By now, most have probably heard the news splash about the forthcoming book by Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson, The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Sacred Text that Reveals Jesus’ Marriage to Mary Magdalene. If the number of emails in my inbox on this topic is any indication, then apparently the news has traveled fast.
If the title of this new book sounds like The Da Vinci Code redivivus, then you would be right. Jacobovici and Wilson are not the first to claim Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene. They stand in a long line of conspiracy theorists who have claimed the same thing, including the recently debunked Gospel of Jesus’ Wife (see my articles on this manuscript here and here).
Although I have not yet read this book, it seems that a few comments are in order to help prepare people for what is coming:
1. The reader should know that Jacobovici and Wilson have certainly not discovered a “Lost Gospel” in any normal sense of the term. We know about many gospels that did not make it into our New Testament canon (e.g., Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Peter, Gospel of Mary), but this newly discovered text is not one of them. On the contrary, the authors base their claim on a Syriac manuscript, dated to the 6th century AD, that contains a pseudepigraphical story entitled Joseph and Aseneth. That story has been well known to scholars for years.
2. The story of Joseph and Aseneth has nothing to do with Jesus and Mary. It does not even mention Jesus and Mary. The authors are forced to argue that the story must be read allegorically–where Joseph=Jesus and Aseneth=Mary–in order to reach their conclusions. Needless to say, this is highly speculative and subjective.
3. Jacobovici, a filmmaker known for his documentaries, has already come under fire for his previous sensationalistic claim that he discovered the lost tomb of Jesus. This claim has been widely criticized in the academic community. For more on these criticisms, see the Time magazine article here.
4. There is absolutely zero evidence from early Christianity that Jesus was married. Not a single historical source anywhere tells us such a thing. The closest any source comes to doing so is a fragmented portion of the third-century Gospel of Philip where we are told that Jesus kissed Mary “on the…”, but the text is missing at precisely this point. But, aside from being a late gospel, the context of this passage does not suggest any sexual/romantic love for Mary. Even Bart Ehrman agrees that the affection Jesus shows Mary here is not a different kind than shown to his male disciples (Ehrman, Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code, 179).
With these four considerations in mind, it seems clear that we have yet another book that is marketed to the masses who love conspiracy theories. Such sensationalistic books no doubt make good financial sense, but they don’t make good history.
Justin Christopher Charles Clarke says
I once heard Dr. Craig Evans of Acadia Divinity School in Nova Scotia say that if Jesus was married then there is no reason the Church would need to hide it, because it would change nothing of the churches doctrine. Rather the churches outcry over the idea of Jesus having a wife is not that such an idea cuts Christianity at its core or proves it false but rather that the evidence being given is bad research. Would you agree?
Thanks, Mike. It’s kinda sad that we have to address this nonsense at all.
I read a snippet of the authors’ argument that Joseph=Jesus and Aseneth=Mary. It made the old “Why Fire Trucks Are Red” joke look like the epitome of logical deduction.
Pavel E. says
The article’s translation into Spanish is ready here:
Thanks for this valuable contribution.
Read the Poem of the Man-God, or the Gospel as Revealed to Me, seen and written by Maria Valtorta.
Christine Barney says
It seems odd to me that people who want nothing to do with Jesus personally, are so interested in His love life. The only interest is $$$$$$$$$$$. Jesus had a love affair that continues today and that is with human beings the world over.