Well stated Helge. Titus become the latest in a line of distinguished Jesus figures, beginning with Horus and followed by the likes of Narmer, Pepi-Sargon, Senusret III, Salitis, Thutmose III, Tutankhamun, Seti/Ramses II, Piye-Sargon II, Montuemhet/Ahasuerus, John Hyrcanus, and finally down to Aristobulus III.
However, the only "real Jesus" that Atwill recognizes is the Eleazar captured by Titus and "pruned" during the siege. Atwill has severely limited the scope of his theory by doing so. To say as Atwill does that there was no Jesus who was crucified (mock or otherwise) in the 30's A.D. is to miss out on an even grander picture.
It is better to think of Titus as being grafted not only onto Eleazar, but by association the more notable Jesus figures before him as well, especially "Jesus of Nazareth". Josephus makes it clear that there was such a Jesus in the days of the Herods. As Atwill notes, the mention of that Jesus by Josephus is sandwiched between two narrations involving Pontius Pilate, which fixes the time period. Josephus denigrates that particular Jesus of Pilate's tenure by comparing him to the roguish "Decius". Josephus also suggests that this Jesus did not believe in his own divinity, which may actually be an underhanded compliment.
The other problem with dismissing the existance of a Herodian Era Messiah is that you have to then say that all the Gnostic texts and other Gospels were also invented and do not bear any testimony to a real Jesus prior to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. In a way then, the Nag Hammadi texts are a type of archaeological proof to the existence of a first century Jesus (other than Titus).
© Charles N. Pope, US Library of Congress. All rights reserved.