Better Call Saul: Christian Romanism as the First Psy-Op, Part 2James J. O'Meara
Part 2 of 2 (Part 1 here)
While basing itself on consensus scholarship, the hypothesis of Creating Christ has some interesting local effects on mainstream scholarship. For one thing, the dating of the “later” so-called “pastoral” epistles: the elaborate bureaucratic system of deacons, bishops, orders of consecrated virgins, and so on seems to indicate a later stage of the cult; but if Christianity was a top-top movement imposed by the Romans, the Romanesque bureaucracy could have been nearly original, as with the Mafia.
And then there is the infamous Testimonium Flavianum, the passage in the Antiquities by the Jewish general turned Flavian court historian Flavius Josephus, which seems to not only be the first mention of Jesus in pagan history — indeed, even predating the evidence of Christian tombs — but to be an acknowledgement that “He was the Christ.”
First mentioned by the Christian apologist Eusebius in the fourth century, the main objection to its authenticity has been the near impossibility that a highly-placed Roman authority would express sympathy for Christianity so early on. However,
[a] Flavian provenance for the Gospels and a Roman hand behind most of the rest of the New Testament answers this objection, easily and with no conflict or contradiction.
If the Gospels were part of the Flavian imperial cult’s propaganda effort to establish their claims as authentic Jewish messiahs after the conquest of Judea, and their mission was to reform Judaism into something manageable by the Roman state, we should actually expect only a Flavian apologist to make any reference to Jesus Christ at so early a date — especially any positive one.
The authors do accept the view that the original passage has been “significantly augmented at a later date,” but since Eusebius quotes it without fear of contradiction, this suggests that “by this time Josephus’s work had been officially ‘corrected,’ with the authoritative approval of the emperor himself.”
Given the almost fractal development of “on the one, on the other hand” academic scholarship regarding this, spending a whole chapter — 40 pages — on it seems a bit too “inside baseball,” but it does give them the chance to attack Richard Carrier, which is always a good thing.
More interesting, though more tenuous, is their suggestion that Josephus himself may have been the long sought-after author of the Gospels:
Josephus’s works reveal an author who possessed not only the education in history, philosophy, languages and Judaism that was necessary to have written the Gospels, but also the same outlook as the Gospel writers, politically and theologically. He used the same methodology to craft his autobiography that was used to construct Christ’s biography. He even admired and was close friends with figures who appear in the New Testament itself. . . . Perhaps most importantly, he bore the same contempt for that generation of Jews that we find expressed in the Gospels.
But on the other hand, perhaps this makes “Josephus” himself as fictional as the other Biblical characters. Who knows?
In the works of Josephus, we are surely at the confluence of the same ideological rivers that produced the Gospels. And while it may never be possible to determine the authorship of the Gospels with certainty, in the circle of semi-observant “Jews” surrounding the Flavian court we have certainly found a number of leading candidates. They were at the same place at the same time and shared the same background, education, agenda, and even the same iconography with the earliest Christians. And they had the resources necessary to launch an empire-wide mission.
With a title like Creating Christ, this book might seem like another in the Christ Myth genre. The authors, however, are agnostic on the subject; their theory works either way. The Flavians aimed to co-opt the existing movement of “Jewish Christians” led by James, John, and Peter, and then aid in the assimilation of the turbulent Jews in general (“cooling out the marks,” the carny would say). Whether these “original Christians” were sincere or con men is irrelevant; and it’s doubtful they would have survived much longer, as their Second Coming had still not happened. This is a distinction without much difference, however, since — like the popular cope of distinguishing “the Jesus of history” from “the Christ of faith” — we know next to nothing about Rabbi Jesus, and the Flavian Christ contains all the materials that people think of as “Christianity”:
There may have lived a man named Jesus, but there remains today no historical evidence that he did. And there need not have existed such a man in order to explain everything that has been passed down to us about him. There is no part of him that is not prophesied by others or prophetic of others, and no aspect of him that is not symbolic, political, syncretized or borrowed from other men or gods.
It is important to note, as the authors do from time to time, that Creating Christ is based on the evidence, scriptural and historical, taken at face value and with judicious application of Occam’s Razor. This is no wacky Internet “conspiracy theory.” The real “conspiracy” has been the official story, which has only been propped up for almost two thousand years by religious and academic “true believers” who employed every trick of twisty Talmudic/Jesuitical reasoning to explain away or divert your eyes from the plain facts.
