I now know why Eileen used to get so annoyed with the Beaker Folk. Being well-read but gullible, they leap onto every passing fad like ecclesiastical lemmings. This whole "Jesus was invented to keep the poor quiet" idea - now they're all running around saying where does it leave them?
In one sense, of course, it leaves them exactly where they were. Since Beaker Folk are more interested in feeling good than anything to do with truth, if Jesus were imaginary it actually would make no difference to them. Indeed, even knowing he were imaginary wouldn't - and I cite in evidence the "What Would Emma Do?" bracelets many of them wear. Basing their moral decisions on the imagined motivations of Miss Woodhouse, a fictional inhabitant of Surrey, doesn't seem to bother them in the slightest.
But I've been delving into the Community Archives and I've discovered the book that Eileen always wanted to keep secret: the true story behind the invention of Jesus. Goodness knows where she found it.
It's a story that goes to the heart of World history, and will turn the world of Biblical history, as Prof Francesca Stavrakopoulou might say, on its head.
Turns out, the whole story of Jesus was invented by a bloke called Josiah son of Deuteronomy of Gath. His brother Matthias is more famous these days. But Josiah was a bit of an inventor, and he discovered a form of explosive sticky paper.
It wasn't terribly useful, to be honest. When they discovered it wasn't even powerful enough to blow a false beard off, the Judean People's Front rejected it as a secret weapon. Josiah was so fed up, he cut the paper into strips and sat there idly pulling it to make it go "crack". His other failed experiment in loo roll cardboard tubes - wiping your bottom with papyrus was no fun - were laying around, and his invention of the paper crown was already threatening to get him in trouble with Herod.
And it was as he sat there, rolling his failed "shiny paper" invention into little rolls around the cardboard loo roll tubes that his friend Gabriel wandered into his workshop.
"Here, Josiah," said Gabby, "here's one - why can't you play dice in the jungle? Because of all the cheetah's! Get it?"
Of course Josiah didn't get it - the joke doesn't work in Aramaic. But he wrote it down on a scrap of ostraca, pushed it with a crown into a cardboard tube, threaded a length of exploding paper through and wrapped it all in shiny paper. He had invented the Christmas Cracker. And this, he told Gabriel, was going to make his fortune.
"Brilliant," replied Gabby. "What's Christmas?"
And so Josiah had to achieve his greatest ever invention - the story of the Nativity. Working backward from "Christmas", he invented Christs's second name, then gave him a more typically Jewish personal name. Then he founded a church, encouraged the dissemination of the story throughout the Empire, and settled back to watch the money roll in. He was the greatest - and, at the time, only - manufacturer of Christmas Crackers the world had ever known.
But all great ideas have a shelf life, and soon everybody in the Empire was making Christmas Crackers. A few years later, he needed more money. His chocolate egg idea had no takers, and the hot-cross-bun concept hadn't really got off the drawing board. There was nothing for it. He reached once more for his pen and wrote the sequel. The rest, as they say, is history.