Learning that Christianity was invented by the Caesars to pacify rebellious populations is disorienting to believing Christians. I believe, however, that this fact will eventually have a different kind of impact upon a far greater audience. In the last hundred years the great destroyer of human life has not been famine or plagues but governments, which always claim to be working in the interests of the people.
It seems no matter who we elect, or what form of political structure we try, the results are the same – financial insecurity for the masses, boundless wealth for a select few, endless wars, and ever increasing military and surveillance technology.
Why is this? Is there some flaw in our nature that makes it impossible for us to elect decent leaders? Some claim that political power always causes men to go mad. Understanding that Christianity was not a religion but a government tool has led me to a different conclusion.
I believe that rulers have never lost the basic understanding that led them to create Christianity, and that this enables them to remain in power no matter what form of government the people attempt. In fact, most forms of government – even the so-called democracies – were either designed to keep power in the hands of the same group, or have been subverted over time to do so. While this idea may seem fantastic, and can be attacked as a “conspiracy theory”, I believe that as the information in Caesar’s Messiah becomes more widely disseminated, many more will come to this conclusion.
You see, Christians were not called sheep for no reason. The goal of Christianity was to turn humans into beasts that could be easily herded. This is not a theory – that goal was achieved during the feudal ages. Though the ideas of human equality developed during the Renaissance presented a challenge to the rulers, I believe that they developed a strategy to survive. Though the identities of the ruling families may have changed, the knowledge of how to create sheep was passed on to the current ruling class.
For sheep to become citizens they will need to understand the tools that have been used to herd them, and this starts with an understanding of Christian origins and of how our rulers use Christianity today – particularly in the United States. They will also need to understand the family and business relationships of the powerful. But, most importantly, they will need to understand how rulers use the media.
Though the United States appears to be a democracy, it is not. It is an oligarchy kept in place by an ancient technique. The political candidates we can choose from, are a tiny group that somehow emerges through a selection process run exclusively by the media. Our current rulers own the media and use it in the same way the Flavians did. They control the ideas and personalities that their population has access to, and thereby shape their minds and limit their choices.
You can only have a lasting power if you control both sides of the political dialectic. So the sheep in America are given the freedom to choose whichever pawn of the military industrial complex they wish. It doesn’t matter if they choose McCain or Obama, the wars will go on.
While Caesar’s Messiah may seem merely a piece of Bible scholarship, it is really much more. It is a way to understand our entire history. And it may contain the path to a better future.
Originally published July 11, 2011
In my book Caesar’s Messiah I showed that the Gospels were a Roman mockery of the Jews’ messianic typology that had been deliberately linked to Josephus’ history. In other words, events in Jesus’ ministry were back-written to foreshadow events from Titus Flavius’ military campaign that culminated with the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem in 70 CE.
The typological system that linked Jesus to Titus was made up of parallel locations, names and concepts that occurred in the same sequence. For example, the Gospels’ story that Jesus came to the Sea of Galilee at the beginning of his ministry and told his disciples that if they followed him they would become fishers of men, was written to “foreshadow” Titus’ beginning his campaign by leading his men to the Sea of Galilee where they fished for men.
While the analysis in the first edition was correct, it was incomplete. It only included the parallels linking Jesus to Titus which I had uncovered at the time I wrote that book. I have just released the second edition of Caesar’s Messiah which presents the discovery that the entire storyline of Jesus’ adult ministry was created as a typological prophecy of Titus Flavius’ military campaign. I have named this discovery “The Flavian Signature”, and believe that the literary device was designed to eventually be discovered and bring Christianity to an end.
I present seven connections from the Flavian Signature below. They are just a small part of the overall typological mapping of the Flavian Signature, which has over 50 connections. None of these parallels were presented in the first edition, though they all fit into the perfect sequence of typological parallels between Jesus and Titus established in that work. To make the sequence easier to follow I have only used parallels found in the Gospel of Luke.
1) Journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, Messengers sent ahead
The new edition reveals a number of overlooked parallels between the physical journeys of Jesus and Titus. Readers of CM will already be aware that the Moses/Jesus typology used the parallel sequence of locations as a part of its typological system, and that the Jesus/Titus typology is an extension of that system.
“Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face.” Luke 9:51
“Titus, when he had gotten together part of his forces about him, and had ordered the rest to meet him at Jerusalem, marched out of Cesarea.” Wars of the Jews, 5, 1, 40
2) Divide the group 3 for 2
While many of the Jesus/Titus linkages have been seen by other scholars – though not recognized as being in a parallel sequence – the new edition presents many obvious ones that have been missed. Though the following parallel is easy to spot its meaning is obscure. It is actually a comment on the fighting that Josephus recorded occurred between the “five sons of Maccabee” during the war.
” ‘Do [you] suppose that I came to give peace on earth?
‘I tell you, not at all, but rather division.
‘For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three.’ ” Luke 12:51-53
“These followers of John also did now seize upon this inner temple, and upon all the warlike engines therein, and then ventured to oppose Simon.
And thus that sedition, which had been divided into three factions, was now reduced to two,” Wars of the Jews, 5, 3, 104-105
3) Cut down the fruit tree
The following parallel is a good example of the many seemingly trivial parallels that contribute to the overall pattern. Jesus describes a fruit tree outside of Jerusalem that might be cut down in the future, which Titus then cut down during the war. While trivial parallels do not have much meaning unto themselves, when shown to be a part of a sequence, such parallels confirm that their linkage was deliberate.
” ‘And if it bears fruit, [well]. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’ ” Luke 13:6-9
“So they threw down all the hedges and walls which the inhabitants had made about their gardens and groves of trees, and cut down all the fruit trees that lay between them .” Wars of the Jews 5, 3, 106-107
4) The triumphal entrance and the stones that cried out
A centerpiece of the Flavian Signature is the “triumphant entrances” into Jerusalem. In the passage below, Luke describes Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem and then “stones” that “cry out,” and things that were “hidden from your eyes”.
“saying: ‘Blessed [is] the King who comes in the name of the LORD! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’
And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, ‘Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.’
But He answered and said to them, ‘I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.’
Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it,
saying, ‘If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things [that make] for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.’ ” Luke 19: 35-42
Josephus also describes a “triumphant entrance” into Jerusalem. In other words, Josephus describes Titus’ “entrance” into the city, which were the stones hurled by his catapults. In the passage, Josephus made his famous “mistake”, writing the “Son Cometh” rather than the “Stone Cometh”. Though the apparent blunder has puzzled scholars, simply placing the passage in its correct place in the Jesus/Titus typological sequence makes the meaning of Josephus’ “error” crystal clear.
Notice that Josephus first describes “the coming of the stone”, then a stone that “cries out,” and finally he recorded that the “son/stone” was “hidden from your (the Jews’) eyes”. It is amusing that in Whiston’s translation given below, he inadvertently, but correctly, captures the real meaning of Josephus’ wordplay concerning “stones crying out” with his phrase – “and the stone came from it, and cried out aloud”.
In other words, the Greek statement can be read logically in two ways: one way is just as Jesus predicted – the stone actually cried out. Notice also, that what the stones would “cry out” in the Gospels, was the true identity of the son of God. This is exactly what Josephus recorded the “stone” did in the passage below.
“As for the Jews, they at first watched the coming of the stone, for it was of a white color, and could therefore not only be perceived by the great noise it made, but could be seen also before it came by its brightness;
accordingly the watchmen that sat upon the towers gave them notice when the engine was let go, and the stone came from it, and cried out aloud, in their own country language, ‘THE SON COMETH’ so those that were in its way stood off, and threw themselves down upon the ground; by which means, and by their thus guarding themselves, the stone fell down and did them no harm.
But the Romans contrived how to prevent that by blacking the stone, who then could aim at them with success, when the stone was not discerned beforehand,”
Wars of the Jews 5, 6, 269-273
The above pun on the Hebrew words “ben” and “eben” (son and stone) continues a theme established earlier in the Gospels:
“. . . and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as [our] father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up sons to Abraham from these stones.” Matt 3:9.
To digress, it is extremely important that the Greek word “tekton” in the Gospels be translated correctly as “stonemason” and not, as is usually the case, “carpenter”. This translation is necessary to see the “stone/son” theme in the Gospels and Josephus, which is a mockery of the masonic imagery found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
5) Jerusalem encircled with a wall
Luke then describes Jesus “envisioning” the encircling of Jerusalem with a wall. The new CM book edition shows that the overall pattern often connects to a parallel like this one that cannot be disputed. Scholars have always recognized that Luke 19:43 was dependent upon Josephus’ description of Jerusalem encircled with a wall, but heretofore have not seen the parallel in the overall pattern.
