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topos
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Posted - 10/05/2006 :  21:15:28  Show Profile Send topos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
There is a Caesar's Messiah thread but it's been successsfully hijacked by a troll so I thought I might post something here. I think it's an amazing piece of work and am utterly convinced Joseph Atwill is correct.

Caesar's Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus


A customer review:

Insightful and Stimulating, June 12, 2005
Reviewer: Michael Turton "NT Exegete" (Taichung, Taiwan) - See all my reviews

The last few years have seen the publication of three books arguing that the Jesus story is really the story of a Roman Emperor. These include Jesus was Caesar: On the Julian origin of Christianity, an Investigative Report, by Francesco Carotta, and Gary Courtney's Et tu, Judas? Then Fall Jesus!, both of which argue that that the Jesus story is based on the story of Julius Caesar, and Joseph Atwill's Caesar's Messiah, which makes the case that the Jesus story is the story of Titus. Of these, Caesar's Messiah is by far the best. While Carotta's work virtually ignores modern New Testament scholarship, Atwill is cognizant of it, though he does not locate his narrative within the scholarly paradigms. Caesar's Messiah reads the texts closely, has a fresh perspective, and many original insights. The result is a book that is informative and challenging, and will repay even those readers who reject his main thesis.

Atwill's main thesis is actually a combination of several ideas. First, he argues that the stories of Jesus in the New Testament are actually stories of Titus' campaign through Galilee and the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple. In this reading, the Gospels are clever satires created by the Flavian Emperors and their supporters. They thus function on the surface as religious tales, but the underlying story is actually a huge in-joke. Second, he argues that Josephus and the New Testament are essentially two sides of the same coin, one written in intimate relationship to the other. For example, discussing the sequence with the demoniac in Gadara/Gergasa, Atwill writes:

"The reason that the New Testament's demoniac of Gadara can be seen as a satire on Josephus' "tyrant" John and the battle at Gadara is simply because the two stories follow the same plot outline. In other words, the characters and events that can be seen as parallel occur in the same sequence. And it all occurs near Gadara. The satirical version in the New Testament tells the same story that Josephus does but, as is often the case with satire, the characters have different names."(p65)

In addition to the idea of satire and the close relationship between the NT and Josephus, this passage highlights another important theme of Atwill's: the importance of name switching among these texts. Discussing the famous passage about Jesus in Josephus, Atwill writes, citing Josephus himself:

"To solve the puzzle the reader must simply do as Decius Mundus recommends in the following chapter and 'value not this business of names.'"(p217)

The importance of this work lies in the originality of its reading of Josephus against the New Testament. Here Atwill's work resembles that of Cliff Carrington and other exegetes who have come to the conclusion that there is something highly suspicious about the way the two bodies of work are related. Atwill's strength is that not only has he pushed this line of insight farther than anyone else, he has constructed a full-fledged model to explain why this relationship exists. Hence, a good alternate title for this work might well have been There's Something Funky about the New Testament and Josephus.

After reviewing the history of the day, and exploring the links between the Flavians and early Christianity, Atwill lays out his thesis at the end of Chapter 2:

"The Gospels were designed to become apparent as satire as soon as they were read in conjunction with War of the Jews. In fact, the four Gospels and War of the Jews were created as a unified piece of literature whose characters and stories interact. Their interaction gives many of Jesus' sayings a comical meaning and also creates a series of puzzles whose solutions reveal the real identities of the New Testament's characters. Understanding the New Testament's comic level reveals, for example, that the Apostles Simon and John were cruel lampoons of Simon and John, the leaders of the Jewish rebellion."(p36)

Atwill concludes this chapter with a discussion of Mark 1 and Mark 5 and parallels to Titus' first battle on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

Chapter 3 gives us Atwill's discussion of the strange tale of Cannibal Mary. For readers who have read Josephus many times, Atwill's claim that she represents a parody of Christianity will come as a shock. Yet it is hard to see a woman named Mary who kills and eats her son in the manner of a Passover sacrifice as anything but a satire on the tale of Jesus as told in the Gospels. Atwill observes that the words in her mouth were placed there by Josephus, and if read as a satire on Christianity, they take on a new and portentous meaning:

