Jesus Was a Psy-Op: A Book Review of ‘Creating Christ’

Jesus Was a Psy-Op: A Book Review of ‘Creating Christ’

The origins of Christianity are shrouded in time, hidden and obscured. However, through decades of painstaking research and careful study, researchers are able to uncover illuminating details. The 2018 book Creating Christ: How Roman Emperors Invented Christianity, by James S. Valliant and Warren Fahy, argues that Christianity was not a natural, organic development from the Old Testament but instead the end result of an extensive propaganda campaign devised by the Roman Emperors as a means of quelling the religious fervor of fanatically devout Jewish rebels.

Certainly, this is a bold claim. However, it is one that is backed up by Valliant and Fahy, who demonstrate that the Flavian dynasty of Roman Emperors had the means, the motive, and the opportunity to promulgate and disseminate a new ideology upon an extremist branch of Judaism as a means of defanging the power of the altogether more fiery Old Testament.

Creating Christ is written in an accessible and direct tone and style. The authors of this book present their evidence without alienating mass audiences. As evidence of the Roman origin of Christianity, James Valliant and Warren Fahy point to the clear pro-Roman slant of the New Testament, the praise of meekness and turning the other cheek, the exhortation of obedience to the state as a moral duty, and nominally pagan elements such as the Trinity and the idea of a woman-born son of a god which were unlikely to naturally generate from a strictly monotheistic religion such as Judaism. What would the Roman government have wanted more than to “redefine the mission of the Jewish Messiah as one of servitude and sacrifice,” (127), wonder the authors?

Mysticism still has a strong grip on our modern world, across openly religious and subtly religious spheres. Nevertheless, the mysticism of today’s world is nothing at all compared to that of the time of the Flavian dynasty. It was a brutal age, during the beginning of the slow decline of Classical Antiquity. Mysticism battled against mysticism, with the power of Reason faint indeed.

While it might seem strange to us now, in our essentially rational world, the idea that the Roman Emperors would develop a new religion as a weapon of political and ideological warfare is not so implausible. As described by the authors, such techniques had been used before: namely by Ptolemy, who most likely engendered the Greco-Egyptian god Serapis to unite the divided Egyptian and Greek peoples and cultures under his rule. As cited by Valliant and Fahy, the ancient historian Tacitus noted how Serapis was identified as a variety of pre-existing gods by Ptolemy’s subjects: Osiris, Jupiter, Asclepius, and Pluto, among others. The result of Ptolemy’s institution of the new god was a more unified territory: exactly what the Romans would also desire centuries later. The parallels are striking.

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