29

The premise of the book was as follows: a scientist creates a time machine and travels to the time of Jesus to see if he's real. Upon arriving, he finds no Jesus. He then decides to be Jesus and follows through with the work of Jesus and is crucified.

35

That sounds a lot like the rather unlikable book Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock. See Behold the Man (novel), Wikipedia. It's a pretty good match for your description: Time machine, no Jesus, time traveler takes his place and is crucified.

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    Your word "unlikeable" doesn't appear precisely factual. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America apparently liked it enough that it won a Nebula award in 1967. – Eric Towers Apr 7 '18 at 20:22
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    Still, it's possible to unlike it … – Anton Sherwood Apr 7 '18 at 21:22
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    @aroth Depending on one's view of time travel, the person may not have had any choice on the matter. – TripeHound Apr 8 '18 at 1:18
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    The shorter version which was published in New Worlds is available for free at the Internet Archive. I didn't like it either, never bothered to read the book length version. – user14111 Apr 8 '18 at 2:15
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    Actually, I'm fairly sure that this brief description is incorrect in one respect. There is a Jesus, he's just mentally subnormal or something. Moorcock trying to up the blasphemy/shock quotient, presumably. – Faheem Mitha Apr 8 '18 at 12:39
3

Possibly you are thinking of "The Didymus Contingency" by Jeremy Robinson.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/514140.The_Didymus_Contingency

If you could go back in time...and witness any event...where would you go?

When Dr. Tom Greenbaum faces that question after successfully discovering the secret to time travel, he knows the time, place and event he will witness: the death and failed resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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    There are a hundred stories about time travellers at the crucifixion. The OP is asking about a story where the time traveller takes over the role of Jesus, and is crucified. If that happens in "The Didymus Contingency" you need to spell it out. – user14111 Apr 8 '18 at 23:38
1

The plot seems to be quite similar to this one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caballo_de_Troya

The plot of the book unveils the last period in the life of Jesus Christ as revealed through the first-hand experience of two pilots (or rather "timenauts"), members of a US Air Force top-secret military experimental project on time travel codenamed "Operation Trojan Horse", who in 1973 supposedly succeeded in travelling back in time to the land of Palestine in the year 30 A.d.

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    The Wikipedia summary of "Trojan Horse" does not indicate that the time travellers played the role of Jesus. (If they did, you should add that to your answer.) Therefore, it seems to me that it does not match the OP's description any better than all the other stories about time travellers going back to see Jesus. – user14111 Apr 8 '18 at 22:35

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