Despite this “ripped from the headlines” opening:
Religious fanatics from the Middle East are waging an assault on Western civilization and have just struck a demoralizing blow to the very capital of foreign “decadence.” [The Great Fire in Rome.] Leery of war with an entire people, the West acknowledges only advocates of peace to be “true” followers of the terrorists’ religion. Indeed, Western leaders proclaim that their attackers’ own dogma commands peace. The year: 66 CE. The civilization under attack: the Roman Empire. And the terrorists: an ancient fanatical sect of Judaism.
. . . the authors spend little or no time on the contemporary political implications of all this, which is a good thing: Their attention is properly focused on marshalling their historical evidence. Yet those implications should seem obvious to Counter-Currents readers: What the Flavians did to the Jews, and Constantine did to the Romans, is what their tool, Christianity, is doing to us, either directly or through its secular scion, Leftism. Christianity is a pagan/Jewish chimera, and the history of the West shows periods of resurgent paganism, followed by “back to basics” returns of Christianity to stamp it down.
By absolving the Romans of any blame for Christ’s death and laying it squarely on the Jews and their leaders (Pilate, of course, literally washes his hands of the matter, while the crowd demands that the blood be on their heads and their children’s), the authors tut-tut about how this accounts for anti-Semitism — as if actual Jewish behavior couldn’t be the cause.
As noted, author Valliant seems to be a libertarian of the Randian sort, so it’s no surprise that the Flavians are taken to task not for their proto-globalism, but for providing a supposed justification for every tyranny and monarchy ever since; but since his own ideas on the proper role, if any, of the state are no doubt impractical and implausible, the reader will be forgiven for taking them with a large grain of Roman salis.
People who get their ideas about the Romans from Nietzsche, or Hollywood, like to present the Romans as pitiless warriors and stern, based rulers — either role models for True Manliness™ who were subverted by the “slave revolt” and “transvaluation of values” of Christianity, or, from the Christian point of view, drooling sadists and sociopaths whom we are well rid of. History, however, tells a very different tale:
Some Christians may believe that compassion, including Christian altruism and charity, were articulated for the first time by Jesus Christ against a backdrop of Roman brutality. However, this is clearly not the case. For evidence of this, we may look to Pliny the Elder, who was an intimate friend of both Vespasian and Titus. . . . According to Pliny:
“For mortal to help mortal, that is God, and this is the way to everlasting glory. This is the road that Roman leaders have taken, and it is the road that the greatest ruler of all time is treading . . . as he brings relief to an exhausted world. This was the ancient way of rewarding those who deserved it, to regard them as gods.”
Pliny the Elder thus credits the Flavians with a fair expression of Christian love in the context of “charity,” the idea that true glory and Godliness comes from helping others. God is love, he argues. Pliny is also directly associating such compassion with both the Roman Empire itself and the Emperor Vespasian personally . . . associating their compassion with their divinity.
Perhaps Pliny is too much a “personal friend” and major suck-up. Let’s turn to our other authority on the period, the historian Suetonius and his account of the next Flavian, Titus:
Born on December 30, in “a small dingy, slum bedroom,” according to Suetonius, “None of his predecessors, it seems, had “ever displayed such generosity.” Titus was “naturally kind hearted,” having as a personal rule “never to dismiss any petitioner without leaving him some hope that his request would be favorably considered.” When a day passed without his helping someone he is quoted as complaining, “My friends, I have wasted a day.”
“Titus’s short reign was characterized by a series of disasters,” including the eruption of Vesuvius and the worst outbreak of disease “that had ever been known.” Suetonius describes Titus’ handling of these crises as like “the deep love of a father for his children,” and his death — after just two years, two months, and 20 days — caused the populace to go into mourning “as though they had suffered a personal loss.”
Moreover, “previous Roman leaders were also extolled for their benevolence, especially Julius Caesar and his successor Augustus.” Caesar, like Jesus, “loved his enemies,” “blessed those who cursed him,” and “did good” to those who had “done him evil.”
Turning to our hard, physical evidence, it comes as no surprise that, “far from being Christian antagonists, the gods who were venerated by Roman emperors on their coins symbolize what we would today recognize as Christian virtues.” For example, the coins struck in 44 BC, the year Julius was assassinated and deified, celebrate his forgiveness and “clementia.” Justice, peace, and happiness are the subjects of Flavian coinage:
While the coincidence of moral concepts regularly depicted by Romans, especially Flavians, with key Christian ideas and values is stunning, their commonality might be ascribed to the fact that Roman propagandists and the first Christian apologists were operating in the same cultural context. After all, the earliest Gospels were written during Flavian rule.
