Joseph Atwill, an American self-described Bible scholar, has claimed that Christianity emerged as a Roman conspiracy to quell the Jewish resistance, and that Jesus Christ was fabricated as a “psychological warfare” after conventional means proved ineffective.
“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,” said Atwill, who authored a controversial book titled Caesar’s Messiah, which argues that the New Testament gospels were written as wartime propaganda by first-century Roman scholars.
He claimed that the goal was to conceive a peaceful Jewish sect in a bid to balance out strong pro-independence sentiment in the province of Roman Judea, which saw a series of revolts by Jewish people against Rome.
“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,” Atwill explained.
“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.”
Atwill argued that Jesus Christ “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.”
He purported that the Romans fabricated the story of Jesus Christ sometime after the Jewish revolt of 66-73 A.D., which came to be the first of three major rebellions.
Atwill said he made the discovery when he was studying The Wars of the Jews by historian Flavius Josephus, the only known complete first-century account of the history of Judaism.
According to Atwill, the biography of Jesus, as detailed in the New Testament, was modelled on the biography of Emperor Titus Flavius Vespasianus, who destroyed Jerusalem and the Second Temple and soon suppressed the first revolt.
“I started to notice a sequence of parallels between the two texts,” Atwill recounted. “Although it's been recognised 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 as described by Josephus. This is clear evidence of a deliberately constructed pattern,” he said, adding that the biography of Jesus was constructed “tip to stern, on prior stories, but especially on the biography of a Roman Caesar.”
Atwill maintained that Romans left “a kind of puzzle literature… and the solution to that puzzle is ‘We invented Jesus Christ, and we're proud of it.’”
He went on to describe Christianity as 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,” he said.
The author acknowledged that his conclusions were not meant to “cause Christians any harm,” but raising awareness is important to tell “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.”