The criminal case of christianity engineering

In US Criminal law, means, motive, and opportunity is a popular cultural summation of the three aspects of a crime needed to convince a jury of guilt in a criminal proceeding. Respectively, they refer to: the ability of the defendant to commit the crime (means), the reason the defendant had to commit the crime (motive), and whether or not the defendant had the opportunity to commit the crime (opportunity).


1. Motive

To understand why the Flavians decided to create Christianity, one needs to understand the political conditions that the family faced in Judea in 74 C.E., following their defeat of the Sicarii, a movement of messianic Jews. The process that ultimately led to the Flavians' control over Judea was part of a broader and longer struggle, that between Judaism and Hellenism. Judaism, which was based upon monotheism and faith, was simply incompatible with Hellenism, the Greek culture that promoted polytheism and rationalism.

Hellenism spread into Judea after Alexander the Great conquered the area, in 333 B.C.E. Alexander and his successors established cities throughout their empire to act as centers of commerce and administration. They set up more than 30 Greek cities within Judea itself. The people of Judea, in spite of their historical resistance to outside influences, began to incorporate certain traits of the Greek ruling class into their culture. Many Semites found it desirable, if not necessary, to speak Greek. Wealthy Jews sought a Greek education for their young men. Gymnasia introduced Jewish students to Greek myths, sports, music, and arts.

The Seleucids, descendants of Seleucus, the commander of Alexander's elite guard, gained control over the region from the Ptolemies, the descendants of another of Alexander's generals, in 200 B.C.E. When Antiochus IV (or as he preferred, Epiphanes--that is, god manifest) became the Seleucid ruler in 169 B.C.E., he began Judea's nightmare. Antiochus was openly contemptuous of Judaism and wanted to modernize Jewish religion and culture. He installed high priests who were supportive of his policies. When a rebellion against Hellenization broke out, in 168 B.C.E., Antiochus ordered his army to attack Jerusalem. Second Maccabees records the number of Jews slain in the battle as 40,000, with another 40,000 taken captive and enslaved. Antiochus emptied the temple of its treasury, violated the holy of holies, and intensified his policy of Hellenization. He ordered the observances of the Hebrew cult be replaced with Hellenistic worship. He banned circumcision and sacrifice, instituted a monthly observance of his birthday, and placed a statue of Zeus on the Temple Mount.

In 167 B.C.E., the Maccabees, a family of religiously zealous Jews, led a revolution against Antiochus' imposition of Hellenistic customs and religions. They sought to restore to power the religion that they believed was mandated by God in his holy land. The Maccabees compelled the inhabitants of the cities they conquered to convert to Judaism. Males either permitted themselves to be circum-cised or were slain. After a 20-year struggle, the Maccabees eventually prevailed against the Seleucids. To quote 1 Maccabees, "the yoke of the Gentiles was removed from Israel" (13:41).

Though the Maccabees went on to rule Israel for more than 100 years, their kingdom was never secure. The Seleucid threat to the region was replaced by an even greater one from Rome. Roman expansionism and Hellenistic culture constantly threatened to engulf the religious state that the Maccabees had established. In 65 B.C.E., a civil war broke out between two Maccabean rivals for the throne. It was at this time that Antipater the Edomite, the wily father of Herod, appeared on the scene. Antipater helped bring about a Roman intervention in the civil war, and when Pompey sent his legate Scaurus into Judea with a Roman army, it marked the beginning of the end of the Maccabean religious state.

For the next 30 years (65-37 B.C.E.), Judea suffered through one war after another. In 40 B.C.E., the last Maccabean ruler, Mattathias Antigonus, seized control of the country. By this time, however, the Herodian family was firmly established as Rome's surrogate in the region and, with Roman support, defeated Mattathias' army and gained control of Judea. Following the destruction of the Maccabean state, the Sicarii, a new movement against Roman and Herodian control, emerged. This was a movement of lower-class Jews, originally called Zealots, who continued the Maccabees' religious struggle against the control of Judea by outsiders and sought to restore "Eretz Israel."

