A new book about Jesus Christ is creating quite a bit of a stir, claiming as it does that the Christian messiah was not only married but that he had two children as well. The Week reported Nov. 10 that The Lost Gospel, based on a 1,500-year-old manuscript, presents a history of the life of Jesus that names Mary Magdalene as his wife — and that she and the Virgin Mary were one and the same person.
The controversial position in The Lost Gospel is the work of Professor of Religious Studies at Toronto’s York University, Barrie Wilson, and an Israeli-Canadian historical writer and filmmaker, Simcha Jacobovici. The authors claim to have “decoded” the original manuscript, providing a more accurate historical interpretation. The book reveals the names of Jesus’ two children, notes that Jesus was a dedicated family man, that Mary and the children survived an assassination attempt a little over a decade before Jesus was crucified.
According to RT.com, the manuscript, “The Ecclesiastical History of Zacharias Rhetor (of Mytilene),” is a historical account of the life of Jesus that has been at the British Museum — and, for the last two decades, at the British Library — for 170 years. Details of The Lost Gospel, a translation from the original Aramaic, are slated to be revealed at a Wednesday press conference at the British Library. The book is scheduled for a late November release.
Some scholars are taking exception with the release, of course. One such scholar, Professor of New Testament at Lancaster Theological Seminary Greg Carey, writes in the Huffington Post, “We’re basically looking at a sensationalist money-making scheme here.”
Carey argues that the text was not “uncovered” by Jacobovici and Wilson, as they are claiming. He says that there are “over three hundred scholarly books and articles devoted to this text,” that they can be found online, and that there are over twenty manuscripts of the story. Simply put: The ancient novel needs no “decoding,” Carey maintains, because it has no secret meaning. He boils The Lost Gospel down to one word: “Hogwash.”
The accuracy of Jacobovici and Wilson’s claims and translations notwithstanding, the idea that Jesus was married isn’t a new one by any means. Nor is the idea that he had children. Novelist Dan Brown explored the idea in the wildly successful international bestseller, The DaVinci Code, which unraveled the mystery of a secret and protected bloodline — that of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. And in The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, authors Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln hypothesized that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and their progeny eventually migrated to France and became intermingled with the nobility there. The authors further hypothesized that the Holy Grail of Arthurian legend wasn’t an actual chalice but a metaphor for both Mary Magdalene’s womb and the bloodline it spawned.
More recently, a scrap of papyrus dating back to the ninth century that made reference to Jesus having a wife. Written in Coptic, the small document quickly came under fire as a possible piece of fakery. However, according to the Boston Globe, the latest tests and analyses indicate that the text is not a forgery.