester is referring to the coin in the image used in Rome around AD 88-96 during the reign of the brutal Caesar Domitian. Koester’s insights here give us an interesting look at the background of John’s writing during hostile Roman persecution. It also helps us think about the later date of Revelation’s writing (the end of the first century) versus a potential earlier dating (some say it might’ve been written closer to AD 65). This is enough to chew on a little bit… But it offers us more than that. This information helps shed light on the theology of Revelation. First, it shows us that much of Revelation’s imagery (beasts, numbers, etc.) are direct shots at the Roman empire. Many believe (and I could be convinced) that Revelation is written during intense Roman persecution and this letter was first written to encourage the Church during that time. However, as a non-preterist, I believe portions of the letter are speaking of future events—i,e., Jesus hasn’t come back yet; the New Jerusalem isn’t here yet; etc. In any event, this note might help us better understand the anti-imperial leanings of John… Second, it shows us how high John’s Christology was. He’s not merely putting Jesus on par with some exalted or glorified person. Rather, he’s portraying Jesus as divine—specifically pitting Jesus’s true divine sovereignty against the supposed divine sovereignty of the Roman emperorship. Roman caesars liked to pretend to be gods, but John is reminding them and us that there’s only one true God. Jupiter is seated on the world with stars hovering around him? Ha—Jesus created the world and clutches the stars in his hand. As I argue in my thesis, John explicitly and purposely ties Jesus into the divine identity of YHWH, and this little note only adds to the case.”

      So, I would say the Jesus story is a passive resistance/attack on imperial Rome.

      As an alternative to your theory Joe, I propose the possibility of the “Noble Lie Theory of Christian Origins,” which Carrier also investigates. I outline it here: http://palpatinesway.blogspot.ca/2018/03/examining-easter-peering-behind-veil-of.html

      I look forward to your response,

      John MacDonald

    2. I will say, though, that there is a sense in which the later Romans may have changed their mind about Christianity being a forbidden religion and wanted it to be adopted by the masses for the good it might do for the people.

      Regarding Numa Pompilius, Livy wrote

      “And fearing lest relief from anxiety on the score of foreign perils might lead men who had hitherto been held back by fear of their enemies and by military discipline into extravagance and idleness, he (Numa) thought the very first thing to do, as being the most efficacious with a populace which was ignorant and, in those early days, uncivilized, was to imbue them with the fear of Heaven. As he could not instil this into their hearts without inventing some marvellous story, he PRETENDED to have nocturnal meetings with the goddess Egeria, and that hers was the advice which guided him in the establishment of rites most approved by the gods, and in the appointment of special priests for the service of each.” (Livy 1 19).

      Plutarch also suggests that Numa played on superstition to give himself an aura of awe and divine allure, in order to cultivate more gentle behaviours among the warlike early Romans, such as honoring the gods, abiding by law, behaving humanely to enemies, and living proper, respectable lives. The reference to Plutarch is Plutarch, “The parallel lives, Numa Pompilius, §VIII”

      Given this historical/intellectual background in Rome, perhaps the Roman elite saw how devout some Christians remained under persecution, and saw this as a wonderful attitude/crutch for the general population to have, so they quietly phased it in / allowed Christianity to spread over time. Perhaps this is the same reason Paul converted: He was impressed at how devout Christians remained in spite of his persecution of them, so he joined, hoping to spread this attitude and create a more moral, happier world.

      Pliny had occasion to persecute some Christians, so he devised the method that all the Christians had to do was renounce their faith, and they would go free. This was a similar method used by subsequent Roman administrators who had the occasion to persecute Christians. The Christians refused to worship the gods of the state, and the Roman administrators would have feared divine retribution, and blamed Christians for supposedly causing such disasters with their disbelief. Cyprian, for instance, was beheaded for such disbelief.

      One could imagine there was a certain amount of mystique around the Christians, thumbing their nose at the local Gods, and some not being willing to recant their faith even in the face of death. Polycarp, for instance was martyred. Some Christian followers of Polycarp of that time were said to have undergone persecution with great nobility (see “Martyrdom of Polycarp 2.2”). Polycarp was offered to save himself simply by declaring Caesar was Lord, but he refused. The Roman elites may have been very impressed by the devout attitude of the occasional condemned Christians, and thought this would have been an excellent attitude/crutch for the general population to have.

