Was Jesus married? A so-called “lost gospel” purports to claim that he was, but this sensationalist twist – being compared to a Dan Brown work of spiritual fiction – is being widely debunked. Authors of a new book claim that an ancient Syriac manuscript reveals Christ was married Mary Magdalene, whom they assert is the original Virgin Mary, fathered two children with her, and survived various assassination attempts.
Fox News on Nov. 10 posed the question about Christ raising a family. In answer, Fox writes: “That’s what a scandalous new book based on an ancient manuscript claims, saying Jesus was not crucified, but instead raised a family. The book, ‘The Lost Gospel,’ which will be available on Wednesday, is based on a translation of an Aramaic text found inside the British library.”
The book, authored by Barrie Wilson, a professor of Humanities and Religious Studies at York University in Toronto, and Israeli-Canadian filmmaker and journalist Simcha Jacobovici, opens with an acknowledgement of its own controversial claim: “Before anyone gets his/her theological back up, keep in mind we are not attacking anyone’s theology. We are reporting on text.”
The text dates back to 570 AD, and is written in the Syriac language, a Middle Eastern literary language related to Aramaic. The authors studied the 29-chapter text for six years, and are convinced that it is the fifth gospel account – a factual narrative that picks up where Matthew, Mark, Luke and John leave off. However, Fox News reports of the manuscript:
“The Lost Gospel” is based on a translation of the Ecclesiastical History of Zacharias Rhetor, written on treated animal skin, which was brought to the United Kingdom in 1847 when the British Museum bought it from an Egyptian monastery. Scholars scrutinized the document and discarded it as insignificant.
Wilson and Jacobovici however insist that an “embedded meaning” lies within the text. Central to that meaning is the interpretation that this spurious gospel, which tells the tale of Joseph (from the book of Genesis) and his marriage to the Egyptian woman Aseneth, are actually Jesus and Mary Magdalene. At Genesis 41:45, we read that the Hebrew man Joseph, after rising to power in Egypt, had his named changed to Zaphenath-paneah and was given Asenath the daughter of Potiphar, the priest of On, as a wife.
Explains the Daily Mail: “Central to their claim is that Joseph was actually Jesus — and that Aseneth was actually Mary Magdalene. The new translation, according to Jacobovici and Wilson, records that the Pharaoh of Egypt officiated at the wedding between the couple, saying to Aseneth: ‘Blessed are you by the Lord God of Joseph, because he is the first-born of God, and you will be called the Daughter of God Most High and the bride of Joseph now and for ever.’”
Jacobovici, speaking on the theory that Roman emperor Constantine had all other gospel works destroyed other than those which fit into his own view of Christianity, said: “Since then, people have found bits and pieces of those other [destroyed] gospels, They usually come up through the antiquities market and they’re attacked as forgeries. Or they’re just a few lines. This one is a full-blown gospel.”
Adding to the intrigue is this bit of conspiracy: The authors claim that the manuscript, at a point where it seems clear that the writing was set to reveal that Jesus was in fact a married man, has a huge tear where pages were ripped out. “There is a cut across the page, right through a line of Syriac writing,” Jacobovici claims. “This indicates that the section is missing, not because of deterioration but because of censorship.”
The notion that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married is not new. The 2003 Dan Brown novel, The Da Vinci Code, and the movie of the same name dramatized the conception. Martin Scorsese’s Last Temptation of Christ also suggested the same.
But is a married Son of God even compatible with what we know of Jesus and the reason he was provided as a ransom sacrifice? Jesus was sent to earth to die a faithful, perfect man, offsetting the condition brought upon mankind by the perfect man Adam’s sin. As John 3:16 says: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” Jesus himself spoke of his purpose: “Just as the Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his life as a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matthew 20:28) Would Jesus, who stated his “food was to do the will” of God and to preach his father’s kingdom, even think to settle down with a wife and raise a family, foregoing his very purpose in being the “Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world?”
Consider, historians often study ancient documents and manuscripts that appear esteemed and vetted. But what if a person were to collect an assemblage of nonsense writings and dubious religious articles from checkout line tabloid stands and bury them in a tomb for thousands of years? Would the fact that centuries have passed render those works of fiction into fact? Would it not be similar with these unreliable, apocryphal books and writings?
If you are a Bible reader and trust that the Bible is the inspired word of God, then you also trust in what Paul wrote to Timothy: “All Scripture is inspired of God… so that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.” What are your thoughts? Was Jesus married as alleged in this Lost Gospel?