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Wed Oct 9, 2013, 11:24 AM

Ancient Confession Found: 'We Invented Jesus Christ'

American Biblical scholar Joseph Atwill will be appearing before the British public for the first time in London on the 19th of October to present a controversial new discovery: ancient confessions recently uncovered now prove, according to Atwill, that the New Testament was written by first-century Roman aristocrats and that they fabricated the entire story of Jesus Christ. His presentation will be part of a one-day symposium entitled "Covert Messiah" at Conway Hall in Holborn.

Although to many scholars his theory seems outlandish, and is sure to upset some believers, Atwill regards his evidence as conclusive and is confident its acceptance is only a matter of time. "I present my work with some ambivalence, as I do not want to directly cause Christians any harm," he acknowledges, "but this is important for our culture. Alert citizens need to know the truth about our past so we can understand how and why governments create false histories and false gods. They often do it to obtain a social order that is against the best interests of the common people."

http://uk.prweb.com/releases/2013/10/prweb11201273.htm


Interesting....

95 replies, 13458 views

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Reply Ancient Confession Found: 'We Invented Jesus Christ' (Original post)
cleanhippie Oct 2013 OP
fitman Oct 2013 #1
cleanhippie Oct 2013 #5
fitman Oct 2013 #7
cleanhippie Oct 2013 #11
fitman Oct 2013 #17
cleanhippie Oct 2013 #18
roguevalley Oct 2013 #57
mmonk Oct 2013 #77
Schema Thing Oct 2013 #2
cleanhippie Oct 2013 #6
immoderate Oct 2013 #3
AnotherMcIntosh Oct 2013 #4
russspeakeasy Oct 2013 #9
Champion Jack Oct 2013 #8
Agnosticsherbet Oct 2013 #10
mindwalker_i Oct 2013 #12
cleanhippie Oct 2013 #15
Warren Stupidity Oct 2013 #20
mindwalker_i Oct 2013 #22
cleanhippie Oct 2013 #31
truebluegreen Oct 2013 #56
mindwalker_i Oct 2013 #62
boomer55 Oct 2013 #13
Welibs Oct 2013 #14
cleanhippie Oct 2013 #16
Warren Stupidity Oct 2013 #21
cleanhippie Oct 2013 #23
Warren Stupidity Oct 2013 #24
backscatter712 Oct 2013 #73
cleanhippie Oct 2013 #74
fitman Oct 2013 #19
On the Road Oct 2013 #79
Dorian Gray Oct 2013 #25
cleanhippie Oct 2013 #26
cbayer Oct 2013 #27
Turbineguy Oct 2013 #28
riqster Oct 2013 #29
stopbush Oct 2013 #30
rug Oct 2013 #32
UrbScotty Oct 2013 #33
cbayer Oct 2013 #34
cleanhippie Oct 2013 #36
muriel_volestrangler Oct 2013 #47
cbayer Oct 2013 #48
cleanhippie Oct 2013 #35
rug Oct 2013 #37
cleanhippie Oct 2013 #38
rug Oct 2013 #39
cleanhippie Oct 2013 #43
UTUSN Oct 2013 #78
On the Road Oct 2013 #40
dimbear Oct 2013 #44
On the Road Oct 2013 #55
dimbear Oct 2013 #64
On the Road Oct 2013 #69
dimbear Oct 2013 #75
Pab Sungenis Oct 2013 #76
leveymg Oct 2013 #52
On the Road Oct 2013 #63
hrmjustin Oct 2013 #41
struggle4progress Oct 2013 #42
dimbear Oct 2013 #45
truebluegreen Oct 2013 #54
struggle4progress Oct 2013 #65
dimbear Oct 2013 #67
Manifestor_of_Light Oct 2013 #46
okasha Oct 2013 #87
Humanist_Activist Oct 2013 #49
AnotherMcIntosh Oct 2013 #58
Humanist_Activist Oct 2013 #68
AnotherMcIntosh Oct 2013 #70
Humanist_Activist Oct 2013 #71
struggle4progress Oct 2013 #50
AnotherMcIntosh Oct 2013 #59
struggle4progress Oct 2013 #60
AnotherMcIntosh Oct 2013 #66
struggle4progress Oct 2013 #72
grantcart Oct 2013 #84
rug Oct 2013 #85
Deep13 Oct 2013 #51
struggle4progress Oct 2013 #61
okasha Oct 2013 #90
eShirl Oct 2013 #53
Deep13 Oct 2013 #93
struggle4progress Oct 2013 #80
cleanhippie Oct 2013 #81
struggle4progress Oct 2013 #82
rug Oct 2013 #83
struggle4progress Oct 2013 #91
dimbear Oct 2013 #92
rug Oct 2013 #94
dimbear Oct 2013 #95
skepticscott Oct 2013 #86
struggle4progress Oct 2013 #88
skepticscott Oct 2013 #89

Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 11:28 AM

1. I believe there really was a Jesus Christ

 

who was a great mortal man..not a supernatural being..his accomplishments were embellished and various things just made up..

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Response to fitman (Reply #1)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 11:34 AM

5. That's nice. If shown to be false will you continue to believe that?

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #5)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 11:39 AM

7. I'm basically agnostic

 

but I believe there really was a Jesus Christ but as I said he was a real man..mortal..

