The Drama of the Lost Disciples

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The dust jacket of an earlier edition
Christ died for
our articles about

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Devil's in the details
So much rubbish has been written concerning Britain’s pagan past and so many attempts have been made to destroy our justifiable pride in the very real achievement of our race that we welcome unreservedly one more book devoted to the purpose of informing our people of the glorious Christian heritage that was bequeathed to us in the first four centuries.
—Rev. Ansley Rash introduces The Drama of the Lost Disciples[1]:9

The Drama of the Lost Disciples is a pseudohistorical book by George F. Jowett that was first published in 1961.[1] The book purports to trace the evidences of Joseph of Arimathea, the apostles, Mary and even Jesus in Britain. The book is full of speculation, misquotes, and unsourced assertions, and outright lies. The book has gone through 16 editions selling 55,000 copies.[2]

The book was published by the United Kingdom-based screed publisher Covenant Publishing.[3] Covenant was established in 1922 by the British-Israel-World Federation,Wikipedia a fringe organization that promotes British Israelism, the pseudohistorical belief that the peoples of the British Isles are descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of ancient Israel.[4]

Dubious claims[edit]

Queen Victoria had in her possession in the Royal Library a genealogical chart showing the kings and queens of Britain who were descended in direct line from the Shepherd King David.
—George Jowett[note 1][1]:237-238

In attempting to establish a link between Joseph of Arimathea and the British Isles, Jowett claims that Joseph was nicknamed "Decurio" in ancient sources[1]:15 which he claims means an official in charge of metal mines. While it is true Joseph is called "Decurio" (for example in the Latin Vulgate, Mark 15:43), there is no evidence this has any connection to metals or to mines. "Decurio" translates as "council member", and denoted a member of a municipal senate in ancient Rome.

Based on the entirely unsubstantiated claim Joseph was an official of metal mines, Jowett then asserts that Joseph travelled to Britain and was responsible for tin mining operations in Cornwall.[1]:40-42 No evidence is provided.

Jowett claims that the name "British" derives from Hebrew (B'rith meaning "covenant", and ish meaning "a man").[1]:43 This claim has a long history among British Israelites, but is not taken seriously by any linguist.

Drawing entirely from the Annales EcclesiasticiWikipedia (1588-1607) of Cardinal Caesar Baronius (1538-1607) which places Joseph in Gaul and Britain, Jowett states that Baronius was drawing from ancient Vatican records.[1]:69 However there is no evidence for this. The first literary connection of Joseph of Arimathea with Britain is the 9th-century Life of Mary Magdalene attributed to Rabanus Maurus (c. 780–856).[5] In other words, between the time of the apostles in the 1st century CE and this text, there was a gap of around 800 years of no source placing Joseph in Britain. This is why genuine scholarship on this issue regards stories of Joseph in Britain as a romantic literary invention.

Jowett cites many ancient Christian writers (such as EusebiusWikipedia (260/265 – 339/340), Tertullian and Clement of Rome) which claim some of the apostles (such as Simon the Zealot) reached the shores of Britain during the early 1st century, but he then asserts that Joseph was among these apostles, when none of these sources specifically note this.[1]:71 As noted, the earliest known literary connection of Joseph of Arimathea with Britain comes in the 9th century, long after the writings of the Church Fathers.

According to Jowett, Joseph of Arimathea met the British Christian king ArviragusWikipedia in Avalon, which he identifies as Glastonbury Tor.[1]:78-85 The only classical source which describes Arviragus is a cryptic reference in a satirical poem by Juvenal,Wikipedia that makes no mention of his religion.

Bizarrely, Jowett claims ancient druidry in Britain was in fact disguised Christianity.[1]:88 He therefore claims that when the Roman historian Suetonius claimed druidry was to be banned by Romans this meant Christianity, implying that practising Christians were in the British Isles as early as 37 AD.

Jowett writes that Constantine the Great was the son of Helena,[1]:93 daughter of King Cole of Colchester. The source for this is a medieval legend starting with Henry of Huntingdon; while not discredited, it is extremely improbable.

The Drama of the Lost Disciples is most notorious for its fabricated genealogy of Caratacus,Wikipedia a first-century British chieftain of the Catuvellauni tribe, who led the British resistance to the Roman conquest.[note 2] Jowett attempts to claim that Caratacus was somehow linked to Arthurian figures,[1]:97 despite Caratacus having lived some four centuries before Arthurian times.

Jowett claims that Pomponia GraecinaWikipedia was a Christian from Britain,[1]:100 citing Tacitus' Annals xiii.32 in support of this assertion; however nowhere does Tacitus actually say Pomponia was British. Tacitus only states that Pomponia's husband was returning from Britain. Jowett did not originate this misreading, as the historical author John LingardWikipedia (1771–1851) first made this reading mistake. Jowett however ignorantly repeats it throughout his book without having checked.

Jowett describes Claudia Rufina,Wikipedia a woman of British descent who lived in Rome circa 90 CE, as having been the daughter of Caratacus — again a wild claim not substantiated.[1]:110-123)

According to Jowett, Mary lived a large part of her life in Britain.[1]:133-149 No evidence is provided, and Jowett can only find a few scant legends.

Jowett quotes the Sonnini ManuscriptWikipedia as evidence of St. Paul in Britain.[1]:197 This short text purports to be the 29th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, wherein Paul the Apostle journeyed to Britannia. This forgery was likely dreamed up in the nineteenth century in support of British Israelism.[6]

External links[edit]


  1. The claim that the British royals descended from the biblical King David is a common theme in British Israelism. Covenant Publishing sells a "Chart of the Royal Line from Adam to King David and through to Queen Elizabeth II, showing the two houses of Israel" for £4 on their webshite.
  2. Spelled as Caractacus throughout.


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 George F. Jowett, The Drama of the Lost Disciples. Covenant Publishing, 2011. ISBN 0852050429.
  2. The Drama of the Lost Disciples, preface to the 16th edition.
  3. The Covenant Publishing Ltd.
  4. The British-Israel-World Federation: Our History.
  5. Pseudo-Rabanus Maurus’ Life of Mary Magdalene and her sister Martha. Magdalen College, University of Oxford.
  6. Edgar J. Goodspeed, Strange New Gospels. The University of Chicago Press, 1931.