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ROME – The 10 Commandments – regarded as holy by millions of Christians and Jews around the world – were written by Satan, not God!

That is the controversial claim of a leading biblical scholar who argues that the Evil One cooked up the rules, knowing that most humans would be unable to abide by them – and therefore more souls would end up in Hell!

“Lucifer invented these rules as a diabolical scheme to create more sinners,” declared Dr. Antonio Florio, the author of nearly two dozen books on Old Testament interpretation.

Biblical scholars refer to the 10 Commandments as the Decalogue which is Greek for “the ten words,” according to Dr. Florio, who says most experts agree the origin of the rules is obscure.

“Passages in Exodus and Deuteronomy make it clear that a copy of the Commandments was engraved on two stone tablets, and given to Moses on Mount Sinai,” he said. “But nowhere in the Bible does it state who originally wrote the Commandments.”

While the rules were given to Moses sometime between the 13th and 16th century B.C., Dr. Florio has concluded that they were actually composed thousands of years earlier, shortly after the time of creation.

“A passage in the Dead Sea Scrolls translated in 1974 says that God ordered his ‘most favored angel’ to draw up a list of Commandments for mankind,” the expert said. “It is well known that favorite angel was Lucifer’s position before he was cast out of Heaven.”

“I believe Satan deliberately included provisions no one could be expected to follow, such as not coveting the wife of another man. He knew this would later cause God to damn countless souls.”

Incredibly, Dr. Florio even questions whether the mysterious, unseen being that handed the tablets to Moses truly was God. “Clearly Moses believed the Commandments were delivered by the Almighty – but perhaps he was deceived by the Evil One. Certainly, the figure he describes to the ancient Hebrews is rather sinister. In Deuteronomy 6:22, Moses tells his followers that the figure spoke ‘from the midst of fire, the cloud and the thick of darkness, with a loud voice.'”

Dr. Florio’s thesis has outraged many religious conservatives who still cling to the old assumption that the Commandments were composed by God himself. But others insist it doesn’t really matter.

“Even if Lucifer drafted the 10 Commandments with evil intentions, God – as an omniscient being – must have known what Satan was up to,” a Vatican theologian pointed out. “The fact that the Lord allowed the laws to be given to Man is proof He wished us to follow them to the letter.

“It must all have been part of the divine plan.”