In the previous post we ended with the Video’s fabricated claim that
12. Josephus tells us Romans rounded up writers of alternate histories and executed them. Only the official history of Josephus was to survive. All the copies of those alternate histories were destroyed.
This assertion is entirely fiction. There is no evidence for any of these claims, as far as I am aware, and I have read reasonably widely on literature in the time of the Flavian emperors. The history Josephus wrote was not an “official” history somehow “approved by” the authorities, either. It is quite unlikely that the Flavian emperor’s ever read or heard a reading of Josephus’s work. They had other propaganda and administrative issues to take up their time.
Other extravagant claims in the video are that the Roman authorities seized the holy books of the Jews from the temple, somehow implying that such an action was targeted at reducing the Jewish belief in a messianic leader to come and free them from the Romans. That, we saw, was also a misleading claim since the Jews held many other copies of the Scriptures and they probably never even read the actual copy deposited in the Temple to begin with. It was there as a sacred relic. Besides, belief in an imminent messiah, even if it existed (and we linked to evidence there was no such disturbing movement at that time) would not be quelled by removing texts from a mostly illiterate population. Josephus and other sources that inform us about the Jewish War and Roman military concerns inform us of other reasons for the Jewish was that had nothing to do with a so-called “messianic movement”. The video’s claims or inferences that the Flavian emperors (Vespasian and Titus) were confronted by widespread and regular Jewish uprisings are simply not true.
13. At one point we hear on the video: “All of the Roman Flavian historians record that Vespasian and family was the Christ.”
I don’t know the basis for that claim but I know of not a single ancient historian that said the Vespasian family were “the Christ”. Josephus said there was a prophecy that a world ruler would come from Judea and that’s all there is. Josephus did not tell us the actual source for that claim, but it was a timely one to make to ensure his survival and to assist Vespasian in establishing his status as a rightful emperor. He used the propaganda to declare that he was a fulfillment of an ancient prophecy from the east, but the notion of a Jewish “christ” or “messiah” was alien and meaningless to him.
14. The video presentation points out that the Roman emperors and their bureaucracy were dedicated to enforcing the Roman imperial cult, so that the emperor was to be worshiped as a god.
The video for some reason does not also point out that the same Roman power allowed the Jews to practice their own religion so they did not have to worship the statue of Caesar. Is it really likely that any Jew would have accepted a new religion being introduced by Josephus or his associates to start worshiping a new figure, Jesus, in a new set of stories, the gospels, because that Jesus was really a rewrite and inversion (from military warrior to pacificist) of the emperor Titus? That is the thesis of Atwill and others in the video.
15. The Roman plot to invent Christianity was so clever that the Romans no longer needed armies, but through religion they could rule their subjects now.
16. Christianity could not have happened without some degree of complicity with Romans. Romans must have been involved in the production of this Christian literature.
This assertion is baseless. Christians sometimes faced serious consequences if they found themselves in a position to participate in the imperial cult of emperor-worship. The Roman authorities never excused the Christians on the grounds that their Christ figure was “really” the Roman emperor Titus. Besides, to declare loyalty to an emperor of a previous age and not the currently ruling emperor might as well be seen as sedition.
17. The Flavians were funded by the Alexanders, a Jewish family. Both emperors and Jewish leaders wanted to suppress messianic movement.
This claim is very close to the antisemitic accusation that Jews are plotting behind the scenes to take or control the powers that be. There was no “messianic movement” involved in the Jewish war of 66-70/73 CE. If the later revolt (under the later emperor Hadrian) of Bar Kochba (135 CE) was a messianic movement it was completely crushed without any assistance from conversions to Christianity.
18. We hear it on the video that the word for “gospel” is “evangelion” and it means “Good News of Military Victory”.
No, it doesn’t. It means “good news”, period. It could refer to the good news of a military victory just as much as the word could refer to any other type of “good news”, such as the rule of a good emperor or king or god.
19. In the video we hear another rhetorical question: Why are gospels celebrating things the Jews lost — battle of Gadara, battle of lake of Galilee, battle of Jerusalem? These are the battles Romans won.
