An ancient manuscript unearthed at the British Library and dating back nearly 1,500 years says that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had two children, with their names and descendants reportedly given in detail in the text. The Church of England has dismissed the claims, saying it is closer to the fictional ‘Da Vinci Code’ than historical accounts.
The so-called “Lost Gospel”, which has been translated from Aramaic by Professor of Religious Studies Barrie Wilson and historical writer Simcha Jacobovici, allegedly reveals the startling new allegations.
Professor Wilson said on his website that he found the “ancient Syriac manuscript lurking in the British Museum, dating from the 6th century but translated from much earlier Greek writing.” He added that “scholars have known about it for almost 200 years, but have not known what to make of it.”
According to Wilson and Jacobovici, the manuscript includes details about Jesus’ political connections to the Roman emperor Tiberius and one of his generals, Sejanus, and says that there was an assassination attempt on Jesus thirteen years before his execution. However, the most controversial claim is that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and raised two children with her during his time in Nazareth.
Jesus and Mary Magdalene (1534) by Antonio da Correggio ( Wikimedia)
Wilson and Jacobovici are not the first to claim that Jesus had a romantic relationship with Mary Magdalene. Theologians and researchers have been speculating on the subject for centuries, but it became most popular following the release of ‘The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail’, which put forward the hypothesis that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, had one or more children, and that those children or their descendants emigrated to what is now southern France. Once there, they intermarried with the noble families that would eventually become the Merovingian dynasty.
This theory was further pursued by Dan Brown in his best-selling historical thriller ‘The Da Vinci Code’, who wrote that the figure at the right hand of Jesus in Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of “The Last Supper” is not the apostle John, but actually Mary Magdalene.
The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci ( Wikimedia). In the novel, ‘The Da Vinci Code’, Dan Brown writes that the figure at the right hand of Jesus is Mary Magdalene.
The claim that Jesus was married was once again thrown into the spotlight in 2012 when an Egyptian papyrus fragment was translated into English and was found to contain an explicit reference to Jesus being married. The so-called ‘ Gospel of Jesus’ Wife’ dates from the 8 th century and includes the line: “Jesus said to them, my wife….”, and “she will be able to be my disciple”.
The so-called ‘Gospel of Jesus’ Wife’. Photo credit: Karen L. King
It is a bit hard to know what to make of the ‘lost Gospel’ claims until further information and, hopefully, images of the original text are released for verification, but a look at the publisher’s website does draw into question the authenticity of the claim, as it describes Wilson and Jacobovici’s book as “part historical detective story, part modern adventure”. Nevertheless, the preview of the book does look intriguing and it will be interesting to see the response of the academic world.
The Church of England has dismissed the claims made in ‘The Lost Gospel’, saying it is closer to popular fiction than an accurate historical account. “This appears to share more with Dan Brown than Matthew, Mark, Luke or John,” a church spokesman told the Sunday Times.
Featured image: ‘Jesus as a friend of children’ (1845), by Marie Ellenrieder ( Wikimedia)