For those who love to follow the marriages of the rich and famous, this week was a real doozy. In a new book, researchers are claiming evidence that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had two sons. In the meantime, a new publication on the website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says that Church founder Joseph Smith had as many as 40 wives including one who was only 14 years old.
The findings in the new book “The Lost Gospel,” by Professor Barrie Wilson and writer Simcha Jacobovici seems like something out of “The Da Vinci Code.” It is based on the transcript of an ancient manuscript which tells the story of Jesus’s two sons and his marriage to Mary. The manuscript dates back to 570 AD and written in Syriac — a Middle Eastern literary language used between the 4th and 8th centuries and related to Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus. It was written on animal skin or vellum and has been siting in the archives of the British Library for about 20 years after being held since 1847 at the British Museum (which bought it from a dealer who said he had obtained it from the ancient St Macarius Monastery in Egypt). Jacobovici, an Israeli-Canadian film-maker, and Wilson, a professor of religious studies in Toronto, decided to reexamine the text and believe that it contains a missing fifth gospel and confirms not just the long debate marriage to Mary but progeny of Jesus.
The news on the plural marriages of Joseph Smith is remarkable not only for its disclosure but its source. The LDS Church has always been highly reluctant to discuss the status of Smith as a polygamous. However, it was the Church that released the detailed account this month. It is a refreshing openness from the LDS leadership on a subject that has always been a matter of discomfort. The research suggests that Smith took his first “plural wife,” Fanny Alger, in the mid-1830s. There was a distinction drawn between bonds for this life, which included full matrimonial relations, and partnerships that would exist only in eternity in such marriages.
The essay, “Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo,” notes that “[m]any details about the early practice of plural marriage are unknown. Plural marriage was introduced among the early Saints incrementally, and participants were asked to keep their actions confidential. They did not discuss their experiences publicly or in writing until after the Latter-day Saints had moved to Utah and church leaders had publicly acknowledged the practice.”
Researchers believe that most of those sealed for eternity to Smith were between ages 20 and 40. The wives included Helen Mar Kimball, daughter of Joseph’s close friends Heber C. and Vilate Murray Kimball, who was [14.]” It was lawful to marry girls at the age during that period.
As was raised in our Sister Wives litigation (which is now on appeal), the LDS changed its position on polygamy when Utah became a state. In 1890, President Wilford Woodruff, the faith’s fourth prophet-leader, issued the “Manifesto,” which led to the end of the practice. That led to a split and the continued division between the LDS and FLDS, a small group that believes that polygamy is an essential part of the religion. The LDS Church remains opposed to plural marriages.
Source: Salt Lake Tribune