You are viewing the NationofChange archives. For the latest news and actions, visit the new
Get Email Updates | Log In | Register

Was Jesus Christ a Roman Fabrication?

Ashley Curtin
NationofChange / News Report
Published: Friday 11 October 2013
American Biblical scholar Joesph Atwill insists that Jesus Christ is a fictional character in literature and his entire life can be traced back to different sources.
Article image

Jesus Christ is a fictional character. At least that is what American Biblical scholar Joesph Atwill claims. Atwill’s recent controversial discovery says that the first-century Romans, who wrote the New Testament, fabricated the story of Jesus Christ. He will reveal his theory in his first public appearance at the “Covert Messiah” Conference on Oct. 19 in London.

Christianity, as Atwill described it, started as a “sophisticated government project,” not a religion. It was used as a pacifier for the subjects of the Roman Empire, according to a press release. Atwill claims that Jewish sects in Palestine were “waiting for a prophesied warrior Messiah” during the rebellious first century, but when the Romans’ conventional ways of squashing violence didn’t work, they used reverse psychology. That is when the fictional character of Jesus Christ, the peaceful “messiah”, was invented. The Jews “gave into Caesar” and paid their taxes to Rome.

“I present my work with some ambivalence, as I do not want to directly cause Christianity any harm,” Atwill was quoted in a press release. “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.”

Atwill insists that Jesus Christ is a fictional character in literature and his entire life can be traced back to different sources.

“Once those sources are all laid bare, there’s simply nothing left,” he was quoted in a press release.

While his theory is said to upset Christians and contradict other scholars’ beliefs, Atwill said it is conclusive and confident. He said that there are many "parallels," which are either conceptual or poetic, but the authors of the highly studied books put it out there for "alert readers" to figure out. Atwill said that the "Roman Caesars left us a kind of puzzle literature that was meant to be solved by future generations." 

So as many people ponder the theory that Jesus Christ might be a fictional character, the future of Christianity is at a breaking point. 

Atwill will present his theory with fellow scholar Kenneth Humphreys, who is the author of the book, "Jesus Never Existed." 

Author pic
ABOUT Ashley Curtin

Ashley Curtin is an exclusive reporter for NationofChange writing on trending topics such as politics, the economy, human rights and the environment from around the world. Before this, she was a features reporter at Daily Breeze, a local newspaper in Southern California, writing a variety of stories with focus in the field of science and medicine, arts and entertainment. Ashley is a transplant from Boston now calling Los Angeles her home.

Constantine declared

Constantine declared Christianity the religion of his Roman Empire hence, The Holy Roman Empire. He may have done it for political purposes because the masses believed in Christianity and he would then have a peaceful Empire if he accepted their beliefs. He also accepted the beliefs of other religions as had earlier leaders of the Empire. Constantine's Edict of Milan made for a stronger Empire, as it had been weakening.
His mother was a follower although he was not in his early days. After later becoming a believer himself, he was baptized just before his death.
He may have done it for political purposes to strengthen a weakening empire, but those morality snipits, passed down from generation to generation have helped Christianity to grow. Whether the stories were written in 67 AD or begun in 300 AD, Christianity is here.
The acceptance of other moral religious beliefs is necessary if we are to live in peace. Constantine knew it then and maybe our new Pope does, too.

Many people have tried to

Many people have tried to discredit and disbelieve who Jesus was and is - that is the son of God and Savior. However, is what would surprise many who doubt in Jesus as the Messiah is that the Bible does say that there will be many who will not believe and even mock the name of Jesus.

As for me, I have place my faith in Jesus and God's Word. The difference that knowing Christ has made in my life is tremendous. While I know that it may cause some alarm (true believers will not be alarmed, but maybe even strengthened in their witness), I believe that this type of questioning could even open doors for the Gospel to be preached even more. In the face of persecution.


Born Again Believer

I am no biblical scholar,

I am no biblical scholar, though I've read a few books on the subject of the historical Jesus, over the years. Atwill will have a hard sell, I believe. I'm more inclined to believe that Jesus was real person who preached to his fellow Jews in his lifetime and was crucified for it, whereas Paul was the one who opened up the Christian message to Gentiles and invented what we now know as Christianity.

I think I will follow this controversy, just to see how it turns out. I'm not a Christian myself, but I was reared as one, and have some interest in the subject. Of course I don't believe in the Resurrection. Dead people never return, although people who had "Near-Death" experiences might try to convince us otherwise.

However, this is so controversial, the idea that Jesus was a Roman fabrication. I'd be more willing to believe he was a Jewish fabrication than a Roman one. Is Atwill just a "Ted Cruz" scholar, seeking publicity by being outrageous?

I believe there was a brief mention of a Jesus "the brother of James" by Josephus, the historian of that era. And there were followers of Jesus in Palestine. Would that be likely if Jesus was a Roman invention? It will be interesting to see what kind of proof he comes up with to support his contention. It's not necessary, after all, to believe that the Romans fabricated Jesus to prove that Christianity is based on a myth.