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Response to fitman (Reply #7)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 11:58 AM

11. I understand. Yet, if shown to be a total fabrication, as is asserted, will you continue

To beleive that JC was a real person?

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #11)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 12:47 PM

17. If beyond all doubt I would not believe he was a real person

 

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Response to fitman (Reply #17)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 12:49 PM

18. Fair enough.

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Response to fitman (Reply #1)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 10:07 PM

57. I agree.

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Response to fitman (Reply #1)

Thu Oct 10, 2013, 06:59 PM

77. Yes, Jesus of Nazareth.

I believe what ancient textual and biblical scholar Bart Ehrman says on the issue. He is an agnostic that has written extensively on the subject.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 11:29 AM

2. Jesus likely didn't exist... but this is total bullshit.

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Response to Schema Thing (Reply #2)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 11:35 AM

6. What is total bullshit?

I'm skeptical too, but how can one all BS before even knowing what the evidence is?

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 11:30 AM

3. Even if they expose the hoax, it will affect belief very little.

 

People want to hang on.

--imm

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 11:34 AM

4. He "asserts that Christianity" began as "a kind of propaganda ... to pacify" the Roman subjects

 

"Jewish sects in Palestine at the time, who were waiting for a prophesied warrior Messiah, were a constant source of violent insurrection during the first century," he explains. "When the Romans had exhausted conventional means of quashing rebellion, they switched to psychological warfare. They surmised that the way to stop the spread of zealous Jewish missionary activity was to create a competing belief system. That's when the 'peaceful' Messiah story was invented. Instead of inspiring warfare, this Messiah urged turn-the-other-cheek pacifism and encouraged Jews to 'give onto Caesar' and pay their taxes to Rome."

"Was Jesus based on a real person from history? "The short answer is no," Atwill insists, "in fact he may be the only fictional character in literature whose entire life story can be traced to other sources. Once those sources are all laid bare, there's simply nothing left."


His book "Caesar's Messiah" is worth reading.

In more modern times, the technique of using an invented Messiah helped to pacify the Africans who were enslaved and brought to the American South and other countries. The technique also helped pacify other parts of the world.

In this country, it also helped pacify women, children, and the simple minded. The propaganda is still doing so.

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Response to AnotherMcIntosh (Reply #4)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 11:50 AM

9. Well done.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 11:43 AM

8. Interesting, indeed…

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 11:50 AM

10. Having read the article, I thnk the title is a bit hyperbolic.

The article says, "Many of the parallels are conceptual or poetic, so they aren't all immediately obvious. After all, the authors did not want the average believer to see what they were doing, but they did want the alert reader to see it. An educated Roman in the ruling class would probably have recognised the literary game being played."

So what Atwill has done is say, if you interpret the works in this way, like a highly educated Roman in the first century, you will see it was just a ruse, a con, propaganda.

Well, biblical scholars, street preachers, and "Jesus freaks out in the streets handing tickets out for god" have been reading and interpreting ambiguous statements for a very long time. I will read his books, but from the PR release it appears that he is just teaching an alternate way to interpret the a body of literature handed down from about 1500 to 2000 years.

Finally, it is conceivable that an imperial state that created and managed a religion that deified their emperors as Gods would have created another false religion to keep the peasants happy. At the same time that the Christian Pot came to boil, Cults of Attis, Cybele, Mysteries of Isis, Trophonius, Dionysian Mysteries, Eleusinian Mysteries, and Mithraic Mysteries (to name just a few) abounded in the empire. Many of these cults appealed to a narrow demograph9c. Mithraic was a cult of the legions, Christianity of the poor, and the others each had their own followers.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 12:24 PM

12. So The Jesus burning on the cross was a kind of false flag operation?

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Response to mindwalker_i (Reply #12)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 12:39 PM

15. No, most likely just a total fabrication.

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Response to mindwalker_i (Reply #12)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 12:55 PM

20. burning?

 

The alleged son of god was stapled to a cross, not burnt on it.

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #20)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 12:58 PM

22. Well if The Jesus was just a made-up thing

an "experiment on paper," then getting stapled seems appropriate.

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Response to mindwalker_i (Reply #22)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 02:41 PM

31. +1

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Response to mindwalker_i (Reply #12)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 10:06 PM

56. The KKK burn crosses, not the Romans.

 

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Response to truebluegreen (Reply #56)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 11:37 PM

62. To be fair, there aren't a lof of Romans to burn any more

And Brutus was never much of a supervillian.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 12:36 PM

13. old news for some.... heres a great site about the "history" of jesus

 

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 12:37 PM

14. The bible was written 250 yrs after it supposed happened. Archaeologists, anthropoligists,

 


explorers, scientists have found physical evidence, tools, artifacts, entire cities, frozen bodies, bones dating back 240 million years
but none of them has ever found any evidence, not a shred of proof relating to anyone or anything written about in the bible.

The only truth in the bible are the mentions of actual historical figures and places. Biblical scholars say the bible is full of lies.

Tell a story on Monday and by the time it comes back on Friday you wouldn't recognize it!

It is not possible that a book written 250 years later would have one word of truth in it and particularly in a time when people
were uneducated, suspicious, superstitious, paranoid and neurotic.

Aside from the obvious, right wing christians are full of hate and violence which is not in the teachings of the man they call
Jesus Christ or Gawd!

