An American scholar claims to have made a controversial discovery that proves the entire story of Jesus was made up by Roman aristocrats.
Joseph Atwill asserts that Christianity did not start as a religion, but was instead created as a sophisticated propaganda tool to pacify subjects of the Roman Empire.
He says he noticed a pattern forming when he was studying the only surviving account of first-century Judea, which he claims contains dozens of parallels between the life of a Roman emperor and that of Jesus in the New Testament.
Is Jesus really a myth? A Bible scholar claims he has uncovered new evidence that proves the Romans invented the entire life story of Christ
Joseph Atwill, above left, says he made his discovery while studying War Of The Jews by Josephus, which he says contains dozens of parallels between Jesus and Roman Emperor Titus Flavius
Mr Atwill argues that these ancient ‘confessions’ provide ‘clear evidence’ that the biography of Jesus is ‘actually constructed, tip to stern, on prior stories, but especially on the biography of a Roman Caesar’.
Mr Atwill accepts that his theory will upset some believers but is confident that it will be accepted in good time.
: ‘These types of theories are very common outside the academic world and are usually reserved for sensationalist literature.
‘They are virtually non-existent in the academic world.’
He also suggested the theories are not taken seriously by experts.
He added that this sort of theory can be ‘irritating’ to religion academics.
On his theory, Mr Atwill said: ‘I present my work with some ambivalence as I do not want to directly cause Christians any harm, 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.’
The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci: Atwill, who will be presenting his findings at a talk in London later this month, said the Romans turned to subtler ways of keeping order when heavy-handed tactics failed
Atwill, who will be presenting his findings at a talk in London later this month, said the Romans turned to subtler ways of keeping order when heavy-handed tactics failed.
He said: ‘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.
‘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.
‘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.’