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The Roman Piso theory is a pseudohistorical theory of the origins of Christianity. It states that a conspiracy of well-educated Romans — the Piso family — wrote the New Testament, and particularly the Gospels, as a social control mechanism. Its advocates call it "The New Classical Scholarship". Nobody else takes it seriously.[note 1]
The theory originated in Bruno Bauer's Christus und Caesaren (Christ and the Caesars) from 1877, which claimed that that the Romans had authored the New Testament and that Josephus Flavius was the inventor of Jesus.
Joseph Atwill,[note 2] in Caesar's Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus, claims that the events of Jesus' ministry in the Gospels parallel the military campaigns of Titus Flavius in Josephus' Wars of the Jews. Atwill's theory is based on Bible Code-style pareidolia applied to the four canonical Gospels (ignoring the forty-plus others) and apparently only in English translation (his claimed puns don't work in the original Greek). Conspiracy connoiseurs will delight at Atwill's explanation:
How could this go unnoticed in the most scrutinised books of all time? "Many of the parallels are conceptual or poetic, so they aren't all immediately obvious. After all, the authors did not want the average believer to see what they were doing, but they did want the alert reader to see it. An educated Roman in the ruling class would probably have recognised the literary game being played."
Other proponents include Abelard Reuchlin (the "Abelard Reuchlin Foundation" used to sell his 1979 pamphlet The True Authorship of the New Testament on the subject in the newspaper's small ads; he invented the supposed kingpin of the conspiracy, Arrius Calpurnius Piso), James Ballantyne Hannay and Jay Gallus, and an author who writes as "Roman Piso" (John Duran, who used to advocate this theory on Usenet).
It's people like this that give Jesus mythicists a bad name.
In real life
- Christ and the Caesars, English translation plus original German text
- The True Authorship of the New Testament (2006) Fargonasphere.com (archived from July 2, 2017).
- The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus by Joe Atwill
- Caesar's Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus by Joseph Atwill (2011) CreateSpace. ISBN 1461096405.
- Ancient Confession Found: 'We Invented Jesus Christ' by Ryan Gilmore (8 October 2013) PRWeb.
- Piso Christ: A Book of the New Classical Scholarship by Roman Piso with Jay Gallus (2010) Trafford Publishing. ISBN 142692996X.
- The Piso Page (was Re: Origins of Christianity) by Greg, Nancy, and James Todd (8 Feb 1998 16:36:24 -0500; archived from September 17, 2008).
- On the "Roman Piso" Theory by JPH. Tekton Aplogetics.
- Atwill's Cranked-up Jesus by Richard Carrier on (October 9, 2013) Richard Carrier Blogs.