The efforts of the Sicarii reached a climax in 66 C.E. when they succeeded in driving the Roman forces from the country. The Emperor Nero ordered Vespasian to enter Judea with a large army and end the revolt. The violent struggle that ensued left the country devastated and concluded when Rome captured Masada in 73 C.E. In the midst of the Judean war, forces loyal to the Flavian family in Rome revolted against the last of the Julio-Claudian emperors, Vitellius, and seized the capital. Vespasian returned to Rome to be proclaimed emperor, leaving his son Titus in Judea to finish off the rebels. Following the war, the Flavians shared control over this region between Egypt and Syria with two families of powerful Hellenized Jews: the Herods and the Alexanders.

[...]Though the Flavians, Herods, and Alexanders had ended the Jewish revolt, the families had not destroyed the messianic religion of the Jewish rebels. The families needed to find a way to prevent the Zealots from inspiring future uprisings through their belief in a coming warrior Messiah. Then someone from within this circle had an inspiration, one that changed history. The way to tame messianic Judaism would be to simply transform it into a religion that would cooperate with the Roman Empire. To achieve this goal would require a new type of messianic literature. Thus, what we know as the Christian Gospels were created. In a convergence unique in history, the Flavians, Herods, and Alexanders brought together the elements necessary for the creation and implementation of Christianity. They had the financial motivation to replace the militaristic religion of the Sicarii, the expertise in Judaism and philosophy necessary to create the Gospels, and the knowledge and bureaucracy required to implement a religion (the Flavians created and maintained a number of religions other than Christianity). Moreover, these families were the absolute rulers over the territories where the first Christian congregations began.

To produce the Gospels required a deep understanding of Judaic literature. The Gospels would not simply replace the literature of the old religion, but would be written in such a way as to demonstrate that Christianity was the fulfillment of the prophecies of Judaism and had therefore grown directly from it. To achieve these effects, the Flavian intellectuals made use of a technique used throughout Judaic literature--typology. In its most basic sense typology is simply the use of prior events to provide form and context for subsequent ones.

[Source: Joseph Atwill - Caesar's Messiah]

2. Means

[...]While the above claims will, and should, trigger skepticism, one needs to remember that as Christianity describes its origins, it was not only supernatural but also historically illogical. Christianity, a movement that encouraged pacifism and obedience to Rome, claims to have emerged from a nation engaged in a century-long struggle with Rome. An analogy to Christianity's purported origins might be a cult established by Polish Jews during World War II that set up its headquarters in Berlin and encouraged its members to pay taxes to the Third Reich. When one looks at the form of early Christianity, one sees not Judea, but Rome. The church's structures of authority, its sacraments, its college of bishops, the title of the head of the religion-- the supreme pontiff--were all based on Roman, not Judaic, traditions. Somehow, Judea left little trace on the form of a religion that purportedly originated inside of it. Early Christianity was also Roman in its worldview. That is, like the Roman Empire, the movement saw itself as ordained by God to spread throughout the world. Before Christianity, no religion is known to have seen itself quite so destined to conquer, to become the religion of all mankind. The type of Judaism described in the Dead Sea Scrolls, for example, was very selective as to who was allowed to join its community, as the following passage from the Damascus Document shows:
No madman, or lunatic, or simpleton, or fool, or blind man, or maimed, or lame, or deaf man, and no minor shall enter into the community for the Angels of Holiness are with 9 them . . .

This exclusionary approach was the mirror opposite of Christianity:
And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, 10 and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and he healed them.

[...]But how did the church's authority structure come into existence resembling the Roman military? Who established it and who gave the bishops such absolute control? Cyprian wrote . . . "The bishop is in the Church and the Church is in the bishop . . . and if anyone is not with the bishop, that person is not in the Church." And why was Rome, supposedly the center of Christian persecution, chosen as the church's headquarters? A Roman origin would explain why the bishop of Rome was later made the supreme pontiff of the church. And why Rome became its headquarters. It would explain how a Judean cult eventually became the state religion of the Roman Empire. A Roman origin would also explain why so many members of a Roman imperial family, the Flavians, were recorded as being among the first Christians. The Flavians would have been among the first Christians because, having invented the religion, they were, in fact, the first Christians. When considering a Flavian invention of Christianity, one should bear in mind that the Flavian emperors were considered to be divine and often created religions. The oath that they swore when being ordained emperor began with the instruction that they would do "all things divine ... in the interests of the empire."