” ‘For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side’ ” Luke 19:43-44
Josephus then describes Titus’ encircling of Jerusalem with a wall. This event has always been understood as the basis for Jesus’ prophecy above.
“. . . they must build a wall round about the whole city; which was, he thought, the only way to prevent the Jews from coming out any way,” Wars of the Jews, 5, 12, 499-501
6) Drive out the thieves from the area in front of the temple
Keeping in sequence, Luke recorded that Jesus had an event “foreseeing” Titus’ victory over the “robbers” in the area in front of the Temple. Notice the typological concept of the Jews seeking to “destroy” Jesus.
“Then He went into the temple area and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, saying to them, ‘It is written, “My house is a house of prayer,” but you have made it a “den of thieves.” ‘ …the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him . . .” Luke 19:45-47
Following the “triumphal entrance” and the encircling of the city with a wall in Josephus, Titus conquered the area in front of the Temple. In other words, the robbers were driven out by the “son of man”. Josephus and the Gospels each used the word “lestes” to describe the “robbers”.
“Then the Romans mounted the breach . . . and all the Jews left the guarding that wall, and retreated to the second wall; so those that had gotten over that wall opened the gates, and received all the army within it.
And thus did the Romans get possession of this first wall on the fifteenth day of the siege . . . ” Wars of the Jews, 5, 7, 301-302
7) The Abomination of Desolation
Another of the incontrovertible parallels found in the Flavian Signature is the “Abomination of Desolation” predicted by Jesus and recorded by Josephus. The passage in Luke that should contain a reference to the AoD does not, though the parallel passage in Matthew does. Notice that the author of Matthew asks that the reader “understand” something about the “Abomination of Desolation”. What the reader needs to “understand” is that by placing typological parallels into one Gospel, and not all 4 books, made the Jesus/Titus typology less obvious.
” ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.’ ” Luke 21: 10-20
” ‘For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom… Therefore when you see the “abomination of desolation,” spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand) . . .’ ” Matt 24:7-15
“on that very day, which was the seventeenth day of Panemus, [Tamuz,] the sacrifice called ‘the Daily Sacrifice’ had failed, and had not been offered to God, for want of men to offer it, and that the people were grievously troubled at it) . . .
. . . And who is there that does not know what the writings of the ancient prophets contain in them, – and particularly that oracle which is just now going to be fulfilled upon this miserable city?” Wars of the Jews, 6, 2, 93-94, 109-110
Whiston noted the “miraculous” date of the Abomination of Desolation in a footnote:
“This was a remarkable day indeed, the seventeenth of Panemus, [Tamuz,] A.D. 70, when, according to Daniel’s prediction, six hundred and six years before, the Romans ‘in half a week caused the sacrifice and oblation to cease,’ Daniel 9:27. For from the month of February, A.D. 66, about which time Vespasian entered on this war, to this very time, was just three years and a half.”
Whiston’s point is that Daniel predicted that the “Abomination of Desolation” would occur in the middle of a “week” or seven years.
“From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.” Daniel 12:11
Simply on its face, the fact that Jesus and Josephus both understood Daniel’s prophecy as having come to pass during the Jewish war is suspicious. Jesus could only see this by looking into the future; and the date Josephus recorded the AoD occurred was also “miraculous”. The fact that this dual miracle occurred at the same point in their campaigns seems to lay to rest any question as to whether the linkage was deliberate.
I believe readers will find many of the new insights in the Flavian Signature edition of Caesar’s Messiah to be of interest. It reveals the real identity of “Mary Magdalene” and the actual confession by the Flavians that they invented Christianity.
Originally published June 18, 2011
The real strength of a theory is its explanatory power; how many mysteries it resolves. The Gospels have been one of humankind’s greatest puzzles with even the most basic questions about them never having been answered.
Who wrote them? Why is purportedly Jewish literature anti-Semitic? Why were they written in Greek? How could a pacifistic Christ have emerged during an era when the Jews were at war? Why were four Gospels written and placed into one book? Why are these stories so often contradictory? Who is the Son of Man Jesus predicts will come into Judea with such destruction?
