Joseph Atwill Claims Solid Evidence that Jesus was Fabricated by Roman Aristocrats

by Joshua Tilghman on October 12, 2013

The Sermon on the Mount Carl Bloch, 1890Last night a friend sent me a link to an article entitled, Self-Professed ‘Bible Scholar’ Makes Explosive Allegation About Jesus That He Believes Could Rock the Christian Faith to Its Core. The article appeared on Yahoo News.

Mr. Atwill, the self-professed scholar in question, believes that Roman aristocrats fabricated the story of Jesus to control the masses.

Every so often, another scholar makes similar claims. I can already tell you that they always amount to nothing. I do not say this because I am a fundamentalist Christian, nor do I have anything against Joseph Atwill. He’s probably a nice guy that takes his work very seriously. But the title to the article says it all. The fact that Mr. Atwill believes Roman aristocrats fabricated the Jesus story means that he misses the entire point for the ancient teachings in the Bible. They were originally written down as esoteric teachings to be hidden from the masses!

Jesus himself admitted to having an inner circle who could hear his teachings plainly instead of in parables. The reason these teachings were veiled is so that they would survive. If their true meanings were plainly told, Roman aristocrats would have certainly burned them! Yes, the fact that their true meanings are veiled beneath literalism allowed many religious leaders throughout history to use them to control the masses, but no, they weren’t created for that purpose.

Specifically, Atwill believes that Roman aristocrats fabricated the story of Jesus as a counter-measure to Jewish rebellions. In his own words, “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.”

I don’t believe for a second that the Roman aristocrats of the first century were smart enough to contrive such in depth teachings in the first place. Their esoteric meanings are beyond the scope of the rational mind. Can you imagine politicians and commanding generals fabricating the Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer, or the witty replies of Jesus to the Pharisees? I seriously doubt it. How about this one?

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…in Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1-1:3). Sayings like these transcend ethnic groups and embrace all of humanity, so I certainly don’t think it was a fabrication used to fight Jewish rebellions. When understood correctly, this “life” is the Christ within all men, not one man that came to combat Jewish belief systems.

As the article on Yahoo News points out, Mr. Atwill doesn’t think his evidence will be enough to shatter Christianity, but he does believe it will be enough to encourage many believers riding the fence to finally pull out of Christianity altogether.

While I don’t find any fault with leaving Christianity, I do think it would be a shame to leave Christ’s teachings, especially the power that lies within the esoteric interpretations. The transformative power of the exoteric teachings of Christianity will always be questionable and weak, but the transformative power in the esoteric persuasion will always remain strong and true.

If you’re interested in learning more about Mr. Atwill’s evidence, you may want to pay attention to his symposium, Covert Messiah, on October 13 in London, England. I’m sure it will create some waves, if only briefly.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

heather October 12, 2013 at 4:53 pm

There seems to always be the exoteric, often political, stream of…anything and the esoteric, veiled stream. Which ever one you ‘happen upon’, discernment (meditation upon, sound judgement) is the key to not being blinded by either. Christ was and is and will be, I don’t have a problem with that at all – no matter what Name, ancient or modern, He manifests by. People who create more veils by solely intellectual approaches are lacking discernment for they are not using their full faculties; their outer worldly intellect and inner ‘view’…’voice’. So they will only get a miniscule piece of the picture; like looking a tree north side they will say has moss all over the trunk; the south side person will say no way, that’s not the same tree as mine, it has no moss. They will always argue and may even start a war. Sigh. As always Joshua, your work is clear, succinct, conscious and kindly. Thank you.

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Joshua Tilghman October 13, 2013 at 11:58 am

Heather,

Nicely stated. Thanks for the comment.

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Christine Hoeflich October 13, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Joshua,

what an awesome post! I could not agree more.

The quest for the Holy Grail is also a story with hidden meaning. Some people consider the Holy Grail to be the chalice that held the blood of Christ, others revealed with much fanfare that the Holy Grail was Mary Magdalene, or rather her womb (for they claimed she had children with Jesus). But none of those are the true Holy Grail. The Holy Grail is within her, her soul; she knows the secrets of Jesus as she was not only his apostle, but also his teacher.

