Romans

From Facebook, some “portentous” reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire:

Whoa… that’s just like us!!! Although I question whether the Romans engaged in much “outsourcing,” or ran up much debt (this was a problem with the Roman economy – it couldn’t create debt!). And where’s “The Triumph of Christianity,” Gibbon’s main reason for the fall of the Empire (or at least of “The Closing of the Western Mind,” in Charles Freeman’s formulation)?

Speaking of the religion, here is an interesting theory by one Mark Fulton:

Christianity No More Than Roman Government Propaganda

I think that the Roman government was the driving force behind Paul’s pagan propaganda (which became the Christian theology.) The fact that belief in the divinity of Jesus arose in many diverse areas of the empire a number of decades after Jesus’ death suggests to me that it came from a central source, and it wasn’t Jesus’ Jewish friends in Jerusalem.

There was good reason to mar the power of messianic Judaism, and particularly militaristic Nazarenism (the Nazarenes were Jesus’ Jewish followers); the Romans were trying to stop a war. They had to counter Jewish extremists who promoted the subversive idea that a Jewish king should govern the world on behalf of God and in place of Caesar. If the Romans couldn’t pacify these Jews, it would set a dangerous precedent for other races to revolt. They needed to keep control over the trade routes to Asia and Egypt. The government must have been frustrated at having to repeatedly use force to suppress Jewish extremists, as it was disruptive, expensive, and taxing on the army. Roman vitriol bubbled over when soldiers razed the Temple in 70 CE when there was no military need to do so. Judaism’s nerve center had to be destroyed.

I also suspect that Jewish and gentile intellectuals working for the Roman government wrote the Gospels (this is discussed in depth in my book.) They knew ideas could be as effective as force. I think they tried to weaken Judaism by infiltrating and diluting it with gentiles. A tale that the long hoped for Jewish messiah was Jesus, and he’d already been and gone, and he wasn’t a political activist, but rather a spiritual intermediary between God and man, would have suited their agenda perfectly.

“Blessed are the peacemakers,” “turn the other cheek,” “love your enemies” and “pay your taxes,” as promoted by Jesus in the gospels, meant you obeyed your Roman superiors and didn’t cause trouble. To push these ideas to plebs was a lot easier than using the military. If these ideas caught on, there’d be no more messiahs and no more revolts.

This explains why the true identities of all four gospel authors are unknown.

It’s ironic that the gospels, said to be so truthful, became one of the most successful literary enterprises ever undertaken, yet were so fabricated.

I think Paul attempted to infiltrate the Nazarenes to undermine them and their messianic message. His “conversion” (to being the founding member of his own Christ fan club) was his cover, and his novel beliefs were his modus operandi. I suspect (but can’t prove) he would have passed information about the Nazarenes on to Roman authorities.

Read the whole thing, although note that I’m not endorsing it – it simply sounds too conspiratorial to be plausible. Is there any evidence that the Romans engaged in such sophisticated counter-intelligence operations in other contexts? But Joseph Atwill, mentioned in the penultimate paragraph of the article, certainly agrees with Fulton. From a recent piece in The Express:

Christianity is a baseless religion that was designed by the Roman empire to justify slavery and pacify the citizens, according to controversial Biblical scholar Joseph Atwill.

In a blog [post] on his website [link – JG] Mr Atwill wrote: “Christianity may be considered a religion, but it was actually developed and used as a system of mind control to produce slaves that believed God decreed their slavery.”

The scholar argues that at the time, Jewish sects in Palestine were awaiting a ‘warrior Messiah’, which became an increasing problem after the Roman Empire failed to deal with the problem with traditional means.

As a result, the rulers resorted to psychological warfare which would appear to give the citizens what they wanted, while at the same time making sure they followed their rules.

Mr Atwill added: “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.

“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.”

Atwill notes the “uncanny parallels” between the life of Jesus and the military campaign of Titus Flavius, and suggests that the former was a “typological representation” of the latter. Atwill’s 2005 book Caesar’s Messiah will tell you more; suffice it to say that this idea has not found much purchase among academic Biblical scholars. Wikipedia:

The mythicist Biblical scholar Robert M. Price said that Atwill “gives himself license to indulge in the most outrageous display of parallelomania ever seen.” Price acknowledges that the New Testament has “persistent pro-Roman tendencies”, but says this was done “for apologetical reasons, to avoid persecution.” The mythicist Richard Carrier similarly stated that all of Atwill’s alleged parallels can be explained as either coincidences, mistranslations, or references to Old Testament sources or tropes. However, Carrier also agreed that the New Testament has pro-Roman aspects. According to Carrier, “Christianity was probably constructed to ‘divert Jewish hostility and aggressiveness into a pacifist religion, supportive of–and subservient to–Roman rule,’ but not by Romans, but exasperated Jews like Paul.”

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