Sometimes, great stuff just falls in your lap. Currently, we are in the middle of our “10 Lies” series, in which we take on 10 anti-Christian lies that seem to get repeatedly foisted on unsuspecting people. Recently, I was reminded of another one, thanks to a friend on Facebook. So, our “10 Lies” series is getting better because, in the words of Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel, it now goes “up to 11.”
Jesus Was Married?
The lie goes like this: Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, one of his female followers. He later had at least one child with Mary. The early church tried to cover this up, and did so by suppressing and censoring the ancient writings that attempted expose all of this.
This conspiracy theory is important because it calls into question the notion that Jesus was divine. Instead, it argues that Jesus was just a regular guy who got married, had kids, and died. The idea gained popular notoriety after the release of the best-selling book (and popular movie), The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown.
Despite the fact that the story is utter fiction, many people believe it to be real. In the 11 years since the release of The Da Vinci Code, the book’s story line has been thoroughly debunked. However, that hasn’t stopped writer and film producer, Simcha Jacobovici from regurgitating it in his latest book, The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Ancient Text that Reveals Jesus’ Marriage to Mary the Magdalene.
In an attempt to shill for his book, Jacobovici published an article in The Huffington Post on November 26 of this year entitled, Jesus’ Marriage to Mary the Magdalene Is Fact, Not Fiction. In the article, he asserts that:
- Ancient writings of a group called the Gnostics, discovered at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, expose the fact that Jesus was married.
- The early church actively “bullied” the Gnostics and censored their writings in an effort to suppress the truth.
- A tomb found at Talpiot, near Jerusalem, contained the bones of Jesus, his wife (Mary Magdalene), and other members of his family, including Jesus’ son, Judah. Jacobovici gives his own film documentary on the topic, The Lost Tomb of Jesus, credit for bringing this knowledge to the forefront.
- The modern version of Jesus was formulated by the first-century missionary Paul, who basically copied his model of Jesus from another “dying and resurrecting god” myth, that of the god, Attis. According to Jacobovici, “Attis was a dying and resurrecting god. He was called ‘the Good Shepard’ (sic), and his earliest depictions show him with a sheep across his shoulders. All these images were later incorporated into the iconography of Paul’s version of Christianity. Put simply, Paul’s Jesus looks a lot like Attis.”
Not Just One Whopper, But Several
Jacobovici’s article is, quite simply, a stunning collection of inter-related falsehoods. He has woven together a range of completely untrue—and thoroughly discredited—myths to make his story.
First, his use of Gnostic writings, including the Gnostic gospels, as sources of any credible information is just plain wrong. Gnosticism was a faith of eastern origin that developed long after Christianity. The Gnostic writings came about in the second and third centuries, long after the original Christian writings, which date from the first century. The Gnostics had their own beliefs, and actually appropriated and twisted pre-existing Christian beliefs for their own purposes.
Contrary to Jacobovici’s statements, the Gnostic writings were not censored, nor were the Gnostics “bullied” into silence by the Christian church. The Gnostics were simply viewed as fringe and non-credible at the time. Their writings were never used in worship and never adopted into the New Testament canon because they were known frauds.
Gnostic writings were a very late development, they had no apostolic authority (as they did not come directly from the original apostles of Christ or their immediate followers), and they lacked credibility. They weren’t censored so much as they were ignored, though some church leaders at the time did write arguments to counter them.
One could just as easily ask why the modern church doesn’t use the writings of L. Ron Hubbard and the “Church of Scientology” in its services. Because they are known to be made up, that’s why. So it was in the second, third, and fourth centuries with Gnostic writings. To assert otherwise is just really bad history. The bottom line is this: Those who falsely characterize the Gnostic writings as genuine sources of Christian insight or history, or who view them as the “real gospels,” are being willfully ignorant.
Second, the Talpiot ossuaries, which allegedly contain the bones of Jesus and his family members, have been thoroughly discredited by reputable archeologists and scholars as a sham and a media fraud. In one of many refutations of the Talpiot mess, Duke University published a letter, signed by scholars from around the world, stating unequivocally that all of the credible evidence indicates that the Talpiot tomb has nothing to do with Jesus, Mary Magdalene, or any of Jesus’ family. I find it amazing that Jacobovici continues to push this idea. It’s almost as bad as still trying to push the notion of a flat Earth.
Third, Jacobovici’s attempt to discredit Paul’s writings by insinuating that he modeled his version of Jesus on the “dying and resurrecting god,” Attis, is blatantly wrong. Over the years, many authors have tried to claim that the Jesus story was just a rip-off of other dying and rising god myths. This has been attempted with Mithras, Dionysus, and others. In every case, the similarities were either fabricated by the author…or were genuine but came a century or more after Christianity. In the case of Mithras, for example, it was supporters of Mithras who ripped off the Jesus story! The same is true of the Attis story. In fact, it has become clear that Attis cult members significantly modified the Attis story to match that of Jesus in an attempt to build their own credibility.
Finally, there is zero canonical scriptural evidence, nor is there any other historical evidence, to support the notion that Jesus was married. Jacobovici’s assertions to the contrary are simply wrong.
What’s Jacobovici Up To?
In his writings and films, Jacobovici has committed some seriously bush-league errors. His arguments are not just poorly supported. They’re downright false, and demonstrably so. Either, he is profoundly ignorant of history and biblical scholarship or he is deliberately trying to deceive his audience. I personally believe it’s the latter, either because he is actively working to discredit Christian beliefs or he is trying to profit from the media attention, sensational headlines, and subsequent book and documentary sales. Either way, nobody should take him seriously. It’s a pity that some journalists do.