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The Gospel of Caesar documents the revolutionary and fascinating research of the Italian linguist Francesco Carotta, who concluded after a decade-long investigation that the Gospel narrative of the New Testament completely originated from the ancient sources on the life of Julius Caesar.

Intrigued by the discovery that Caesar could be the historical Christ, the Spanish priest Pedro García González joins him on his journey all across Europe to search for traces of the deified Caesar in old Christian rituals and traditions, written sources, church art and archaeological finds. Along the way they meet other priests and scientists. They encounter skepticism and enthusiasm, criticism and approval, but every step of the way takes them further toward the obscure origins of early Christianity.


To verify the theory they reconstruct the pivotal funeral ceremony of Caesar, which could have been the historical incident behind the later story of the crucifixion of Christ. They resuscitate this ancient historical event with young people from the priest’s parish and reveal the image of the first Savior on the Cross, who had been forgotten for almost 2000 years.


Background theory

The Caesarian origin of Christianity is a controversial new theory positing that the historical Christ was Julius Caesar, and that early Christianity developed from the imperial Romancult of Divus Iulius. Its framework was developed in the late 1980s and 1990s by the Italian linguist and philosopher Francesco Carotta. After a few preliminary releases Carotta’s research report was first published in the German book War Jesus Caesar? (1999) and in a scientific article in Quaderni di Storia (2003). In the following years his book was translated into Dutch and English. The theory was revised and extended for the second German edition of 2009, which which will also be translated into Spanish. (2017)


Until today the common modern view of the historical Christ as a Jewish itinerant preacher, which was originally derived from the failed application of the historical method to the primary Christian sources, has remained an unfalsifiable and unverifiable hypothesis, because there are no independent historical sources beyond scientific doubt on the existence of this hypothesized person, who is commonly referred to as “Jesus of Nazareth”. Despite the striking ahistoricity of Jesus a majority of scholars have pointed out the biographical immediacy and historical urgency of the evangelists’ writings as well as the rapid and ubiquitous spread of early Christianity within the Roman empire, all of which is inconceivable without real events, actuals persons and a historical auteur at the origin of the Gospel narrative and the Christian religion. However, critically distilled biographical data on the commonly proposed historical Christ rarely fill more than a few pages in scientific publications.

Categorical description

The theory of the Caesarian origin of Christianity breaks with this speculative and still ahistorical, yet persistent view of Jesus Christ by producing a relocated historical framework of high falsifiability and testability, based on an extensive and exposed empirical investigation of the available sources, with supporting evidence from other fields of study. As a unified theory it naturally ties in with much of the pre-existing research on the Graeco-Roman context of early Christianity, but it goes further and concludes with a fundamental and elementary new solution: a direct and immediate relation between two religious phenomena. Due to the large extent of early Christian writings the theory relies primarily on an analysis of the oldest known Christian source. Therefore it not only leaves room for a large amount of future studies, corrections and changes, but also predicts further correlations and observations. An example is the corroborating evidence for the admissibility of Carotta’s conclusion of the Gospel as a diegetic transposition, found in the back-transpositions of the Gospel from Christ to Caesar by Roman authors, which prove the existence of this scriptural mechanism in Christian antiquity.


At the core of Francesco Carotta’s research lies a detailed philological synoptical comparison of the oldest Gospel of Mark with the ancient sources on Julius Caesar’s final years during the Great Roman Civil War, especially those by Appian, Plutarch and Suetonius, who all relied to some extent on Asinius Pollio’s Historiae, which constitutes the Latin Ur-Gospel, the primary textual basis of the synoptic gospels. This extended Roman-Christian synopsis is augmented by comparisons based on archaeological sources, ritualistic and liturgical traditions as well as on iconography. Carotta concluded that the multiple parallels and similarities between the lives and cults of Caesar and Christ and between the respective primary sources are best explained by formulating the theory that Jesus Christ is Divus Iulius, the deified Julius Caesar, as he has been transmitted through history.


In this theory a cultic and scriptural transformation from ancient Rome to Jerusalem took place, and the Gospel narrative, its geography, dramatic structure and characters were neither enhanced with an antithetically mimetic Caesarian approximation nor fabricated as a purely mythological amalgam, but had formed as a directly dependent, albeit corrupted retelling of the Great Roman Civil War—from Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon to his assassination, funeral and resurrection, paralleled by Jesus’ ministry from the Jordan to his capture, crucifixionand resurrection. Following Gérard Genette’s terminology the textual mutation and delocalization came about by diegetic transposition, an error-prone process of copying mistakes, false translations, misreadings, misinterpretations, adaptations and redactions in different cultural contexts for distinct political purposes, which produced the vast amount of divergent early Christian literature, among them the canonical gospels.

The final Christian metamorphosis of the new religion, which was to reinterpret the Julian imperial founding cult according to the new Flavian theopolitical ideology with special regard to ancient Roman Palestine, was induced under emperor Vespasian and his historian Flavius Josephus, whose vita provided the groundwork for the hagiography of the Apostle Paul in Acts II. The deity Jesus Christ is therefore the Divus Iulius of the Flavians, and Jesus existed historically as Gaius Iulius Caesar



 Het Evangelie van Caesar

Documentaire waarin regisseur Jan van Friesland de Duitse taalkundige en filosoof Francesco Carotta volgt. Carotta is schrijver van het boek Was Jezus Caesar? (2002), waarin hij zijn theorie presenteert dat het verhaal van Jezus gebaseerd is op het leven van Caesar.


García González, Francesco Carotta en Van Friesland in Rome 

Van Friesland volgt Carotta ruim vier jaar bij diens zoektocht naar de oorsprong van het christendom op verschillende plekken in Europa. Eerder uitgezonden door de VARA in 2011.

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