(Not quite) New Book: "Operation Messiah"

Jerry Russell

Staff member
'Creating Christ' cites this other book, "Operation Messiah: St. Paul, Roman Intelligence, and the Birth of Christianity" (2008). From a standpoint such as Wikipedia's "Reliable Source" criteria, this is huge. Reputable semi-academic publisher, PhD faculty historian co-author.



Saul of Tarsus is one of the best known and most beloved figures of Christianity. This man, later known as St. Paul, set the tone for Christianity, including an emphasis on celibacy, the theory of divine grace and salvation, and the elimination of circumcision. It was Paul who wrote a large part of the New Testament, and who called it euangelion, "the gospel". There is another side of Paul, however, that has been little studied and that is his connection to the Roman military establishment and its intelligence arm. While other scholars and writers have suggested the idea that Paul was cooperating with the Romans, this is the first book-length study to document it in detail. By looking at the traditional story through a new lens, some of the thorniest questions and contradictions in Paul's life can be unravelled. How did he come to work for the Temple authorities who collaborated with the Romans? How was he able to escape from legal situations in which others would have been killed? Why were so many Jews trying to have Paul killed and to which sect did they belong? These and other mysteries will be solved as the authors follow Paul's career and his connections to Roman intelligence.

Col. Rose Mary Sheldon received her Ph.D. in ancient history from the University of Michigan and is currently Head of the Department of History at the Virginia Military Institute. Her special field is intelligence history and she is on the Editorial boards of the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, The Journal of Military History and Small Wars and Insurgencies, and has written more than three dozen articles on aspects of ancient intelligence. Her books include Espionage in the Ancient World: An Annotated Bibliography and Intelligence Activities in Ancient Rome: Trust in the Gods, But Verify.​

Richard Stanley

Well-Known Member
I will see your Operation Messiah and raise you Spies of the Bible:

In Spies of the Bible, Rose Mary Sheldon highlights the importance of espionage and traces the role intelligence has played from the Jewish exodus from Egypt to the Bar Kochba Revolt. The Near East has been fiercely contested by various parties for thousands of years, and much of the fighting was conducted not in large-scale battles and confrontations, but in smaller guerrilla operations of low-intensity conflict. Since the very key to guerrilla operations or surprise attacks is knowing where the enemy will be, timely and accurate intelligence is essential. The Jews fought as guerrillas when they were nomads in the desert trying to take over the cities of Canaan. As an occupied state, they fought three wars of liberation against the Greeks and Romans. This too meant fighting as guerrillas, employing terrorist tactics and organizing clandestinely. The modern irony is that it is the Jews who are the established power in their homeland, and it is the Palestinians who are fighting a guerrilla war in the form of the intifada. This type of warfare seems to be endemic to the region because of its small size, and therefore intelligence will always play a large part in any conflict. Rose Mary Sheldon’s book is the first substantial work to examine warfare in the ancient Near East and the crucial role of intelligence gathering in the Holy Land. Her text includes an analysis of the Last Supper, the trial of Jesus before Pontius Pilate, the attack on Masada, the Maccabees and the Battles of Beth Horon, Emmaus and Beth Zur.