"As to the war with the Romans, if they preserve our lives, we must be slaves. This famine also will destroy us, even before that slavery comes upon us. Yet are these seditious rogues more terrible than both the other. Come on; be thou my food, and be thou a fury to these seditious varlets, and a by-word to the world, which is all that is now wanting to complete the calamities of us Jews."(Whiston translation, cited on p46)

Why should anyone roasting and eating their own child expect it to be a "by-word to the world" and a fury to the "seditious varlets," the Jewish rebels? As Atwill points out, if this scene were in a piece of modern literature, it would instantly be seen by everyone as a parody of Christianity. Nor is Atwill the first scholar to have had this insight into the passage, for Honora H. Chapman noted parallels between the 'Cannibal Mary passage' in Josephus and the symbolic Passover Lamb of the Gospels in her SBL seminar paper 'A Myth for the World', Early Christian Reception of Infanticide and Cannibalism in Josephus' Bellum Judaicum' (2000).

Over the next few chapters Atwill then attempts to sort out the problem of who Jesus really was and solve the problem of the Empty Tomb. His thesis is that the Gospels were essentially written together, and thus, must be read together. Hence, he reads the Empty Tomb tale as four versions of the same tale, in parts, distributed across the various gospels:

"My analysis revealed that these four versions were intended to be read as a single story. This combined story is divided into two halves. One half consists of the visits to the tomb described in the Gospel of John. The other consists of the visits to the tomb described in the other three Gospels. In the combined story the individuals described in the Gospel of John meet the individuals described in the other three Gospels and, in their emotional state, the different groups mistake one another for angels. This comedy of errors causes the visitors to the empty tomb to mistakenly believe that their Messiah has risen from the dead."(p129)

The next few chapters cover the authors of the New Testament and how the tale was constructed. Then comes perhaps the most fascinating chapter in the work, his discussion of the Testamonium Flavianum (TF). Atwill's reading of this and its surrounding passages as a complex satire is perhaps the most revolutionary insight in the work. Unlike his allegorical reading of the New Testament, which is easy for the reader to swat away, Atwill's analysis of the TF and its companion passages will be impossible to ignore. Not only does his reading make sense of this section of the work, it is supported by strong linguistic and thematic links that will be difficult to refute. This chapter alone makes the book worth the price of admission.

But if a fresh and compelling look at the TF were not enough, Atwill offers in Chapter 13 a very interesting argument that Josephus has adjusted the dates of important events in his works to make them conform to the prophecies in Daniel.

Caesar's Messiah closes with a discussion of the Apostles and the Maccabees, and other parallels between the New Testament and events in Titus' campaign in Palestine prior to the destruction of Jerusalem. The coincidence of dates and names has also been noted by other authors, most recently in Jay Raskin's piece in the Journal of Higher Criticism on the Maccabees and early Christianity.

Atwill's prose is spare, even grim, and the book is refreshingly free of the silly attacks on New Testament scholars for being fools and scoundrels that tend to populate works of authors with out-of-the-mainstream ideas. Atwill usually is able to strike a sturdy posture that enables him to explain why no one has made all the connections he has (though a surprising amount of scholars have stumbled across pieces of the puzzle) without sounding triumphalist. My own view is that this work, intended for a lay audience, would have been even better had it presented some of the scholarly support for Atwill's specific claims (a companion volume aimed at scholars due out soon). There are some regrettable moments, such as the statistical analysis of the parallels on p224 that reads like something out of Erich Von Daniken, and the mistaken attribution of a quote on p296 to Jesus rather than to John the Baptist. Overall, the work is clearly structured and very accessible.

