And Man Created God

Selina O'Grady

RRP: £10.99

1 May 2013

Published by Atlantic Books

ISBN: 9781843546979

RRP: £9.49

1 September 2012

Published by Atlantic Books

ISBN: 9780857898760

At the time of Jesus’s birth, the world was in ferment. Across Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Asia – societies rife with gods and messiahs, priests and warriors – the old certainties of family, village and tribe were being overturned. Religion was becoming the source of order and stability.

And Man Created God takes the reader on a dazzling journey across the empires of the ancient world to reveal how emperors and kings manipulated religion to consolidate their power. In Rome, Augustus was deified by his brilliant spin doctors; in what is now Sudan, the warrior queen Amanirenas exploited her godlike status to inspire her armies to face, and defeat, Rome; while in China, the usurper Wang Mang won and lost the throne over his obsession with Confucianism.

In this riveting account of the interplay of faith and power, Selina O’Grady answers the most urgent question of all: how did the tiny Jesus cult triumph over more popular religions – the goddess Isis, the miracle worker Apollonius, even the cult of Augustus – to become the world’s dominant faith?


This is a dazzling, dizzying, compelling panorama of the world that Jesus knew and the worlds he had never heard of. Selina O'Grady shows us the overall map of what were really a series of interlocking but very distinct worlds... which come alive with her remarkable command of detail... It is a remarkable book.... I cannot think of anyone who will not learn a huge amount from reading this book.

In her sweeping account of relations between faith and power at the dawn of the Christian era, Selina O'Grady presents the political uses of pagan religion, set amid all the luxury and decadence of Roman life, with great relish and descriptive power... The result is an enjoyable, informative romp through the subject of comparative religion... With accomplished journalistic flair, she posits answers with far greater confidence than any academic, choking on footnotes, could muster.

A masterful narrative, clearly told, with great panache, insight and humour. It should be required reading for anyone, Christian or otherwise, who has an interest in the historical context in which the 'mystery cult of Yaweh' became one of the dominant forces in the world.Manda Scott

In a panoramic survey, [O'Grady] shows the intimacy of the relationship between the way that people lived and the gods they worshipped... Vivid and learned
Mail on Sunday

A wonderfully illuminating, prodigious tour de force of ecclesiastical anthropology.