Reply to the Facebook Poster:
You're in error. Atwill's work may be grounded on "surviving" texts. Your point is correct if you change it to this: is referencing a Tacitus text that did exist. I do not think you're going to get anywhere claiming Tacitus did not write a text on history.
There are a number of instances where historians survive in the works of later historians quoting them. Second, we are not stuck with the fact that all extra-biblical mentions of Christians are made by Flavian court historians. That is not a fact. See the book: Jesus Outside of the New Testatment.
Tacitus and Josephus ARE different people: they ARE independent sources and Tacitus was not Jewish.
Third, Titus did destroy the Temple of Jerusalem which did put an end to Temple Judaism because the rebels were there. To win the war against the rebels he did have to destroy the Temple. So, actions speak louder than words.
Now, as for the Christians, Christianity was a continuation of the ministry of John the Baptist. Christians definitely existed before the Flavian contribution to Christianity.
Second, in my book, I discuss a saying in the gospels that is traced to a saying by the father of King Izates, a saying that also would have been made before the Flavian contribution to Christianity.
James the Brother of Jesus also lived before the Flavian contribution to Christianity.
Jesus feeding the 5,000 also happens before the Flavian contribution. It likely is a reference to King Izates and Queen Helena feeding thousands of people during the famine of 47.
One reason Jesus isn't mentioned by others is because Jesus Christ or Christ Jesus is a title and not a proper name as it relates to the biblical Jesus. The historical Jesus's name was not always Jesus. There are a number of people who are written into the biography of the biblical Jesus.
You ask: if Christians existed before the Flavians why were so many early Christian saints members of Flavian family? Answer, Jews didn't make people saints.
Atwill's point on page 222 does not prove the opposite. The followers of John the Baptist and the followers of Queen Helena and Prince/King Izates kept their membership alive for at least 40 years which puts them still in existence during the Jewish Revolt.
We know King Izates was a proselyte and his second generation was a rebel contingent against Rome. So, when Titus destroyed the Temple, he did destroy the place and source of King Izates' faith, Queen Helena's faith, and those in the royal family who kept the faith and wanted to win rebellion against Rome.
"The only Christians that we can have confidence existed prior to the Flavians were Jewish Rebels that had nothing to do with Jesus as described in the Bible" is totally in error.
It is imperative that you find the connection between Mother and only begotten child, Helena and Izates. You cannot just read the contents of Atwill's presentation and think you have the whole story. He makes some good points but his presentation is quite incomplete.