      Speratus and 11 friends met a similar fate to Polycarp. The persecuted Christians saw their plight as a little torture now, rather than an eternity of torture in hell (Ehrman, The Triumph of Christianity, 201).” The Christians would have been socially ostracized when Christianity became forbidden in Rome, but the Christians ignored this and persisted in their faith. Tacitus says, in reporting Nero attributing the fires in Rome to the Christians, said the Christians were “notoriously depraved (Ehrman, The Triumph of Christianity, 199).”

      Under the persecution of Diocletian, who gullibly wanted to stamp out Christianity (without anywhere near enough force to accomplish such a task), Ehrman estimates possibly hundreds of Christians were imprisoned or killed, refusing to recant their faith. Perhaps this left a strong impression on the Roman elites, who though this would be a great crutch/attitude for the general population to have, and so changed their mind about it being forbidden and quietly let it spread/phased it in over time (so there wouldn’t be something akin to a civil war between the Christians and the Pagans).

    3. I’ve just watched the video Joe refers to. It’s here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-jDH3Sn9Pw&t=2077s

      Two points:

      If we accept there is mimesis (imitatio in Latin) between the gospels and the Flavians, like there is gospel copying from Greek and Jewish sources, this is still not evidence of there being a Flavian signature on the gospels – any more than there is the signature of Moses on the gospel of Matthew just because Matthew presents Jesus as the New and Greater Moses.

      The video doesn’t mention Paul’s writing, which is pretty good evidence for the Historical Jesus. Of course, mythicists, like Carrier, generally deny the historical Jesus being in the authentic letters of Paul.

      I think Carrier has at least two major problems with his mythicism theory of Christian origins regarding his interpretation of Paul:

      1. In order to get around the “James, the brother of the Lord” passage, Carrier argues James was a non-apostolic baptized Christian, and so all such Christians were known as “Brothers of the Lord.” But, as Ehrman points out, this entails the apostles, such as Cephas, were not Brothers of the Lord. This seems unlikely.

      2. Paul says Jesus was “made” from the seed of David, using the same word used to say how Adam was created, so Carrier puts forth the argument that God attained some sperm from David, held it in a cosmic sperm bank, and created Jesus from it (even though Paul never mentions God going through this fantastic process). But I think there is a simpler explanation. Language about making or forming by God in the conception/generation of people was used in the Hebrew scripture to indicate how people came to be. We read, for instance:

      Isaiah 44:24

      24 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
      who FORMED you from the womb:
      “I am the Lord, who made all things,
      who alone stretched out the heavens,
      who spread out the earth by myself,

      But even more than this, the idea of God taking special interest in someone and “forming” babies is used in the Hebrew scripture to indicate God setting aside someone to be a special person with a special task in life. Regarding this understanding of God “forming” a person, we read:

      Jeremiah 1:5

      5 “Before I FORMED you in the womb I knew you,
      and before you were born I consecrated you;
      I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

      So Paul’s language about God “making” Jesus from David’s sperm doesn’t need the convoluted explanation of God using a cosmic sperm bank and making Jesus the way he made Adam, but might simply mean Paul thought God had set aside Jesus to be a great prophet from birth and formed him in the womb in this way.

      1. Hi John,

        To your point:

        “I think the New Testament is putting forth Jesus as a replacement for Caesar.”

        The son of man Jesus predicts will come in 40 years and destroy the temple complex is Titus Flavius.

        To your point:

        “Jesus is portrayed as saying only the trivial things are to be rendered unto Caesar, while the important things are rendered unto God.”

        “only trivial things” where is this stated?

        To your point:

        “Also, at his death in Mark, the soldier identifies Jesus as the true son of God, not Caesar.”

        The passage says noting about Caesar’s divinity, a Roman soldier was unlikely to have defied the position of the imperial cult.

        To your point:

        “Jesus seems to be being presented as greater than the Caesars,,,”

        The son of Man Jesus predicts will come when Jerusalem is encircled with a wall is greater than Jesus in that he brings such destruction and the typology in the Synoptics shows his identity as Caesar.

        To your point:

        “the Jesus story is a passive resistance/attack on imperial Rome.”

        An odd notion for a story that became imperial Rome’s state religion.

        To your point:

        “If we accept there is mimesis (imitatio in Latin) between the gospels and the Flavians, like there is gospel copying from Greek and Jewish sources, this is still not evidence of there being a Flavian signature on the gospels – any more than there is the signature of Moses on the gospel of Matthew just because Matthew presents Jesus as the New and Greater Moses.”

