Why weren't the rulers of the Roman Empire able to Falsify the Resurrection of Jesus

In my recent debate with Dr. Richard Carrier, we discussed this question in great detail. During the rebuttal portion of the debate on his blog, here is a recreation of my official response.

I am interested in hearing intellectual takes on the problem that you may have with my argument. Looking for respectable conversations where we can shares our differences in a good clean dialogue.

1, Christianity was completely insignificant to the rulers of the Roman Empire. For the first three hundred years it was a minor cult about which most people knew nothing.

  1. In 300 CE Christianity made up only about ten percent of the Roman empire.

  2. From 313 to 380, Christianity enjoyed the status of being a legal religion within the Roman Empire. In April 311, Galarius, who had previously been one of the leading figures in the persecutions, permitting the practice of the Christian religion under his rule.

  3. After Constantine’s Chi-rho experience and subsequent victory in a war, he began supporting the Church financially, built various basilicas, granted privileges.

5, Julian, who followed Constantine was a neo-pagan and eliminated many of the benefits the Christian Church enjoyed under Constantine.

  1. In 380 Emperor Theodosius in the Edict of Thessalonica established Christianity as the state religion.

At what point do you imagine the rulers of the Roman Empire had an interest in giving a shit about Falsifying the Resurrection of Jesus?

On the other hand, the Pauline Christians had a vested interest in falsifying all other brands of the Christian faith and in the war between Christian faiths emerged victorious,

The ones best at falsifying Christian beliefs were the Christians themselves. As the Pauline (Roman version) of the faith grew. all other Christian and pagan faiths were eliminated.

You need to pair this with the fact that " Roman Empire began to decline starting around 200 AD . By 400 AD Rome was struggling under the weight of its giant empire. The city of Rome finally fell in 476 AD ." The Church filled the void left by the fallen Roman government during the dark ages. Who is here to oppose Christian Growth or challenge the idea of the Resurrection without being put to death by the Church?

Your question really makes no sense at all. The Christians themselves debated the idea of the “resurrection.” what it meant and how it happened. https://slate.com/human-interest/2008/03/how-early-christians-grappled-to-accept-the-idea-that-jesus-returned-from-the-dead.html

1 Like

These were invented to assist and alert any above ground to people who were resurrected!


I had considered having one of those. Then my funeral director sister in law told me; “If you’re not dead when we get you, you bloody well are wen we’re finished with you”

Reassuring, But I’ve decided on cremation anyway.


The OP claims he asked Dr Carrier his fatuous question . Ok, perhaps give a summary of Dr Carrier’s response… I would have thought he would have referred the interlocutor to his work on the historicity of Jesus

Dr Carrier is a mythicist. IE It is his position that Jesus was not a historical person. Rather a myth, being a synthesis of Greek Mystery religions and Jewish tradition.

To answer the question: The Romans would not have been officially aware of Christianity for at least a century. This claim is supported but not proved by the lack of ANY contemporary evidence for the existence of Jesus. Christians usually trot Flavius Josephus*** , who writes about Christians, but only mentions Jesus in passing., but offers no evidence for Jesus.

The Christians themselves have done a bang up job of falsifying the resurrection, at the very least. The gospel accounts are contradictory. I invite the OP to read them side by side

I’m sorry for not providing a more detailed response. However, I think it’s fair enough going by the lack of an argument from the OP. Besides, imo Cognostic has done a pretty good job of refuting the claim implicit in the question.


***Josesphus’ “Antiquities’ of the Jews” was written around 93 ce, about 30 years after the putative death of Jesus. Parts of Josephus about christianity have been shown to be forgeries.IE Book18 claiming Jesus was the Messiah, a wise teacher who was crucified by Pontius Pilate.

PS Crucifixion was considered dishonourable way to die, reserved for slaves and others of no rank. It was custom to leave the corpses of crucified people to rot and be eaten by scavengers, .It is most unlikely Pontius Pilate would have cared even a little about Jewish sensibilities and would not have even considered removing to Jesus’ body from the cross.

Context: the Romans crucified hundreds if not thousands Jews during their occupation of Judea. From the Roman perspective, the Jews were a stiff necked and rebellious bunch who always needed “a firm hand”

Firstly the Roman Empire and its citizens had a multitude of religions, sects and cults until Constantine. Up to that point (and approx 100 years after) nobody was fussed about your religion as long as you burnt some incense in honor of the God Emperor once a year. Jews had special dispensation ( Off and on) not to perform that rite. Christians were classed as Jews until the 2nd century until their stiff necked attitudes led to them being disallowed that privilege.

