Christ and the Caesars
Christ and the Caesars
The Origin of Christianity from the Mythology of Rome and Greece
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Nearly thirty years after Bruno Bauer published his 1877 book, Christus und die Caesaren...(Christ and the Caesars...), Albert Schweitzer left the Lutheran ministry in his native Alsace-Lorraine to study medicine in Paris (1905 at age 30). In 1911 he earned a Doctorate in Medicine and two years later (1913) he and his wife set off to establish a hospital in Lambarene, now Gabon, West Central Africa. He had given chapter eleven of his 1906 book (Geschichte der Leben-Jesu-Forschung; English: The Quest of the Historical Jesus) the title "Bruno Bauer." In that chapter, Dr. Schweitzer had concluded with this statement:


"...his [Bruno Bauer's] the ablest and most complete collection of the difficulties of the Life of Jesus which is anywhere to be found...The shaft which he had driven into the mountain...laid bare once more the veins of ore which he had struck...for his contemporaries he was a mere eccentric...But his eccentricity concealed a penetrating insight. No one else had as yet grasped with the same completeness the idea that primitive Christianity and early Christianity were not merely the direct outcome of the preachings of Jesus, not merely a teaching put into practice, but more, much more, since to the experience of which Jesus was the subject there allied itself [with] the experience of the world-soul at a time when its body-humanity under the Roman Empire-lay in the throes of death...Bauer transferred it to the historical plane and found the 'body of Christ' in the Roman Empire," The Quest of the Historical Jesus, translated by W. Montgomery, B.A., B.D. (London: Adam and Charles Black, 1911), second English edition, pp. 159-160, with a Preface by, F. C. Burkitt, M.A., D.D.

When Bruno Bauer published his 1877 book, Christ and the Caesars, he had been thinking about doing it for at least thirty five years, for it was in 1842 that the Lutheran state church of Germany had him fired from teaching philosophy in their state's educational system. But on his side he had at least one religious oriented backer—the Jewish community. His book asserts (reason for his being fired those 35 years earlier) that contrary to what the New Testament imputes, there was no first century Jesus Christ.

Although there is a broad variety of thought among Jewish thinkers regarding the reality of a first century Jesus Christ, few of them believe there is much support for Jesus' historicity (chronological narrative in support of the man). Supporters of the position that Jesus Christ lived, starting in the first decade of that century, have the writings of Josephus (Titus Flavius Josephus, born Yosef ben Matityahu) to fall back on; but according to Josephus' history of the Jews, published in the year 93-94 (Jewish Antiquities, 18.3.3; 20.9.1) the earliest first century literary claims are so spurious that nobody of any serious scholarly distinction can really rely on them. And any other ancient references to Jesus Christ are even later than those of Josephus, certainly making them even more suspect. Here is a little of what this former professor of philosophy, Bruno Bauer, has written about Josephus and his writings: "...Josephus precedes the report of his (Josephus') good fortune in Rome with the story of an adventure at sea, which sounds so fictional that it casts some doubt on his credibility. The ship on which he went to Rome, carrying six hundred passengers, sank in the middle of the Adriatic Sea. Only eighty persons including himself rescued themselves by swimming, and after spending an entire night on the water they were picked up at dawn by a skipper from Cyrene who took them to Puteoli (Pozzuoli today). Someone who can invent so well will also be able to conceal something he does not want to become public knowledge,"Christ and the Caesars (Bloomington IN: Xlibris, 2015), pp. 221-2.

Having sided with much of the Jewish world regarding the historicity of Jesus Christ, there were other religious forces that Bruno Bauer had taken to task for their claims in support of a living, New Testament, Son of God. Of course there are, first, the various Christian sects; second, Islam; and, of course, Mormons (including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and other factions, some of which continue to believe that Joseph Smith, Jr., was visited, in the Spring of 1820, by The Father and His Son Jesus Christ of the New Testament). Here is a relevant reference to Islamic scripture:

"O Mary, God gives you good news of a word from Him, whose name is the Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, revered in this world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (to God). He will speak to the people from his cradle and as a man, and he is of the righteous." She said, "My Lord, how can I have a child when no mortal has touched me?" He said, "So (it will be). God creates what He wills. If He decrees a thing, He says to it only, ‘Be!' and it is,"(Quran, 3: 45-47).