The theory presented in Caesar’s Messiah answers all of these questions and more. In fact it has a virtually complete explanatory power and can explain every line and concept in the Gospels and the historical questions about them as well – I invite you to submit your questions below.
This has more than just implications for New Testament scholarship. I have received many communications from individuals who were struggling with their Christian faith that experienced a great sense of relief upon reading Caesar’s Messiah. The fact that the origins of the Gospels were no longer mysterious but clearly written by Roman Caesars gave them the ability to release from Christian ideas which no longer served them, and begin what was virtually a new life.
I hope all Christians who are struggling with their faith – who see the Gospels as mysterious or simply incoherent – will read Caesar’s Messiah. It could be the beginning of a more expanded and truer life.
One example of the explanatory power of the Caesar’s Messiah thesis is the Trinity – the mysterious “triple godhead” of Christianity. Where did this bizarre and non-Judaic concept come from, and how did it come to play such a large role in the Gospels?
The concept of a divine trinity consisting of a father, son and “Holy Ghost” – the Greek words actually mean “awful spirit” – comes from Josephus. Josephus applies the Jews’ messianic prophecies, not just to Vespasian, but to his dynasty. In other words the real trinity is Vespasian, his son Titus, and his son Domitian – the awful spirit.
I invite other NT (New Testament) scholars to comment on this strange fact. Josephus’ trinity is the only one with any linkages to Christianity whatsoever, and the prophecies he references when describing it are the very ones Jesus used to suggest that the coming “son of Man” would be a “Christ”.
Typology always has two levels – a surface narration and a hidden meaning. Once a reader understands that the Gospels are typology envisioning the Flavians, many ironic double meanings become visible.
In Matthew 3:17 the author recorded that a dove appeared, after which “God the father” spoke and said “This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased”. In Latin the name “Titus” means “dove”. Thus God the father’s comment on the surface level indicates God the father’s love for his son Jesus Christ. Its real meaning is, however, typological. The event in Matthew 3 foresees Vespasian – “god the father” – being well pleased with his “son of god” the dove – Titus.
Originally published May 30, 2011
The True History of the Gospels
When read as Jewish literature, the New Testament Gospels seem to contradict history. They describe a pacifist Jewish Messiah and depict Romans in a positive light during an era when a Jewish messianic movement waged war against the Roman Empire.
To explain these and other contradictory aspects, scholars have speculated that the Gospels were the product of a Roman mystery cult which for some reason merged its theology with messianic Judaism. This theory has a weakness beyond the obvious lack of archaeological evidence. Why would the cult that provided the Gospels its pro-Roman perspective and pacifism have wished to merge with a religion that was anti-Roman and violent?
The discovery of the Jesus/Titus typology, however, reveals not only the real meaning of the Gospels but their authors. They were written by the intellectual circle around the Flavian Caesars.
But how did the creation of the Gospels actually come to pass?
The Gospels grew out of discussions that occurred between Vespasian and Julius Alexander at the court of Antonia, the mother of the Emperor Claudius. The men discussed a topic that was vital to each: how to halt rebellions by messianic Jews. Antonia could well have participated in these talks as she was no stranger to the struggle between the Romans and the Jews. Antonia was the daughter of Marc Anthony, the Roman general who had ousted the Maccabees as the rulers of Judea and replaced them with the Roman tax collectors, the Herods.
The conjecture that such talks occurred comes from these facts: Around 45 C.E. Antonia employed Julius Alexander Lysimarchus as her financial steward. Julius Alexander was the “Abalarch” – the Roman appointed tax collecting ruler of Alexandria. He was the brother of Philo, the Jewish philosopher who combined Judaism with elements of Greek and Roman thought. Philo’s philosophy is often cited as the basis for much of the Gospels’ theological perspective, particularly its blend of Judaism and Stoicism.
Though Philo’s blending of Hellenism and Judaism is routinely analyzed by scholars as sincere, given his family’s financial relationship with Rome some skepticism is warranted. And when understood as the writings of a family member of Rome’s biggest tax collector, Philo’s writings can be seen as an effort to inject Stoicism into Judaism to pacify rebellious Jews.