Early christianity was riven by cults and sects, the Latin Rite was slowly becoming more powerful in the christian sphere but was largely ignored by the vast majority. In fact if you read Tacitus, the population at large regarded christians of all stripes as very much “beyond the pale” in their seemingly cannibalistic rites, circumcision and later, parading a dead man on a stick.
Not also that christianity was also riven by different gospels, and texts. Some sects claim virgin birth and physical resurrection, Some claimed that AND the “son of God” nonsense. Yet others claimed spiritual resurrection, but NOT as Son of God, and of course the earliest “christians” (still jews) claimed that Spiritual resurrection by the adopted “son of god”
There was no need for “The Romans” and by that I take it you mean the bureaucracy and rulers of the Empire to take any notice of the gentile or jewish christians unless, as they did, refuse to pay taxes or sacrifice to the Emperor. Uprisings are recorded in parts of the Empire by zealous christians because of their foreign religion and stiff necked refusal to conform to the norm. Normally a brisk clubbing, a few crucifixions or a burning or two quickly fixed the trouble with the leaders and their families sold into slavery, those that escaped death.

Remember HUNDREDS of gods were “resurrected” it is a very common theme in all claimed godheads. Many of the dozens of Messiahs in the 1st to 3rd centuries were claimed to have been resurrected either spiritually or in the flesh.

In conclusion, the ‘Romans’ did not see a need to discredit a minor religion, until of course Constantine’s conversion and the subsequent pogroms and elevation of the Latin Rite christianity to “Official Religion of the Empire”, and by then it was too late. The greatest book burnings in recorded history were underway.


Pardon for the intrusion…I am reading the transcription for that video (thanks for that, many still do not add the captions)…the OP mentions what I am reading as “an official tome of the Empire ascribed to Pilate was published and diligently spread aboard under maximum the second…” Two questions.
Have we a reference to this “tome”? (I hope its not Pilate’s letter to Nero from the Acts of Peter and Paul, written 500 years after the events depicted)
Who is this ‘maximum the second’ (it pops up later in the transcription as 'maximum ii, but that’s the captioning algorithim pretending to be dyslexic.) Is this Tiberius?
Thanks to anyone who replies.
I find the use of modern media images (television, microphones etc) in the animation quite annoying as it suggests that political and social unrest of ancient Rome in the early centuries could have been disseminated and universally understood like news items today. Misleading at best.
Depending on the reply to the two questions I might reply later.

1 Like

Thank you for comments Cognostic. Regarding your question above, forged memoranda of Pilate and Jesus were published under Emperor Maximin II around 311 A.D, and sent to every district under his command. Maximin II announced in edicts that they were to be publicly displayed and should be given to the school children by their teachers instead of lessons to study. This was an official act of the Roman empire signifying the empire’s aspiration to address such claims.

This Act of the Roman empire establishes that the empire understood what needed to be done in an attempt to refute the claims of Christianity and how to do it. This Act of the empire also establishes that they did care.

In my debate with Dr. Carrier, he did not contest this point. His only retort was that he believes this was an isolated event, that was only precipitated by Christianity’s rise in popularity, which prompted the official Act of the Roman Empire.

Dr. Carriers’ logic would have us believe that such burdens were not felt by earlier administrations of the Empire from the Christians, hindering its desire to falsify claims against them. Yet I provided documentation to the contrary that show’s otherwise.

The circumstances of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection were too well known and controversial to be ignored by the government, whether ecclesiastical or political.

It’s of great interest here to note that after the final overthrow of Jerusalem, when the ruins were held by a garrison of Roman soldiers, Vespasian commanded “a strict search to be made of all who claimed descent from the house of David” in an effort to cut off all hopes of restoring the royal house of the Messiah.

This shows what the great Roman Emperor Vespasian thought of a Jewish king, and the possibility of a hope of one in the Jewish mind, forty years after the rule of Pilate and Tiberius.

The plight of the Christians in Rome was also perceived by the emperor Nero as a political problem in his administration (Circa 65AD) which explains why Tacitus tells us that Nero “falsely accused the Christians” of setting fires in the market places of Rome. Tacitus reports Christians were “infamous for their abominations”; this sheds light on the height and popularity of Christianity in Rome. Nero would have needed a large known group in the area to shift the blame on, and Christians seem to fit that profile.

