Page last updated at 13:28 GMT, Thursday, 26 November 2009

Jesus 'may have visited England', says Scottish academic

Glastonbury Tor
Could Jesus Christ have visited Glastonbury?

Jesus Christ could have come to Britain to further his education, according to a Scottish academic.

Church of Scotland minister Dr Gordon Strachan makes the claim in a new film entitled And Did Those Feet.

The film examines the story of Jesus' supposed visit, which survives in the popular hymn Jerusalem.

Dr Strachan believes it is "plausible" Jesus came to England for his studies, as it was the forefront of learning 2,000 years ago.

"Coming this far wasn't in fact that far in the olden days," Dr Strachan told BBC Radio 4's The World At One. "The Romans came here at the same time and they found it quite easy."

Dr Strachan added that Jesus had "plenty of time" to do the journey, as little was known about his life before the age of 30.

The legend that Jesus Christ came to Britain was popularised in a poem written by William Blake in the early 19th Century and made famous as a hymn 100 years later.

Poet William Blake
William Blake's "Jerusalem" spread the idea Jesus came to England

Now the first words of the hymn - "And did those feet" - are the title of a new film based on a book researched by Dr Strachan, who lectures on the history of architecture at Edinburgh University.

"It is generally suggested that he came to the west of England with his uncle, Joseph of Arimathea, who was here for tin," said the academic.

Dr Strachan claimed Jesus Christ could have come to England to further his education.

"He needed to go around to learn bits and pieces about ancient wisdom, and the druids in Britain went back hundreds if not thousands of years. He probably came here to meet the druids, to share his wisdom and gain theirs."

Among the places Jesus is said to have visited are Penzance, Falmouth, St-Just-in-Roseland and Looe, which are all in Cornwall, as well as Glastonbury in Somerset - which has particular legends about Jesus.

"St Augustine wrote to the Pope to say he'd discovered a church in Glastonbury built by followers of Jesus. But St Gildas (a 6th-Century British cleric) said it was built by Jesus himself. It's a very very ancient church which went back perhaps to AD37."

The film And Did Those Feet is being screened on Friday in central London.



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