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Earl Doherty is the author of The Jesus Puzzle, a work published in 2000 by the Canadian Humanist Association arguing that Jesus never lived, and that he was simply a fictional character made up after Paul died, based on Old Testament prophecy. According to Doherty, Paul never heard of Jesus of Nazareth/Bethlehem, and after Paul's death, his followers invented the Jesus of the gospels. This, Doherty claims, was made possible by the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD—the New Testament authors backdating his life to 40 years before that date so there wouldn't be any live witnesses left.
Doherty has a degree in Ancient History and Classical Languages. He was introduced to the idea of a mythical origin of Jesus while he studied in London under Professor G.A. Wells (1926—), who has authored a number of books defending the theory. Doherty published his book more than 20 years later. He claims to have used his (admittedly basic) language skills to have studied the original-language versions of the New Testament, and to have come to his views through a critical analysis of these texts in the tradition of historical revisionism.
Doherty currently (2003) lives in Canada and continues to take part in scholarly discussions of Jesus' historical existence. His theory has raised some interest among scholars in the field. Doherty's belief that there was no historical Jesus contrasts with the view of Rationalists who thought of Jesus as a real person whose story got garbled into a myth.