...that whole Caesar's Messiah theory seems pretty flimsy. I still need to read Atwill's book, but in his interviews I've heard on radio, it seems like he is reaching to draw parallels where they are rather dubious, between Christ and Titus. It also just doesn't make sense that the Romans would have invented a religion that implores people to worship and serve a God higher than Caesar or the Roman state, all to supposedly deal with the Judeans who weren't *that* big of an issue within the concerns of the Empire. Plus there is some evidence of early churches within 50-70 years after Christ's death, in places as far-flung as Britain (Glastonbury, etc.), independent of Rome.
Even if you do buy the idea that Rome concocted something, this doesn't necessarily mean that Christ was not a real person, either -- you could posit that they introduced distortions of the real story for their own purposes.
I think Atwill's motivation is that he doesn't like how Christians often seem cowed into submission before government authority, as if it's the godly thing to do. He does have a point there, because that idea has been distorted a lot by those who would twist Christianity in order to pacify it completely and to neutralize the will of opposition. I don't think you have to throw all of Christianity out the historical window, though, in order to address and correct such distortions. Chuck Baldwin's son's book on Romans 13 is a great read, explaining the real meaning behind submission, etc.
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