The hypothesis advanced in this book is scientific. It can be checked by any scholar who makes the effort to read the historical works of Josephus Flavius and the New Testament Gospels carefully, in parallel. I found the forensic case Atwill assembles in his cool and methodical report both startling and convincing. Assuming that he has correctly translated and interpreted the texts, and that the mathematics is fairly deployed to prove the case with high probability, we have a clear case of massive and systematic deception. Christianity becomes a fraud.
Essentially, Atwill claims that Jesus of Nazareth is a fictional character written into history to prophesy events that were new at the time of writing. The intent of this deception was to persuade the successors of the militant Jews who were defeated in the Roman destruction of the Second Temple to adopt a pacifist ideology that in effect deified the the Flavian emperors Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, respectively. A more egregious blasphemy against Judaic monotheism is hard to imagine.
What I found especially shocking in this scenario is that the deception worked for almost two millennia. The evidence for the hypothesis was there for all to read in the first-century literature, but generations of earnest scholars had missed it until Atwill, who was raised in a deeply Christian environment but had an exceptionally gifted analytic mind, serendipitously spotted the key threads of the fraud and then took a few decades to build up his case. His book is not a light read and his key finding is presented more in sorrow than with glee, but the result is clear.
The huge irony in all this is that Christianity has arguably become the greatest religious ideology the world has ever known. Based on a Jewish militant tradition bordering on rabid racism, tempered by Greek philosophy and poetic sensibility, and spread by Roman military and institutional strength, the ideology that was centered on the figure of Jesus turned out to be a winner for many millions of believers, whose successors created the modern world. Modern Christians might prefer to rebury the filthy roots that Atwill digs up, but truth will out, and must.
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