About the Book

The Invention of Jesus is a pivotal work in the field of New Testament textual analysis. Its author Peter Cresswell has taken an in-depth look at the earliest surviving manuscripts of the gospels describing the life and death of Jesus, as well as letters, attributed to Paul and others, to the outposts of the early Church. Cresswell carefully analyses the texts to show how doctrines, such as the divinity of Jesus and the resurrection, have been progressively introduced into the narrative. By establishing what has been added, he defines what part of the character of Jesus the Christian Church has, over time, invented.

After the Romans adopted Christianity in the fourth century, the Church had an unrivalled opportunity to spread its message – and a big problem, how to make the texts to conform with what it then wanted people to believe.

In effect, it chose to forge its own records.

Among significant alterations was the elimination of the final verses of Mark’s gospel. Cresswell argues that this, the earliest of the canonical gospels, would not in its original form have described a miraculous resurrection. Now, however, whatever was there has been cut; the gospel ends, in the earliest surviving sources, with the discovery of an empty tomb. Twelve more verses were added to make up for what is missing and appear in some of the later manuscripts.

In order to please their Roman sponsors, who were of course actually responsible for the crucifixion, Christians also put in a reference to the Jews having killed Jesus. The inclusion of this spiteful and mistaken libel, under the name of the apostle Paul, has contributed to untold mayhem down through the centuries.

Another revolutionary finding, which will not at all please the Vatican, is that the ancient bible that is genuinely the oldest surviving is Codex Sinaiticus, a large part of which is housed in the British Library.

The Vatican’s own early manuscript, Codex Vaticanus is certainly closely related. But it was produced with reference both to Codex Sinaiticus and to their common exemplar.  For the core of the New Testament, it is thus a copy.