Peter Cresswell studied Social Anthropology at Cambridge University and went on to do a B.Phil. in Sociology at York University. He worked for several years as a research officer at the Open University and in local government. He has had a parallel career as a journalist, contributing articles on planning and the environment, and worked for a time as a leader writer. In recent years, he has researched the origins of Christianity and its textual transmission.
In his new book The Invention of Jesus Peter Cresswell has developed some new techniques and taken an indepth 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. There are papyrus fragments, some from as early as the second century, and then later manuscripts written on parchment, with fewer gaps in the text. The vast majority are written in Greek — the language of Empire and of the early Church. Cresswell carefully analyses the surviving 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.