Presenting Myth as an Historical Record

“It isn’t what he doesn’t know that bothers me. It’s what he knows for sure that just ain’t so” I am not sure who first said this (it has been attributed to Josh Billings, Will Rogers, Mark Twain, and others). But it so perfectly fits so many people.

Many historians believe there is no evidence that a historical “Jesus” existed. They base this conclusion largely on the fact that aside from the biblical writers, he is not mentioned in contemporary sources.

First century Roman sources speak of groups called “Christians”. But with the exception of an obvious later interpolation about him in the writings of Josephus, they don’t speak of the man upon whom Christianity claims to be based.

They are right. That man did not exist. The stories of Paul about a figure he claims to have seen the ghost of called “Christ” have become conflated with the life of the Jewish rebel, Yeshua ישוע who was crucified as an insurrectionist. For a more thorough explanation and supporting documentation of how this came about, see my books, The Second Crucifixion of Jesus, and Revelation and the AntiChrist.

Paul never met Jesus. He began writing his earliest letters at least twenty years after the crucifixion. But he had a lot to say about the message of “Christ”, which incidentally, contradicts what we can know about Jesus and his real world.

Paul speaks of some mystical figure he claims to have seen “whether in the body or out of the body I do not know” (2 Corinthians 12:2). But he never mentions in his own writings the incident on the road to Damascus as told by his traveling companion Luke in Acts 9:3-22.

He does however claim to have seen the resurrected “Christ” as “one born out of due time”. 1 Corinthians 13:8. Never mind the fact that Jesus never – ever called himself “Christ”. Jesus and his family spoke Hebrew and would never have adopted “Christ” or any other Greek word to describe themselves. See my blog post What’s so Bad about Speaking Greek.

The first and most obvious tell that indicates the writer is not a legitimate member of the group who actually knew Jesus is self-identification with Greek, and writing in the Greek language.

Saul, proudly changed his name from the original Hebrew to “Paul” (see Acts 13:9), a Greek name. Josephus is the Greek version of Yoseph יעסף the original Hebrew name abandoned by the turncoat who wrote for Titus under the name Flavious Josephus.

Likewise, the name “James” never occurs in any of the oldest manuscripts of the New Testament. It was substituted for the original name of Jesus’ brother Yaacov יעקב (Jacob), by later New Testament writers.

As Joseph Atwill demonstrates in his controversial book, Caesar’s Messiah, the sequence of events describing the “ministry” of Jesus in the New Testament are obviously based on earlier stories about the exploits of Titus. He points out that even in the numerous places where the gospels contradict one another, the sequence of events is unchanged.

Atwill has been trashed by mainstream Christian apologists such as James M. Rochford. Mr. Rochford (whose Master’s Degree in Theological Studies) hardly qualifies him as an historian) attacks Atwill for his alleged lack of scholarly credentials. It seems to me that his critique of Atwill demonstrates that he either has not read, or has completely failed to understand the premise of the book.1

Simplistic apologetics in support of the traditional story notwithstanding, Atwill makes an interesting and robust case for the Roman approved Gospel accounts and their circulation in Asia Minor at time when Rome controlled everything that was published.

This video sums up the claims of Joseph Atwill’s book, Caesar’s Messiah:

Before any of the gospels were written, the Roman-friendly version of the Christ story was already in circulation thanks to the person who identifies himself as the “apostle” Paul.

That Paul was a blood relative of the Herod family is clear from his own statements.2 And the composition of the gospel accounts after the fall of Jerusalem is well established by historians and biblical scholars. These documents were freely distributed in the Roman Empire at the same time Roman officials were systematically tracking down and burning every writing they did not like.

While under “house arrest” (having been literally rescued from “the Jews” by Roman guards), Paul converses quite openly and freely with the Roman Governor Felix, his wife Drusilla, and her sister, Bernice (who appeared suspiciously close to her own brother, Agrippa II).3

Note the cozy relationship of Paul with Roman officials and particularly with Bernice, a well-connected member of the Herodian-Flavian family who was to become the mistress of Titus. These Roman officials were on the same page with him. Luke credits King Agrippa with exclaiming to Paul “you almost persuade me to be a Christian”. Acts 26:28.

At this meeting with Festus, Agrippa and Bernice all agreed that Paul was innocent and should not be in chains. Verses 30-31.

In a world of Us versus Them (where “Us” represents the Romans, and “Them” represents the followers of the historical Jesus) Paul and the Romans are clearly in the “Us” column. Paul shows no interest in the historical “Jesus”. He is only concerned with the Greek-Roman figure he calls “Christ”.4

The family and followers of Jesus had no use for the Romans. They took their place along with the other rebels at Qumran. They were ready and willing to die before accepting Roman authority. They were proud to be conspicuously in the “Them” column.

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  1. For example, Rochford accuses Atwill of claiming Josephus wrote all 27 books of the New Testament. But this either deliberately or mistakenly fails to understand Atwill’s contention that the New Testament was written by three groups or families: the Falvians, Herods, and Alexanders. See Atwill Joseph. Caesars’ Messiah. Charleston, S.C.: CreateSpace, 2011. p.276.
  2. He openly salutes Herodion (little Herod) as “my kinsman”. Romans 16:11
  3. Drusilla, second wife of the Roman Governor, Felix, was-pure bred Herodian but is called a “Jewess” in Acts 24:24.
  4. To explore this enormous difference, check out the blog article What was the Other Gospel?. ↩︎


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