“The Jesus-Mary Magdalene Wedding-Industrial Complex.”
Did you know such a thing existed?
I didn’t. Then I read The Boston Globe’s Alex Beam Thursday referencing the writer who coined the term.
“The Jesus-Mary Magdalene Wedding Industrial Complex is at it again,” says that writer, Charlotte Allen, while thoroughly trashing the enterprise in the new “Weekly Standard.”
Why trash it now? Because the latest manifestation of the Jesus-Mary marriage machine — “The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Ancient Text that Reveals Jesus’ Marriage to Mary Magdalene” — is climbing bestseller lists despite being pummeled and ridiculed not just by Allen but by most every critic and scholar who’s reviewed it.
An Associated Press story about “The Lost Gospel” on its Nov. 12 release date noted that “many religious scholars are skeptical about the latest addition to the crowded field of Biblical conspiracy theories.”
“Utter hogwash,” declared one.
Its co-author, Simcha Jacobovici, is “the Geraldo Rivera of Bible documentaries,” said Beam.
Allen, author of “The Human Christ: the Search for the Historical Jesus,” turns a dubious eye on Jacobovici’s previous efforts. “The Exodus Decoded” claimed to have located the Ark of the Covenant. “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” claimed to have found Jesus’ bones. Keeping with this lost-and-found theme, “The Nails of the Cross” claimed to have found — you guessed it — the crucifixion nails. Now “The Lost Gospel” claims to have found Jesus’ wife and “co-messiah” Mary, their two sons, plus — for added spice — a rollicking marital sex life.
And just three weeks post-publication, it is No. 2 on Amazon.com’s “hot new releases” in history of ancient civilization.
I’m a Mary Magdalene fan myself, thrilled that all four gospels have her first to Jesus’ empty tomb, happy to hear scholars like Elaine Pagels speak of her as Jesus’ closest and bravest disciple, the one he loved most. If anyone did prove Jesus a married man, it would wipe away the Church’s strongest argument for priestly celibacy. Alas, I just don’t think “The Lost Gospel” is the text to do it.
So why its roaring success to date? Blame Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code,” which pushed the Jesus-Mary Magdalene Wedding-Industrial Complex into overdrive. Or blame those of us in the media who give the book publicity despite our skepticism. Or blame an insatiable appetite, among some of us anyway, for a Jesus with a randier past.