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Response to Welibs (Reply #14)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 12:42 PM

16. "tools, artifacts, entire cities, frozen bodies, bones dating back 240 million years." Really?

240 million years? Where are you getting that info?

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #16)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 12:57 PM

21. My interpretation is that 240 m.y. refers to "bones" not e.g. "entire cities".

 

And more precisely, not bones, fossils.

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #21)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 01:01 PM

23. Human bones?

It seems that this poster is implying that human remains have been found to be that old, no?

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #23)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 01:18 PM

24. no, just "bones".

 

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #23)

Thu Oct 10, 2013, 03:19 PM

73. IIRC, the human species is only 100,000 years old or so. n/t

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Response to backscatter712 (Reply #73)

Thu Oct 10, 2013, 04:50 PM

74. That's what I thought, too.

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Response to Welibs (Reply #14)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 12:49 PM

19. 240 million years??

 

Not hardly..man did not walk the earth before the dinos..

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Response to Welibs (Reply #14)

Thu Oct 10, 2013, 10:13 PM

79. You Are Claiming The the Bible

(or perhaps you mean the New Testament) was written in the late 3rd century? We have manuscripts earlier than that. The core of Paul's epistles are pretty clearly from the 1st century.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 01:19 PM

25. Do you believe this information

is incontrovertible proof that JC's existence was completely fabricated?

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Response to Dorian Gray (Reply #25)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 01:32 PM

26. How can I? He hasn't presented his evidence yet.

But considering the total lack of extra-biblical historical evidence for the existence of Jesus, I already have concluded that this is the most likely explanation. It's not a new concept.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 01:57 PM

27. Maybe David Icke will be there!

He's read the book and seen the documentary and he loves it.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 02:00 PM

28. The GOP will love this.

They will be able to completely ignore the New Testament with its socialistic tendencies. They won't have to miss stoning people for much longer.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 02:05 PM

29. One would have to see the evidence, but it sounds intriguing

From the article, it doesn't sound as if he has a "smoking crucifix"; but this kind of claim always needs in-depth examination in any case. Fun stuff, thanks for posting!

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 02:19 PM

30. Well, it's certainly a more-plausible explanation than believing all the supernatural hokum

about Jesus.

I've never been convinced he really existed, anymore than I believe Thor or Zeus existed.

Mankind misses out on something beautiful when we insist on treating our myths like they're reality.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 03:00 PM

32. Oh this discredited dreck again.

 

Don't you ever follow the links you post? Aside from the fact that your link is to a press release about a paid speech (tickets only £25.00!)

http://www.covertmessiah.com/

I think it was last year that Joseph Atwill, briefly, posted in here when this came up.

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Response to rug (Reply #32)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 03:03 PM

33. Good catch (nt)

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Response to rug (Reply #32)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 03:06 PM

34. Here you go.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1218&pid=26856

Despite his statement that he would be willing to discuss, he went scampering when confronted by murielvolestrangler.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #34)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 03:11 PM

36. Is it possible that that was not really him?

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Response to cbayer (Reply #34)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 06:12 PM

47. His reply to me didn't really make any sense, as far as I can tell

I had totally forgotten about that. Whoever that poster was said

"The Christians that set fire to Rome - if this was an historical event - would have certainly been the Christians that rebelled and drove the Romans out of Judea in 66 CE.

This was simply how long it took."

And that just doesn't seem to fit with the continued claims of "Christianity did not really begin as a religion, but a sophisticated government project, a kind of propaganda exercise used to pacify the subjects of the Roman Empire".

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #47)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 06:12 PM

48. I think you scared him because you know more than he does.

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Response to rug (Reply #32)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 03:10 PM

35. Well, I guess we will see if/when he shows his "evidence."

Until then...

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #35)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 03:17 PM

37. He's been "showing" it for years. Only the gullible buy it.

 

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Response to rug (Reply #37)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 03:25 PM

38. "Only the gullible buy it." I think that's his point.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #38)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 03:27 PM

39. I'll spot you £25.00 if you're short.

 

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Response to rug (Reply #39)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 03:56 PM

43. You're so very generous.

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Response to rug (Reply #32)

Thu Oct 10, 2013, 08:20 PM

78. Shucks, I had gotten all excited, had looked the book up in Amazon, my balloon is popped!1 n/t

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 03:36 PM

40. If Josephus wanted to invent Christianity,

he was a bit late to the game -- Paul beat him by several decades. The core of Paul's letters is universally considered genuine and placed in the 50s and 60s.

I would be interested in seeing how Atwill lines up the events in Josephus which supposedly prove that the Gospels are derivative. A lot of ancient itineraries are determined by the terrain and limited road structure. Galilee-Samaris-Judea was along one north-south axis. Certainly Titus followed the same roads and stopped at the same places that Jesus did going from Galilee to Jerusalem -- because everybody did. (It would be like saying "What an incredible coincidence -- I stopped at Breezewod, Pennsylvania too!"

Now, the motivations Atwill attributes to the Romans were real. They certainly wanted a pacified population and would not stoop to religious manipulation. They deified their emperors. However, a divine Christ was also a potential competitor to the Emperor. If it came from anwhere in the political power structure, it is likely to have originated in the Jewish vassal state.

