ABC Hypes 'Explosive' Claim That Jesus Was Married With Children

The journalists at ABC News get very excited whenever a new book attempts to undermine Christianity. On Monday, the reporters at Good Morning America hyped "shocking new claims" that Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalene and had children. After playing a clip of the fictional Da Vinci Code movie, Dan Harris excitedly insisted that a "an explosive, new interpretation of ancient texts agrees" with the film. 

Co-host Lara Spencer promoted, "A lot of people will be talking about this. It's a new book making some shocking claims about the life of Jesus Christ." It wasn't until nearly the end of the report that Harris featured Mark Goodacre, Duke University's professor of religious studies, to note that there isn't "any credibility in these claims at all." [MP3 audio here.]

He added, "There is simply no evidence in this text or anywhere else that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, much less that they had a couple of children." In 2007, ABC highlighted assertions that Jesus's "tomb" had been found. 

In 2010, ABC promoted a document that purported to show Jesus had a wife. Then-anchor Diane Sawyer called the find "intriguing" and "provocative." Yet, when this scrap of papyrus was revealed as a likely forgery, the network ignored the development. 

Without mentioning ABC's previous promotion of this debunked theory, Harris included a comment from Goodacre that conceded its falsity: 

HARRIS: This is not the first assertion that Jesus was married. A fragment of an ancient Egyptian papyrus known as The Gospel of Jesus's Wife was unveiled in 2012, containing the phrase, "Jesus said to them, my wife." Although the document was written centuries after Jesus died. 

GOODACRE; The difficulty is that when those claims were investigated, it became pretty clear fairly quickly what we were looking at was, in fact, a modern forgery. 

Continuing to sound like a press release, Spencer explained that the authors of The Lost Gospel "will display the original manuscript they found at a press conference later this week and will announce the names of Jesus' alleged children."
 
If this claim, like the others, turns out to be false, will ABC bother to follow-up? History says the chances aren't great. 

A transcript of the November 10 segment is below: 

7:15

ABC Graphic: New Book's Shocking Christ Claims: Says Jesus Was Married With Children 

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Boy, Lara, this next story is really going to stir up some controversy. 

LARA SPENCER: Absolutely. A lot of people will be talking about this. It's a new book making some shocking claims about the life of Jesus Christ. According to The Lost Gospel, Jesus married Mary Magdalene and they had two children. The authors even say they have evidence to back up their claims. ABC's Dan Harris has our story. 

DAN HARRIS: It's the controversial claim at the heart of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. 

[Brief clip from The Da Vinci Code] 

IAN MCKELLAN: Mary Magdalene was Jesus's wife. 

HARRIS: And this morning, an explosive, new interpretation of ancient texts agrees, saying Jesus Christ not only prostitute Mary Magdalene, but also had two children with her. 

[Clip from The Da Vinci Code]

TOM HANKS: A living decedent of Jesus Christ. Would she destroy faith or would she renew it? 

HARRIS: In The Lost Gospel, due out this Wednesday, authors argue that the original Virgin Mary was Jesus' wife, not his mother. And that there was an assassination attempt on Jesus's life 13 years before he was crucified. These are allegations bound to be controversial, but also bound to get a lot of attention. The writers tell ABC News, they spent six years working on their book, basing their argument on an ancient manuscript, dating back nearly 1500 years. One they say found in a British library. Translating the text from an Aramaic dialect into English. 

MARK GOODACRE (Professor of Religious Studies, Duke University): I don't think that there's any credibility in these claims at all. There is simply no evidence in this text, or anywhere else, that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, much less that they had a couple of children. 

HARRIS: This is not the first assertion that Jesus was married. A fragment of an ancient Egyptian papyrus known as The Gospel of Jesus's Wife was unveiled in 2012, containing the phrase, "Jesus said to them, my wife." Although the document was written centuries after Jesus died. 

GOODACRE; The difficulty is that when those claims were investigated, it became pretty clear fairly quickly what we were looking at was, in fact, a modern forgery. 

HARRIS: For Good Morning America, Dan Harris, ABC News, New York. 

SPENCER: Thank, you Dan. The authors maintain they made this giant discovery. They will display the original manuscript they found at a press conference later this week and will announce the names of Jesus' alleged children. 

ROBIN ROBERTS: Well, that won't start any kind of controversy. 

SPENCER: No, nobody will be talking about it. 

ROBERTS: Not at all. Okay. 

Christianity ABC Good Morning America Video Dan Harris Lara Spencer
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