Both books propose that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and that she bore His child, and that Jesus' bloodline continued in Europe . These facts, they argue, were scrupulously covered up lest Christianity be exposed as a fraud.
Baigent is back again with a new book and a new twist on history. The Jesus Papers claims that papyrus documents exist—in Jesus' own handwriting, no less—proving that He didn't die when crucified, but was still alive in the flesh as late as A.D. 45. Further, Jesus supposedly said in these papers that He never claimed to be divine and that it was all essentially a misunderstanding.
Baigent makes a number of claims that are ludicrous for someone who claims to be a student of history. For example, he claims that the documents from which his book gets its title were excavated from under a house in the Old City of Jerusalem in 1961 by an Israeli man looking for artifacts.
But as anyone familiar with Middle Eastern archaeology knows, papyrus cannot be preserved longer than a few years in a climate like that of Jerusalem—it's simply too moist. Papyrus is preserved only in extremely dry desert climates. No ancient perishable documents have ever been found in or around Jerusalem—they've long since disintegrated.
Baigent is also quite sure of what the documents say—even though he cannot read Aramaic, the language in which he says they were written. Where are the documents today, and who has possession of them? Sorry, he can't share that information.
He makes other claims that are demonstrably false. For example, he says there is no extrabiblical evidence for Jesus' crucifixion. Yet several notable historians and Roman officials, including Flavius Josephus, Cornelius Tacitus, Caius Suetonius Tranquillus and Pliny the Younger, all mention Jesus. Some give details of His crucifixion; others note that His followers considered Him divine.
Baigent also tries to have it both ways when it comes to the Gospels. On the one hand he dismisses them as fabrication when they contradict his ideas, but then he quotes them when he thinks they support his points.
The Jesus Papers is filled with other problems—rampant speculation masquerading as fact, no verifiable evidence to support his theory, and denial or misrepresentation of facts that contradict his theory.
Like other books that supposedly disprove the origins of Christianity, The Jesus Papers is more fiction than fact, proving once again the lengths to which some will go to deny any claim the Bible might have on their lives. If you would like to learn the real truth of Jesus Christ's life and why the biblical Gospels are an accurate historical record, request our free booklet Jesus Christ: The Real Story.