If Atwill had wanted to develop that theory, he really should have looked in the direction of Paul. Paul was apparently a member of Herod's clan and had a vested interest in the status quo. You could argue that Paul built the Christian church as a Roman-inspired secret society specifically to provide an alternative to zealot groups that posed a real threat. It is certainly no accident that Paul's church took an unthreatening form, although maybe not as the result of the kind of deliberate machinations he imagines.

Not enough scholars IMO look at Biblical history in terms of general historical and political patterns like this. I appreciate Atwill raising the issue in terms of the New Testament. I just think that government attempts to pacify the population through religious belief are universal and continuous, and that there are more likely ways that this might have influenced early Christianity than the unlikely one Atwill has constructed.

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Response to On the Road (Reply #40)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 04:56 PM

44. The core of Paul's letter is universally considered genuine............

Always dangerous to use the word universally in NT studies. A fair answer is "no." Off the top, the fact that the number of them considered genuine is completely up for grabs, whether 5, 7, 10 (or any likely small number) is a good clue. Then to that add in that Clement is barely aware of Paul adds more doubt, and you can admit there is room for the theory that all of Paul was constructed by another author (or several others), perhaps Marcion.

I'm not claiming that, only noting that this theory exists.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #44)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 10:06 PM

55. Well, If Anyone Invented Them It Would Have Been Marcion

although it's not like he had to invent an apostle to get people to listen to him.

By universal, I guess I meant the kind of scholar who might have been part of The Jesus Seminar or post on Crosstalk2, which is probably the best place to get a sense of what scholars are saying to each other. Claims that Jesus didn't exist tend to get short shrift.

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Response to On the Road (Reply #55)

Thu Oct 10, 2013, 01:07 AM

64. I have a definite soft spot for Marcion. Around 150 CE, his brand of Christianity was the

hottest thing going, so competitive that the proto-orthodox church labeled him the Son of Satan. I believe, although there are no precise surveys, that his sect would have been the most numerous at that period. He made the grave tactical error of discouraging children, hence his sect didn't take permanent root and dominate western civilization.
Later, of course, when the proto-orthodox church became established, they saw to it that his books were all burned. They claimed he rewrote Paul to suit his own purposes-- I would like to hear what Marcion had to say about who was first. Ditto his gospel.
Old news, of course. It's all there in Harnack.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #64)

Thu Oct 10, 2013, 09:38 AM

69. If You Like Marcion, You Might Appreciate This Site

http://bit.ly/19C7pfP
(shortened link via the Wayback Machine)

As far as I can tell, the site was built by a Jewish messianist who has a ministry of some kind in Texas. It is ridiculously nonacademic (eg all the red bold underlining), but the historical hypothesis it presents is sophisticated and AFAIK unique. It depends heavily on Marcion.

Lyons's thesis is that the gnostics were the first Christians and Marcion's Bible centered on Paul was the original New Testament. Lyons believes that the initial gospel stories were allegorical, but that the 'orthodox' successors began to take the stories literally. The four Gospels were written mid-second century -- it seems way too late, but his reasoning is interesting. Lyons deals with the charges that you mention that Marcion altered Paul and shows why it is unlikely it happened that way.

IIRC, Lyons is a Jesus-myther, but it is not necessary to share that belief to appreciate his material on gnosticism, Marcion, and the New Testament.

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Response to On the Road (Reply #69)

Thu Oct 10, 2013, 06:42 PM

75. Bookmarked as very interesting. Meanwhile, have you looked at Bruce Brooks and his

concept of Alpha Christiainity? http://www.umass.edu/wsp/alpha/

It would be simpler if we could just assign revision numbers, so that Alpha Christianity becomes 1.0, Paulinism is 2.0, there are a bunch of Gnostic variations as 3.xx, and finally proto-orthodoxy is 4.0.

Not that simple, unfortunately.

Marcion studies have an interesting difficulty. Harnack covered it so thoroughly in the early part of the 20th century that there's virtually nothing left to say. Archaeology hasn't been lucky enough to dig up any Marcionite remnants recently either.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #44)

Thu Oct 10, 2013, 06:46 PM

76. Not to mention that the letters of "Paul"

 

were written by at least two separate people, referred to as "Paul" and "Deuteropaul."

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Response to On the Road (Reply #40)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 09:49 PM

52. It is possible that Jesus was a real man who started a religion the Romans found convenient

to propagate as a means to pacify the slave population. Such cooptation doesn't necessarily have to be founded in a complete fabrication, and it would hardly be surprising if Josephus, who was apparently a talented propagandist, had this very thing in mind when he began to create the legend.

There is no question that the Jesus cult, if one may use the term, once established is recorded as a contemporaneous fact starting with Paul. I would be curious to see some historical evidence that it was the elites who had a seminal role in incubating Christianity, rather than merely acting opportunistically by later propagating it widely around the Empire.

One may be an agnostic on this subject, and both admit for the possibility that Jesus the prophet actually existed, but that the Roman elites were largely responsible for later spreading the legend of Jesus the Christ.

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Response to leveymg (Reply #52)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 11:54 PM

63. The Way That the Romans Spread Religious Pacificism

was by promoting emperor worship along with Roman gods and holidays. A divine savior was a potential competitor.