        Illogical. The Jesus/Titus typology uses the exact system as the Jesus/Moses typology and therefore should be understood as having been created to produce the same result – ie the identification of an individual.

        To your point:

        “The video doesn’t mention Paul’s writing, which is pretty good evidence for the Historical Jesus.”

        I explain Paul in my second book Shakespeare’s Secret Messiah, not in CM.

        Do you mind if I suggest that you read CM? Your criticism will be better focused.


        1. Hi Joe:

          Okay, one point at a time.

          You cite me as saying:

          “Jesus is portrayed as saying only the trivial things [like taxes] are to be rendered unto Caesar, while the important things are rendered unto God.”

          Joe said: “only trivial things” where is this stated?

          – Jesus taught that we should not depend upon our resources, but upon God, as the source of our supply, trusting him to meet our essential family needs (Matthew 6:9-13, 19-34; Luke 12:22-34). God should be the focus, not money. Hence the saying that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. Doesn’t this suggest the richest/most powerful person (the Roman emperor) would not enter the Kingdom of God?

          Remember too, as I said, that the Christians were mainly persecuted because they wouldn’t worship Caesar or the gods of the state.

          1. The Romans wanted their poor to accept poverty without complaint. Vengeance was promised on the rich after death in order to diffuse their anger in life. Brilliant mind-control.

            1. Atwill’s book (which I do own – for instance the third word on page 182 is “occur”) is amateurish, confused parallelomania, as even a radical scholar like Price points out. Price concludes about Atwill’s book:

              The reading given here is just ludicrous … According to Atwill, “the reader needs to comprehend perhaps the most complex literary satire ever written” (p. 169). But Atwill’s envisioned satire seems so complex as to be incoherent. “Jesus” stands not only for Tiberius but also for a hypothetical Zealot leader named Eleazar, who also appears in the New Testament as Lazarus. Mary Magdalene stands for several different women, “Mary” being, Atwill guesses, a term for any female Jewish rebel or sympathizer. Simon Peter and Peter are not the same, either. The two gospel genealogies, a la Rudolf Steiner, represent two distinct Jesuses. In Atwill’s hands, everything means everything else. And, in the end, you know what that means.

              1. Robert Price didn’t understand the book he reviewed. His warm and fuzzy feelings for a Doomsday cult with talking animals obstructs reading comprehension. Price later lost a debate on the historicity of a human livestock sacrifice born in a barn, then placed in a trough, what animals eat from (John 6:54-55 New International Version (NIV)

                54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.).

              2. Jesus doesn’t stand for Tiberias or Eleazar in the Gospels. Jesus is a literary allegory for Caesar. The events of his ministry largely parody battles lost by the Jews in the First Roman-Jewish War (66-73CE). Each named female Judean is named Mary or its Aramaic equivalent Martha, even sisters. Considering the name means “rebellion”, and the Gospels can now be understood as a parody of defeated Messianic Jews, it’s obvious why. Simon the Apostle, Simon called Zelotes or the Kanaites, Simon, the father of Judas who betrayed Jesus, Simon Magus the Samaritan wizard, Simon the tanner, Simon the Pharisee, Simon of Cyrene who carried the cross of Christ, Simon the brother of Jesus and son of Cleophas, Simon the leper, and Simon Peter are all caricatures of the rebel Simon in “Wars of the Jews”, who was seized at the seige of Jerusalem then taken to Rome for execution.

              3. Rome appropriated the religions of their conquered. Virgil’s “Aeneid” is a Roman imitation Greek epic created to deify Caesar and make Rome the successor to Greek civilization. The Gospels (Evangelion-“Good News of Miltary Victory) are similar literature, an imitation Hebrew Bible.

            1. Hi Joe,

              You can say being poor is okay without also claiming being rich is the way to get damned. The “camel” comment is intended to be antagonistict toward the rich ruler. And as I said above, Revelations specifically pokes fun at the Roman emperor, saying how Jesus is superior. And even Justin Martyr specifically outlines that tales of the emperors escaping death are foolish in comparison to what Christ accomplished. I’m afraid, as Carrier pointed out, your thesis is wrong. And, as Price pointed out, your thinking is confused and muddled.


