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Tony Grist

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The Origins Of Christianity: A Radical Hypothesis [Nov. 9th, 2010|11:07 am]
Tony Grist
If Jesus died c. AD. 30 how come his name doesn't start appearing in the archaeological record until 100 years later?

There were two Jewish revolts during the reign of Hadrian. Evidence for Jesus  (mostly in the form of fragments of gospels) starts appearing at just this time.

It wasn't that easy to get published in the Roman world. If lots of manuscripts of a given text are in circulation it argues official connivance or even sponsorship.

Christianity is a radically Hellenized version of Judaism- outward looking and friendly to the Empire. Jesus is a God-man on the Hellenic model- like Hercules, Dionysus, Alexander, Mithras, Antinous, etc. The early Christian texts show the Romans in a favourable light  and demonize the Jewish authorities. ("Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites."). 

All this fits with Christianity being a creation of the Hadrianic period- a state-sponsored religion designed to draw adherents away from Judaism.   Its leading personalities- Jesus, the Apostles, Paul- were all "invented" at this time- and placed (conveniently beyond the reach of living memory) in the golden age of the early Empire. The gospels and other early Christian writings are essentially  "black propaganda" aimed against the Jewish rebels and their separatist ideology 
 
This is the barest outline of the hypothesis. The detailed evidence and arguments are here.
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2010-11-09 11:26 am (UTC)
Great link, will read it in depth when I get home, but thanks!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-11-09 11:34 am (UTC)
The material needs systematizing, but it's all there. Perhaps there will eventually be a book.
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[User Picture]From: wolfshift
2010-11-09 12:27 pm (UTC)
That would explain why the gospels are so vicious toward "the Jews", which has irked me every time I read them.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-11-09 12:43 pm (UTC)
Yes. The roots of Western anti-semitism lie here.
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2010-11-09 02:24 pm (UTC)
There's never been a shred of phyical evidence for the existence of Jesus --- which, given Roman bureaucratic records and the claim that he was executed as a criminal under Roman law, is pretty amazing.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-11-09 03:03 pm (UTC)
I have felt for quite some time that the elusiveness of the historical Jesus is best explained by his not being historical at all.
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From: tinceiri
2010-11-09 05:32 pm (UTC)
One thing to point out, if I may.
Christianity is a radically Hellenized version of Judaism- outward looking and friendly to the Empire. Jesus is a God-man on the Hellenic model- like Hercules, Dionysus, Alexander, Mithras, Antinous, etc. The early Christian texts show the Romans in a favourable light and demonize the Jewish authorities. ("Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.").
Judaism and Hellenism were both cultural "borrowers" off of one another and various other influences in the region. Hellenism in particular was heavily shaped by Judaism starting around 200 B.C.E. with the relocation of the capital of the Seleucid dynasty to Antioch. In particular, Zoroastrian notions of "good and evil" both found their way into Hellenism and Judaism.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-11-09 06:51 pm (UTC)
Northern India was also part of the melting pot. There are provocative posts on the website about the relationship between Christianity and Buddhism.
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[User Picture]From: endlessrarities
2010-11-09 06:24 pm (UTC)
Sounds perfectly feasible!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-11-09 06:57 pm (UTC)
I can't see any obvious objections to it.
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From: sunfell
2010-11-09 09:56 pm (UTC)
Ooh, sounds interesting!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-11-10 08:52 am (UTC)
I find it quite persuasive.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2010-11-10 11:23 am (UTC)
The deeper I dig into this the less certain I am of what is being claimed, despite being very open to those claims. I am unsure how we get from an early mixture of Judaic mysticism and asceticism, Alexandrian gnosticism, and Mithraism, to this alleged Hadrianic Christianity.

Or are the authors claiming that there was no native Judaic element in Christianity? I am unsure.

That the Jews were coerced or forced to convert to Christianity sometime after the destruction of Jerusalem seems entirely plausible. I have seen it suggested, based upon recent genetic evidence, that the Diaspora may have been largely a myth and that the Biblical Jews became Christians, under Roman rule, and later converted to al Islam under the Saracens.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-11-10 12:14 pm (UTC)
The material is unsystematized and all over the place, but the central thesis- that Christianity was invented to combat Jewish nationalism- seems clear enough. A lot of the other stuff- how a lot of early "Christians" may actually have been "Chrestians"- and nothing to do with Jesus- is presumably there to undermine the case for a first century origin. There are things I remain unsure about- for example quite where Paul fits in- but I imagine there are more posts to come.

I'm hoping a book will come out of this- with the material presented in better order and the structure of the argument clarified.
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[User Picture]From: pingback_bot
2010-11-17 07:43 pm (UTC)

The Hadrianic Conspiracy

User michaleen referenced to your post from The Hadrianic Conspiracy saying: [...] L AST WEEK, led me into a tar pit [...]
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