Jesus seems to have been regarded as a potential revolutionary as shown by his arrest and method of execution. Since revolution was known to run in families, Domitian had Jesus' grandnephews dragged in to see if they were dangerous. They were dismissed as hapless rubes, which seems to be largely how Christians were perceived except when their refusal to sacrifice to the emperor got them sent to the gladitorial ring, as recounted in sources like Perpetua's diary.

Atwill seems to do what a lot of people do who charge others with not reading the Bible -- fail to read it himself. The Gospels are shot through with angry condemnations, calls for divine judgement, and prophecies of destruction which are utterly alien to anything Josephus or the Romans would have wanted to spread. I can't see Mark 13 fitting into this scenario at all along with a lot of other passages.

Personally, I don't think Jesus was violent during his lifetime, but I do not know if he would have become violent in the event of an uprising -- he might have felt called to lead the revolt and been more like a bar Kosibah figure. Or he might have remained more like his brother James, alternating among benevolence, mysticism, and vicious denunciations.

I really do appreciate Atwill's bringing the kind of political perspective that he does. I believe it is more useful, however, to abandon the invented Jesus portion of the theory along with the Josephus speculation and apply those insights to the realm where it would have taken place -- namely the Jewish political and religious hierarchies who were constantly trying to quell the kind of rebellion that eventually led to national ruin. For example, you could take the approach that the Sermon on the Mount was added later as a pacifistic element by Paul's followers. Many of the sayings in Matthew 4-6 are similar to teachings of people like Hillel the Elder, who was an accomodationist with Rome and a favorite of the upper classes. That line of thinking might be worth developing.

Atwill hasn't really done the homework necessary to propose a different authorship for the Gospels. The complex relationship between the four books has been studied for about a century and a half and is well established. You don't just read a list of place names in Josephus and say the Gospels were all made up by the same author. Even if he is seeing a legitimate influence, there are more likely alternatives such as a 2nd-century date for the Gospels which would allow for an influence by Josephus's writings. That is less sensational but more likely.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 03:46 PM

41. Should be interesting to see what they come up with. I don't think it will change my faith and it

 

won't change many minds. But it should be interesting to see the findings.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 03:50 PM

42. Your link is a press release; the event advertised is styled "Is Christianity the genesis of

modern psychological warfare?"

The speakers are Joseph Atwill, whose background is investing (he apparently made his money trading dot-coms), and Kenneth Humphreys, who has a masters in social sciences plus certificates in pedagogy and business studies

The general thesis of Mr Humphrey, that Jesus never existed, is not particularly striking or innovative anymore, and it is certainly not shocking in most circles -- though a quick look at Mr Humphrey's website will show that he is entirely unable to examine this (still possibly interesting) question, and related questions, with any careful rational detachment. Religious syncretism is worth studying, and interactions between religious doctrine and folklore deserve attention -- but Mr Humphrey is sadly unable to distinguish ax-grinding from scholarship, and predictable cherrypicking accordingly numbers among his major techniques

The general thesis of Mr Atwill, that Christianity is an imperial invention designed to subvert the rebellions of Roman Judea, has the advantage of novelty -- though, again, by now there is nothing particularly new or shocking in the mere claim that the Christian texts are forgeries. And, of course, it would be interesting could one show definitively any importation from Josephus into those texts: such an importation doesn't seem to me obviously impossible. But Mr Atwill's thesis that the texts themselves are of Roman origin, and that they represent a Roman attempt to create a religion whose followers would be subservient to Rome, conflicts IMO with too many contrary indications, in the texts themselves and in what we know about Roman reactions to Christianity, to merit more than about an afternoon's consideration. Unsurprisingly, the over-all reaction of the scholarly world to Atwill's thesis is that same silence which greets the Great Pyramidiots and other such cranks

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 05:01 PM

45. I fear the timing is off some. More likely 3rd/4th century Romans picked and chose what they liked

from the many reams of Christian lit, retuned them to their song, and then burned the rest. As proof I submit that educated Romans wouldn't have written the Gospel of Mark so badly. Its Greek is atrocious.


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Response to dimbear (Reply #45)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 10:05 PM

54. At that point the Romans had already been using religion to unite their empire

 

for centuries. First they just added their own gods to the local existing ones, later they used the cult of the Emperor. Finally, they co-opted Christianity--which had become too popular to be ignored--tossed out texts that indicated Jesus was just a man, kept the ones that cast him as divine, and adopted Paul's authoritarian outlook--the better to keep the flock under control.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #45)

Thu Oct 10, 2013, 02:10 AM

65. The Roman Empire was in a state of crisis for much of the Third and Fourth Centuries, so

it seems unlikely to me that the Roman intelligentsia had much spare energy in the Third Century or early Fourth Century to devote to a small and obscure Jewish splinter sect, a hundred and fifty or more years after the destruction of the Jewish nation:

Rome was at war with the Sasanids 229–232 and 241–244. Severus Alexander was assassinated in 235 CE. He was followed by:

Maximinus I (235-238), assassinated
Gordian I (238), suicide
Gordian II (238), killed in battle
Pupienus (238), assassinated
Balbinus (238), assassinated
Gordian III (238-244), died, possibly assassinated
Philip I (244-249), killed in battle
Trajan Decius (249 - 251), killed in battle

