Jesus Never Existed

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Jesus Never Existed

Militant Tendencies – Jewish Resistance to Roman Rule


'From the reign of Nero to that of Antoninus Pius, the Jews discovered a fierce impatience of the dominion of Rome, which repeatedly broke out in the most ferocious massacres and insurrections.'

– Edward Gibbon (The Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire)

The Jews: The view from Rome

Palestine … is the name that has been given from of old to the whole country extending from Phoenicia to Egypt along the inner sea. They have also another name that they have acquired: the country has been named Judaea, and the people themselves Jews. I do not know how this title came to be given to them, but it applies also to all the rest of mankind, although of alien race, who affect their customs.

This class exists even among the Romans, and though often repressed has increased to a very great extent and has won its way to the right of freedom in its observances. They are distinguished from the rest of mankind in practically every detail of life, and especially by the fact that they do not honour any of the usual gods, but show extreme reverence for one particular divinity.

They never had any statue of him even in Jerusalem itself, but believing him to be unnamable and invisible, they worship him in the most extravagant fashion on earth. They built to him a temple that was extremely large and beautiful, except in so far as it was open and roofless, and likewise dedicated to him the day called the day of Saturn, on which, among many other most peculiar observances, they undertake no serious occupation.

– Cassius Dio, Roman History, 37.17.

Cassius Dio (c. 165 – 235), a Bithynian Greek (born at Nicaea)  who later became a Roman senator and consul, is known primarily for his partially extant Roman History (early third century A.D.). This work, eighty books long, was the last full history of Rome to be written in antiquity; it covers the more than one-thousand-year period from the supposed arrival of Aeneas in Italy in the eleventh century B.C. until Dio’s own consulate in A.D. 229. During a public career in which he was remarkably adept at shifting with changing political winds, Dio prospered under a series of emperors from Commodus (who ruled from A.D. 180 to 192) to Severus Alexander (who reigned from A.D. 222 to 235); Dio preserves in his remarkable history firsthand accounts of all of them.

Dio wrote his Roman History in the years 211-233. The author was appointed governor of Pergamon and Smyrna by Macrinus, and was afterwards commander of the forces in Africa. Soon afterwards he was governor of Pannonia. Elected consul for the second time, he was allowed to return home owing to bad feet, to spend the rest of his life in Bithynia,

Books 36–54, covering the years 68–10 BC, survive complete,

Books 55–60 (9 BC–AD 46) in an abbreviated form, and

Books 79–80 (AD 217–20) in part. The rest of the history has to be pieced together from the summary descriptions of Byzantine historians of the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

Today, fragments remain of the first 36 books, including considerable portions of both the 35th book (on the war of Lucullus against Mithridates VI of Pontus) and the 36th (on the war with the pirates and the expedition of Pompey against the king of Pontus).

The books that follow, to the 54th inclusive, are nearly all complete: they cover the period from 65 BC to 12 BC, or from the eastern campaign of Pompey and the death of Mithridates to the death of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa.

The 55th book has a considerable gap in it. The 56th to the 60th, inclusive, which cover the period from 9 to 54, are complete, and contain the events from the defeat of Varus in Germany to the death of Claudius.

Of the next 20 books in the series, there remain only fragments and the meager abridgement of John Xiphilinus, a monk of the 11th century.

The 80th or last book covers the period from 222 to 229 (the reign of Alexander Severus). The abridgment of Xiphilinus, as now extant, commences with the 35th book and continues to the end of the 80th book. It is a very indifferent performance, and was made by order of the emperor Michael VII Parapinaces.

The fragments of the first 36 books, as now collected, are of four kinds:
Fragmenta Valesiana, such as were dispersed throughout various writers, scholiasts, grammarians, and lexicographers, and were collected by Henri Valois.
Fragmenta Peiresciana, comprising large extracts, found in the section entitled “Of Virtues and Vices”, in the great collection or portative library compiled by order of Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus. The manuscript of this belonged to Peiresc.
The fragments of the first 34 books, preserved in the second section of the same work of Constantine’s, entitled “Of Embassies.” These are known under the name of Fragmenta Ursiniana, because the manuscript containing them was found in Sicily by Fulvio Orsini.
Excerpta Vaticana, by Angelo Mai, which contain fragments of books 1 to 35, and 61 to 80. To these are added the fragments of an unknown continuator of Dio (Anonymus post Dionem), generally identified with the 6th-century historian Peter the Patrician, which go down to the time of Constantine. Other fragments from Dio belonging chiefly to the first 34 books were found by Mai in two Vatican MSS., which contain a collection made by Maximus Planudes. 

The annals of Joannes Zonaras also contain numerous extracts from Dio.

