photo by: Skeptiko
On this episode of Skeptiko…
Alex Tsakiris: There’s a famous quote about truth passing through three stages: first it’s ridiculed, second it’s violently opposed, and third, it’s accepted as being self-evident. And I’m reading your critics, these scathing criticisms of your work, and I’m thinking, “This is exactly what’s happening here.”
… they’re all saying the same thing, “Atwill’s full of crap; but he’s right about the bible being pro-Roman.” I just want to scream… what the heck do you mean, “The bible is pro-Roman!?” That is the whole story! If the bible is pro-Roman, then Christianity as we know it is not what we think it is.
Joe Atwill: Once you accept the fact that [the Bible is] pro-Roman, then you need to take step back and say, “Well then, the Romans probably had an influence in producing it.” Now, you have these events which are oddly parallel between the Roman military campaign and Jesus’ ministry. At that point, how do you even deny that one is related to the other?
Stay with us for Skeptiko…
So, a couple of weeks ago I was interviewing Jay Dyer of the very excellent Jay’s Analysis website – that Jay Dyer – and we were talking about film analysis and culture analysis and geopolitics, all of which Jay does a really good job of. But since I had dug into Jay’s work beforehand, I knew there was something else that I wanted to talk to him about because Jay is an orthodox Christian, and somewhat of a biblical scholar. I mean that’s part of his training, and that’s part of what he brings to his website, and he’s open about this in terms of how it informs his worldview, and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. I mean, Jay’s not like a bible thumper who’s trying to inject scripture verses in every sentence. And Jay’s also a really sharp guy who I have a lot of respect for in terms of his work and his analysis. He’s on point on so many things. But this issue of religion, and in particular his Christian worldview, and how it informs things is something that I just can’t really get away from. I think it’s so central to a lot of things we’re going through today, but I also think that it’s an example of what Skeptiko is so much about, in terms of big picture questions, controversy, and intelligent debate.
So, I had this rather lengthy exchange with Jay – got a little bit bible geeky on it – but it was fun and I decided at the end of it that this dialog would be a great way to, kind of bounce me into somewhat of a threaded debate with a guy who I really, really enjoy talking to and I’ve referenced many times on this show, and that is Joe Atwill, author of Caesar’s Messiah.
Alex Tsakiris: See but Joe, let me interject something, because I’m not sure I quite see it that way, I think you bring a very important element to this and part of that is that you seem to have been able to put this into a context that few others have been able to really do, and now I’m so glad that we have the term ‘deep state’ to throw around as a replacement to ‘conspiracy theory’.
Joe Atwill: Right.
Alex Tsakiris: Because conspiracy theory has been totally co-opted by the people who invented it, and it’s done its job, but what we’re really talking about and what you’re talking about in the book. And the context that you bring to this, that maybe we need to look at this history askew, maybe we need to look at it from the standpoint of what motivations people have. And with that, I guess where I was going, and I pull the lens back even a little bit further, what I think is relevant to the discussion we’re having right now is that when I talk to people about Joe Atwill and Caesar’s Messiah, the first thing I hear when I mention your name, the first thing is, “Oh this guy’s been discredited, did you hear what Bart Ehrman said? A sophomore could rip his thesis apart.”
With that, what I’m going to do now is play for people the clip from my interview with Jay, where he just says, “Look, you know, this is just ridiculous stuff.”
Jay Dyer: So you can look at Protestant scholars even that talk about how the canon came into formation by F.F. Bruce, a renowned New Testament scholar for decades.
It’s just completely contrary to like public scholarship about what happened in the first four or five centuries that brought the biblical canon together and again, you can read those two books, just for example, that just complete blow all this out of the water; it’s nonsensical.
