I agree that there are many interesting themes that are touched upon in the opening chapter. To begin with, Josephus himself is certainly so strange a figure that one cannot help but wonder whether he´s a real person or a fictitious character. Could there be someone else hiding behind the "Josephus mask"? I wouldn´t be too much surprised.
Thanks for pointing out the Steve Mason book. I´ll be looking for it. First, however, I´ll get a copy of Josephus´ Collected Works and read the "War of the Jews" (along, of course, with the four Gospels) to become more first-hand acquainted with this strange fellow.
As far as I can see, it seems to be beyond any doubt that the Flavians not only were closely linked to early Christianity but also that they in fact started the whole thing by presenting a carnalized and historicized Judaic Messiah as a pro-Roman Jewish prophet and wonderworking tax-payer as well as the Son of God and Resurrected Savior of all mankind. Little did they know, one may assume, what vast implications their scheme would come to have upon the world.
A minor thing perhaps, but at the bottom of page 30, Atwill has it that the sixth Roman pope on Irenaeus´list of early popes was "Sixus". However, according to the Catholic Encyclopaedia "Sixus" is number seven on the list.
What struck me most when reading the opening chapter of the book, is how extremely pro-Roman the NT scriptures in fact are, as are the works of Josephus. Once having had the true authorship pointed out by the author, it becomes so very clear. Tax-collectors and Roman soldiers as well as judges and magistrates could hardly have been more favourably presented than they are in the NT.
"And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar´s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar´s..." (Matthew 22:20-21)
These words have been there all along, but looking at them now that knowledge of who wrote them is beginning to dawn, they´re just outrageous!
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