[...]The Flavians merely continued the tradition of establishing emperors as gods that the Julio-Claudian line of Roman emperors had begun. Julius Caesar, the first diuus (divine) of that line, claimed to have been descended from Venus. The Roman Senate is said to have decreed that he was a god because a comet appeared shortly after his death, thus demonstrating his divinity. In 80 C.E., Titus established an imperial cult for his father, who had passed away during the previous year. The cult was politically important to Titus because Vespasian's deification would break the Julio-Claudian line of divine succession and thereby secure the throne for the Flavians. Because only the Roman Senate could bestow the title of diuus, Titus first needed to convince them that Vespasian had been a god. There was evidently some difficulty in arranging this, however; Vespasian's consecratio did not occur until six months after his death, an unusually long interval. Titus also created a priesthood, the flamines, to administer the cult. The cult of Vespasian was not isolated to Rome, and appointments were made throughout the provinces. In the areas surrounding Judea, a Roman bureaucracy called the Commune Asiae oversaw the cult. Notably all seven of the Christian "churches of Asia" mentioned in Revelation 1:11 had agencies of the Commune located within them. Upon her death, Titus also secured the deification of his sister, Domitilla.

In going through the process of deifying his father and sister and establishing their cults, Titus received an education in a skill few humans have ever possessed. He learned how to create a religion. Titus not only created and administered religions, he was a prophet. While emperor, he received the title of Pontifex Maximus, which made him the high priest of the Roman religion and the official head of the Roman college of priests--the same title and office that, once Christianity had become the Roman state religion, its popes would assume. As Pontifex Maximus, Titus was responsible for a large collection of prophecies (annales maximi) every year, and officially recorded celestial and other signs, as well as the events that had followed these omens, so that future generations would be able to better understand the divine will.

Titus was unusually literate. He claimed to take shorthand faster than any secretary and to be able to "forge any man's signature" and stated that under different circumstances he could have become "the greatest forger in history." Suetonius records that Titus possessed "conspicuous mental gifts," and "made speeches and wrote verses in Latin and Greek" and that his "memory was extraordinary." Titus' brother Domitian, who succeeded him as emperor, also used religion to his advantage. In addition to deifying his brother, Domitian attempted to link himself to Jupiter, the supreme god of the Roman Empire, by having the Senate decree that the god had mandated his rule.

Not only did the Flavians create religions, they performed miracles. In the following passage from Tacitus, Vespasian is recorded as curing one man's blindness and another's withered limb, miracles also performed by Jesus:
One of the common people of Alexandria, well known for his blindness . . . begged Vespasian that he would deign to moisten his cheeks and eyeballs with his spittle. Another with a diseased hand prayed that the limb might feet the print of a Caesar's foot. And so Vespasian . . . accomplished what was required. The hand was instantly restored to its use, and the light of day again shone upon the blind.

The Gospels record that Jesus also used this method of curing blindness, that is by placing spittle on a blind man's eyelids.
After thus speaking, He spat on the ground, and then, kneading the dust and spittle into clay, He smeared the clay over the man's eyes and said to him, "Go and wash in the pool of Siloam"--the name means "sent." So he went and washed his eyes, and returned able to see. John 9:6-7

Other stories were circulated about Vespasian that suggested his divinity. One involved a stray dog dropping a human hand at Vespasian's feet. The hand was a symbol of power to first-century Romans. Another tale described an ox coming into Vespasian's dining room and literally falling at the emperor's feet and lowering his neck, as if recognizing to whom its sacrifice was due.

Circulating tales that suggested they were gods was no doubt thought by the Flavians to be a good tonic for hoi polloi. The more an emperor was seen by his subjects to be divine, the easier it was for him to maintain his control over them. The Flavians certainly focused on manipulating the masses. To promote the policy of "bread and circuses" they built the Coliseum, where they staged shows with gladiators and wild beasts that involved mass slaughter. Imperial cults that portrayed Roman emperors as gods and workers of miracles appear to have been created solely because they were politically useful. The cults seem to have evoked no religious emotion. No evidence of any spontaneous offerings attesting to the sincerity of the worshipers has ever been discovered.

