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Christianity was born nearly two thousand years ago in ancient Palestine. It has shaped the course of human history. Yet historians still cannot say how it really began. How did a first-century Jew called Jesus manage to spark a new religion?

It is one of the biggest and most profound of all historical mysteries. This extraordinary book finally provides a convincing answer.

Traditionally, the birth of Christianity has been explained via the miracle of the Resurrection. After Jesus died he was raised from the dead by God and appeared to his disciples, telling them to spread the gospel. Once they saw the Risen Jesus, nothing could shake their belief. Within a few generations Christianity had spread throughout the Middle East and Europe; within a few centuries it had taken over much of the world.

But historians have been unable to account for Christianity’s remarkable success without the Resurrection to spark it. If no one really saw the Risen Jesus, how were his followers convinced that he was their immortal Messiah?

Art historian Thomas de Wesselow has spent the last seven years deducing the answer to this puzzle, and in doing so he has pieced together an entirely new picture of the birth of Christianity. Reassessing a familiar but misunderstood historical source and reinterpreting many biblical passages, de Wesselow shows that the solution has been staring us in the face for more than a century.

The Shroud of Turin, widely thought to be a fake, is in fact authentic. And it holds the key to the greatest mystery in human history.

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