‘I found out Archbishop was Bible smuggler’ says biographer

Andrew Atherstone

Andrew Atherstone

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Didcot and Wallingford. Call me on 01865 425425

AUTHOR Andrew Atherstone sacrificed part of his Christmas holiday to work on his biography of the new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

But the hard work paid off, with the new book revealing the astonishing story that Archbishop Welby smuggled Bibles in Eastern Europe in the 1980s.

Rev Atherstone, 39, from Eynsham, was selected by a publisher last year to write the biography.

The father-of-three began his research when the 105th Archbishop was nominated in November to replace Rowan Williams.

He was the first to discover details of the Archbishop’s Bible smuggling activities.

The unauthorised biography – the first biography of Archbishop Welby to be published – was in the shops earlier this month, in time for the church leader’s enthronement today.

“I had to carry out a blitz of research for two months and found it a fascinating story,” said Rev Atherstone.

“We wanted the book to be out in time for the enthronement, so there wasn’t much Christmas holiday for me. From November 9 until January 21 it was an intense 10-week writing period and I would often be working until three in the morning.

“It was a mad rush getting the first draft ready for the deadline of Christmas Eve.

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“The biography is unauthorised, so the Archbishop has not been involved, but I have spoken to his friends and colleagues from his student days and he has been very happy for me to speak to them.”

Rev Atherstone teaches Christian history at Wycliffe Hall in Banbury Road, North Oxford, a training college for Church of England vicars.

He is a member of Oxford University’s faculty of theology and has published a number of books on Anglicanism, including a biography of Oxford Anglican Charles Golightly called Oxford’s Protestant Spy.

Rev Atherstone added that one of the most enjoyable parts of tracing Archbishop Welby’s story, from his beginnings to the present day, was hunting through parish magazines in Southam, Warwickshire, where the archbishop worked as a rector in the mid-1990s.

“The best part of my research was digging up that he was a Bible smuggler in Eastern Europe in the early 1980s,” he said.

“He was recruited by the Eastern European Bible Mission and travelled around Romania during the Ceausescu regime.

“The camper van he was travelling in had Bibles hidden beneath false floorboards and as they travelled about he handed out the contraband Bibles.

“It was amazing to find this out by reading about it in parish magazines.”

Rev Atherstone added that Archbishop Welby also put himself at risk by working in conflict zones in Africa including Nigeria.

Mr Atherstone said: “He is willing to speak out on all sorts of issues and has hit the ground running.

“He is very bright, but not an academic.

“He communicates clearly, is confident with the media, and has a great sense of humour – I think the public will warm to him.

“I think I have got to know him through writing this book and have been impressed by his character and expertise.

“I have only told the start of the story, which is crying out for a fuller biography in the next few years.”

No-one from Lambeth Palace, the London residence of the Archbishop, was available for comment.

Archbishop Justin Welby: The Road to Canterbury is published by Darton, Longman & Todd price £7.99.

Comments (3)

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1:45pm Thu 21 Mar 13

MACDONALDBANK says...

Being gay is as natural as being left handed!
Being gay is as natural as being left handed! MACDONALDBANK
  • Score: 0

1:45pm Thu 21 Mar 13

MACDONALDBANK says...

The Bible & Torah should be banned!

Here are several really loving excerpts from the Torah; the first five books of the Old Testament in the bible -- perhaps read to the congregation on Friday night at a synagogue or a Sunday morning church in the meadow.

1. Kill any friends or family that worship a god that is different than your own. Deuteronomy 13:6-10
2. Kill all the inhabitants of any city where you find people that worship differently than you. Deuteronomy 13:12-16
3. Kill everyone who has religious views that are different than your own. Deuteronomy 17:2-7.

Rabbinical / Priestly rules:
Leviticus 21:17-18 … “No one who is blind or lame or has a defect or any blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God.”
Leviticus 18:22 … “You are not to go to bed with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination ….”

Rabbis; the pope and churches fully aware that Leviticus 18:22 applies to rabbis and priests … refuse to remove this stigma maliciously persecuting gays. Kids are being bullied into suicide …!

Being left-handed – being black or being gay is just as natural. It is a sometimes rare occurrence to fall in Love and to hold that person in your heart and be loved in return ... it is something that should be celebrated! If it’s between two guys or two girls -- all the better. It takes even more courage to defend that LOVE!

www.HolyFaux.com
The Bible & Torah should be banned! Here are several really loving excerpts from the Torah; the first five books of the Old Testament in the bible -- perhaps read to the congregation on Friday night at a synagogue or a Sunday morning church in the meadow. 1. Kill any friends or family that worship a god that is different than your own. Deuteronomy 13:6-10 2. Kill all the inhabitants of any city where you find people that worship differently than you. Deuteronomy 13:12-16 3. Kill everyone who has religious views that are different than your own. Deuteronomy 17:2-7. Rabbinical / Priestly rules: Leviticus 21:17-18 … “No one who is blind or lame or has a defect or any blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God.” Leviticus 18:22 … “You are not to go to bed with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination ….” Rabbis; the pope and churches fully aware that Leviticus 18:22 applies to rabbis and priests … refuse to remove this stigma maliciously persecuting gays. Kids are being bullied into suicide …! Being left-handed – being black or being gay is just as natural. It is a sometimes rare occurrence to fall in Love and to hold that person in your heart and be loved in return ... it is something that should be celebrated! If it’s between two guys or two girls -- all the better. It takes even more courage to defend that LOVE! www.HolyFaux.com MACDONALDBANK
  • Score: 1

5:20pm Thu 21 Mar 13

King Joke says...

Oh I can't wait for Palmerstone to pipe up over this one.
Oh I can't wait for Palmerstone to pipe up over this one. King Joke
  • Score: 0

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