The advantage of converting one's family into a succession of gods appealed to many Roman emperors: 36 of the 60 emperors from Augustus to Constantine and 27 members of their families were apotheosized and received the title diuus. Of course, inventors of fictitious religions must have a certain cynicism in regard to the sacred. Vespasian is quoted on his deathbed as saying, "Oh my, I must be turning into a god!" Pliny commented on the cynicism that the Flavians felt toward the religions they had created. Notice in the following quote Pliny's understanding that Titus had made himself a "son of a god." Titus deified Vespasian and Domitian, but only so that one would be the father of a god and the other a brother of a god.

[...] If Christianity was invented by the Flavians to assist them in their struggle with Judaism, it would merely have been a variation upon a long-established theme. Using religion for the good of the state was a Roman technique long before the Flavians. In the following quote, which could well have been studied by the young Titus Flavius during his education at the imperial court, Cicero not only prefigures much of Christian theology but also actually advocates for the state to persuade the masses to adopt the theology most appropriate for the empire:
We must persuade our citizens that the gods are the Lords and rulers of all things and what is done, is done by their will and authority; and they are the great benefactors of men, and know who everyone is, and what he does, and what sins he commits, and what he intends to do, and with what piety he fulfills his religious duties. Cicero, The Laws, 2:15-16

Rome attempted not to replace the gods of its provinces but to absorb them. By the end of the first century Rome had accumulated so many foreign gods that virtually every day of the year celebrated some divinity. Roman citizens were encouraged to give offerings to all these gods as a way of maintaining the Pax Deorum, the "peace of the gods," a condition that the Caesars saw as beneficial to the empire. The Romans also used religion as a tool to assist them in conquest. The leader of the Roman army, the consul, was a religious leader capable of communicating with the gods. The Romans developed a specific ritual for inducing the gods of their enemies to defect to Rome. In this particular ritual, the devotio, a Roman soldier sacrificed himself to all the gods, including those of the enemy. In this way the Romans sought to neutralize their opponents' divine assistance. Thus, when Rome went to war with the Zealots in Judea it had a long tradition of absorbing the religions of its opponents. If Romans did invent Christianity, it would have been yet another example of neutralizing an enemy's religion by making it their own, rather than fighting against it. Rome would simply have transformed the militant Judaism of first-century Judea into a pacifist religion, to more easily absorb it into the empire. In any event, it is certain that the Caesars did attempt to control Judaism. From Julius Caesar on, the Roman emperor claimed personal authority over the religion and selected its high priests.

[...]Roman emperors appointed all the high priests recorded within the New Testament from a restricted circle of families who were allied to Rome. By selecting the individual who would determine any issue of "Jewish customs," the Caesars were managing Jewish theology for their own self-interest. Of course, what other way would a Caesar have managed a religion? Rome exercised control over the religion in a way that was unique in the history of its provincial governments. Rome micromanaged Second Temple Judaism to the extent of even determining when its priests could wear their holy vestments.

In spite of these efforts, Rome's normal policy of absorbing the gods of its provinces did not succeed in Judea. Judaism would not permit its God to be just one among many, and Rome was forced to battle one Jewish insurrection after another. Having failed to control Judaism by naming its high priests, the imperial family would next attempt to control the religion by rewriting its Torah. I believe they took this step and created the Gospels to initiate a version of Judaism more acceptable to the Empire, a religion that instead of waging war against its enemies would "turn the other cheek."

[Source: Joseph Atwill - Caesar's Messiah]

3. Opportunity

[...]it is worth looking again at the confused and sketchy description of the events that occur towards the end of the Acts of the Apostles. [...]In any case, and despite his exculpatory self-purification, Paul continues to inspire enmity in those 'zealous for the Law' - who, a few days later, attack him in the Temple. 'This', they proclaim, 'is the man who preaches to everyone everywhere . . . against the Law' (Acts 21:28). The ensuing riot is no minor disturbance: This roused the whole city: people came running from all sides; they seized Paul and dragged him out of the Temple, and the gates were closed behind them. They would have killed him if a report had not reached the tribune of the cohort that there was rioting all over Jerusalem. (Acts 21:3031)

The cohort is called out - no fewer than six hundred men -and Paul, in the nick of time, is rescued, presumably to prevent civil upheaval on an even greater scale. Why else would the cohort bother to save the life of one heterodox Jew who'd incurred the wrath of his fellows? The sheer scale of the tumult attests to the kind of currency, influence and power the so-called 'early Church' must have exercised in Jerusalem at the time - among Jews! Clearly, we are dealing with a movement within Judaism itself, which commands loyalty from much of the city's populace.

