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
Atwill is an independent scholar who has set the world of New Testament scholarship in a new direction.