Was Jesus Really Augustus Caesar?

The Messiah Matrix is based on the premise that Jesus Christ was Augustus Caesar. Although this premise is wrapped in a fictional story, the historical aspects of the novel were meticulously researched. I considered writing a non-fiction book on the subject, but soon realized that if I were to reach a wide audience a historical novel would be a more effective medium. The fact that the novel is based on actual history creates a powerfully compelling story.

The hidden history of Christianity

For billions of Christians Jesus Christ represents the pinnacle of perfection and is worshipped as their divine savior. So, to even think that their God-man could be identified as Jasius Augustus, the most powerful ruler of the ancient world, would not only seem blasphemous, but would stretch credibility—even if it happens very likely to be true.

Retired Pope Benedict, in his last book, admits that December 25 is a mythic "convenient" date for the birth of Jesus Christ, citing ancient ceremonies surrounding the winter solstice; and that the Christmas "manger" was almost certainly not populated with donkeys, camels, and sheep. Maybe it's time we took a closer look at the Biblical Jesus.
The premise that Jesus was the cult persona of the Emperor Augustus Caesar may not be entirely fanciful. I studied and taught Roman literature for decades and discovered so many parallels between the Caesars and the Jesus story that I couldn't not take it seriously.

• Jesus is heralded as both the "Son of God" and God himself in the New Testament. In 44 BCE Augustus (then called Octavian) is named "Son of God" because his adopted father Julius was now a God, declared by the Roman senate; and later Augustan coins were inscribed divus divi filius, "God and Son of God."

• Jesus' titles include "Messiah," "Christ," "Lord," "Savior." In 31 BCE Augustus's titles included "Messiah," "Christ," "Lord," "Savior."

• The setting for Jesus' life is Judea. In 25-13 BCE King Herod the Great created the cult seat for Jasius (Jesus) Augustus in Judea, using the ancient Roman honorific (Jasius was one of the fugitives from Troy who founded Rome)

• The birth of Jesus Christ is traditionally 1 CE.  It's a little known fact that the calendar was adjusted by the Latin Sacred College by sinking fifteen years from the Roman calendar in order to make Augustus' apotheosis (his 'birth' as a god in 15 BCE) occur in 1 CE. The year 15 BCE thus became year 1 CE, or, as it was called through the ages, Anno Domini, A.D., "year of our lord" (Augustus).

• Augustus declared himself "Pontifex Maximus," head of Roman religion and its college of cardinals. The Roman Catholic pope still uses that title today, and wears the same crown Augustus donned as high priest. In fact, the Roman Empire never died but is alive today in the Roman Catholic Church—even the ATMs in Vatican City are in Latin.

So many other parallels include: the virgin birth, also credited to Augustus' mother Maia, the slaughter of the innocents, and the star in the east (probably the close conjunction of Jupiter and Venus that appeared stationary over Judea for five days in 17 BCE, two years before Augustus' apotheosis—his 'birth' as a god, and was likely the celestial event used as a portent to 'predict' his coming as the Messiah). No wonder the historical personage known as Jesus Christ has eluded scholars for two thousand years. More than forty notable historians—among them Philo, Plutarch, Pliny, Seneca, Ptolemy--were alive "in the time of Jesus," yet not a single one mentions his existence. Theophilus, for example, one of the earliest Christian apologists, wrote nearly 30,000 words about Christianity without once mentioning Jesus Christ. In fact, the name "Jesus Christ," doesn't appear in any Greek or Latin text until after the Council of Nicaea, in 325 CE.
The single "exception" is the Roman-paid Jewish historian Josephus, whose 100 words referring to Jesus the miracle worker, known as the Testimonium Flavium, were long ago admitted by the Catholic Church itself to be as much a counterfeit—a later clerical interpolation—as the "Donation of Constantine" that gave the Vatican half of Italy.

No wonder Benedict XVI, when he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, lamented that '...this historical Jesus is an artifact, [he is] the image of his authors rather than the image of the living God...the so-called historical Jesus is a mythological figure, self-invented by various interpreters.' "

Every thread of the tapestry of biblical scholarship has led to blind alleys and the result is that the historical personage of Jesus Christ has seemed like a phantom to serious historical thinkers.  

Meanwhile literalists continue insisting that Christianity and its principles originated with the advent of a real person named Jesus. But the reality is that Christian mythology actually extends back to ancient times: Akhenaten's belief in a single god; violently killed deities, including Osiris, Dionysius, Attis, and Hercules; the sign of the fish as an Egyptian symbol of the bestial-angelic dichotomy of human nature; christos, the anointed one, dating back to Homer's Iliad; and the winter tree decked with home-beckoning lights as a symbol of hopeful rebirth from darkness in ancient Teutonic folklore.

Should Christians be concerned to discover that their founder may have been the most powerful man on earth, his coins inscribed with the words, divus divi filius, "God and son of God"? One Augustan coin even bore the XP symbol, meaning "Christ." To me, an old-time Catholic who, like the new pope, prefers spirituality to institutionalism, it'd be cause for deep rejoicing: The most powerful man in the world founded a religion of tolerance, golden rule, and brotherly love.

Kenneth John Atchity