Indeed, Flavius Josephus, court historian and possible author of the Gospels, “shares with the Baptist, and with Jesus, the belief that loving God and loving one’s neighbor comprise the essence of morality”:
On the other hand, we should not expect any specific sectarian sentiments, especially monotheistic ones, to be expressed on Roman coins since they were cast with an aim of appealing to the widest possible cross-section of a sprawling and diverse empire.
Far from the cultural clash between Imperial Rome and Christianity that has been promulgated in popular tradition, the truth is that they extolled largely identical virtues.
As so often, Schopenhauer proves a wiser guide than Nietzsche, and if the latter was unable to overcome his aversion to Wagner so as to learn true pagan virtue from a hearing of Parsifal,  he might at least have recalled Mozart’s last opera, La Clemenza di Tito.
More generally, Christian Nationalists and Based Pagans will need to deal with, or explain away, how it was the Jews who were fighting for an ethnostate while the Romans were GloboHomo 1.0:
Cosmopolitan, multinational and multiethnic, Rome was, at first, a religiously diverse leviathan that endured through its military skills, no doubt, but also through its political genius.
At this time religion and politics were one, and the Romans’ policy of religious tolerance proved to be a political advantage that helped their empire endure for centuries. The strict monotheism of Judaism, however, would present Roman policy with its greatest challenge.
In the work under review, the authors attempt to square this circle by emphasizing the Jewish rebels’ fanaticism and general nastiness to the point of risking charges of “anti-Semitism” from Amazon reviewers, and tempering their woke approval of Roman cosmopolitanism by drawing on their crypto-libertarianism to tut-tut about Flavianized Christianity providing justification for centuries of domination through kings ruling by “divine right.”
The biggest disappointment here is the authors’ failure to address an obvious question: How did Christianity eventually become the official religion of the Empire itself? As an outgrowth of the Empire-worship cult, and designed to instill Roman-love, I suppose it was as good as anything else for a unifying, empire-wide religion; but having been designed to allure rebellious Jews, the eventual orthodox form (as opposed to earlier versions, such as Marcion’s anti-Jewish Gnosticism) had taken on a substantial amount of Jewish baggage, including not just the Jewish Tanakh but also the books that only existed in the Greek translation (the Septuagint). These Jewish elements would rise to the surface from time to time in the form of the Reformation, apocalyptic cults, Puritanism, Zionism, Freudianism, the Frankfurt School, Neoconservatism, and so on. In this way the turbulent Jews would continue to annoy and subvert the post-Roman Western world:
Ideas and idolatry do matter in that they have the power to reprogram a civilization. It’s like the re-coding of the Roman Empire from Pagan to Christian led to profound changes: It went from mercilessly hunting down Christians to smashing Pagan Temples and forcing everyone to worship Jesus. Change the code, and the ship turns around and goes in the other direction. . . . Letting Jews re-code the West was a grave mistake, indeed a crime.
This book should trouble the sleep of those Christian Nationalists who oppose globalism with some sort of “return to the faith,” or those pagan enthusiasms who look to Rome — the archetypal transethnic global empire — as a model.
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 TOM: You were around the old timers — and meeting up on how the family should be organized. How they based them on the old Roman legions and called them regimes — the capos and the soldiers. And it worked.
PENTANGELI: Yeah, it worked. Those were the great old days, you know. And we was like the Roman Empire. The Corleone Family was like the Roman Empire. — The Godfather, Part II (1974)
 Josephus borrows details from the Old Testament story of Joseph — a Hebrew who uses his skill at dream interpretation to win the favor of a foreign ruler — to flesh out his “autobiography,” just as Matthew does for the New Testament story of Joseph; he also reports having ecstatic visions and surviving shipwrecks while sailing to Rome, all reminiscent of Paul.
 It was Mark Twain who claimed that “German scholars” had determined that the works of Homer were not written by Homer, but by another Greek . . . with the same name.
 JOR-EL: This is no fantasy. No careless product of a wild imagination. We are not dealing here with idle supposition . . . No, gentlemen. The indictment I have brought you this day, the specific charges listed therein against these individuals, their acts of treason and ultimate aim of sedition — these are matters of undeniable fact! Superman (1979)
 For our purposes Roman Catholicism, the original pagan/Jewish hybrid, can play either role, just as officially secular Leftism can be implicitly Christian; thus the Renaissance is followed by the neo-Judaism of the Reformation, then comes the swing to the Counter-Reformation. In our own time, Leftism, originally secular, has become Christianized: deference to science versus faith has become faith in a priesthood of “experts” and so on. Globo-Leftism appeals to all the remaining elements of Christian-formed consciousness: Like the original Christian converts/slaves, you will own nothing, and be happy. (Acts 4:32-35: “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. . . . There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.”) The headquarters of the world empire has been shifted northward, from Rome to Geneva (itself a center of neo-Judaic reaction under Calvin).
 “We are anti-Semites because Jewry living among us in the nineteenth century and in Germany represent views, customs, and claims that date back to the times after the division of the races close to the time of the Flood and, because they do, seem as strange to us as flint knives and nephrite arrowheads. . . . Circumcision and the dietary laws of the Jews are atavisms. The monotheism of the Jews stands on the same level as the report of a petty officer commanded to the commissariat who announces the existence of only one copy of any object: one God, two tables, three fathers, four mothers, and the 2307 Passover foods to be found in nature. The belief in the chosenness or, as it is now called, the ‘world-historical mission’ of Israel then crowns the absurdity: a people who through the centuries have not produced anything for history — name one if it really does exist — are able to shout in the face of the Indo-Germans — who have indeed developed everything on which we live — that they are the favourite people of God.” Paul de Lagarde on Jews and Indo-Europeans; extract from Chapte 13: “Juden und Indogermanen” (“Jews and Indo-Europeans”) of the Mittheilungen (Communications), II (1887); translated by Alexander Jacob, here.
 For more useful ideas than “Kings are bad, okay?”, consider: “[A] good idea that is often mistaken for democracy is a so-called ‘mixed’ regime that has a democratic element. . . . Virtually every European society today has a mixed constitution with monarchical, aristocratic, and democratic elements, as did ancient Rome and Sparta (which was technically not monarchical, since it had two kings at the same time).
“In his Politics, Aristotle argues that a mixed regime is more likely to secure the common good than an unmixed one. In an unmixed regime, the one, the few, or the many are liable to pursue their factional interests at the expense of the commonweal, simply because the other elements of society are not empowered to resist them. In a mixed regime, all three groups are sufficiently empowered to resist the attempts of the others to serve their interests at the expense of the common good. Yes, Aristotle was the first theorist of ‘checks and balances.’
“In an unmixed regime, we have to depend on the virtue of the rulers, since their selfishness can lead society to ruin. In a mixed regime, we do not have to depend entirely on the virtue of the rulers, since the one, the few, and the many all take part in rule, and even when their virtue fails them, they will still oppose the selfishness of the other factions out of selfish motives of their own.” Greg Johnson, “Notes on Populism, Elitism, and Democracy.”
 One of their most important credentials as peacemakers was the Flavians’ victory over the Jews, and one of the most common issues of coins under both Vespasian and Titus is the “Judea Capta” series, usually symbolized by a palm tree and a mourning woman or enslaved “Jewess.”
 See my review of Alexander Jacob, Richard Wagner on Tragedy, Christianity, and the State: Three Essays, second edition (Colac, Victoria, Australia: Manticore, 2020).
 “We come closer to the truth ONLY IF we call most Jews what they really are: ultra-right Jewish supremacists in ‘leftist’ or ‘progressive’ clothing. Jews are for ‘equity’? ROTFL. That must be why Merrick Garland, who calls white Trump voters ‘terrorists’, is all about equal justice for Israeli Jews and Palestinians — NOT! No, Jewish attitude toward whites is akin to their attitude toward Palestinians. Both are seen as subject peoples, and if they resist, they are labeled as ‘terrorists’. Would true leftists do such a thing? Leftism has a lot of faults, but its one saving grace is universal values and equal justice. There is NOTHING in current Jewish Power that is for equal dignity and respect for all of humanity. The likes of Jerry Nadler and Adam Schiff are ultra-rightist Jews who hide behind ‘progressive’ facades. And Jews use BLM just like British Empire used foreign troops to subjugate people in the colonies.” Jung-Freud, “’Jewish Leftist’ Is a Misnomer — Jewish Power Is Ultra-Rightist, Supremacist, and Imperialist — How Jewish Power Re-Coded the West from Pro-White to Anti-White and the Dire Consequences.”
 Constantine himself only appears late in the book as the guy who replaced the anchor with his preferred symbol, the cross. Some have speculated that the whole story of his “conversion” is a pious fraud, and that Constantine had been raised a Christian in secret by his mother, making the Christian “triumph” essentially a coup.
 Although some want to praise or condemn him as “anti-Semitic,” Marcion simply thought that Judaism was fine for the Jews, but Christianity was a different religion with a different god; it was his idea to create a “New Testament” (basically Luke and the seven authentic Pauline epistles) so as to abandon, not include, the Jewish scriptures.
 Jung-Freud, op. cit. However, the authors do a good job refuting the persistent myth of Roman “persecution.” See also Candida M. Moss, The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom (HarperOne, 2013).