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CM - Introduction

In the book's Introduction, Joseph Atwill begins by making the statement that there is no archaeological evidence for the existence of Jesus. It is presently vogue in academic circles to make this statement, so perhaps Atwill feels safe in repeating it. However, it does not make his thesis more convincing. There is of course archaeological evidence for the Herodian rulers of Israel just as there is for their Romans contemporaries. There is also equally compelling evidence that the Herodian family pushed on the people one of their own sons as the promised Messiah, even as Atwill argues that Rome was prepared to do (with support from certain Roman loyalists among the Jews like Josephus).

The other interesting feature in the Introduction is a definition of typology. Atwill states (p 6), In its most basic sense typology is simply the use of prior events to provide form and context for subsequent ones. As a first Biblical example, Atwill compares Joseph in the Book of Genesis with the more obscure Mordecai in the Book of Esther. For some reason he wants to combine Mordecai and the woman Esther into a single type of Joseph. More correctly, Mordecai is the one patterned after the dreamer Joseph, who overcomes tribulation to become second to the king. Although Esther is the cousin of Mordecai, she is force-fit into the role of daughter of Joseph. This was done so that she could better fulfill an expected type of her own. There was no importance placed in Genesis or in extra-biblical memory on a female cousin of Joseph. The daughter of Joseph was however of enormous importance.

The choice of Esther as an opening theme turns out to be extremely appropriate, more so than Atwill could have even imagined. (To get the full effect one must read the additions to Esther found in the Apocrypha.) The Book of Esther is the story of a Jew named Mordecai who is made a gatekeeper in Susa in the reign of Xerxes. He invites persecution for refusing to acknowledge divinity in men. More specifically he will not bow to the Persian kings leading minister Haman the Bougaean as he passes by Modecais post. Haman convinces the king that Mordecai and all Jews must be annihilated for their lack of proper respect, which he argues would surely lead to more serious problems for the empire. The Jews are however saved by Mordecais adopted daughter Esther, because she had been named queen. The previous queen had ironically been dismissed for failing to respect her husband.

The king however did not know how Persian women were expected to behave, and had to actually consult his advisors on the proper response! Xerxes was not a Persian by birth or culture. His father Darius had become king over the Near East using Persian recruits. Similarly, Mordecai and other Jewish leaders in the early Persian era, such as Nehemiah and Ezra, were not Jews in the traditional sense, but members of the royal family of Darius who had no qualms with falling at his feet. They were given authority over Jewish affairs by virtue of their knowledge of Jewish culture and former duties in Egypt and Israel. They were transferred along with deported commoners when the primary royal court was relocated to Babylon and Persia.

The cousin/daughter of Mordecai did not become queen for her beauty alone, but because she also was closely related to Xerxes and someone he could trust. She along with Mordecai helped their king and kinsman Xerxes trick militants (Scicarii, if you will) to come out into the open so they could be destroyed. The devout Jews scattered throughout the empire were not considered a threat to Xerxes, but a stabilizing influence. They received special allowance for their customs. Their champions Esther and Mordecai, now the leading Jews of the world, were attired in the royal purple. When temple life was established again in the Persian era, Judaism was firmly under Persian control. Subsequent Greek dynasties also controlled Judaism to varying degrees through the appointment of High Priests.

The second example given by Atwill of a Biblical type relates New Testament Jesus to Old Testament Moses. This is an unusual comparison in that the name Jesus derives from Joshua not Moses. However, the comparison Atwill makes is still entirely valid. In the 1st Century A.D., the Jews are still scattered, but they also have a resurgent militant national identity in Israel. For the rule of Romans (and their Herodian puppets) to be made secure, it called not only for a new Joseph but a new Moses as well. According to Atwill, this new Moses was to found a new Judaism, one compatible with Roman suzerainty. A former Greek ruler, Antiochus Epiphanes, had earlier attempted to do this by slaughtering and deporting 10's of thousands of Jews and overhauling Judaism for those who remained. He rededicated the Jerusalem temple to Zeus-Ammon, but this only led to Jewish independence. Rome would kill and exile 100's of thousands and dedicate the spoils to their temple of Jupiter. This did not lead to renewed Jewish independence, but according to Atwill, only a new religion.

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