An American self-described Bible scholar says he has discovered evidence that the story of Jesus Christ was invented by the Romans. According to a press release, Joseph Atwill will present his findings at a symposium in London on Oct. 19 called “Covert Messiah,” where he will delve into how the New Testament and Jesus Christ was fabricated by first-century Roman rulers in an effort to pacify subjects of the empire.
In his press release, Atwill says he doesn’t want to “harm” Christianity, but calls his claimed discovery “important” for society as a whole. “Alert citizens need to know the truth about our past so we can understand how and why governments create false histories and false gods,” he writes. “They often do it to obtain a social order that is against the best interests of the common people."
Atwill says the Romans resorted to a “psychological warfare” when they created the story of a Messiah in order to quell Jewish sects who had started to rebel.
"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 writes. "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."
Jesus Christ never existed, Atwill maintains. "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."
Atwill said he had his “eureka” moment when he was compared “War of the Jews” by Flavius Josephus -- which is the only remaining first-person account of first-century Judea -- with the New Testament. "I started to notice a sequence of parallels between the two texts," he says. "Although it's been recognized by Christian scholars for centuries that the prophecies of Jesus appear to be fulfilled by what Josephus wrote about in the First Jewish-Roman War, I was seeing dozens more. What seems to have eluded many scholars is that the sequence of events and locations of Jesus' ministry are more or less the same as the sequence of events and locations of the military campaign of Titus Flavius [later emperor] as described by Josephus. This is clear evidence of a deliberately constructed pattern. The biography of Jesus is actually constructed, tip to stern, on prior stories, but especially on the biography of a Roman Caesar."
While it would seem strange that such a discovery would only be made after 2,000 years, Atwill says many of the parallel traits between the two texts are “conceptual or poetic,” so they wouldn’t have been obvious to the casual reader. “The authors did not want the average believer to see what they were doing, but they did want the alert reader to see it,” he says. “An educated Roman in the ruling class would probably have recognized the literary game being played."
“The Roman Caesars left us a kind of puzzle literature that was meant to be solved by future generations, and the solution to that puzzle is 'We invented Jesus Christ, and we're proud of it,'" Atwill adds.
Atwill acknowledges that his findings probably won’t bring about the end of Christianity as we know it, but it allows doubters to “make a clean break” from the religion. "We've got the evidence now to show exactly where the story of Jesus came from,” he asserts. “Although Christianity can be a comfort to some, it can also be very damaging and repressive, an insidious form of mind control that has led to blind acceptance of serfdom, poverty, and war throughout history. To this day, especially in the United States, it is used to create support for war in the Middle East."
Atwill will discuss his controversial theory of Jesus being invented by the Romans when he speaks at Conway Hall in London on Oct. 19. There will be a Q&A session after his presentation.
According to his blog, Caesar's Messiah, Atwill is a lifelong student of Greek, Latin, the Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls and a master-level chess player. His theories have been dismissed by others.