I had a dream the other day. I half imagined that in all the misquotes, reconstructions of the Jesus story to fit the new Constantine retrofit to his imperial fascist purposes, that Jesus’ real crime, if he really existed, was not that he claimed to be the messiah and or the son of man/god.
Jesus, if he was a true revolutionary, was ready to overthrow the state. His real crime was atheism. Or, at least the atheism as defined in Roman terms. They are the ones that had to sign off on any execution.
The big deal with the Romans/Italians is the opera. While on the surface Rome was tolerant to everybody’s petty gods, the real god was the state and the real power of god was the emperor, head of the army. Not to believe in the emperor or pay tribute or give sacrifice or worship or respect was in fact to establish your non-verbal assertion that you did not give a damn about the state.
Taxes are one thing. An empire starts to die when people start to dodge their public responsibility. Gold is one thing, the other thing is respect or at least the tacit consent of the governed to the government set up. Respect meant not only paying taxes but engaging in the secular religion of patriotism, of group identity and tribal solidarity.
One of the main criticisms we see in the few unfiltered, uncensored historic documents about the way the Romans had to first deal with the Jews and after them the early Christians was their sense of the abstract.
The fact that the Jews did not have an idol in their main temple must have been an odd sense of reality and or religion in the traditional set up of such things in those days.
In a sense, the Jews in Palestine were one issue to the Romans. The other no doubt had to do with every local Jewish town within every large Roman city, and in particular Rome.
So in a sense, the Jews, like everybody else in Rome, had to come out in the open at least once a year to give tribute and sacrifice to the Emperor and symbol of the state. After the emperors started calling themselves gods and building temples and idols of themselves in their temples, they put people like the Jews on the spot. Tribute to the head of state was in a technical sense worship of a false non-Jewish god.
Tensions in the Jewish town in Rome had the emperor Claudius throw them outside of the city walls where they built another ethnic enclave. It was the fact that this Jewish town did not burn down in 64 C.E. that got the rumor mills going about the Jews starting the fire and the subsequent revenge against them.
Further rewrites in decades and centuries to come will have the fire blamed only on the Christians, a few, if any that existed, and that which probably lived on the edge of the Jewish town.
It is the later Christian propaganda about 64 C.E. that clouds, eliminates historic focus on the Roman pogrom against the Jews of Rome. This event I think was a remote spark of the rebellion in Palestine that traveled back there and started officially two years later as a continuation of Nero’s improvised urban renewal project and real estate fire sale within Rome.
The Jews themselves in Palestine had their own problems with the Romans wanting statues of their emperor/gods put inside the Jewish Temple.
No doubt there were negotiations, bribes, riots but in the end Rome ruled in Palestine and puppets rulers both secular and religious were put in place to act in the name of Rome.
So, the truth about Jesus might well be that on a macro level, he had no respect for the state. No respect for the Temple priests and he wanted a revolution to replace them in a revolution, no doubt more violent than peaceful. I cannot imagine a Mahatma Gandhi succeeding in civil disobedience against the state back then. That what crucifixion was for.
So, Jesus, perhaps betrayed by some of his own followers, more likely betrayed by spies in his ranks, put him first in front of the Temple priests, no doubt because he was or posed in some capacity in the role of a rabbi in his day to day existence among the masses.
When Constantine hijacked the Jesus movement, no doubt it was easier to write the final scenes of the gospels as Jesus committing blasphemy in the eyes of the defunct and despised Jewish state and religion. More retro PC anti-Semitic material for the Constantine crowd to make and frame the virtues of a new Jesus god who was anti-Jewish, anti-old religion and pro-Rome.
No doubt the temple police picked the trouble maker of Jesus up and delivered him to some sort of formal religious hearing. No doubt the puppet Jewish priests handed Jesus over to the Romans and no doubt he was labeled as somebody who did not respect or support the priests and or the ruling religion of the state.
In other words, he was an atheist of sorts. Of course, I believe he had his own private personal perception and beliefs regarding the God thing, mixed with his public beliefs, political and or religious. His popular front with the poor people was probably the real reason for his elimination by the state and its cronies.
“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” could not have been possibly been said by Jesus. It was no doubt another standard Eusebius of Caesarea fraudulent type insertion into Constantine’s approved gospels three hundred years later.
Was Jesus an atheist? I think yes.
I think yes in a public timeline sense in that he did not believe in the belief systems already in place at the time. He was against the theism of common popularity that supported oppression in his homeland.
His own personal beliefs and or his search for a new understanding and definition of the Deity were no doubt quite a different matter entirely.