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Fevered Mind

About the year 68 AD one particular revolutionist wrote (or collected together) the book we know as the Apocalypse of St John.

This Revelation is the outpouring of a Jew seriously embittered by Roman imperialism. The writer invokes retribution for his enemies from that old, vicious god of Hebrew scripture, who rips into humanity (the Romans) with poetic abandon.

Revelation, and other fiery tracts of the same genre, no doubt strengthened the resolve of first century Jewish resistance. The rebels failed, as did the Apocalypse in its prediction of the imminent fall of Rome and of the Millennial Reign that would follow.

The anticipated ruler was Jewish warlord, a Christ born in Heaven, who ‘doth judge and make war’.

This celestial war god bore little in common with a Galilean carpenter!

35 – 135 AD: The End of Judea

Judea was sentenced to be portioned out to strangers – the capital was destroyed, the Temple demolished, the royal house almost extinct, the High-priesthood buried under the ruins of the Temple … The political existence of the Jewish nation was annihilated; it was never again recognised as one of the states or kingdoms of the world.

– Milman (History of the Jews, p10

Roman commercial exploitation of Judea began in earnest after the territory became a minor province in 6 AD. Rome’s rapaciousness was extended into Galilee following the death of Herod Agrippa I in 44.

His sonHerod Agrippa II, was given the throne of Galilee in 53 and with it, the right to nominate the High Priest. As a client king, Agrippa sided with the Romans during the First Jewish War. His sister Berenice even became the mistress of the emperor’s son and successor Titus.

Agrippa II remained loyal to Rome throughout his life. Vespasian rewarded him with the rank of praetor in 75. The Herodian line died with him 97.

Most Jews were not members of Rabbi Saul’s ‘alternative’ synagogues. Very few Jews, in the 1st century, showed any interest in a Judaised version of the Dionysian birth-and-rebirth story, even with the embellishment of eternal life promised by the heretical Rabbi Saul. Within Palestine, national resistance and militancy were in the ascendancy. In the late 40s disturbances in Judea led to severe reprisals against Zealots and Nazarenes by Roman forces.

In 52 the situation had grown acute enough for the Roman Legate of Syria – the immediate superior of the prefect of Judea – to intervene. But terrorism continued.

“Radical Zealots in the late 50s began assassinating Jews who collaborated with the Romans.”
– Clouse, Pierard, Yamocuhi (Two Kingdoms, p25)

In the heartland of Judea many Jews were determined to raise the banner of revolt, incensed by the ruthless avarice of successive procurators. Ironically, the first, hopeless, war began only a few years after the triumphant completion of the eighty-year project to build the temple precinct – a vast platform covering thirty five acres upon which stood the Temple of Herod itself. This work – at its height requiring 18,000 labourers – had been permitted by the Romans, even though the temple itself was a redolent symbol of the Nation of Israel.’ Now the Romans had to deal with that ‘Nation.’

The Road to Massada

Riots broke out in Caesarea when, with Nero’s blessing, the Greeks took control of the city. War followed in May of 66 when the most truculent faction of Jews – the Sicarii – seized Herod’s mountain fortress of Massada and exterminated the Roman garrison. Encouraged by this success, Zealots in Jerusalem entered the Temple and coerced priests into abolishing the official sacrifices to Rome and the Emperor. Overcoming the resistance of rival factions, opposed to war, the Zealots took control of the city and expelled the occupying forces.

Roman troops in the province were initially caught off guard by the fanaticism and size of the rebellion. Their initial response – a legion dispatched from Syria to retake Jerusalem – was repulsed. It was not until the accomplished general Vespasian arrived early in 67 that Jewish successes were checked.

Samaria and the coastal cities submitted without a fight. Then Galilee and its cities of Jotapata and Gamala were subdued. Here, a tenacious resistance had been led by the thirty-year-old Josephus, although he had personally opposed the rebellion. Josephus so impressed the Roman general that he lived to tell the tale – quite literally, in his History of the Jewish War. Subsequently, most of the provinces of Judea, Idumea and Peraea, including the fortresses at Qumran and Jericho, were subdued.

However, in June 68, back in Rome, Nero committed suicide and the imperial instability which followed – three new emperors rose and fell within the year – appeared to be a sign of divine intervention and ‘The Last of Days.’ The resistance of the revolutionaries stiffened.

Indeed, on the island of Patmos an exiled Jew at this time was writing a fantasy of horrors, a lurid and supposedly prophetic document, which foretold the fall of the ‘Whore of Babylon’ – Rome – and the final conflict of good and evil (Armageddon). We know it today as Revelation. Unfortunately for the soothsayer it was not Rome that was about to fall but the city of Jerusalem. Vespasian, proclaimed emperor by his troops, returned to Rome leaving his son Titus to complete suppression of the rebels.

