The Lost Gospel
Simon and Schuster, Nov 12, 2014 - History - 544 pages
Waiting to be rediscovered in the British Library is an ancient manuscript of the early Church, copied by an anonymous monk. The manuscript is at least 1,450 years old, possibly dating to the first century. And now, The Lost Gospel provides the first ever translation from Syriac into English of this unique document that tells the inside story of Jesus’ social, family, and political life.The Lost Gospel takes the reader on an unparalleled historical adventure through a paradigm shifting manuscript. What the authors eventually discover is as astounding as it is surprising: the confirmation of Jesus’ marriage to Mary Magdalene; the names of their two children; the towering presence of Mary Magdalene; a previously unknown plot on Jesus’ life (thirteen years prior to the crucifixion); an assassination attempt against Mary Magdalene and their children; Jesus’ connection to political figures at the highest level of the Roman Empire; and a religious movement that antedates that of Paul—the Church of Mary Magdalene.Part historical detective story, part modern adventure, The Lost Gospel reveals secrets that have been hiding in plain sight for millennia.
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The Lost Gospel is by two individuals known for bringing the Biblical world to life and do it in a manner that is exciting and thought-provoking. The book is well written, original and persuasive. It helps us understand the period, revise our basic understanding of allegorical writings prevalent in the early centuries. It is both daring and intriguing, giving us an insight into allegory. The authors posit an interesting proposition; the “what if” scenario. Is it plausible? Some may scoff at the mere mention of the thesis presented, others may think it's an affront to their faith. If that sounds familiar, it should. Pushing boundaries throughout history isn't exclusive to science; archaeologists, amateur historians, scholars, etc., have been doing just that for centuries. These authors sift through the evidence and illuminate the circumstances and the text. The authors claim that the 6th century CE Western Syriac version of a Greek pseudepigraphical story entitled Joseph and Aseneth (Jos.Asen) can be read allegorically. Scholars will jump at the fact that the text is not “Lost”. For the average reader that hasn't studied the Syriac version of Joseph and Aseneth, has no access to the British Museum, has no knowledge of an Ecclesiastical History written by Greek writer Zacharias Rhetor in the 6th century, and has no clue that this work is commonly referred to as Pseudo-Zacharias Rhetor, in particular books 1-2 of Pseudo-Zacharias Rhetor that contain the Syriac translation of the History of Joseph and Aseneth – one can at the very least safely assume that to the general public, the text is “Lost”; that is not to take away from or even equate it to the monumental discoveries of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Library. Scholars know that Jos.Asen. is an early apocryphal text about the patriarch Joseph and his marriage to Aseneth, daughter of the Egyptian Priest of On. The purpose of the text was to address the problem of prohibited intermarriage. Harold W. Attridge, the Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament at Yale Divinity School states that early Christians read scripture allegorically, understanding it to refer to a higher reality that was not really present in the text itself. By the 2nd and 3rd centuries, the interpretation shifts to typology, a reading of events and details found in the Hebrew Bible seen as “types” heralding the coming of Jesus, eg. the scapegoat in Leviticus as an indicant to Jesus and his bearing the sins of the world. For the most part, its well-known among scholarly circles that this text is a pseudepigraphic apology. Jacobovici and Wilson take it a step further and present an allegorical translation with a thesis guaranteed to ruffle a few feathers, but these two writers are not afraid of going into corners and mix it up. Gnostic movements were notorious for their forced and allegorical reading of Scripture and any text that would further their cause, they not only flourished but threatened the very existence of the orthodox Church. We know for a fact that so-called gnostics thrived at the time this text was written and well into the Medieval period. So is it really out of the realm of possibility that a community may have looked at this text “typologically” and allegorically? At the very least, the thesis is an interesting one and the topic is sure to contribute to an increase student enrolment in Religious Studies. It's also easy to dismiss the title “Gospel” as the manuscript in question does not seem to fit the criteria of what a gospel is understood to be by modern scholars. However John Dominic Crossan, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies DePaul University, states that the term “gospel” meaning “good news” can't be taken seriously because what is “good” is from somebody's point of view, not the Roman point of view, for example, and “news” means “updated”, so the story had to be updated. A Gospel reflected the theology of a particular community. J. von Kodar (Harvard Divinity School '04)
What Do We Know About the Manuscript?
When Was It Written?
Is There More to this Story Than Meets the Eye?
Whats the Most Important Clue?