Antonia also employed Caenis, a woman famous for her memory, as her private secretary. Caenis was the long-term mistress of the future Caesar Vespasian. Suetonius described her as Vespasian’s wife in all but name. Julius Alexander would have discussed with Vespasian how the Jews’ messianic prophecies were, as Josephus later recorded, the mainspring of their rebellion. They would have also discussed Julius’ brother’s work, which attempted to modify Judaism into the peaceful existence in the Empire. From the relationship between Vespasian and Julius, the Flavians, Herods and Alexanders developed a close two-generation relationship.
Julius had two sons. The elder, Marcus, married Berenice, the granddaughter of Herod. After Marcus died at a young age, Berenice became the mistress of Vespasian’s son, Titus. Julius’ younger son, Tiberius Alexander, inherited his father’s entire estate after the death of Marcus, making him one of the richest men in the world. He renounced Judaism and was recorded as slaughtering fifty thousand rebellious Jews in Alexandria. When the Jewish war broke out in 66 CE Tiberius and the Herods assisted the Flavians, contributing money and troops.
During the Jewish war Vespasian challenged Vitellius for the Roman throne in 69CE, and Tiberius was the first to publicly state his allegiance for Vespasian as Caesar. Tiberius declared that Vespasian was not just Caesar, but a “Lord” or a divine being. Vespasian returned to Rome to assume the mantle of emperor, but left Tiberius behind to assist his son Titus with the destruction of Jerusalem.
Though overlooked by NT (New Testament) scholarship, these families are the most obvious candidates to have produced the Gospels. Who else but this group had the motivation, opportunity and the capacity to have written them?
Reading the Gospels as Flavian literature clears up many of their mysteries:
1) Stoicism in the Gospels – The combining of Judaism and Stoicism was an old technique for this group, Philo having developed the technique in the prior generation.
2) The “Logos” – One of the great mysteries of the Gospels is the term “Logos” that appears at the beginning of the Gospel of John. Logos is almost always translated as “word,” though this is not what the author meant and produces an incoherent statement.
John 1:1 – “In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God.”
The concept of the Logos used in the Gospel of John was developed by Philo. He based his concept of Logos on Platonic elements calling it the “idea of ideas” or the “archetypal idea”. Philo’s Logos had a typological relation to man. The Logos was the original type and man is the copy. The purpose of the Logos is to the shape the mind of man. In other words, Philo saw the Logos as a preexisting ideal pattern that earthly man could build his mind upon.
The authors of the NT – the Flavians, Herods and Alexanders – understood Philo’s “Logos” and therefore represented their story of Jesus as an “archetypal idea” which Titus’ military campaign was the continuation of. The concept of Logos would have been understood by a very small group in the first century and was certainly not known by Jewish hoi polloi.
3) The ministry of Jesus – The entire storyline of Jesus’ ministry comes from Titus’ military campaign. Once a reader understands the typological genre, the symbolic parallelism is not too hard to see and of course the parallel events occur in the same sequence.
4) The Gospels’ use of “technical terms” of the Imperial Cult – A great many Greek words used in the NT were what have been called “technical terms” of the Imperial Cult. The use of these terms is not mysterious but to be expected simply because they were the religious words used by the authors.
Originally published October 4, 2011
One question that always comes up when I speak with people who are learning aboutCaesar’s Messiah is this: if the Romans invented Christianity why did they persecute Christians? The question reflects the success the Romans had in confusing people as to who a “Christian” was.
The term “Christian” simply means a follower of a Christ – a leader claiming to have been foreseen by the Jews’ messianic prophecies. The word Kristos is Greek for the Hebrew word Messiah. So while the Romans did indeed persecute “Christians” in the way that history recorded, these were not “Roman Christians” but Jewish zealots.
In trying to sell their new religion to the masses as an authentic version of Judaism, the Romans did more than simply called it “Christianity”. In order to conceal how Roman Christianity began, the Romans stole parts of the history of the Jewish messianic movement to use as the history for their fictitious religion. In other words, since they knew they could not simply evaporate the knowledge of a movement large enough to have fought successfully against the empire, they decided to claim some of that movement’s history as belonging to Roman Christianity.