I doubt that the central thesis of Caesar's Messiah will find many takers; nor, ultimately, was this reader convinced. But many of the book's insights commend themselves to thoughtful reconstruction and deconstruction. Well worth the price of admission, both lay readers and scholars will be able to find something in Caesar's Messiah to challenge, to entertain, or simply to get the old gray matter back to pumping iron.



Here is a review at shout:

http://www.shout.net/~bigred/Titus.html


Here's another:

http://www.insmkt.com/ellensreview.htm


Here's the J.P. Holding review:

http://www.tektonics.org/books/csmessrvw.html

I can smell the fear!

Edited to fix overly long URL to make the thread more readable.

Kil

GK Paul
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Posted - 11/10/2006 :  04:54:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send GK Paul a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, I for one gave the book a shot but it is an extremely difficult read. And the chronology just doesn't add up. I mention the chronology problem and another problem with the book on page 2 of Caesar's Messiah (Part One) in the Religion section. I left 4 posts on that page.


"Something cannot come from nothing" -- Ken Tanaka - geologist

"The existence of a Being endowed with intelligence and wisdom is a necessary inference from a study of celestial mechanics" --Sir Isaac Newton


GK Paul
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topos
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19 Posts

Posted - 12/06/2006 :  21:19:49   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send topos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
GK Paul, I believe this is your comment you refer to:

"Hi, There is one very big problem with Atwill's theory. Most of the research I've done [including the World Book encyclopedia 2006, and several Bibles] state that St. Paul wrote his letters to the newly formed Christian churches from the late 40's AD to the 50's AD. If this is true than this totally destroys Atwill's theory that the so called made up Jesus story was written around the 76 AD. You don't constantly risk your life and make three voyages all over the Mediterranian for a character that hasn't been created yet. GK Paul"

You are not the only one to make this assertion and I believe on one of the IG interviews Atwill is asked about this and he answers that he simply does not believe that Paul's letters were written when they are generally believed to be.

As you correctly state, "if" the Pauline letters were written early enough then Atwill's thesis is precluded. This is true, but I remain to be convinced that there is any convincing argument or evidence that the Pauline letters couldn't have been written later.
I'd be interested if you know what is the basis of the common acceptance of the Pauline letters being written as early as you state. Personally I have no confidence in the traditional biblical scholarship community to get any of this right, so simply stating that it's generally accepted isn't convincing for me. Rather, I am convinced by the nature of the parallels between Titus' Judean campaign and the NT and the arguments put forward by Atwill in CM, that the NT and the existence of Jesus were deliberately fabricated by the Romans.




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topos
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Posted - 12/06/2006 :  21:52:08   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send topos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Here is some discussion about Paul over at the official CM site:

http://110559.aceboard.net/110559-971-2291-0-review-book.htm
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leoofno
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USA
346 Posts

Posted - 12/07/2006 :  10:13:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send leoofno a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by topos

GK Paul, I believe this is your comment you refer to:

"Hi, There is one very big problem with Atwill's theory. Most of the research I've done [including the World Book encyclopedia 2006, and several Bibles] state that St. Paul wrote his letters to the newly formed Christian churches from the late 40's AD to the 50's AD. If this is true than this totally destroys Atwill's theory that the so called made up Jesus story was written around the 76 AD. You don't constantly risk your life and make three voyages all over the Mediterranian for a character that hasn't been created yet. GK Paul"

You are not the only one to make this assertion and I believe on one of the IG interviews Atwill is asked about this and he answers that he simply does not believe that Paul's letters were written when they are generally believed to be.

As you correctly state, "if" the Pauline letters were written early enough then Atwill's thesis is precluded. This is true, but I remain to be convinced that there is any convincing argument or evidence that the Pauline letters couldn't have been written later.
I'd be interested if you know what is the basis of the common acceptance of the Pauline letters being written as early as you state. Personally I have no confidence in the traditional biblical scholarship community to get any of this right, so simply stating that it's generally accepted isn't convincing for me. Rather, I am convinced by the nature of the parallels between Titus' Judean campaign and the NT and the arguments put forward by Atwill in CM, that the NT and the existence of Jesus were deliberately fabricated by the Romans.



