1,400-year-old manuscript points to Jesus' wife and kids, authors say

Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene and had two children, a new book says. But religious scholars say this interpretation of an ancient manuscript holds 'no credibility.'

Karen L. King/Harvard University/AP/File
This Sept. 5, 2012 photo released by Harvard University shows a fourth century fragment of papyrus that divinity professor Karen L. King said is the only existing ancient text that quotes Jesus explicitly referring to having a wife. King, an expert in the history of Christianity, says the text contains a dialogue in which Jesus refers to "my wife," whom he identified as Mary. King says the fragment of Coptic script is a copy of a gospel, probably written in Greek in the second century.

An ancient text depicts Jesus Christ as having a wife and two children, according to a new book due out this week, but academics have been quick to shut down the claim.

Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson lay out in "The Lost Gospel" that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene – "the original Virgin Mary," who was sometimes referred to as a prostitute – pointing to a manuscript from 570 AD, according to The Daily Mail.

The manuscript, written in Syriac (the Middle Eastern language spoken by Jesus) on vellum, has been in the British Library's archives for 20 years. Scholars who have studied the document over the past 160 years have considered it "pretty unremarkable."

The authors, who translated the text from its Aramaic dialect into English, said the book is six years in the making.

But Mark Goodacre, a professor of religious studies at Duke University, is among skeptics of the theory.

"I don't think that there is any credibility in these claims at all," Prof. Goodacre told Good Morning America on Monday. "There is simply no evidence in this text or anywhere else that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, much less that they had a couple of children."

The theory is based on the belief the document is encrypted and written by a group of persecuted Christians, The Daily Mail reported.

The authors said the document is coded and Jesus’s marriage is hidden in the story of the Old Testament character Joseph and his wife Aseneth. They theorize that Joseph was actually Jesus and Aseneth was Mary Magdalene.

The idea that Christ Jesus was married has previously surfaced in study and pop culture. An ancient Egyptian papyrus – known as the "Gospel of Jesus's Wife" – has Jesus referring to "my wife," though it was written centuries after he died,.

In "The Da Vinci Code," the novel's author Dan Brown raises the possibility that Mary Magdalene was Jesus' wife.

More "revelations" – including the names of Jesus and Mary Magdalene's children – are expected Wednesday, when a press conference is scheduled for the book release, according to the Times of India.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.