The Drama of the Lost Disciples
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The Drama of the Lost Disciples (1961) is a pseudo-historical book by George F. Jowett. The book purports to trace the evidences of Joseph of Arimathea, the apostles, Mary and even Jesus in Britain.
About the book
The Drama of the Lost Disciples has gone through 16 editions (printed up to 2009 by Covenant Publishing) selling 55,000 copies. It was first published in 1961. The book has sold so many copies based on its sensational and eccentric claims. The content however is dubious, ranging from speculation, misquotes, and unsourced assertions, to outright lies.
- In attempting to establish a link between Joseph of Arimathea and the British Isles, Jowett claims that Joseph was nicknamed "Decurio" in ancient sources (p. 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 (pp.40-42). No evidence is provided.
- Jowett claims (p. 43) that the name "British" derives from Hebrew (B'rith meaning "covenant", and ish meaning "a man"). This claim has a long history among British Israelites, but is not taken seriously by any linguist.
- Drawing entirely from the Annales Ecclesiastici (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 (p. 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). 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 Eusebius (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 (p. 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 Arviragus in Avalon, which he identifies as Glastonbury Tor (pp. 78-85). The only classical source which describes Arviragus, Juvenal, makes no mention of his religion.
- Bizarrely, Jowett claims ancient druidry in Britain was in fact disguised Christianity (p. 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 (p. 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 (a first-century British chieftain of the Catuvellauni tribe, who led the British resistance to the Roman conquest) who Jowett attempts to claim was somehow linked to Arthurian figures (p. 97). Never mind that Caratacus lived some four centuries before Arthurian times.
- Jowett claims that Pomponia Graecina was a Christian from Britain (p. 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 Lingard (1771–1851) first made this reading mistake. Jowett however ignorantly repeats it throughout his book without having checked.
- Claudia Rufina (a woman of British descent who lived in Rome circa 90 CE) is described by Jowett as having been the daughter of Caratacus — again a wild claim not substantiated (pp. 110-123).
- According to Jowett, Mary lived a large part of her life in Britain (pp. 133-149). No evidence is provided, and Jowett can only find a few scant legends.
- Jowett quotes the Sonnini Manuscript as evidence of St. Paul in Britain (p. 197). This, however, is a literary hoax.
- The Drama of the Lost Disciples by George F. Jowett (2011) Covenant Publishing. ISBN 0852050429.
- 16th ed. preface