Paul's Jesus had almost no earthly mission, no real account of what he did or said while on earth, at least in the letters that are considered genuine. What little he does say about Jesus (he was born, was crucified and was raised up) has been interpreted by some (Doherty, The Jesus Puzzle) as happening in the spiritual realm which would be consistent with other spiritual beliefs about savior gods at that time (Mythris for example). He never lived on our physical earth, but in a less corrupt level of heaven

Here's my Hypotheses Of The Day: The Flavians took the idea of Jesus from Paul and brought him "down to earth" so to speak. This would allow both the early date of Pauls letters and the later date of the Flavian's gospels.

"If you're not terrified, you're not paying attention." Eric Alterman
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GK Paul
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Posted - 12/07/2006 :  17:06:15   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send GK Paul a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, I don't have a lot of time right now, but Paul and Peter (the apostle) actually met and worked together for 2 weeks. This was after the resurrection of course. Their meeting is somewhere in the book of Acts. I'll look it up when I get the chance.


"Something cannot come from nothing" -- Ken Tanaka - geologist

"The existence of a Being endowed with intelligence and wisdom is a necessary inference from a study of celestial mechanics" --Sir Isaac Newton


GK Paul
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moakley
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Posted - 12/07/2006 :  19:10:00   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send moakley a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GK Paul

Well, I don't have a lot of time right now, but Paul and Peter (the apostle) actually met and worked together for 2 weeks. This was after the resurrection of course. Their meeting is somewhere in the book of Acts. I'll look it up when I get the chance.

Do you have a source independent of the product being sold?

Life is good

Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned. -Anonymous
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Starman
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Sweden
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Posted - 12/08/2006 :  00:34:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Starman a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by moakley
quote:
Originally posted by GK Paul
Well, I don't have a lot of time right now, but Paul and Peter (the apostle) actually met and worked together for 2 weeks. This was after the resurrection of course. Their meeting is somewhere in the book of Acts. I'll look it up when I get the chance.
Do you have a source independent of the product being sold?
When it comes to Peter, the source is always the same
quote:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Petrus:

Peter's life story relies primarily on the New Testament, since there are no other contemporary accounts of his life or death, or even of his existence.

"Any religion that makes a form of torture into an icon that they worship seems to me a pretty sick sort of religion quite honestly"
-- Terry Jones
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leoofno
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Posted - 12/08/2006 :  22:57:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send leoofno a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GK Paul

Well, I don't have a lot of time right now, but Paul and Peter (the apostle) actually met and worked together for 2 weeks. This was after the resurrection of course. Their meeting is somewhere in the book of Acts. I'll look it up when I get the chance.


About Acts:

Robert Price, Professor of Theology and Scriptural Studies, Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary and a member of the Jesus Seminar, in his review of the book the Gary R. Habermas, “The Resurrection Appearances of Jesus,” says "contemporary studies of Acts are increasingly inclined to treat the narrative as a tissue of second-century fictions and legends". (http://www.edwardtbabinski.us/skepticism/miracles.html)

Also G.A.Wells, Emeritus Professor of German at Birkbeck, University of London, more widely known as a New Testament scholar, says "Some few theologians now go as far as to discount the gospels and Acts altogether, or nearly so. John Bowden, Anglican priest and Managing Director of SCM Press, designates them as 'ideology, party history, which does not fall within the canons of what is acceptable history for us'. (http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/g_a_wells/earliest.html)

My point is that there is good reason to be skeptical about Acts being actual history. These are just two who cast doubt on its historical accuracy, and they are not lightweights in the achademic world.