Many Blessings,

Christine Hoeflich

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Vic Proulx October 14, 2013 at 9:31 am

One other facet to this story: secular historians value Luke’s writings a great deal. Therefore, if you going to disprove Christ, and satisfy such historians, you must be able to explain such events as the people in Acts who were willing to be martyred. Many years ago there was such a theory presented in “The Passover Plot, ” by Hugh Schonfield. It did this with the “stand-in Jesus” theory.

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Robert October 15, 2013 at 7:10 pm

If you are interested, you can hear a 46 minute radio interview with Atwill from October 13th covering this topic by going to http://atheistoasis.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/biblical-scholar-joseph-atwill-to-make-flammable-allegation-about-jesus/. His day-long Symposium is sheduled for Saturday, October 19th.

I like Josh’s idea of esoteric knowledge being an opportunity to extract the hidden wisdom of the bible without having to accept everything about institutional Christianity.

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Joshua Tilghman October 20, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Robert,

Thanks for making us aware.

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Dan April 10, 2014 at 6:28 am

Ah yes, Caesar’s Messiah, one of the many rabbit trails I went down in my quest to debunk the scriptures. I’m not sure if there is an article here on SOS dealing with the prophecy in Daniel and the destruction of the temple in 70 a.d. There was a temple destroyed and the booty carted-off to Rome wasn’t there? No big deal, just a little curiosity on my part. Any feed back would be great.
Actually, I just noticed a post about Wars, Rumors of Wars, I think I’ll read that now.

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Dan April 10, 2014 at 6:45 am

Ah yes, Caesar’s Messiah, one of the many rabbit trails I went down in my quest to debunk the scriptures. I’m not sure if there is an article here on SOS dealing with the prophecy in Daniel and the destruction of the temple in 70 a.d. There was a temple destroyed and the booty carted-off to Rome wasn’t there? No big deal, just a little curiosity on my part. Any feed back would be great.
Actually, I just noticed a post about Wars, Rumors of Wars, I think I’ll read that now.
Well that was a great article (Wars, Rumors of Wars), but wasn’t was I was thinking. Anyway, I’m going to look for something on this topic of the temple being destroyed (literally). For no reason really.

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Jakob July 16, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Dan: My understanding is in agreement with yours, it does appear that The Temple truly was destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans, at the behest of the emperor’s son, Titus. This purportedly occurred four years after the Jewish/Palestinian revolt (66 AD), and has been documented by multiple, independent sources. The fact that Titus carried the Jewish treasures to Rome is quite conclusively established by the Grand Arch of Titus ( http://www.bible-history.com/archaeology/rome/arch-titus-relief-1b.jpg ), bearing such artifacts as the Candelabrum – a highly revered and sacred object in Judaism. What else they ‘carted-off’ would be difficult to discern, but it is quite likely that there was quite a treasure-trove.
Some centuries later, in 410 AD, Alaric the Great (of the Teutonic Visigoths) sacked Rome, and, according to Procopius, made off with the greatest treasures of that great city – “the treasures of Solomon, the King of the Hebrews, a sight most worthy to be seen, for they were adorned in the most part with emeralds and in the olden time THEY HAD BEEN TAKEN FROM JERUSALEM BY THE ROMANS.” (Procopius, History of the Wars Book V). A few centuries after this, the Knight’s Templar came to inhabit the region; it may even be the case that the Roman Catholic Church derived some of its wealth from this storehouse of ancient treasure, but to my knowledge this isn’t documented historically.

Hopefully this was helpful, and gave you one or two paths to explore. The Destruction of the Temple is generally alleged to have occurred in 70 AD (as mentioned), so if you’d like to know more about this event and its causes, I would suggest exploring the Herodian Period – which came to a close some 7 or so years before this. Also the writings of Josephus, the Jewish historian, or even the Talmudic writings. Good luck on your quest for Truth!

Kind regards,

Jakob

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