I pointed the other day to a theory making the rounds that Jesus was the invention of the Roman government. This does not pass the smell test.
(1) The earliest mention of the Christians by a Roman author is Tacitus who holds a negative attitude toward the Christians.
(2) He mentions the persecution of the Christians by Nero, who obviously did not think highly of them either.
(3) The next mention is by Pliny, who has just tortured some of them and put them to death.
(4) Pliny's mention is in a letter to the emperor Trajan, whose reply says that anyone stubborn enough to continue to adhere to Christianity is certainly worthy of death.
If the Roman government were pushing worshiping Jesus, why were they then killing the people who actually did what the government purportedly wanted them to do? Does any of this sound like the Roman government invented Christ for their own political purposes?