"If you're not terrified, you're not paying attention." Eric Alterman
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Dave W.
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Posted - 12/08/2006 :  23:52:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by leoofno

Robert Price, Professor of Theology and Scriptural Studies, Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary and a member of the Jesus Seminar, in his review of the book the Gary R. Habermas, “The Resurrection Appearances of Jesus,” says "contemporary studies of Acts are increasingly inclined to treat the narrative as a tissue of second-century fictions and legends". (http://www.edwardtbabinski.us/skepticism/miracles.html)
Perhaps importantly, GK Paul cited Robert Price regarding the book this thread is supposed to be about.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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topos
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Posted - 12/09/2006 :  10:10:07   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send topos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
A while ago I wrote a response to Robert Price's review of CM. It appears to have disappeared from IG so I am reposting it here, followed by the original Price reivew, with the paragraphs numbered for my reference.

Paragraph (1) seems a fair overview of CM.

In paragraph (2) Price lauds the "monumental" work of Robert Eisenman, who "was able to show ... how thoroughly pro-Roman is New Testament Faith". So, Price agrees that the New Testament is thoroughly pro-Roman. I will return to this shortly as Price does in paragraph (3). I would first observe that if Eisenmen is really "damning with faint praise" in his CM back-cover comment that "if what Joseph Atwill is saying is only partially true, we are looking into the abyss", then he needn't have associated his name with the book at all. One suspects Eisenman is going out on an academic limb here. One would like to hear more from Eisenman himself regarding CM, rather than Price's guesses about it. In any case, however, as any reader will know, CM is a very self-contained and compelling argument for the lay or novice NT reader. One is left wondering not so much what the scholars have to say about it, as why haven't they seen this long ago, as it is so obvious!

I paragraph (3) Price returns to describing and supporting the pro-Roman slant of NT writing, and tells us that the theory "that Josephus had something to do with it, does not [seem] unreasonable on the face of it." So clearly this situation begs of some explanation. Dr. Price clearly does not like Atwill's. Does he have a preferred explanation? In paragraph (4) we learn that some other authors have proposed "somewhat similar" theories of Roman origins. He proposes "we might find one of these ... explains many of the same things ... without the disdvantages." Somehow I doubt however that Dr. Price would find any theory of a Roman origin of Christianity acceptable, given his further comments in paragraphs (5) and (6) on the "sublime" character of NT writing. Surely any theory of a cynical authorship by Romans will run into these same objections. But given that Price has already accepted (as Eisenman "showed") that the NT is pro-Roman, then what is Price's explanation, or what possible origin could there be other than a Roman one? We are left wondering what pro-Roman writers there were in the first century other than Roman ones.

We understand from paragraph (6) that Price has great love and respect for the NT. It's not hard to understand how a cynical origin of it is a great disappointment. Atwill though is not arguing that it is lacking in beauty or literateness. The writers were very learned, had supporting resources, and were (even Josephus) writing for their lives.

Paragraph (7) asks if we can "imagine" that Josephus wrote with the intent that his work would be compared with the Gospels. (Certainly I can imagine it; what I want to know is does he have any hard argument for why it can't be true. Apparently, he doesn't.) For his counterexample, he picks the Testimonium Flavium, which Atwill brilliantly argues is authentic rather than forged. But this is the least apt of examples in that the thesis of CM does not rest on it in the least, and that unlike most of the case studies of CM, the TF does not correspond to any particular event of the Gospels but rather is related only generally. Why doesn't Price address instead the story of Cannibal Mary? We would certainly like to know what possible explanation there is for this obviously (due to the complete implausibility of the speech made by a mother roasting and eating her own child) fictional piece, other than a spoof on Jesus as the Passover Lamb. Or, more properly, as the set up for the cynical in-joke that Jesus' assumption of that role becomes. I would like to know what possible other explanation Dr. Price with his great learning and intellect (I mean no sarcasm here) can offer to explain what is going on with Cannibal Mary.
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topos
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Posted - 12/09/2006 :  10:54:20   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send topos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Here is a link to the InfidelGuy (audio) interview with Joseph Atwill:

http://www.thedebatehour.com/downloadview-details-1194-The_Flavians_Invented_Jesus.html?_-_Joseph_Atwill


It costs $1.25 to download but it's not a bad overview.