How can he possibly say he does not "want to directly cause Christianity any harm"? Intentionally or not, if he could prove what he says, intelligent Christians would feel bound to give up Christianity altogether. For the fanatical fundamentalist, however, belief will continue no matter how convincing his proof might be.

It seems very likely there

It seems very likely there was an actual Jesus upon whom the Christian mythology would later be constructed. He was likely a charismatic Galilean faith healer who attracted a great following among the simple rustics of that region. Remember that the inhabitants of the Galilee had been forcibly converted to Judaism by the Hasmonean kings in Jerusalem only 150 years earlier; their native beliefs remained strong among them.

It has been suggested that this country man traveled to sophisticated urban Jerusalem every year for a number of years announcing the end of the world; but at the Passover of 30 CE a crowd mock-saluted him as "Messiah" imploring him in jest to "save us!" The humorless Roman overlords unfortunately saw this as a threat to their power and they cruelly executed the poor man - but, note, they harmed none of his followers, which says that they knew he was not the leader of a genuine resistance movement at all.

It would seem that Jesus thought his role was to begin a token resistance to Roman occupation, whereupon the Almighty would return to smite His enemy as He did in the legends of old. Jesus’ unique message was that these were the prophesied end times, applicable only the “the lost sheep of Israel”, and that nothing else mattered, hence the impractical injunctions not to disobey unjust law, not to seek revenge, to "turn the other cheek", or to sell all your property.

His shocked, dying words, “father why have you foresaken me” reverberate deeply as a deluded fanatic’s too-late realization of his terrible mistake. The rest is the invention of his heartbroken friends, embellished with pagan archetypes – divine paternity, virgin birth, and the three day sojourn in the
underworld that almost every Mediterranean god experienced.

I agree with much of this

I agree with much of this statement. The recent book "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth" by Reza Aslan (Jul 16, 2013)
is a good summary of recent scholarship on the historical Jesus.
My understanding at present is that Jesus of Nazareth or the Nazarene, was a follower of John the Baptist and member of a revolutionary, nationalist movement, who became its leader after John was killed.
I think it was Paul and the Gospel writers who followed him, not the Romans, who "invented" the Cosmic Christ by borrowing liberally from Greco-Roman religions, especially the mystery cults, and philosophy, especially Stoicism. Jesus then became the Word, etc., very different from the historical figure.
Constantine and the Romans did not invent Christ,, but they did exploit the Christian faith, turning it into a religion of conquest in an attempt to unify the Empire. Not sure why this choice was made as there were other options available. The "In Hoc Signo Vinces" legend doesn't seem likely.
The evolution from apocalyptic preacher who expected God (Yahweh) to intervene in history, destroy the Romans in Judea, then establish His Kingdom on Earth with Jesus as King, to wisdom teacher similar in some ways to the Buddha, Cosmic Christ, Principle of Absolute truth, The Word, etc., to central figure in a cult of empire is rather fascinating.

Well said. I do question,

Well said. I do question, though, whether it was the Roman overlords or the Jewish priest who found him to be a threat. It is my understanding, should the story of Jesus' crucifixion be true, that it was due to the insistence of the Pharisees that Pontius Pilate ordered his crucifixion - Pilate's intent being to quash an uprising and to maintain order.
Do you offer any insight in this matter?

Most Biblical scholars (not

Most Biblical scholars (not meaning fundamentalists, but academic scholars) will disagree with Atwill. This has been an area of serious research for 300 years, and Jesus as a real person is widely accepted in the scholarly community. Most everything else about his life, other than his crucifixion, is up for debate. Atwill's book looks to me like a "make an outrageous claim, get lot's of publicity" stunt. The conflicts between Christians and Rome outside of Israel in the first couple of centuries is well documented by historians.

The interesting thing is that

The interesting thing is that for many, Atwill's thesis will cause great consternation, but the actual betrayal of all of what Jesus taught and did (feeding the hungry, curing the sick, raising the dead) by our endless wars on Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, and others will barely register.

That is these words that Atwill speaks and writes will be more bothersome to many than the actual horrible deeds that we are doing.

How can we get so wrapped up in words about Jesus and so unconcerned about our crimes against our fellows?

Comment with your Facebook account

Comment with your Disqus account

Top Stories

comments powered by Disqus

NationofChange works to educate, inform, and fight power with people, corruption with community.

If you would like to stay up to date with the best in independent, filter-free journalism, updates on upcoming events to attend, and more, enter your email below:

7 Compelling Reasons Why You Should Support NationofChange

Our readers often tell us why they’ve decided to step up and become supporters. Here are some of the top reasons people are giving.

1. You’re keeping independent journalism alive
The corporate owned media has proven that it can’t be trusted. In a media landscape wrought with spin and corruption, NationofChange stands in very scarce company.

2. You’re sticking it to the rich, powerful, and corrupt
When you have money in this country you can get away with damn near anything, and they do. NationofChange isn’t afraid to expose these criminals no matter how powerful they are.

3. Your donation is 100% tax-deductible
NationofChange is a 501(c)3 charity. People tend to assume that many other organizations are (most nonprofits are NOT) but it’s that 501(c)3 status is a bit more rare than you think.

Read the rest...