The context of Paul letter to the Church in Rome was to get the Jewish and Gentile Christians to work together, which is a testament of Gentiles converting in Rome. Christianity as a religion was not recognized by the state of Rome, which is why the Governor of Bythia (Pliny) issued an edit against the Christians from assembling, because this is perceived as a threat to the state, as was in the case of the Bacculi.

Cognostic, where do you get this idea that the Roman Empire didn’t care, because it’s not from actual documentation from the period. Pliny specifically stated in his Letter to the emperor, that the matter regarding the Christians, seems to me worthy of your consideration, especially as there are so many people involved in the danger.

Pliny regarded the rising popularity of Christianity as a contagion that was infectiously spreading throughout his province. It impacted populations within the cities, neighboring villages, and countryside, which would constitute a pressing political problem that was worthy of being addressed.

If your going to make assertions, then you have to document that from actual writings from the period that substantiate you point.

Thank you for your comments Grinseed.

Here is the official transcription of my debate with Dr. Richard Carrier which was hosted on his blog. I included the links below.

This was my opening statement: https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/16757

This was Carrier’s response to my opening: https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/16798

This video is my rebuttal which is in written form on Dr. Carrier’s blog that you can retrieve from the above links.

In regard to your questions, Maximum the second was the emperor of Rome circa 312AD. Eusebius who was a court bishop and historian under Constantine does provide us with allot of history on the event and some of the transcription of the decree.

We also have history from De Mortibus Persecutorum by Lactantius that documents Maximum’s efforts against Christianity.

Let me know if you need any further clarification.

I really have no interest in biblical history or history related to biblical times (from a religious POV) but as an uneducated (in this area) person - I am well aware that Rome was “putting” down the Jews. Odd messiah figures
we’re popping up left, right and center to “overthrow” their Roman Overlords and “free the Jews”. One big reason that the idea of Jesus accepted by Christians was rejected by Jews in general - he didn’t fulfill their prophecies nor expectations of a Messiah figure.

Had I been in charge as a Roman, I would have said the same thing because this book and prophetic fulfillment idea of theirs was causing revolts and rebellions. BTW, I assume you are talking about the 70CE destruction…

I googled Tacitus * Tacitus, Roman Politician and Historian, (c. 56-117 CE)

So he was 9 years old when the fires were set and Nero was having all sorts of problems. Nero blames a cult? So. No one cares about a cult, in fact you need a small “outsider” that can be dehumanized. I guess Tacitus could have relied on his memory of events at that young age (I doubt he had details or good recall - kids have their minds in other things) or perhaps as a grown up talked to others to get their “take” on the event/s itself and this cult’s belief.


Getting a story from someone and writing it down doesn’t make it true or valid… I guess that’s my point…

Your contentions do not change my points. There was no Roman Empire to contest the Christian assertion of the resurrection account. At the time Christianity became the state religion, barely 10% of the population was Christian and the Roman empire was in decline. At the state religion, it usurped the power that once was Rome.

You asked a question of a Historian and polyglot who studies ancient Roman history. He gave you an answer. You don’t like the answer so you have come here. ??? Does that really make sense? Why not send Richard an E-mail and ask for clarification? He is the Historical Scholar. If you want confirmation of your ideas you can find some biblical scholar to confirm them as I am sure they will.

I appreciate the information about Emperor Maximin ll. 311 AD. But again, why would anyone in the Roman Empire care. There was not a single Christian Cult at the time but hundreds and they were much more varied than the Christian faiths of today. From 313 to 380, Christianity enjoyed the status of being a legal religion within the Roman Empire. So you are asserting that the Christian faith, after being persecuted under
Diocletian and Maximian from 303 to 311 (8 years, should have been able to stamp out Christianity?) Really?

The Christians tried to eliminate paganism and we still have pagans today. There are people still worshiping the ancient Egyptian and Roman Gods today.

Keep in mind, the Christians themselves were successful in wiping out many of their previously known sects but many have also survived to this day.

I don’t see any reason why the Christian faith or its mythology should have been falsified. Never mind the fact that it is most likely an un-falsifiable claim in the first place.