There is also an informal debate show between Atwill and Price at the same location. I like the interview show better. Neither of them really do justice to the book.


BTW, also, Atwill has several interesting things to say about Acts in CM. I'm not sure how much of it is prior thought versus new thought by Atwill. One interesting point he makes is how ridiculous is the idea that it would be possible to conduct a census restricted to the decendants of David. As many generations as had passed, practically everybody would be one and it would be unlikely that people would know one way or the other if they were or not. In the CM theory, Acts was part of the original invention. It was necessary to establish a lineage to David in order to maintain that Jesus was the fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy, if I am remembering it right.

There are so many fascinating tidbits in CM. Even if one finds the central thesis uncompelling, most people seem to feel the insight and perspective gained is worth the cost of the book, which is really quite small, at $11 plus shipping.

http://www.thedebatehour.com/downloadview-details-1194-The_Flavians_Invented_Jesus.html?_-_Joseph_Atwill
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leoofno
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USA
346 Posts

Posted - 12/09/2006 :  12:51:23   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send leoofno a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.

quote:
Originally posted by leoofno

Robert Price, Professor of Theology and Scriptural Studies, Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary and a member of the Jesus Seminar, in his review of the book the Gary R. Habermas, “The Resurrection Appearances of Jesus,” says "contemporary studies of Acts are increasingly inclined to treat the narrative as a tissue of second-century fictions and legends". (http://www.edwardtbabinski.us/skepticism/miracles.html)
Perhaps importantly, GK Paul cited Robert Price regarding the book this thread is supposed to be about.



Thanks, I missed that.

Its a wonder that any New Testament believing Christian would enlist Robert Price to help support their side. Did he even read WHY Price thinks Atwell is wrong?

"If you're not terrified, you're not paying attention." Eric Alterman
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GK Paul
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Posted - 12/09/2006 :  13:32:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send GK Paul a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Just for the record, the historical figure Paul did meet Peter, the first Pope of the historical Catholic Church and namesake of the huge St Peter's basilica in the heart of the historical Roman Empire. Their meeting is in Acts ch.15 vs. 4-32. The tremendous growth of Christianity just didn't spring up out of thin air - there were real historical people behind it.

Maybe Atwill should walk around St. Peter's square with a sign saying this is all a fairy tale.


"Something cannot come from nothing" -- Ken Tanaka - geologist

"The existence of a Being endowed with intelligence and wisdom is a necessary inference from a study of celestial mechanics" --Sir Isaac Newton


GK Paul
Edited by - GK Paul on 12/09/2006 13:34:53
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Neurosis
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Posted - 12/09/2006 :  17:01:59   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Neurosis an AOL message Send Neurosis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Actually GK, it is not certain how christinity spread and Acts is not a reliable source of history. We are sure that there were christians to do the spreading but it was spread more because of it being a direct copy of the other pagan religions than the work of any historical saints.

Facts! Pssh, you can prove anything even remotely true with facts.
- Homer Simpson

[God] is an infinite nothing from nowhere with less power over our universe than the secretary of agriculture.
- Prof. Frink

Lisa: Yes, but wouldn't you rather know the truth than to delude yourself for happiness?
Marge: Well... um.... [goes outside to jump on tampoline with Homer.]
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GK Paul
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Posted - 12/10/2006 :  06:30:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send GK Paul a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Neurosis

Actually GK, it is not certain how christinity spread and Acts is not a reliable source of history. We are sure that there were christians to do the spreading but it was spread more because of it being a direct copy of the other pagan religions than the work of any historical saints.

If it was a "direct copy" why did the pagans bother to leave their own religions. The Christians had something different and better (The Holy Spirit) and I have to believe the pagans felt it.


"Something cannot come from nothing" -- Ken Tanaka - geologist

"The existence of a Being endowed with intelligence and wisdom is a necessary inference from a study of celestial mechanics" --Sir Isaac Newton


GK Paul
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