Having rescued him from the incensed mob, the Romans arrest Paul - who, before he is marched off to prison, asks permission to make a self-exonerating speech. Inexplicably, the Romans acquiesce to his request, even though the speech serves only to further inflame the mob. Paul is then carried off for torture and interrogation.

As was asked previously, interrogation about what? Why torture and interrogate a man who has offended his co-religionists on fine points of orthodoxy and ritual observance? There is only one explanation for the Romans taking such an interest - that Paul is suspected of being privy to information of a political and/or military nature. The only serious political and/or military adversaries confronting the Romans were the adherents of the nationalistic movement - the 'Zealots' of popular tradition. And Paul, the evangelist of the 'early Church', was under threat from those 'zealous for the Law' ­ forty or more of them in number - who were plotting to kill him, vowing not to eat or drink until they had done so.

Saved from this fate by his hitherto unmentioned nephew, he is bundled, under escort, out of Jerusalem to Caesarea, where he invokes his right as a Roman citizen to make a personal appeal to the emperor. While in Caesarea, he hobnobs in congenial and intimate fashion with the Roman procurator, Antonius Felix. Eisenman has emphasised that he is also intimate with the procurator's brother-in-law, Herod Agrippa II, and with the king's sister - later the mistress of Titus, the Roman commander who will destroy Jerusalem and eventually become emperor.

These are not the only suspicious elements looming in the background of Paul's biography. From the very beginning, his apparent wealth, his Roman citizenship and his easy familiarity with the presiding establishment have differentiated him from his fellows and from other members of the 'early Church'. Obviously, he has influential connections with the ruling elite. How else could so young a man have become the high priest's hatchet man? In his letter to the Romans (16:11), moreover, he speaks of a companion strikingly named 'Herodion' - a name obviously associated with the reigning dynasty, and most unlikely for a fellow evangelist. And Acts 13:1 refers to one of Paul's companions in Antioch as 'Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch'. Here, again, there is evidence of high-level aristocratic affiliation.

Startling though the suggestion may be, it does seem at least possible that Paul was some species of Roman 'agent'. Eisenman was led to this conclusion by the scrolls themselves, then found the references in the New Testament to support it. And indeed, if one combines and superimposes the materials found at Qumran with those in Acts, together with obscure references in Paul's letters, such a conclusion becomes a distinct possibility.

But there is another possibility as well, possibly no less startling. Those last muddled and enigmatic events in Jerusalem, the nick-of-time intervention of the Romans, Paul's heavily escorted departure from the city, his sojourn in luxury at Caesarea, his mysterious and utter disappearance from the stage of history - these things find a curious echo in our own era. One is reminded of beneficiaries of the 'Witness Protection Program' in the States. One is also reminded of the so-called 'supergrass phenomenon' in Northern Ireland. In both cases, a member of an illicit organisation - dedicated to organised crime or to paramilitary terrorism - is 'turned' by the authorities. He consents to give evidence and testify, in exchange for immunity, protection, relocation and money. Like Paul, he would incur the vengeful wrath of his colleagues. Like Paul, he would be placed under seemingly disproportionate military and/or police protection. Like Paul, he would be smuggled out under escort. Having co-operated with the authorities, he would then be given a 'new identity' and, together with his family, resettled somewhere theoretically out of reach of his vindictive comrades. So far as the world at large was concerned, he would, like Paul, disappear.

Does Paul, then, belong in the company of history's 'secret agents'? Of history's informers and 'supergrasses'? These are some of the questions generated by Robert Eisenman's research. But in any case, Paul's arrival on the scene set a train of events in motion that was to prove irreversible. What began as a localised movement within the framework of existing Judaism, its influence extending no further than the Holy Land, was transformed into something of a scale and magnitude that no one at the time can have foreseen. The movement entrusted to the 'early Church' and the Qumran community was effectively hijacked and converted into something that could no longer accommodate its progenitors. There emerged a skein of thought which, heretical at its inception, was to evolve in the course of the next two centuries into an entirely new religion. What had been heresy within the framework of Judaism was now to become the orthodoxy of Christianity. Few accidents of history can have had more far-reaching consequences.

[Source: Michael Baigent & Richard Leigh: The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception]