Mod+ Is the Bible a political con job? This scholar says the proof is right in front of us |289|

If you have a series of weak parallels that are easily accounted for by coincidence, generalization, and confirmation bias, then the end result is a weak case for intertextuality.
The argument needs to proceed step-wise through a series of stages, and it is a non sequitur to assume one step readily follows from the prior. Establishing that a particular gospel probably utilized Josephus does not determine that all did.
So far you have only evaluated a single parallel with minimal matching elements out of a series of roughly 50. You've ignored the one with 18 matching elements even, and are now deciding to dismiss the whole thing. That's just a cop out.

There are a series of stages, but if people are unable to acknowledge the similarities and evaluate fairly a good percentage of the parallel set then we cannot proceed.

But then there's also the question as to what are the criteria for determining intertextuality. Without having some rules of thumb here, how is the argument advanced if my interlocutor simply asserts I am too "granular" and I say that he is too woolly?
Start by matching low-medium frequency words and phrases, including names and locations, that happen to be clustered within a short segment. And then determine if the segments follow a sequence without criss-crossing each other. Right: not too granular - a simple reading is best. And I think we can agree a lot of the said criteria is indeed being satisfied amongst the Bibilical/Josephus parallels, but knowing the Flavians psychotic personality I wouldn't agree all critera applies.

Atwill contends that there is a typological relationship between the works of Josephus and the Gospels. In his understanding, the chronologically prior events of Jesus' ministry ca. 30 CE are presented as the type and Titus' military campaign is presented as the antitype. So far so good, except of course that Atwill contends that the same circle of elites is responsible for both sets of literature.
Well said!

One should keep in mind that this utterly unique proposal lowers the probability of his hypothesis, because this would be the only known instance in which, in terms of actual production, the proposed type is generated after the antitype and by the exact same community.
It's really simple to achieve - and the Flavians were thus able to produce more sophisticated parallels, having control of both sides. Here's a couple of parallels I was able to knock together in a matter of minutes, just for a laugh, which is essentially what the Flavians were doing - making a mockery out of their subjects who are too easy to control:

Luke 1: Castiel went to the bar and ordered a drink that was red.
Luke 2: 3 guys had lipstick on their lips in the bar and were lying on the floor.

Josephus 1: Castiel's favourite drink is tomato juice.
Josephus 2: Castiel gave 3 youths the "Kiss of death"

16:00 - A Westerner travels to North Korea and is wearing factor 3 sun cream
33:00 - The Westerner takes off a pair of trousers
62:00 - The Westerner walks past a department store and sees luxuries
73:00 - The Westerner is told by the tour guide about the leaders of the country
84:00 - The Westerner travels back to the US

16:00 - A native visits a capital city and sees 3 giant posters of men
33:00 - The native is told by a police officer to change one item of their clothing
62:00 - The native enters a shop but is told nothing is for sale to anyone but they are only there for show, for sake of the foreign media.
73:00 - The native makes a jibe about one of the men in the posters
84:00 - The native is not allowed to return home and is instead taken to a prison camp

All the above parallels were created by me from both sides. Now, if you look at them too granular then you will miss the connection and satire.

Here's one of the more bizarre Flavian parallels that I may not fully understand yet as I am still researching:
Some other gospel translations/variations have different details:
43 Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years

47 Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately.
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I dont find Atwill's theories at all convincing; or at all interesting. But my lack of interest is because of my disinterest in the christian myth and my dislike of the bible; especially the old testament. In my opinion all human religions are socio-cultural atifacts. They emerge in the form of social power and control systems. Not as overwhelming conspiracies; but rather as a conplex of competing conspiracies and missunderstandings and power struggles.
But underneath all these religious systems created by humanity there is someting perenial and undeniable (IMO); natural human spirituality. That is both the root and branch of human religious expression. And no matter how deluded and mythological and conspiratorial all human religious expression may be, all of that never undemines or obviates the root of it all - natural human spirituality; which is properly neither a matter or religion nor belief, but of science.

Your interviews with Atwill make me think it's more likely there was a historic jesus personage and some sort of early preFlavian church. I'm reminded of the start of Mormonism. It's a well documented idea that lots of writings were "speculating" that jesus came to the new world at some point.

Also, just looking at the development of Christian Sects and Islam. It's alot easier to play off of something that already has some acceptance/street cred.

So I think the idea that the Flavians just took something already existing (the jesus thing) and ran with/heavily coopted it is a fine reading of Atwill's work.

Just my thoughts.
Having stepped back to discuss more basic issues of method, I will now return to the evaluation of the first proposed parallel I selected. But first I wish to address gilius’ accusation that I am a “cop out” who has chosen to “dismiss the whole thing.” This was his strange response to my fundamental point that the argument for Atwill’s hypothesis needs to proceed in stages. He expresses his agreement with this and still turns around to charge me with bad faith. This is completely ludicrous and unnecessary. He offered this particular passage after I had laid down the challenge that the best examples be presented. This is a parallel that he selected. And now, as it appears to me, there is some back-pedaling: he now describes this one as having “minimal matching elements.” So, which is it? Is this a key piece of the puzzle or one that only might have some cachet if it is supported by weightier examples?

Despite what gilius may be implying, I am not trying to hide from other suggestions. I am happy to move on to other proposed parallels at some point. But, as I have said before, I am only evaluating one at a time and this for several reasons. First, I don’t have the time to seriously engage multiple proposals at once. Second, the conversation will start to revolve in circles (if it hasn’t already) without clear-sighted, step-by-step focus. Third, as I said in the previous post, a series of weak parallels makes a weak argument. If this one is evaluated as weak it can be at least bracketed, if not even evaluated as a net negative for the Atwill hypothesis (as I think ultimately it is). Fourth, if Atwill and supporters are shown to have misread or argued poorly here, this offers a suggestive case that the entire method is flawed. Finally, should other purported parallels prove stronger, if this one is intrinsically weak it remains so despite the other existing parallels. It might be determined as a “maybe” parallel but not one that should be used to demonstrate the hypothesis.

Utilizing Intertextuality Criteria

I am now going to employ criteria derived from the scholars mentioned in my previous post. I’m going to condense these down to two broad categories. I will also leave aside, for the sake of argument and brevity, the criteria having to do with factors external to the texts (i.e., analogy, accessibility, density). I will return to the evaluation of the selected passages according to this basic rubric:

1. Linguistic and conceptual parallels
2. Literary/narrative features (plot, order, theme)

I subsume accounting for differences as a sub-criterion that fits under each.

Purported Linguistic and Conceptual Parallels

In my initial discussion of the texts in question, I noted the minimal overlap of shared vocabulary. In essence, both passages have “two” and GLuke has “three” while Josephus has “threefold/tripartite.” This is a very modest overlap. Intertextuality is more probable with denser and more exact parallels of vocabulary. In Beavis’ article comparing Judges and Mark, for example, she notes several common terms including a shared verb that is fairly distinctive and significant for the plot. Gilius’ initial presentation of the texts has the word “divided” in both texts in English. The problem, as I noted, is that while the cognates divide/divided/division in Greek all appear in Luke, none appear in Josephus. This is a significant point against intertextuality. Gilius insists that there must be a Greek word present that has been variously translated “divided” or “split.” All I have to ask is: really? Show me. I’ve already explained that divided (and I should add in the same manner, split) is an interpretative addition in the English translation and does not correspond with a particular Greek term. Again, translating line 105 very literally, it reads: “Indeed truly the standing/position/setting [Greek word: stasis] which was tripartite beforehand was rounded into two.” I’m actually reading the Greek text of Josephus and there is no “divided” there. Gilius' response was to find another English translation and insist there must be something where there is nothing. “Divided” is added as a translator’s interpretive choice, period. And not a good one, either, as it implies the threefoldness as a dynamic unfolding rather than the original stasis (the standing, the status quo) in line 105.

This exposes a deep flaw in Atwill and supporters that I named early on. One has no business arguing for intertextuality without substantial engagement with the original language(s). Scanning Caesar’s Messiah (original edition), I found Atwill’s work with the Greek to be superficial, and only on two occasions when he compared Gospel and Josephus passages did he bother with any analysis of the Greek.

Moreover, with this parallel having been exposed as no such parallel, if gilius continues to use the same color-coding graphic highlighting “divided” in the two texts, he will be wilfully misleading the public.

The other big issue in this category is the question of whether father and son relate to John and Simon, thus justifying the claim of a parallel here. Gilius and I agree this is an auxiliary hypothesis that should be discussed separately. Needless to say, having read Atwill’s argument in this regard, I am far, far from impressed. I don’t think he’s describing a reality outside of his fertile imagination.

Literary/Narrative Features

I previously noted some key differences between the narrative structure of the Lucan and the Josephus texts, which gilius dismissed as “granular” and a “red herring.” Despite his handwaving, scholarship is clear that intertextuality is rendered more probable as the compared texts demonstrate thicker coherence in the development of their plots. This will especially be the case for the Atwill hypothesis, because in that scheme Jesus is equivalent to Titus and the course of his ministry is equivalent to the Roman general’s campaign.

Reviewing the Josephus text, the Jewish historian describes infighting among three Jewish factions. The Jewish rebels were never a united, cohesive government and fighting force and various militia leaders came and went. For a brief period in the year 69 CE, three factions fought for control of Jerusalem. The text from Josephus describes the successful subjugation of one faction by another, resulting in two left standing. Beyond this immediate text, Josephus narrates what happens after Titus begins his siege of Jerusalem. The remaining factions under Simon and John cease the civil war to cooperate in the defense of the city. Once Jerusalem falls, the rebels are of course defeated.

Compare this with the narrative structure of Jesus’ mini-parable. He describes a single household of five members that falls into conflict with one another. This conflict is narrated not as a temporary, one-time event, but as an ongoing experience of division occasioned by his presence and his mission. There are five parties to this conflict and the number does not change.

Note the different trajectories of the stories. In Josephus, the fractious rebels fight with one another and then unite. In Luke, a unitary collective breaks down into fighting. In Josephus, the conflict lasted a matter of months. In Luke, the conflict is described as a permanent feature.

Moreover, how does the mini-parable in Luke map onto the Josephan history, if Jesus is Titus? Titus did nothing to create the division between the Jewish factions, and this intense fighting between the three principal groups in this text happened while the Romans were at a distance. In fact, his arrival at the walls of Jerusalem ended the civil war. So Titus brought unity, while his literary doppelganger in the Gospel of Luke ends unity?

As the scholarly criteria indicate, one must be able to explain the differences between the texts. It simply won’t do for gilius to accuse me of being granular or to resort to the defense that the Flavians were just that clever or using satire. To use such claims to defend the parallels in the presence of extensive differences is to commit circular reasoning, smuggling one’s conclusion into the premise. Gilius needs to provide independent justifications for addressing the differences that are not simply products of the theory. How does he evaluate when a difference is explained by satire, and when it isn’t? What literature does he draw upon to make these determinations about ancient texts? What does it mean to define the relationship between Josephus and Luke as a “typological system?” What scholarship helps gilius define that that is? As I’ve explained already, this would be a completely unique version of typology, stretching if not breaking the definition of the term.

It gets worse from here. Has anyone else realized that gilius’ comparison of Josephus and Luke 12 cuts off the majority of verse 53 and consequently the remainder of the mini-parable? The passage in full reads:

49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and howgreat is my distress until it is accomplished!51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth?No, I tell you, but rather division.52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three.53 They will be divided,father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Jesus identifies different types of family members in the household. Instead of just father and son, he speaks of mother and daughter and the mother-in-law as well. Are father and son meaningful referents to Josephus, and these individuals are not? Why? Just because it is convenient to equate father and son to John and Simon in Atwill’s scheme? This is the height of selectivity. The Flavian proponent must account for these distinctive elements (after all, how often is the family role of mother-in-law identified in an ancient text?). Is there any justification beyond the Flavians simply being creative to throw off the scent, or psychotic, or whatever?

The more you compare the texts to each other, and the more you consider what the Lucan passage is supposed to represent in the Josephan narrative, the weaker the Atwill hypothesis looks. I conclude that the similarities between these texts are superficial and the supposed parallels only appear significant when one does not reflect seriously on the negative structures or bother to read from the Greek. There is no support for the Atwill scheme here.
Well, okay then. So much for genuine conversation over the merits of the Atwill hypothesis. Just post a few more tables of rainbow text and the job is done, eh? I could comment on how I've already spotted several elements that are clearly misleading or out outright incorrect in some of the other the tables I've reviewed. Some of these problems are easily spotted by a careful review of the English texts fully and in context; others require reading the Greek. Either way, the effect is to pare down these seemingly amazing parallels precisely to coincidence and textual pareidolia. But why bother? I've already adequately demonstrated that one such table gilius offered, in response to my challenge for the best evidence, is deeply flawed - deceptive even. His convenient color-coding based on superficial readings of English translations is simply not to be trusted. His case has to be argued, not painted.

In the meantime, I'm going on vacation, so I'm out for several days.

Thanks for your efforts. I would reason it out similarly to you but I don't have the bother. Glad you took the time to respond so that casual readers don't get sucked into thinking gilius, oops I mean Atwill, actually has a meritorious case that can survive more than a gentle poke.
Well done chokti. Case closed. Atwill is really stretching. Reminds me a bit of Zecharia Sitchin and his alien jive, but sincere and without the agenda. And the topic is fascinating- the phenomenon of early Christianity and conspiracy. Alex seems to be needing Atwill's ideas possibly as a way to rid himself of any residual phony religiosity, cuz it ain't very scientific and it ain't very spiritual. Atwill is on much firmer ground with his fascinating exposé of J.D. Salinger in "Paedophilia In The Rye" over at his website. Give him mad respect for that. My personal take is that because of the intense corruption and sheer depravity of the Roman empire the human spirit created the peaceful counterweight of very early Christianity from the moral teachings of Judaism, Greece and Rome. (Epictetus anyone?) Jesus existed in some form as the spark. This peaceful response grew vicious as soon as it had any power. At which point the interpolating of pro-government and anti-Jewish propaganda quotes began in earnest. Jesus is way cool. If he were here today he would boycott factory farms and GMOs for sure! And withhold war taxes too. Peace!
*After losing the ascension to Titus's escape, Jesus was cut in half by the bandits with the seasoned (blood/wine/oil) parts presented at Mary and Martha's house with a suggested value of 2+ Dinarii. Mary chooses the good part (but she actually keeps both for Wars of the Jews, 6, 3, 201-212)
*The preserved parts are later roasted by Mary (hyssop is also mentioned indicating a human passover lamb - during passover), including the saved portion (described as "treasure"), but she only eats one half and presents the good portion to the soldiers (Wars of the Jews, 6, 3, 201-212).
*Following that the good portion is sold and "rendered" to Caesar as "treasure" for merely a single Dinarius!!! :D He's then "commanded to be pruned" on the Mount of Olives in a garden named Gethsemane (means "Olive press"), where he is sweating blood. (Luke 20:19-25 vs. Wars of the Jews, 6, 2, 157-158. 161-163)