Gronking Jesus: A Review of 'The Lost Gospel' by Jacobovici and Wilson
An excerpt from my LARB review of The Lost Gospel by Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson:
THE LOST GOSPEL is not the worst book ever written. I once attended a party where I was subjected to an excerpt of dinosaur erotica. It was a lovely gathering otherwise, but my ears were assaulted by pages from Taken by the T-Rex. I will say no more for fear that I will corrupt you, gentle reader. The silver lining of my turpid tale is that I now have a new barometer for beastly books. While The Lost Gospel is no match for dinosaur erotica, it is equally daring.
Here are some of the claims that Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson make: (1) a 6th-century text that never once refers to Jesus or Mary Magdalene is secretly about Jesus, Mary, and their children; (2) the character “Joseph” named in this text represents Jesus, Apollo, Helios, Mithras, and a Roman emperor simultaneously; (3) Mary Magdalene was not Jewish and was, moreover, a priestess of Artemis; (4) when Jesus refers to the Queen of Sheba (Matt 12:42), he is speaking of Mary in code; (5) Jesus — not a peasant, but a powerful figure in the world of Roman politics — was the victim of not one but two assassination attempts, both of which he survived; (6) the Roman general Germanicus was the second threat to Jesus, but a Roman prefect named Sejanus saved him, Mary, and their children; and (7) the wine of the Last Supper symbolized Mary’s menstrual blood. As you will see below, this is only a small sampling of this book’s originality.
What, you might wonder, warrants such derring-do? They take a 2nd-century fiction written about two characters from Genesis — Joseph and Aseneth (here referring to the son of Israel; compare to Genesis chs. 41, 46) — and decode this story’s “true” meaning. The story of Joseph and Aseneth, according to Jacobovici and Wilson, is really the secret history of Mary Magdalene and her husband, Jesus. To keep the secret of their marriage and family, various Gnostic authors from the 2nd to the 6th centuries wrote “Joseph” when they really meant Jesus, and “Aseneth” when they meant Mary. This allows Jacobovici and Wilson to rewrite the history of Jesus. They conclude: “Joseph and Aseneth gives us a glimpse into a story untainted by later Roman theology. We finally have a document that was slated for the fire, but is now seeing the light of the day.”
In order to arrive at such a conclusion, the authors must employ conspiracy theories and find hidden meanings behind the story’s plot, characters, and symbols....