Atwill spent his youth in Japan where he attended St. Mary's Military Academy. The school was run by Jesuits so removed from the events of the modern world that they did not even consider shutting it down during World War II, and taught a curriculum that had not changed since the eighteenth century. Joseph Atwill describes that, "The majority of every one of my school days was spent studying Greek, Latin and the Bible, which for some reason I found fascinating."
After studying computer science in college, Atwill began working with one of the most renowned programmers in the world, David Ferguson. David had been granted the first two patents ever issued in computer software. Over the next twenty years, between 1975 and 1995, David Ferguson and Joseph Atwill started a series of companies including Ferguson Tool Company and ASNA. "After selling my interests in our companies to investors in 1995, I returned to my earlier interest; the origins of Christianity," Atwill says of this time period.
Atwill continues, "Though I had drifted away from the Catholic faith, my study of Christianity never stopped. Over the course of my life I had read perhaps six or seven hundred books relating to the historical Jesus and early Christianity, but none of them left me feeling like I really knew anything about how the religion began or its founder." Atwill contends that the more he studied Christian origins the more he saw the question of how the religion began as an open one. Atwill held this position in spite of the fact that in the popular mind, and in the minds of most scholars, Christianity began as a movement of lower class followers of a radical Jewish teacher in the 1st century CE.
Says Atwill, "I did not share in this certainty." What contributed most to his skepticism was that at the exact time the followers of Jesus were purportedly organizing themselves into a religion that urged its members to “turn the other cheek” and to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s”, another Judean sect was waging a religious war against the Romans and seeking a Messiah who would lead them militarily. Atwill continues, "It seemed implausible to me that two diametrically opposite forms of messianic Judaism would have emerged from Judea at the same time. So the Dead Sea Scrolls became of such interest to me that I began what turned into a decade-long study of them." Like others, Atwill was hoping to learn something of Christian origins in the 2,000 year old documents found at Qumran. To assist in his understanding of them, Atwill began studying the history of the era.
It was then that Joseph Atwill came across the key that led to his discoveries. "While reading Josephus' War of the Jews, and his account of Titus' destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE," Atwill recounts, "I noticed some curious parallels. At first I could make no sense of the parallels between Titus' campaign and Jesus' ministry. So I tried to look at the Gospels with fresh eyes, as if I had never seen them before, giving up any preconceived notions about what they meant." This perspective resulted in the discoveries Atwill presents in Caesar's Messiah and his soon-to-be-published book, The Single Strand. A Roman imperial family, the Flavians, had created Christianity, and, even more incredibly, they had placed a literary satire within the Gospels and War of the Jews to inform posterity of this fact.
Understanding the symbolic framework for the Gospels opened up the hidden history of Western Civilization to Joseph Atwill. That framework enabled him to recognize the typology that underlies authors such as Marlowe and Shakespeare and see the incredible story their typology tells us, and is the basis for The Single Strand.
Joseph Atwill concludes, "I am an avid chess player and proud to state that I have more than 100 victories over Grandmasters and International Masters. I hold an ICC Masters rating of 2358." It is this form of strategic thinking that enabled Atwill to uncover the strategy behind the Romans' invention of the Gospels.
Books by Joseph Atwill include Caesar’s Messiah, Ulysses Press 2006, the best selling work of religious history in the US in 2007, and its German translation Das Messias Ratsel, Ulstein 2008, achieving #1 Best Seller status. Atwill's upcoming book, The Single Strand is also slated to be published by Ulstein. The German Magazine Focus published a cover article of Atwill's work: Issue #52 December 25, 2008.