The gospels don’t “celebrate” those places. They are place names along with many others were many things happened. One of the greatest losses of the Jews in Galilee was the siege and destruction of the city of Iotapata, a city not mentioned at all in the gospels.
20. The gospel teaching is to turn away from Jewish law and obey Roman law.
Except that the Gospel of Matthew teaches the necessity to obey even more stringently the Jewish law.
21. A video presenter tells us that the myth in the gospels is of a pacifist Jesus walking around a pastoral scene talking to fishermen, but in fact it was a war zone!
It was not a war zone in the early first century, the period of the gospel narrative.
22. In the gospels all the Romans are interpreted in a favourable light. Now the Jews are the forces of darkness.
Not all but many Romans are, yes. So are some Jews presented as good persons. The new religion presented itself as nonthreatening to the authorities and that would be expected of any religion. We don’t need a conspiracy to explain it.
23. The Romans wanted to promote antisemitism (– that’s a claim made about 36.33) — so the gospels make the Jews responsible for Jesus’s (a beloved man-god) death.
There is no evidence for the Romans wanting to “promote antisemitism”. In the second century one emperor even planned to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem in order to upset the Christians. The video in the sections prior to this claim spoke of Roman leaders having close and positive financial and marriage relationships with Jews.
24. We hear that “this could only be done by a literary team in Rome writing the books of Josephus. The gospels give prominence to the Flavian Caesars. The gospels are designed to magnify allegorically the Roman Caesars.
Such a claim is made with all sincerity but it is bogus. None of it is true.
25. @ 37 mins we hear that the gospel authors backdated the story of Jesus to the time of “their enemies”, the Julio-Claudian emperors, so that the events happened 40 years before the war.
No. The Julio-Claudians were NOT the enemies of the Flavians. In fact the Julio-Claudian emperor Claudius was a good friends with younger Vespasian or Titus. Many Roman aristocrat hated Nero and put him in such a position that he committed suicide. Vespasian came to power after other military generals had fought to take the emperorship.
26. That’s why many prophecies of Jesus came true exactly 40 years later.
No. “Many prophecies” of Jesus did not come true “40 years later”. For a start, the gospels are vague on exactly when Jesus was crucified. There is no attempt to pin down a particular year for the time he made his prophecy (one prophecy, not many) of the destruction of the temple.
27. So the gospels were created under the Flavians as Flavian propaganda. So if you end up worshiping Jesus what you really end up doing is worshiping Caesar in disguise. Thus the Flavians finally got the Jews to worship Caesar as a god.
Again, the presenters are evidently unaware of the simple fact that Jews were permitted to practice their religion unmolested by authorities. Besides, knowing what we do about the ability of Rome to wield violence the idea that they could not simply torture and kill rebels to make them submit but felt constrained to try to impose on them a new religion in the belief that the Jews really would accept that — that’s simply all so absurd.
28. About 50 minutes in, we hear that the Flavians wrote passages directly into the gospels to show that they were the authors. Gospels speak of a coming of a son of man and three key events follow — in Galilee towns will be crushed, Jerusalem would be circled, and the temple razed. Also they said exactly when it will happen — before that generation dies out. A generation was 40 years to Jews at that time.
And the Jews were too stupid to notice the parallels with the events of recent memory? Most of the major cities of Galilee were not crushed by spared because they submitted to Rome. There is nothing in the gospels to tell us what year the prophecy of Jesus was made, and the prophecy did not say in “exactly” 40 years but “before” a generation had died out. If they wanted to pinpoint a year they could have, but they didn’t.
29. Josephus said that no matter how much they tortured Jews they still refused to call a man a god. So Flavians wrote the gospels in which a son of man was predicted to come in the future. Titus thus became son of man — so you end up worshiping Titus without knowing it.
30. it is said that Constantine made Christianity the State Religion of Rome.
No he didn’t. He made Christianity a legal religion, no longer to be persecuted by Roman emperors. Why did he have to do this if the Christians were ignorantly worshiping Caesar anyway?
That’s enough. That ends my feedback on the Atwill-Murdock video arguing that Christianity was invented by the Roman authorities in cahoots with leading Jews to trick Jews into worshiping Caesar disguised as Jesus.
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