Author’s new book sets the birth of Jesus in present-day Batley

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A Batley-born author has re-told the Christmas story - by setting the birth of Jesus in his hometown.

In his novel Arrival, Christopher Gallagher imagines how history would be different if Mary and Joseph’s baby had been born in modern Batley instead of Bethlehem.

The 58-year-old, who lived in Batley in the 1960s and 70s, portrays a world as it would have been without Christian foundations in his second published book.

“Everyone knows the Christmas story, and many people know the stories of the gospels that tell us about the life of Jesus,” said Christopher, who attended Batley High School for Boys and now lives in Rugby, Warwickshire.

“But something my wife said to me one day got me thinking; what would life be like if Jesus hadn’t been born in Bethlehem around 2,000 years ago? I realised that if Jesus hadn’t been born there would be no churches, and none of the historic or cultural connections that our country shares with Christianity.

Our parliament and judicial system would be very different, and our society would be unrecognisable.”

The fictional Batley is part of a world where humanity hangs in despair between the forces of evil, plagued by self-destruction and without hope and under the control of a cruel European empire.

“Arrival will feel strangely familiar for some readers, describing a world that has echoes of our own along with stories of Jesus’ life.

But at the same time the book describes a world that is by no means comfortable, and brings new life to the characters we thought we knew.”

Arrival is available on Kindle and paperback from Amazon.