The Plague of Cyprian broke out in 251 and lasted fifteen years, causing up to 5000 deaths/day in Rome at its peak. Rome was at war with the Sasanids 252–261. At about the same time, the Empire split into four fragments. The list of short-lived emperors continues:

Hostilian (251), died of plague
Trebonianus Gallus (251 - 253), assassinated
Aemilian (253), assassinated
Valerian (253 - 260), captured in the current Sasanid war, died in captivity
Gallienus (253 - 268), assassinated
Claudius Gothicus (268 - 270), died of plague
Quintillus (270), died, possibly assassinated or suicide
Aurelian (270 - 275), assassinated
Tacitus (275 - 276), died, possibly assassinated
Florian (276), assassinated
Probus (276 - 282), assassinated
Carus(282 - 283), died
Numerian (283 - 284), died, possibly assassinated
Carinus (283 - 285), died in battle

Rome was at war with the Sasanids 283 and 296-8. Diocletian partially reunited the Empire in 293, but the reunification only survived about twenty years, leading to several civil wars from 311 until Constantine's victory in 324. Rome was again at war with the Sasanids 337–350

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #65)

Thu Oct 10, 2013, 05:33 AM

67. As I heard it, the Sasanids play quite an important part in western history. Constantine admired

their single religion system, in their case Zoroastrianism, noted its efficiency, and instituted the same. Since Coca Cola was taken, he had to go with Pepsi.
It took quite a span of time to complete the process, which gradually amped up from permission to encouragement to tax advantages and then under Constantine's successors (with a slight interlude to allow Julian to expire) to outright prohibition of the competition.

No matter what you think of Constantine's morals, which shouldn't be much, the man was a genius in the political arena. He left a big, big mark.




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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 05:01 PM

46. Not particularly new.

 

There are no contemporary accounts that Jesus lived. No outside sources talking about him.

We know that Julius Caesar lived; we have his writings and what other contemporaries wrote about him.

Jesus has identical characteristics as Mithra, Zeus, Osiris, Apollo and other gods.


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Response to Manifestor_of_Light (Reply #46)

Sat Oct 12, 2013, 03:49 PM

87. No, Jesus does not have "identical characteristics"

to "Mithra, Zeus, Osiris, Apollo," etc. None of them even has "identical characteristics" to the others, for crying out loud. Your statement is pure superstition. How do you feel about black cats and the number 13?

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 08:25 PM

49. I don't understand the need for Rome to invent Jesus, particularly since it kinda backfired...

 

but it makes little sense, at that time, Palestine was a province that was convulsing with dissent, religious revivals, revolutionary thinking, and cults galore, adding yet another Jewish Messiah in the mix wouldn't help much, even if he supposedly preached love and peace.

Jesus, assuming such a preacher existed, was most likely an apocalyptic Jewish preacher, they were a dime a dozen back then, though frankly he was more likely a conglomeration of several such preachers and ideas as written in the Gospels, centering on a legendary figure of Jesus Christ.

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Response to Humanist_Activist (Reply #49)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 10:51 PM

58. How did the "Render unto Caesar ..." approach backfire against Rome?

 

For Rome, it was the most important thing attributed to JC, the highest authority for persons who would otherwise be trouble-makers.

Some know that JC said it himself because it is traceable to Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17; and Luke 20:20-26.

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Response to AnotherMcIntosh (Reply #58)

Thu Oct 10, 2013, 07:04 AM

68. Not quite true, first off, Jesus Christ didn't become prominent until a century later...

 

at least. It was a sect of Jews at first, then gained a following through Gentiles later.

However, regardless as to what was attributed to Jesus Christ, or what he could have possibly said, the fact is that none of it mattered in his lifetime, or a lifetime or two afterwards, the cult surrounding him as the messiah simply wasn't prominent enough to warrant Rome's attention outside of being a curiosity.

Also, up until around 70 AD, Rome was becoming slightly more tolerant of their Jewish subjects, creating compromises that allowed the Jews of that time to worship as they please, as long as they acknowledge Rome as head of the earthly realm. The Jewish religion was still considered atheistic to them, why would they create another sect of this atheistic heresy that won't recognize Rome's divine rights?

Fast forward 3 centuries, and you have the Roman Emperor himself being so concerned about going into the right afterlife he "converted" to all known religions, sort of, and legalized Christianity, if it were an invention of Rome to begin with, why wasn't it legalized when it was founded or initially spread?

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Response to Humanist_Activist (Reply #68)

Thu Oct 10, 2013, 11:01 AM

70. If you are committed to the premise that "he lived," then you can apply your own logic to

 

justify any thinking.

Atwill's book shows that "his life" and things attributed to him are all traceable to previous events.

You might find his book worth reading.

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Response to AnotherMcIntosh (Reply #70)

Thu Oct 10, 2013, 02:28 PM

71. Actually, I doubt Jesus existed as portrayed in the Gospels...

 

I would say he's a legendary figure either based on some type of historical "Jesus", or a chimeric character that has attributes from more than one 1st century preacher's life, combined with elements of other myths from surrounding regions, creating the character that we know of today as Jesus Christ.