Alex Tsakiris: One of the ways that Caesar Messiah, I think, is understood is as a complete repudiation of everything about everything about Christianity and that it was completely contrived manipulation by the Romans. Now, I don’t buy it to that extent, but I remember distinctly, early on, one of the first times I talked to you and I brought this up and I thought your answer was so perfect in that I said, “But Joe, I mean, do you really think that the whole thing, you know, every fiber of it was invented by the Romans?” and you said, “Well I don’t know, I can only go by the evidence we have and the evidence we have shows that a pro-Roman conspiracy is evident in the bible, and from there it’s all speculation.” And I thought, now it shifts the debate from whether there was a Roman conspiracy to what extent there was a Roman conspiracy, and that I felt like you were open to debating, but you have now shifted the landscape, the table on which everything would be placed.
Do you have any thoughts on that, on whether or not the whole idea of the entire invention of everything about Christianity… it’s whether it’s an all or nothing thing for you?
Joe Atwill: It’s impossible to tell to what degree there was an historical individual that the character was based upon or to what extent there was a quasi-pacifistic version of Messianic Judaism that was basically used as a template, I would just go back to my original statement which is, it’s impossible to tell. I don’t really feel it’s something that I need to actually attempt to prove because my role is much smaller, it is simply to show that there is a dependency between the gospels and Josephus that is just far, far greater than had ever been recognized before.
The question you’re bringing up has to do with religion and also ultimately with the template that was used to construct the story, and honestly, I wouldn’t have any better thought than anyone on any of that.
Alex Tsakiris: But the other thing – I think there was resentment about, that again I’m going to keep pulling it back to our current situation, our current climate – is these guys had all the data at their fingertips, right? So if you read them, one of the things they say that’s kind of like a Greek tragedy or something. They go, “We already knew that though, we already knew [about] Josephus and the parallels with Mark, we knew that.” It’s like, “Yeah you knew it, how come you weren’t able to make the connection? How come you weren’t able to take the next step and see the implications of the fact that Josephus is showing up in the gospels?” Do you know what I mean?
Joe Atwill: Yeah, if you break the stories into their temporal sequence, because some of the text is in other places and you have to build… there’s a little bit of puzzle, but not a whole lot. You can then just go straight down the list of the events in Jesus’ ministry and then look and see if there’s something over here in Josephus that is parallel and some of them are kind of cognitive and obviously I’m exposed for criticism. You know, if you take the most abstract of the parallels, but others are basically the same historical event. I mean the destruction of the temple complex, the destruction of the Galilean towns, the encircling of Jerusalem, the abomination of desolation, I mean, the leaving of Galilee to go to Jerusalem, I mean these are just historical events that are in Josephus’ history, they are also in the ministry of Jesus and when you put them side by side you can see that they’re occurring in the same sequence.
Alex Tsakiris: I want to talk about Josephus in some very basic historical terms that anyone can get. I took a passage from our old friends, masters of the culture shaping, Wikipedia, and their writeup on Josephus and you know – for folks, for this inside baseball stuff – let me try and add a little bit of reality check. Most people do not know who Josephus was and that’s to be expected, and even the people who do know it, I found, you know, if you bring up the name Josephus, a lot of times Christians who’ve delved into Christian apologetics know and they go, “Oh yeah.” But the first thing they’ll say is, “Oh yeah, he was a Roman historian,” which I think is really interesting because that’s part of how the message has been passed down.
So, let’s talk about Josephus, line by line if you will, from what I pulled from Wikipedia.
Joe Atwill: Well, we know about Josephus from Josephus and no one else has ever written about him. I would say he’s, just as a component of history, he’s among the most important individuals that we have, because he really is the whole historical foundation for Christianity. I mean, no one else wrote about this era and I am convinced he’s a fictional character, I don’t think such an individual could possibly have existed. I think that… I don’t mention this in Caesar’s Messiah because I have enough of an introduction of new information and it’s not necessary for the theory that he’d be fictional, but…
Alex Tsakiris: When you say fictional, let’s be clear, I mean it’s someone who’s inflating his own…
Joe Atwill: Well actually no, I don’t think there’s any part of him that’s real. What I suspect they did was [that] they wanted to create an author of the history that was completely authoritative, that couldn’t be in any way questioned in terms of his ability to deliver the truth in terms of Judaism.
Alex Tsakiris: Folks contrast this with what most Christians understand; when you ask a Christian, “Who is Josephus?” and they go, “He’s a Roman historian,” right? So now what you’re saying is, “No, he is the quintessential Jewish elite.”