So successful that today virtually nothing is known of all but a few of the earliest ‘christian’ sects.

The Christianity with which we are so familiar today did not begin to be truly dominant until well into the fourth century. That was because the emperor Theodosius 1 made that form of christianity the state religion. The new religion became dominant because Theodosius approved and encouraged actions to obliterate all ‘heretics’

The obliteration was accomplished by the simple expedient of murdering all opposition they could get their hands on and burning their books. This practice was continued with gay abandon for the next 1200 years or so.

As far as I’m aware, there was no religion called ‘christianity’ before the fourth century. That Theodosus 1 was the first to use the name consistently and it then it came into common use. That before that time, the dozens if not hundreds if sects tended to be known as “The Way”.
Now I don’t remember when or where I read that, so it must be seen as anecdotal. --AlI I can say is it sounds reasonable. However, that ain’t credible evidence.

The OP question is pretty ignorant I think. It says a lot that the explanation of an actual expert has been rejected because the answer wasn’t suitable it. So the OP comes to an atheist forum ,hoping to hear a more suitable response—ignoring the fact that it’s unlikely anyone here would have anything approaching the expertise of Dr Richard Carrier…

Imo the Op is being disingenuous and intellectually dishonest . Out of hand dismissal is appropriate I think.


Pliny was writing in 112 CE…hardly contemporary and was writing about the legal status of christians, he didn’t mention a physical Jesus or christ. He was concerned with levying the tax that the Jews had to pay if they didn’t sacrifice t the Emperor, did the christians have to pay the same? No mention of “danger” . Have you read the letters?

1 Like

You seem to be very fond of taking quotes and manipulating them, wrongly, to help your points: Here is the passage of Tacitus in full:

Tacitus was a Roman Historian writing at the turn of the 1st Century CE, i.e between 90CE and 120CE. Many theists make much of a brief mention of a “Chrestus” and use it to bolster their beliefs without ever realising what the passage actually says.

Just to make sure no fantasy mad theist argues the point here is the passage in English and Latin:

“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.”

In Latin: ergo abolendo rumori Nero subdidit reos et quaesitissimis poenis adfecit, quos per flagitia invisos vulgus Chrestianos appellabat. auctor nominis eius Christus Tibero imperitante per procuratorem Pontium Pilatum supplicio adfectus erat; repressaque in praesens exitiabilis superstitio rursum erumpebat, non modo per Iudaeam, originem eius mali, sed per urbem etiam, quo cuncta undique atrocia aut pudenda confluunt celebranturque. igitur primum correpti qui fatebantur, deinde indicio eorum multitudo ingens haud proinde in crimine incendii quam odio humani generis convicti sunt. [Wiki]

The most anyone can get out of this rather inaccurate passage (Pilate was Prefect not Procurator and there was not an 'immense multitude" of christians anywhere much less in Rome in 60CE) Is that a small Jewish Cult of Chrestus was in Rome in about 64CE according to reports some 30 - 50 years later.

Not very convincing evidence for a Jesus, even for a rabid theist now is it? We certainly cannot leap to your conclusions.


Of even more interest is Trajan’s response to Pliny’s concerns.
He suggested Pliny:
Ignore and not act on anonymous charges.
Not instigate general inquisitions himself.
Punish any practising Christian who confessed or was proven to be so.
Exonerate anyone accused who could prove their innocence by performing state sanctioned rituals

It doesnt appear that this Emperor regarded Christians as a danger. And Pliny was seeking advice on point of law rather than on concerns of insurrection.

From the rest of what I have read this morning I think the OP is attempting to stir up a proverbial storm in a teacup. Festus’s statement, “I was at a loss how to investigate such matters”, says it all. More than just the lack of interest was the utter lack of possible methods to falsify the Resurrection. No-one can do it today, what chance the Roman Empire? And the claim that they or us today, couldn’t is no proof that it did happen.

1 Like

Damn you Grinseed…I was saving that Imperial reply for another fatuous post from our resident apologetic mythologist.

But hey. That was a great response!

Exactly. The OP is trying to convince us of a resurrection story, using a false appeal to authority ( The Roman Empire) and of course spill the tea out the saucer. Typically muddled Anglican.


Great work guys.!!! Lots of hearts for both of you!!

Sorry Old Man, I just couldn’t stand the suspense…lol

1 Like

Once again, what is asserted and what can be verified are frequently entirely different …