Launched at the British Library on 12 November, The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Sacred Text That Reveals Jesus’ Marriage to Mary Magdalen offers a startling new interpretation of a 6th-century Syriac manuscript from a monastery in Egypt acquired by the library 160 years ago.
Although it makes no overt reference to Jesus, it is accompanied by letters that refer to its “hidden message about the Lord who became flesh” – with the letters themselves sliced through and seemingly censored.
Now two authors believe they have cracked the code and uncovered the true meaning.
Barrie Wilson is professor of religious studies at York University in Toronto. Simcha Jacobovici is an award-winning documentary film-maker (and host of The Naked Archaeologist on the History Channel) who also works as an adjunct professor in the department of religion at Huntington University in Sudbury, Ontario. Put back in the context of its times, they argue, the manuscript’s descriptions of the biblical patriarch Joseph are clearly “typological” references to Jesus.
Once we accept this, Professor Jacobovici told the press conferences, it means we have “a married Jesus and a female co-divinity” who had children.
The manuscript also “speaks of sex as sacred” and gives us new insight into the political background to the crucifixion.
Arguing that the gospel complements rather than contradicts the canonical four, Professor Wilson noted that “there is a 30-year gap in Jesus’ resumé from his circumcision to the beginning of his ministry. This helps to fill it in.”
He also believed it celebrates sexuality and has “a message of love, happiness and vitality” consciously opposed to the asceticism of St Paul’s “gospel of death”.