While this may seem confusing, there is a very simple way to understand what the Romans did and why people today incorrectly believe that Rome persecuted Roman Christians – this is the true history of the characters in the Gospels called Simon and John that is revealed in Caesar’s Messiah.
The following is an excerpt from Caesar’s Messiah:
“The Gospel of John concludes with a discussion between Simon (Peter) and Jesus. Jesus foresees that Simon will be bound and carried ‘where you do not wish to go.’ Jesus also tells Simon that he will have a martyr’s death, ‘to glorify God.’ In the midst of this discussion, ‘the disciple that Jesus loved,’ clearly meaning the Apostle John, appears. Simon asks Jesus what the fate of John is to be. Jesus replies, ‘It is my will that he remain.’ The passage then points out that John ‘is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things,’ referring to the Gospel of John itself.
Below is the entire passage. Notice how the author goes to great lengths to avoid calling the Apostles by their real names, Simon and John.
‘Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.’
(This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’
Peter turned and saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved, who had lain close to his breast at the supper and had said, ‘Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?’
When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about this man?’
Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!’
The saying spread abroad among the brethren that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?’
This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true.
This passage, which is the conclusion to Jesus’ ministry, is exactly parallel to Titus’ judgments concerning the rebel leaders Simon and John at the conclusion of his campaign through Judea. Thus, at the conclusion of the Gospel above, Jesus tells Simon ‘when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.’ Jesus tells Simon to ‘follow me’ and that his death will ‘glorify God.’ However, Jesus also states that it is his will that John is to ‘remain.’
At the conclusion of his campaign through Judea, Titus, after capturing ‘Simon,’ girds him in ‘bonds’ and sends him ‘where you do not wish to go,’ this being Rome. During the parade of conquest at Rome, Simon follows, that is, is ‘led’ to a ‘death, to glorify God,’ the god ‘glorified’ being Titus’ father, the diuus Vespasian. However, it is Titus’ will to spare the other leader of the rebellion, John.
Notice that in the following passage, Josephus records Simon’s fate before John’s, just as it occurs in John 21. A seemingly innocuous detail but one that I will show has great significance.
Simon . . . was forced to surrender himself, as we shall relate hereafter; so he was reserved for the triumph, and to be then slain; as was John condemned to perpetual imprisonment. 78
Josephus also records that Jesus’ vision of Simon ‘following’ also comes to pass for the rebel leader Simon.
Simon . . . had then been led in this triumph among the captives; a rope had also been put upon his head, and he had been drawn into a proper place in the forum. 79
In the passage from the Gospel of John above, notice that the author does not call the Apostle John by his name but rather as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved,’ and as the individual who had said at the Last Supper, ‘Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?’ Later in the chapter the author identifies this disciple with yet another epithet when he states, ‘This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things’—even here not referring to John by name but requiring the reader to determine it by knowing the name of the author of the Gospel.
The author’s use of epithets here, instead of simply referring to the disciple as ‘John,’ seems clearly an attempt to keep the parallel conclusion of Jesus’ and Titus’ ‘ministries’ from being too easily seen.80 The author also has Jesus call Simon by his nickname, ‘Peter,’ for the same reason.
The same technique is used throughout the New Testament and Wars of the Jews. To learn the name of an unnamed character, the reader must be able to recall details from another, related passage. In effect, the New Testament is designed as a sort of intelligence test, whose true meaning can be understood only by those possessing sufficient memory, logic, and irreverent humor.
For clarification, I present the following list showing the parallels between the ends of Jesus’ ministry and Titus’ campaign:
1) Characters are named Simon and John
2) Both sets of characters are judged
3) Both sides of the parallel occur at the conclusion of a ‘campaign’
4) Jesus predicts and Titus fulfills Simon going to a martyr’s death after being placed in bonds and taken someplace he does not wish to go
5) In each, John is spared
6) In each, Simon ‘follows’ ”
This analysis makes everything clear. In order to give their new Christianity a believable history, the Romans stole the positions of authority and the fates of the rebel leaders Simon and John. They made these individuals into Simon and John the disciples of Jesus Christ. The true history shows us that while the Romans did persecute Christians, these were Jewish zealots, not the Roman Christians.
Originally published September 2, 2011
Atwill is an independent scholar who has set the world of New Testament scholarship in a new direction.