Joe Atwill: Exactly, I mean he has theological and family priestly backgrounds, which make him absolutely authoritative as a Jew and that’s why, in my opinion, why he was constructed in this form because now, when he delivers the blow, in the words of the Jews when he says, “The covenant between God and the Jews is broken and there is a new covenant between God and Roman,” now what you’re getting is this statement is from some entity, some being that is so authoritative that he just can’t possibly be criticized.
Alex Tsakiris: You know, back to the big picture and back to the analysis thing we’re talking about, here’s what’s going on, right? I hit Jay with the bomb here – this has escaped him – that Josephus is completely co-opted by the Romans, and this is central to the whole thing, and the diversion, the retreat tactic, and I’m not saying it’s like conscious or diabolical or anything like that. It’s what we all do, it’s a cognitive distance thing that you talk about, it’s like, “Wow, wait a minute, my world is spinning, so…”
Joe Atwill: Yeah, he switched and he tried to deflect; he said, “Well I can’t really go further with your point, at least to a kind of chaos, so I’m just going to go to my fallback which is the persecution angle.”
Alex Tsakiris: And this is what’s happening over and over again in the kind of debates that we all seem to be having today.
Joe Atwill: Well, maybe we should redo that, because I don’t want to like blow the point, you know?
Alex Tsakiris: No, no, no, no, no, I think we’re there. I think it all has to be in the soup, you know, because that’s what happens when you have complex controversial debates with intelligent people, because we’re both saying Jay is a sharp guy, Jay’s not a dummy and we’ll see what Jay says in response to this, because he will have a response.
So this is what makes it hard, it’s not like we’re beating up on the town idiot here, this is an intelligent debate with people who’ve thought about it deeply, are going to reference a lot of sources, but I’ll go back, we’ll pick up back on Wikipedia here and I hate Wikipedia for a lot of reasons but this is again back to the biography of Josephus and I had to come to this kind of closing point on it, because this biography goes on and it’s talking about Josephus and he goes to Rome and he marries and that doesn’t work out and he remarries and he has a couple of kids and he gets a pension and historians look on him in a way that [infers] why did he commit suicide and all this?
Again, if you take your alternative thing that he’s completely invented, or if you just take the situation as it unfolds in the history that he tells, they’re completely missing the point about who Josephus was and they’re talking about him in this other way that is completely…
Joe Atwill: Yeah, it’s fascinating isn’t it? Yeah that’s right, they don’t look at these bizarre attributes of his personality as having any relation at all to their belief in the history we’ve been given. I mean, really it goes to kind of the way that people address 911, you know? It’s just [that] the socialization is so powerful [that] we don’t see it going on, we don’t understand it, but it’s there and it just shapes how we see the world, and the Oligarchs know this, you see, they have basically broken the code in terms of how the human mind operates, so they create stories and realities that are to their benefit and yet we can’t see the fact that they’re fake, because we’ve been socialized, we just believe the version of history we’re given and so bible scholars end up not looking at Josephus in the right way, in the way of … let’s look at how he could be fitting into the whole pro-Roman perspective we see in the gospels.
Alex Tsakiris: And like 911 or like your piece on Gloria Steinem, which we’re probably not going to be able to get into in this show, because we’re running out of time, it’s the trick of the culture shapers to know that eventually the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle will be turned over and people will have the pieces. So then the goal is, as you’re just stating, is to keep them from being able to put them together in any kind of meaningful way.
Joe Atwill: Yeah.
Alex Tsakiris: So Josephus is revealed but let’s keep everyone spinning their wheels from really putting it together in a meaningful way. We have a lot of the pieces of the 911 puzzle; let’s just keep the confusion level going so that no one really ask the right questions.
