Updated Nov. 22: This story has been updated to correct a factual error. The Discovery Channel did not label the James ossuary as a scientific hoax as the original version of this article previously stated.
A new book based on an ancient manuscript claims Jesus Christ was not crucified. Instead, he married Mary Magdalene, and the couple had two children. Entitled “The Lost Gospel,” the book is based off a translation of an Aramaic manuscript found inside the British Library. It will be available Nov. 12, according to Amazon.com.
Professor Barrie Wilson and writer Simcha Jacobovici claim the text reveals secrets to Jesus’ family life, including his marriage to Mary Magdalene, the names of their two children, assassination attempts on both their lives and Jesus’ connection to powerful political figures in the Roman Empire.
“Gathering dust in the British Library is a document that takes us into the missing years of Jesus’s life,” the book begins. “According to the document that we uncovered, sometime during this period he became engaged, got married, had sexual relations and produced children. Before anyone gets his/her theological back up, keep in mind that we are not attacking anyone’s theology. We are reporting on text.”
In Christianity, Mary Magdalene has the reputation of a prostitute who had fallen and was later redeemed. According to the four gospels, Mary Magdalene was present at Jesus’ crucifixion, mourned his death and witnessed his resurrection. However, she was confused with two other female Biblical characters, one of which was a sinner. In the sixth century, Pope Gregory the Great announced the three characters were one person, making Mary Magdalene the sinner many already believed she was. In 1969, the Catholic Church reversed this belief, saying the three characters were distinct. But Mary Magdalene’s harlot reputation remains. As late as Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ” in 2004, Magdalene was shown as an ex-prostitute.
“The Lost Gospel” is based off a translation of the Ecclesiastical History of Zacharias Rhetor, a text brought to the U.K. in 1847 after it was recovered from an Egyptian monastery, the Washington Post reports. Scholars have studied it but disregarded it. Wilson and Jacobovici studied the text for six years and say that it has “embedded meaning.” While the text does not use the name Jesus Christ, the character described as Joseph bears striking resemblances to Christ, the scholars say.
“Joseph, like Jesus, was assumed dead and turned up alive; he too had humble beginnings and ended up a king of sorts,” the book says. The Joseph described in the text had a wife, Aseneth. The scholars argue this refers to Mary Magdalene.
Jacobovici has published controversial takes on early Christianity in the past. In 2002, he made a documentary on the James ossuary, a relic believed to show Jesus had a family. Jacobovici also worked on the Talpiot tomb, an archeological site in Jerusalem that contained an epigraph above an ossuary translated as "Yeshua bar Yehosef" or "Jesus, son of Joseph." In a 2007 documentary, Jacobovici and film director James Cameron argue that the tomb was Jesus Christ’s burial place. Many archaeologists, theologians, language and biblical scholars disputed this claim.