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Jesus was married, had kids, claims The Lost Gospel

Canadian-Israeli documentary film-maker and writer Simcha Jacobovici, right, and religious studies professor Barrie Wilson, the authors of "The Lost Gospel" pose for photographs after giving a press conference with a copy of an ancient manuscript at the British Library in London, Wednesday.

Canadian-Israeli documentary film-maker and writer Simcha Jacobovici, right, and religious studies professor Barrie Wilson, the authors of "The Lost Gospel" pose for photographs after giving a press conference with a copy of an ancient manuscript at the British Library in London, Wednesday.  

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The Lost Gospel is based on written evidence from third century

“What the Vatican feared — and Dan Brown only suspected — has come true,” Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie A. Wilson, authors of The Lost Gospel write in their preface: “There is now written evidence that Jesus was married to Mary the Magdalene and that they had children together.”

At a press conference at the British Library, the authors — Mr. Jacobovici is a Canadian-Israeli film director, award-winning journalist, and writer; Professor Wilson teaches religious studies at York University, Toronto — presented the evidence, morsels of which had already been fed into the press over the last few days.

The authors claim that an ancient Syriac manuscript called Joseph and Aseneth, which found its way to the British Library on 11 November 1847 from a monastery in Egypt, is a lost gospel that fills in the gaps in the narrative about the life of Jesus, showing him as a human being who courted and then married his wife, had children, and even survived an attempt on his life.

The manuscript is already known to experts in the field of early Christianity, the authors claim, albeit only in the later Latin and Greek translations. They claim to be the first to work with a Syriac version, which they have translated and “decoded” to reach their conclusions.

The manuscript, the authors claim, is dated to roughly the third century. Its content was a direct threat to the authority of the Christian establishment and canonical literature, which by then had succeeded in sanitising Jesus, obliterating evidence of his family life and portraying Mary the Magdalene, who was actually his wife, as a prostitute.

The manuscript, they claim, is accompanied by letters from the person who authorised the translation into Syriac. This person was allegedly aware that the writers were taking a great risk by undertaking this task.

“The manuscript helps fill the 30-year gap in Jesus’s resume,” Professor Barrie said, i.e. from his circumcision at the age of eight, to his early 30”s. “It shows what happened to him and the importance of family, love, sex and political ambition.” It also restores the role of Mary the Magdelene – who was airbrushed out of history, the writers claim -- as Jesus’s wife and “co-deity.”

The story, exciting and ground-breaking as it may sound, is however based on the authors’ reading or “decoding” of the manuscript.

Because of fears of possible repression by the Church, the writers of the manuscript wrote in code in which names were changed and identities concealed. Thus the “Joseph” of the book is actually Jesus, and “Aseneth” is Mary the Magdelene, the authors argue. The book provides their arguments on the logic of their method of decipherment, but clearly this is ground on which they are weakest.

Mr. Jacobovichi dismissed some of the hostile responses the book has received as “theological bullying”.

It remains to be seen if the book emerges unscathed from serious academic scrutiny, but till then, it promises riches that even Dan Brown could not offer -- a lost text in ancient encrypted Syriac recovered and decoded by two intrepid writers to reveal the love, life and times of one of the most influential figures of the ancient world. No wonder there was a film producer in the audience.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2019 10:00:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/jesus-was-married-had-kids-claims-lost-gospel/article6591576.ece

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