Just to touch on the Gloria Steinem piece, of course Gloria Steinem has been outed as being a CIA operative and the narrative that was played out in the media was, “Gee, she says that that was good for feminism. Was it good for feminism? Was it bad for feminism?” And let’s get into this big debate, and what I liked about you – your analysis – you stepped back and said, “Wait a minute, what the heck is the CIA doing trying to shape our culture by having this lifelong relationship with someone in feminism?” And it obviously doesn’t end there, what game is at hand, to what extent are they trying to shape and manipulate culture? If they’re doing it in this way, then in what other ways are they doing it?
So, in that way Gloria Steinem becomes somewhat irrelevant of the then pinning down the data points, the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that say, “Yes, she did it. Not just when she was starting the movement but when she was with Ms. Magazine and she’s doing it today with her comments about Syria in her very slanted kind of, look past these kind of atrocities of women and focus on these ones to advance a political agenda.” I mean, maybe you want to comment in general about some of that stuff.
Joe Atwill: Well, I just would point out you’re right, and it was very well said. I mean, once you understand that she is a CIA agent and that she lied about being an agent, she lied about doing intelligent work for the agency, she lied about the length of time she was involved with the Independent Research Service, which was a CIA cutout, then you can see that the fact that everyone around her, promoting her, funding Ms. Magazine, is involved with the CIA, then you can see that the CIA is mucking around inside our culture, that she was a CIA version of feminism. The question is, what is the CIA’s role in our world?
Once you basically come to the position that the government is involved in the production of culture, now you can’t really trust basically anything in the media and what we need to do is to set up our own media, our own method of gaining and vetting facts and information of looking at terrorist events, looking at the things that they use to socialize us, to shape us, and to do independent analysis, which is why, for one reason, people should support you so much because you really are kind of the cutting edge, as far as the considering of ideas and presenting them to the public.
Alex Tsakiris: Well that’s nice of you to say, but before we go too far down that path, what I’d like to do is bring it back to Caesar’s Messiah, because I think the parallels are inescapable and just so profound, because in the same way it’s the pro-Roman thing Joe, right? It’s back to saying, okay, but if we established it, there is this pro-Roman aspect to the bible, then – as you said an hour ago- then it becomes a question of what the heck are the Romans doing trying to influence the process? So it’s the same thing. What the heck is the CIA doing, what is the extent to which they’re trying to…? We know now that they’re trying to shape culture, to what extent are they doing it? Why are they doing it? When are they doing it? What should we believe and not believe?
That’s what I think you’re doing in Caesar’s Messiah and the reason I think that escapes so many is they are just unwilling or unable to open themselves up to this broader, deep state understanding of how the world works, they want to stay in really, kind of this juvenile, kind of make believe world that people don’t really do all sorts of mean and nasty things to advance their own agenda.
Joe Atwill: Right, that’s exactly right, that’s one of the hard lessons that comes from Caesar’s Messiah and I think it is part of why some scholars sort of reject it out of hand, is because it leads directly to a different kind of responsibility of the citizen. I mean, if Christianity was a tool of the Oligarchs, that 2000 years of basically mind control was effective, so now when you see things like A Course in Miracles, which is creating this neo-Christianity coming from a CIA project called MKULTRA, you know, you have to be more skeptical and you have to just basically take that position intellectually of, there is influence by sophisticated, technical people that is creating basically a matrix of illusion that is the world I know, essentially.
So I have to develop new analytic skills to be able to get to the truth and it’s really critical that people do this because the Oligarchs, they aren’t playing for just trying to reduce the middle class, I mean, these things, these concerns are of genocide, of dramatic population reduction.
Alex Tsakiris: Perhaps.
Joe Atwill: We really need to know more about the group that controls our government.
Alex Tsakiris: Perhaps, and I don’t want to cut you off there but I want to make one point.
Joe Atwill: Sure.
Alex Tsakiris: Because I think it’s an area where we are able to synergize and synthesize some of our thinking, it’s that, you have a business background.
Joe Atwill: I do, yeah.
Alex Tsakiris: I do too and you combine that with more of a scholar in that you read Greek and Latin and all that stuff and I don’t, my background is more IT, but I’ll tell you what, anyone who’s been in business sees this is a, not necessarily quite so conspiratorial thing, it’s just like, “Hey man, that’s how fricking shit gets done? Are you kidding me?”