In order to properly preview Bruno Bauer's book, there may be no better way to do it than include here the Table of Contents:

I. Seneca as Founder of a Religion

1. Recent Opinions of Stoicism
2. Review of Cicero
3. Seneca's Teachers
4. Opinions on Seneca's Christianity
5. Seneca's Views on Politics
6. Seneca's New Religion
7. Seneca's Ideals
8. Seneca in the New Testament
9. Seneca's Compromises

II. Seneca as Nero's Teacher and Minister

1. The Dissolution of Roman Particularism
2. Nero Nothing But a Human Being
3. The Humanist School of Rhetoric
4. Seneca's Rhetoric Training
5. Seneca at Claudius' Court
6. The Philanthropist on the Throne
7. Agrippina's Death

III. The Downfall of Nero and Seneca

1. The Cosmopolitan on the Throne
2. Seneca's Fall from Grace
3. Octavia
4. The Burning of Rome and the Christians
5. Seneca's Death
6. Seneca lampooning Claudius' Ascent Into Heaven
7. Nero's End
8. Nero as the Antichrist
9. Persius, Lucan and Petronius

IV. The House of the Flavians and Judaism

1. The Invasion of the Western World by the Orient
2. The Historical Sources Relating to the Jewish War
3. Position of the Jews up to the Outpeak of the War
4. Josephus as a War Lord and Messenger of God
5. Josephus at the Gates of Jerusalem
6. Josephus at the Triumph of Titus
7. Josephus' World Religion
8. A Heraclitic School
9. Domitian and the Meek Ones

V. Trajan and the First Appearance of Christianity

1. The Happiest Epoch for Humanity in Roman History
2. The Last Judgment
3. The Era of Trajan
4. Pliny and the Christians

VI. Hadrian and Christian Gnosticism

1. The Magnified Nero
2. Hadrian's Epistle Regarding Religious Diversity in Alexandria
3. Jewish Uprisings and the Age of Messianic Images
4. The Road to the Gospel
5 Christian Gnosticism

VII. The Age of Marcus Aurelius

1. Marcus Aurelius' Meditations
2. Christianity as an Enhancement of Greek Culture
3. The Morality of Roman Society
4. Marcus Aurelius' Fate

VIII. The Completion of New Testament Literature

1. A Great History and a Late Work of Fiction
2. The "Beatitude" Blessings and the Intensification of the Law
in the Source Documents of Luke and Matthew
3. Variations on the Battle Cries of the Proto-Gospel
4. Story of the Childhood of Jesus
5. Gnosticism in the Fourth Gospel
6. Paul of the Acts of the Apostles
7. Gnosticism in the Pauline Epistles
8. Conclusion of Peace Between Peter and Paul

As our author has written in chapter VIII, Book 1: "A Great History and a Late Work of Fiction: We have now seen unfold, in a series of images, the fate of imperial rule, nationalities and social classes during the first two centuries of our calendar. As diverse as the figures were who acted before our eyes, they were still just shells hiding one and the same fact. If on the one hand already at that time the friends of tradition saw the removal of the citizens from their political and national efforts only as a violent act of the new Lord of the world, so we also recognized on the other hand in imperial rule the consequence and image of an emancipation of minds from their limited daily tasks, and a political form that corresponded with the ideal of a world community during that time. Personal freedom within the newly opened world-wide coherence was the heartfelt wish of that discredited time, which, in the history books since the days of Tacitus, has been decried as decayed and lost. The immaterial goods which Greece had produced in a similar time of political decline, filled the political void; in Rome and Alexandria they united around the center of the Jewish Law, and Seneca gave the new associations the leader in the image of the one who would perfect mankind and who was eventually able to join in battle with the powerful ruler in Rome," Ibid., pp. 365-6. through to Book 4: "Story of the Childhood of Jesus," Ibid., pp. 378, and then concluding with Book 8: "Conclusion of Peace Between Peter and Paul," Ibid., pp. 403. This entirely scholarly work shows what no other author of the same subject matter has ever shown: the origin of Christianity stems from the mythology of Rome and Greece, not from a fictional first century Jesus Christ.

Bruno Bauer (1809-1882), student of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) and teacher to both Karl Marx (they later broke intellectual ranks) and Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche. Hegel's Philosophy of Mind was translated into English from German. If Baron d'Holbach and Immanuel Kant were the last of Enlightenment writers, Bruno Bauer and Charles Darwin (also 1809-1882) were the first successful Post-Enlightment writers to follow the same tradition. As you will read in the Translators' Forewords, Bruno Bauer "...tried to provoke a scandal, to force the government either to give complete freedom of science and teaching to its university professors, or to openly express its anti-enlightenment position by removing him from his post" and he succeeded. The government (under Prussian Minister of Religious and Educational Affairs Karl Friedrich von Eichorn) had him fired in about 1842. Not only did he dispute with his government about how to best teach science to Prussian (German) students, Bruno Bauer investigated the sources of the New Testament and, following in the footsteps of Hegel, demonstrated that early Christianity owed more to ancient Greek Philosophy than it did to Judaism. Starting before 1840 (at the ripe old age of 30), he began to publish a series of works arguing that Jesus was a myth and then, going the extra step in Christ and The Caesars, showed (at the age of 68) the biblical Jesus Christ to be a second century fable fused from Jewish, Greek and Roman theology.


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