.Jerusalem, besieged by sixty thousand Roman troops in the spring of 70, was ruthlessly retaken during the summer, by which time the defenders had been reduced to civil war, starvation and (according to Josephus) even cannibalism.

The religious fanatics made their last stand at the fortress they had taken first – Massada. When faced by inevitable defeat (in 73) they met it with a defiant act of mass suicide. The terrible price the Jews paid for their revolt was the total destruction of their temple and the city in which it stood.

No Temple – Now what?

A conciliatory Vespasian – now emperor – allowed a Pharisee, Johanan ben Zakkai, a pupil of Gamaliel, to set up an academy at Jabneh (Jamnia) in Syria in 76 and even to re-establish the Jewish council, the Sanhedrin.

But it was only Pharisaic (or now, ‘rabbinic’ ) Judaism that survived. The temple and the city of Jerusalem had been reduced to a pile of rubble.

Yet even in this dark hour the rebellious spirit never left the Jews, so convinced were they of their messianic hopes. Even in the late 70s the province of Cyrenaica (in north Africa) smouldered.

We know in graphic detail the course of the first Jewish War because – remarkably – the history recorded by Josephus somehow survived. Whereas whole libraries of antiquity were torched by the Christians, curiously, this testimony of a Jew made it through the centuries. A subsequent work by Josephus, The Antiquity of the Jews, which iterated and extended his story of the ‘chosen people’ also survived.

The survival of these two overlapping works was no coincidence because they rather too well ‘confirm’ from a ‘non-Christian source’ the existence of the godman.

In short, sometime in the 4th century, while most else of ancient scholarship was being thrown into bonfires, a Christian scribe – probably Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea– ‘rescued’ the histories of Josephus and doctored them to provide convenient ‘proof’ that Christ had been flesh-and-blood and was neither a fiction, as pagan critics maintained, nor solely a spiritual being, as gnostics reasoned.

Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews (Phoenix Grant, 1987)
Dan Cohn-Sherbok, The Crucified Jew (Harper Collins,1992)
Henry Hart Milman, The History of the Jews (Everyman, 1939)
Josephus, The Jewish War (Penguin, 1959)
Leslie Houlden (Ed.), Judaism & Christianity (Routledge, 1988)
Karen Armstrong, A History of Jerusalem (Harper Collins, 1999)
Gaius Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars (Penguin, 1957)
Norman Cantor, The Sacred Chain – A History of the Jews (Harper Collins, 1994)
Robin Lane Fox, Pagans & Christians (Viking, 1986)
Michael Baigent, The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception (Simon & Schuster, 1993)
Richard Leigh & Henry Lincoln, The Holy Blood & The Holy Grail (Delacorte Press, 1982)

Real history Christian faux history

35 Rome’s candidate for Parthian throne Tiridates III overthrows his cousin Artabanus III. Rome installs Mithridates on Armenian throne and ejects the Parthian prince Arsaces.

Tiberius makes Caligula and Gemellus his heirs.


c. 35 Saul converted on road to Damascus


36 Artabanus regains throne in Parthia but accepts Roman protectorate over Armenia. Saul-cum-Paul spends 3 years in Damascus and then just 15 days in Jerusalem with James and Peter.

Paul “coming and going” with the apostles at Jerusalem temple.

Paul sent back to Tarsus

37 Antipas defeated by his father-in-law Aretas at Peraea. Death of Tiberius. Caligula becomes emperor.

38 Caligula deifies his dead sister/lover Drusilla. 

Paul “does not go to Jerusalem for 14 years” (writing his memoirs?)

39 Aborted rebellion in upper Germany.

Antipas petitions Caligula to be made Jewish king. Instead, he is deposed and Agrippa made tetrarch.

Jewish embassy to Caligula.

40 Caligula annexes Mauretania.
Claudius, 48, married to 14-year-old Messalina.

41 Caligula declares himself a god. Assassinated.

Claudius becomes emperor. Makes Agrippa king of all Judea.

43 Invasion of Britain. 
44 Death of Agrippa, Rome annexes Judea. 
45 Death of Philo. 
46 Rome annexes Thrace. 
47 Claudius intruduces the Phrygian god Attis into Rome. 
48 Execution of Messalina. Claudius marries Agrippina, his niece. c. 49 Council of Jerusalem
50 Caudius adopts Nero.  

52 Vologeses of Mede becomes king in Parthia.

Ananias, a high priest in Jerusalem, is sent to Rome after being accused of violence.


53 Vologeses installs his brother Tiridates on Armenian throne, a provocation to Rome.

Nero marries step-sister Octavia.

54 Claudius murdered. Nero becomes emperor.
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