Joe Atwill: No.
Alex Tsakiris: Influencing, corruption, buy off, manipulation, that’s how stuff gets done. Grow up. So did the Romans know how to make stuff happen 2000 years ago? Are they placing their bets here than Christianity, this little project might work out and at the same time are they placing their bets over here, that this might work out? Yeah, that’s how they’re doing it. Are they also mixing in maybe some kind of belief in the supernatural? Because that’s the other thing – we haven’t even talked about it – but when the atheists approach this whole topic of Caesar’s Messiah and the creation of Christianity, they take a very cynical view of the supernatural that is completely at odds from everything we can tell about history.
So the Romans, it seems, were able to balance these two, they did believe in the supernatural, but they also believed that, “Hey, this is how you get things done. This is how you dominate a foreign nation. You go in and co-opt the religion, you take them over, you bait and switch, you do all these dirty things,” and like a lot of religious people we see today, they’re still able to, in some twisted way, reconcile that with some very strange supernatural beliefs we have as well.
So, maybe as a final point I’d ask, do you have any thoughts on maybe the oversimplification that I see is done by a lot of atheists in really understanding the supernatural beliefs that the Romans did have.
Joe Atwill: Well, the atheist community has a kind of arrogance, which I think makes it vulnerable. They aren’t always, basically kind of intuitive as to how theology blends in with power. You know, you look at, for example Aleister Crowley and the connections he has into all of the different political systems, you know, Britain and the United States.
Alex Tsakiris: And intelligence systems like MI-6.
Joe Atwill: Yeah and of course he was an MI-6 agent as well as being a kind of Luciferian. I think what I see is that atheist can’t, in general, grasp that there might actually be a whole theological structure that’s basically within the secret society that comes to us through history, is that they just wouldn’t share with the common person anything that would be useful, basically.
Alex Tsakiris: Two things. One, let’s substitute theology for a reality to these extended consciousness realms where some of this stuff is going on. So I would say atheists cannot contemplate that as part of their worldview. Whether they would completely accept it or reject it, it’s not even on the table, and when you have that kind of blind spot you’re crippled, and you’re crippled from what number two is what I think is at play, is atheists are part of the PSYOP right? Because if there is this theological kind of occulted underpinning to a certain group of these controllers, shapers, then what better means to manipulate, to subterfuge is to kind of introduce this group over here that’s completely spotting this, you know, useful, idiot, atheistic nonsense that you can just kind of point to over there and use as part of your plan as well.
I have to credit my buddy Gordon White as Rune Soup for kind of helping me clarify and see this more clearly and that is that, whatever we want to call this deep state shadow government, one thing is for sure, they are totally committed to pursuing these extended consciousness realms as a reality. So whether that be in a Luciferian way as some people see, [in a] Satanic way or just in a, “How can we weaponize whatever the spirits are and get them on our side,” or however you want to see that, they have been in that game for a long time. So that’s what MKULTRA is about, in all its different forms. That’s what MKOFTEN is about, that’s what all these other projects are about, but the real trick is, while at the same time that’s not only in play but a given for these folks, they at the same time perpetuated and promoted through academia, this complete rejection of this extended consciousness and what may or may not exist there and how it may be influencing our world. So what is reflected back through our culture, through academia, through intellectuals, through mainstream media is, “Oh, you think any of that stuff is real? Oh my god, you’re so ridiculous.”
So, we might be doing our
kind of stuff over here in secret, but what we want reflected back in the culture is that that’s complete nonsense.
Joe Atwill: Yeah well I think you can’t add anything to that, I mean they obviously look at the MKULTRA experiments, they are absolutely fixated upon basically kind of a spiritual dimension, trying to get control over telepathy, you know?
So the reality we have is to the extent they can just to completely fake one, and so I would just say that people just need to keep an open mind as to what is a correct spiritual path, they should be skeptical about, basically what has been brought to us through the media, in terms of what is real and what is not. Just look to ourselves, look to what we can find inside ourselves, with our reason, with our spirit and develop our own sort of spiritual context.