I just think the premise that he is a product of Rome to be rather weak.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 09:00 PM

50. Jesus Mythbusting

October 8, 2013 By James F. McGrath 7 Comments

Several people .. drew my attention to a misleading press release about Joseph Atwill, who is listed there as a “Biblical scholar,” even though there is no evidence that he has relevant qualifications or research to his name ... The press release claims “ancient confessions recently uncovered now prove, according to Atwill, that the New Testament was written by first-century Roman aristocrats and that they fabricated the entire story of Jesus Christ.” That such claims were recently uncovered by someone who is not a historian of the ancient world is unlikely to turn out to be true. Even when scholars come into possession of allegedly new and exciting sources, they sometimes turn out to be fakes. I suspect that this sensationalism will turn out to be nothing other than yet another attempt to promote his self-published book Caesar’s Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus ...

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2013/10/jesus-mythbusting.html

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #50)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 10:54 PM

59. "scholars ... sometimes turn out to be fakes". But Holy water is real?

 

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Response to AnotherMcIntosh (Reply #59)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 11:09 PM

60. "allegedly new and exciting sources ... sometimes turn out to be fakes" would be my reading

though, of course, it is also true that "scholars ... sometimes turn out to be fakes"

Since different sects, and different persons within a sect, can hold different views of the significance of "holy water," it will perhaps be not particularly useful for me to pursue further discussion of that topic with you: I would maintain my views are not in any sense "magical," since I regard "magic" (if proposed as a serious subject, rather than as merely a species of entertainment involving clever misdirection) as a variety of deceit and therefore anathema, and I would also assert that my views are essentially philosophical (meaning here, ethical and metaphysical) involving nothing that could be proven or disproven by scientific methods -- but I suspect you are nevertheless unlikely to approve of the varioussignificances which I might sometimes ascribe to it

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #60)

Thu Oct 10, 2013, 02:17 AM

66. If Marco Polo's Holy water was good enough for the Kublai Khan, why not you?

 

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Response to AnotherMcIntosh (Reply #66)

Thu Oct 10, 2013, 02:35 PM

72. You'll have to forgive me for not having much of an opinion about a conversation

seven hundred fifty years ago, that has been reported from only one side

Since Polo and the Khan came from vastly different cultures and spoke entirely different languages, it is entirely unclear to me how well they could have understood each other, if even they did chat, and even if Polo had a tolerable grasp of the Khan's speech

The time and place is quite far removed from my own, and the cultural distance between myself and either Polo or the Khan is simply enormous, dwarfing the geographical and temporal divide: I don't know how to put myself easily into the mindset of Polo or of the Khan, whose alleged conversation occurred when Roger Bacon was first pushing the importance of experiment in the West, before the kinematic work of the Merton calculators, several centuries before movable type appeared in Europe, before the Renaissance, and before the Reformation. The alleged conversation occurred centuries before Thomas Digges, in England, having attempted (and failed) to measure the parallax of Brahe's "new star" of 1572, proposed abolishing the firmament and suggested that the stars might be suns like ours, but inconceivably far away

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #50)

Fri Oct 11, 2013, 08:31 PM

84. It is true that Atwill only attended "a Jesuit Military Academy" and had no real scholarly cred but


he did sleep at a Holiday Inn the night before he wrote the book!

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Response to grantcart (Reply #84)

Sat Oct 12, 2013, 12:35 AM

85. To be fair, he was up half the night underlining the Gideon Bible with crayons.

 

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 09:21 PM

51. Sorry, but if there really were good evidence for that...

...it would be published as a heavily footnoted and peer-reviewed academic monogram by a university publisher.

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Response to Deep13 (Reply #51)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 11:27 PM

61. Or at least published by a genuine publisher instead of self-published thru a vanity press

Caesar's Messiah
by Joseph Atwill ...
Product Details
ISBN-13: 9781461096405
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication date: 5/18/2011CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


CreateSpace

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Response to Deep13 (Reply #51)

Sat Oct 12, 2013, 04:05 PM

90. Nail, head.

(Or at least make it to Harper's San Francisco.)

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2013, 09:56 PM

53. Alas! How dreary would the world be if there were no Jesus.

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Response to eShirl (Reply #53)

Sat Oct 12, 2013, 09:56 PM

93. Sorry Virginia, but it was your parents all along.

If the real universe doesn't create enough wonder for you, a gift-giving elf isn't going to do it either.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Fri Oct 11, 2013, 04:58 AM

80. ... Atwill's theory is one of the sillier ones at the kooky end of the Jesus Myther spectrum. It's

in the same kook basket as Carotta (Jesus = Julius Caesar) and Unterbrink (Jesus = Judas the Galilean). There are a couple more like them around, including Jesus = Herod Philip and Jesus = Herod Agrippa.

They all take pretty much the same tack: (i) make a big deal about the fact that there isn't much evidence of Jesus outside the Bible, (ii) note some vague parallels between some elements of their chosen "real" Jesus and the Jesus in the gospels (this requites some creativity and twisty thinking) (iii) invent a crazy conpsiracy theory about who turned their guy into Jesus and why and (iv) triumphantly conclude that Jesus was "really" their chosen guy and that no-one had noticed this until they came along to reveal it unto the world in their crappy little book.

These nutters keeps self-publishing companies in business ...

http://www.rationalskepticism.org/christianity/caesar-s-messiah-was-jesus-a-satire-t13531.html

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #80)

Fri Oct 11, 2013, 10:39 AM

81. As silly as the one where Jesus is killed then resurrected?

That one must be further down the kooky end, huh?