              1. Romans 13:1-7 New International Version (NIV)

                Submission to Governing Authorities
                13 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

                6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

                That’s “antagonistic toward the rich ruler” to you? Wow.

              2. @ Peter Byrd

                Of course at face value Paul wanted his churches to obey the rulers (which included not only Rome, but the Jewish high council), since if they engaged in Jesus’ model of social insurrection they probably would have been stamped out, analogous to what happened to Jesus after his assault on the corrupt, Roman loving temple cult. The idea of “It’s harder for a camel to pass through the idea than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God” is quietly reassuring the faithful that Caesar will not receive the great reward at the general resurrection of souls at the end of the age. And you still still haven’t answered the question as to why Revelations specifically identifies Jesus as greater than Caesar, as I identified above?

              3. Understand that Christianity is a Roman slave religion, created to stupefy and pacify people to subjection. Jesus Christ’s example is that of a joyous slave, e.g., washing feet.

                Colossians 3:22 -Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.

                1 Peter 2:18-20 -Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.

                God smiles on an obedient slave being whipped…🤔

                Knowing patricians must have found their promise of vengeance upon themselves in the afterlife to their poor and enslaved hilarious. Be meek, relish poverty, have no desire for the fruits of your labor…your treasure is in heaven.

              4. Revelation actually presents Domitian, the Flavian alpha and omega, as Christ. The symbology is all Roman, you’re right about that. Please read Atwill’s “Shakespeare’s Secret Messiah”.

    1. Hi Andre,

      Carrier jumped the shark during a lecture when he stated my theory was the result of mental illness. This, of course, was before his behavior caused him to be banned from NT conferences.


      1. Not denying your claims but can you point us to sources where we can contextualize and verify both the “mental illness” and “banned from NT conferences” statements? Thx.

          1. If by “NT conferences” you mean New Testament conferences such as those run by the Society of Biblical Literature then I have never heard that Carrier was banned from any of those and the site you link to is addressing a completely different sort of organization.

            1. Neil,

              I was referring to the conferences where the NT was discussed that Carrier was banned from. I trust that the links contextualized and verified my sources to the point where you do not need to attempt semantical gymnastics in order to deny them.


              1. So Carrier has not been banned from NT conferences. (No “semantical gymnastics” there. Just a clarification of fact.)

                The following reads to me like such a contorted semantical gymnastic that it hurts just trying to make sense of it:

                I was referring to the conferences where the NT was discussed that Carrier was banned from.

              2. Hi Neil,

                I totally disagree, see you position as obvious special pleading, and will submit the sentence in question to the Grammatical Society for Peer Review arbitration.

                In the meantime, I doubt that most Vridar readers will have any trouble seeing the irony in Carrier having been banned by Skepticon his after claiming I had mental problems.


  2. I have a different interpretation of that “Render unto Caesar” (Mk 12:13-17) quote.

    There are reasons to believe that Jesus and his original followers were not Christian but part of the anti-Rome Jewish movement that was prepared to use violence..

    There is the ” I come not to bring peace but a sword ” quote. (Matt 10:34)

    There is also the question as to why a follower of a “Love thine enemy” and “turn the other cheek ” kind of religious leader would carry a sword and use it? (Mk 14:47)

    And then there is Luke 22:36, [Jesus] said to [the disciples], “But now the one who has a purse must take it, and likewise a bag; and the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one.” (New Revised Standard Version)

    There is also a possibility that Judas Iscariot is a barstardization of the name Judah Sicarius. Judah being the name of the kingdom messianic Jews were hoping to restore. Sicarius the name of the curved knife they used to stab Roman soldiers in the back. (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Judas-Iscariot)

    Perhaps Mark 12:13-17 should be translated as

    ” You should give Caesar what he deserves.”

  3. I have written and told some people in my surroundings that Christians esp of the born gain denomination neither have any idea of the God they believe or follow, and I have spiritually had assaults here and there from this former pastor whose ministry i deserted three years back. But that alone can not silence me the way i hear his so-called Jesus wants me to be about releasing the secrets i discovered in this faith during my time of service with pastor. Part of that discovery is about blog site of WordPress and its part of the reason for my departure from Christianity as a whole. That discovery is evidence to the long hidden origin of God and Jesus of Christianity. follow this link to find out that origin & evidence http://wp me/P7vyBi-4q further more you can check out my other writings at amazon to get the source of discovery. http://www amazon.com/yassirsegujja

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