Jesus, the Scandalously Good Nuclear Family Dad

Scandal breaks yet again… Newspapers and television reports around the world are touting a new book that asserts that Jesus married the Magdalene and had two kids, and his kids’ names are about to be disclosed for the first time in history.

The most apt response so far is by Diarmaid MacCulloch, as quoted in the Washington Post, “It sounds like the deepest bilge.” Jacobovici has a long history of profiting off of ridiculous theories about archeological findings and literature, and this is apparently the latest attempt.

Besides the obvious, a couple quick clarifications should be made to the reports circulating.

The media is reporting that Jacobovici and Wilson are claiming as their main proof an Aramaic text from the British Library. If the images flashed on the screen of the ABC report are any indication, we are looking more precisely at a Syriac text. We will have to await the identification of the text for a proper response from Syriac experts.

They are also claiming that a story about Joseph and Asenath is in fact a mysterious, symbolic parable about Jesus and Mary Magdalene. If they are referring to the apocryphal narrative of Joseph and Asenath, this is quite a novel and unfounded interpretation. Battifol and others have asserted a Christian, rather than Jewish, provenance to that text, but to my knowledge no scholar has ever claimed it was a parable of the relationship of Jesus and the Magdalene. Again, we should await a response from experts on that text, if in fact that is the text in question.

While the reports hype up the “controversy” around this, the plot seems to me quite predictable and trite. According to these supposedly radical reconstructions, Jesus fits quite nicely into a modern Western nuclear family role of the good dad who saves the woman he marries, has kids, and lives happily ever. That Jesus isn’t scandalous at all, but rather quite respectable. It’s quaint and picturesque, but unfortunately has nothing to do with the historical Jesus.

– Mark Bilby


A reader pointed me to a more thorough response by Robert Cargill that deals especially with the absurd allegorical reading of the Syriac story of Joseph and Asenath as an historical parable about Jesus and the Magdalene:

Update 2:

Here is an ably written piece by Greg Carey debunking the whole charade.

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