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #81)

Fri Oct 11, 2013, 05:14 PM

82. Your rhetoric suggests that from your conviction, that the Jesus stories are nonsense, you conclude

that the appropriate response is to spout nonsense of your own

If that is, in fact, your stance then I can't see much prospect for useful conversation

I think I've repeatedly made clear in this group my own position that these stories cannot defensibly be read as historical texts or as scientific texts and that in my understanding they have other objectives. I think I've also repeatedly made clear that I believe there are profitable readings of the texts from a atheistic-materialistic perspective

You are not obliged, of course, to accept my views on such matters

But if your approach will be to promote amateur conspiracy theories, of the Atwill sort, from which none of us can really learn much, and to justify this only by sneering that you consider religion kookier than Atwill's swill, then IMO you are not really interested to see where we might agree or how we might think productively about the world we both inhabit

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #82)

Fri Oct 11, 2013, 05:56 PM

83. The captivity of confirmation bias is dismaying to behold.

 

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Response to rug (Reply #83)

Sat Oct 12, 2013, 08:41 PM

91. Selective Skepticism

By James F. McGrath
Associate Professor of Religion
Butler University, Indianapolis
October 2013

If you aren’t a scholar but want to pretend to be one, what does it take to get your claims some serious media attention? Apparently all it takes is getting someone famous, Richard Dawkins, to mention your claims ... Richard Dawkins, after all, is world famous for his skepticism, is he not? But the truth is that we all tend to be less skeptical when we encounter claims that we would want to be true. And presumably that is what happened when Richard Dawkins came across the claim by Joseph Atwill that Jesus was invented by the Romans. He saw, he liked, he retweeted – with no skeptical questions asked ... Atwill’s claims are silly nonsense – so ridiculous that even Richard Carrier, who is himself rather a fringe figure in the domain of history, regards Atwill as the sort of figure who, through association, gives him a bad name! ... I think that what’s interesting about this case is not what Atwill claims. It is just more bunk pseudoscholarship of a sort that has been around for as long as people have been writing down their thoughts on subjects in which they have no expertise. No, what’s truly interesting is how a press release which calls someone who has no qualifications, no teaching appointment, no relevant expertise of any kind a “scholar” can be accepted uncritically and retweeted by someone whose public activity has been aimed at getting people to be more discerning, to think more critically ...

http://www.bibleinterp.com/opeds/2013/10/mcg378011.shtml

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #91)

Sat Oct 12, 2013, 08:59 PM

92. Dawkins follows up:

"However, he later tweeted: "RT doesn't imply endorsement. I'm not qualified to judge Atwill's thesis. Just thought it might be worth a look." "

My original suspicions, that he had had a small stroke, are now not so grave.





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Response to dimbear (Reply #92)

Sat Oct 12, 2013, 10:12 PM

94. Is that the first time he's stated "I'm not qualified" in regard to anything concerning religion?

 

At least that statement puts to rest the notion that somebody hacked his twitter account.

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Response to rug (Reply #94)

Sat Oct 12, 2013, 10:59 PM

95. I don't have the mad google skills of some of our members, but a few clicks shows that no,

it's not.


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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #82)

Sat Oct 12, 2013, 08:47 AM

86. The point is that

 

every one of these stories has an agenda, and not verifiable facts, behind it. That a lot of people actually, literally believe the one where a man is killed and then magically comes back to life, or that some people find the the phenomenon of that belief interesting does not make it any less kooky than the others, only more comforting and socially acceptable.

But if you'd care to make a case that believing someone died and rose again from the dead is less kooky, less deluded and less likely to be false than Atwill's version of things, have at it. We won't hold our breath, though. Arguing that it's a better myth won't be worth much, unless you're willing to condemn the abysmal stupidity that elevates it far above that status in our society. Mature individuals and mature societies put myth, legend, and fairy tale in their proper perspective. Christian society doesn't.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #86)

Sat Oct 12, 2013, 03:49 PM

88. I do not understand this idea that, if one thinks someone else is misleading the public

by spouting nonsense, one can appropriately respond by spouting other nonsense of one's own to mislead the public in some other direction

When you think someone is somehow misleading the public, then (of course) you are perfectly entitled to provide arguments against the views you consider misleading: indeed, there can be a very strong moral case for such counter-argument

But you will entirely lose any possible moral high ground, if you deliberately counter what you regard as misleading nonsense with your own misleading nonsense, because by doing so you will clearly demonstrate that you have no real moral objection to misleading people

And that, in fact, seems to me exactly what you do when, in response to my post (which provides an excerpt from a skeptics blog criticizing Atwill), you suggest I should "make a case that believing someone died and rose again from the dead is less kooky, less deluded and less likely to be false than Atwill's version of things". Atwill's thesis falls flat, whether or not anyone attempts to convince you to accept any particular religious beliefs



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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #88)

Sat Oct 12, 2013, 04:01 PM

89. Clearly you don't understand it

 

since that's exactly what you're doing here. Neither I nor anyone here has suggested that Atwill merits any serious consideration. We simply refuse to take religious myth and superstition any more seriously, just because a lot of apologists and other deluded people here and elsewhere take them as something more.

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