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Utter hogwash

November 12, 2014 6 comments

imageIt has been mentioned at least twice in comments to postings in this blog. So here is a good article by Greg Carey (pictured) that appears in the Huffington Post:

Just this week another Jesus hoax has appeared in the media. Media producer Simcha Jacobovici has collaborated with a professor named Barrie Wilson on a book called, "The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Ancient Text That Reveals Jesus’ Marriage to Mary the Magdalene." I don’t wish to be rude, and I will freely admit I haven’t read the book yet, but the entire premise is utter hogwash.

[ . . . ]

We might begin with the book’s title. "The Lost Gospel" suggests the discovery of a new literary source, one that is either recently discovered or has been largely neglected. Instead, the "lost gospel" is actually an ancient Jewish (perhaps Christian) novel we call "Joseph and Aseneth." It’s well known, and it’s received quite a bit of scholarly attention. Joseph and Aseneth is included in the standard collections of ancient Jewish literature that all biblical scholars consult. This month’s Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, the most significant gathering of biblical scholars in the world, will include two papers devoted to the story. Just type "Aseneth" into your Amazon search window, and you’ll find quite a few books devoted to the story, including monographs by leading scholars.

Unfortunately, Jacobovici and Wilson describe the text as "Gathering dust in the British Library" and suggest they have "uncovered" it. Unfortunately, the media has bought into that narrative. . . . In fact, Duke University professor Mark Goodacre created his Joseph and Aseneth home page in 1999 — quite a bit before its recent "uncovering."

The new book’s subtitle reveals a second problem: "decoding." The authors claim this ancient novel carries a secret meaning. Joseph and Aseneth makes perfect sense without decoding.

[ . . . ]

It is always bad form to attack a theory by condemning its proponents, but Simcha Jacobovichi is a notorious peddler of misleading theories. He promoted an ossuary as containing the bones of Jesus’ brother James, a theory that has been disconfirmed. He also developed a documentary that claimed to unveil the Jesus family tomb, also refuted by experts, and even claims to have uncovered the nails used in Jesus’ crucifixion. It’s a shame that the media ever pays attention to him, at least when he’s talking about Jesus.

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