What I find interesting about the topic is that Paul's Epistles were written prior to the Gospels. Add to this that the Gospels are believed to have been written no earlier than 3 decades after the events they are alleged to have chronicled took place. That being said, New Testament scripture starts with Paul's writings and not those of the 12 who actually followed Jesus around on his earthly ministry.
Jesus Christ: Invented by the Romans to subvert the Messianic impulse in Judaism into Pacifism?
Any other references to the martyrdom of apostles or disciples comes from late 2nd and early 3rd century "Acts of (John, Thomas, Peter, Matthew, etc.)" literature, which contain little more than pious legend. Have you read any of them, knowsnothing1?
I haven't read them, but let's say those accounts are exaggerated and that the only accurate martyrdoms are James and Peter.
How do you deal with Pliny? Was there Christian persecution? More importantly, why were they persecuted?
I once read a similar theory that the Apostle Paul was a Roman agent tasked with making the "new" Christian movement more acceptable to the Empire.
The one thing most fair-minded scholars can agree upon is that the traditional presentation of Jesus to the world has too many finger-prints on it to be naively accepted "as is."
The Evangelicals simply posit infallibility from the assertion of Authority and that doesn't fly in Modern times.
Skepticism is in mother's milk.
The Jesus Story was really tasty to Romans after so many wars with its pacifism and Prince of Peace conversation rather than nationalistic demands for more tribute and acquisition.
Largely, it was women who were drawn to the message of Love and who spread the influence of a Good God rather than a terrifyingly quixotic one. No further sacrifice because Jesus made the best one for all time--now that's economical!
The Community of goyim Christians outnumbered the Messianic Jewish contingent & separated itself into a much louder and more influential story that succeeded in crowding out the parochial and exotic hermetic Shemetic strain.
How much of the Jesus story isn't improvised?--that should be the question.
I believe that Jesus was a created god modeled after Serapis. Ptolemy made up this new god by combining Greek and Egyptian gods. He also saw himself and the Egyptian Pharaoh and savior of the people in his empire. The Jewish early ideas of a messiah was a scapegoat (sheep) that was sacrificed every year a clean one and the one that depicted their sins was sent off in to the wilderness to be attacked by demons. Early writtings of Jesus showed pictures of him as a sacrificial lamb not even human.
Later as the Christian religion evolved the worship of Marry was replaced with the worship of this god man named Jesus and then the gospels were written. Early Christian and Gnostics writting don’t have Christ on earth even the writings of Paul the ones not considered forgery’s were all about Heaven , nothing about Christ being on earth were mentioned. Many of these ideas were stolen from the Osiris cult.
Again the Jews never saw Jesus as a messiah their idea of a messiah was a god king that would save them like Cyrus did in 539 BCE. Writtings from the Dead Sea scrolls confirmed this and the reason Jesus was placed in the first century is as confirmed again in the Dead Sea scrolls, jews playing around with the book of Daniel messed with the numbers and came up with the idea that a messiah was coming in the 1 century. That’s why we see so many Jewish messiah mentioned during that time.
truth_b_known: "the Gospels are believed to have been written no earlier than 3 decades after the events they are alleged to have chronicled took place"
That's not what critical (i.e., non-religiously motivated) scholars conclude. Go check out earlychristianwritings.com, they have pages for all four canonical gospels with the typically accepted dating range and even links to articles which, I think, discuss dating in greater detail. In general, scholars tend to argue 65-70 for Mark (but on little evidence), 70-80 for Matthew, 80-90 for Luke (although I'm inclined to agree with Joseph Tyson that the Luke we knew was published against the early heretic Marcion, who came to Rome in the mid-2nd century, which would put canonical Luke closer to 130-140 CE and proto-Luke, known to Marcion himself, closer to 90-100 CE), and John around 90-100 CE. Those are conservative estimates, by the way: we don't have any firm evidence for them, nobody explicitly cites gospels by name or explicitly quotes from them until the mid-2nd century (e.g., Justin Martyr),
knowsnothing1: How do you deal with Pliny? Was there Christian persecution? More importantly, why were they persecuted?
In his letter to Trajan Pliny implies, as we know from other sources if I recall, that Christians were accused of being "atheists" because they refused to acknowledge the Roman emperor as a god. This amounted to treason in that day and age, which is why Pliny made people accused of being Christians offer "prayers with incense and wine to [the emperor's] image."
Early Christians were also accused of "cannibalism" because people didn't understand their talk of eating the body and drinking the blood of Jesus.
They also preached against secular society, which always pisses everybody off.
In other words: these reasons are more compelling explanations for why the Roman government persecuted early Christians than the reason you initially provided, that the apostles saw Jesus rise from the dead.
That site is a great resource. It supports my point - If the Gospels are the writings of those who actually traveled with Jesus during his ministry and were considered his closest confidants, why wait decades to pen those accounts?
Because they aren't the writings of those who traveled with Jesus: they never claim to be, and Matthew copying so much of Mark's account in writing his own gospel doesn't make sense for an eyewitness. Why not tell what you remember, as opposed to repeating and reworking the material Peter's disciple Mark wrote down second-hand (supposedly, if you believe Papias)?
The only reason they were willing to go to their deaths was because they held firm loyalty to Jesus. They would rather die than worship the emperor, for that would mean disloyalty to Jesus. It wasn't just a dead Jesus they held belief in, but a risen one.