Ancient Manuscript Discovery has 'Da Vinci Code' Touch


By Gemma Collins and Vicky Shaw PA

An ancient document likened to something which could have been featured in best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code was being analysed at a top auction house for its significance today.

The manuscript, believed to date from the 17th century, contains biographical details of every person in the Bible.

It was unearthed in the depths of the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth where it had been kept in storage for Llandovery College, an independent school near the Brecon Beacons. It was among about half of the school’s archive of books which were taken to the library around 50 years ago.

When college warden Peter Hogan asked to see the books recently he was told of the existence of the manuscript, and it was delivered to his office on Wednesday.

It was apparently written by a man called William Spenser, who was not a cleric, Mr Hogan said.

“What he claims he has written is a complete genealogy of Jesus Christ,” said Mr Hogan.

“It is painstakingly researched. It is just a phenomenal piece of literature.”

The first half of the book is concerned with genealogy and features the family trees of people in the Bible. The second half is a “Who’s Who“, with every individual listed along with biographical details.

Mr Hogan compared the book with something which could have been part of the plot of the best-selling mystery novel by Dan Brown, which has seen tourism flourish at the historical sites it mentions.

Claims in The Da Vinci Code that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and has descendants have outraged may Christians. They have also been dismissed by historians and theologians.

Mr Hogan said: “With The Da Vinci Code hot at the moment I very quickly flicked to the ’M’ section.

“This section claims that Jesus rid Mary Magdalene of seven demons and as a consequence she then became an assistant of his.

“Then there is a whole section crossed out which is quite mysterious.”

Mr Hogan said the margins of the manuscript contained anecdotal information about Mary Magdalene, none of which he could find in the Bible.

He took the document to Christie’s in London in an attempt to establish whether it is a hoax and what its significance could be.

The manuscript, which has around 594 handwritten pages, was purchased for £13 about 170 years ago by the founder of Llandovery College, surgeon Thomas Phillips.

“I’m slightly nervous thinking about what it is worth,” said Mr Hogan.

“I would imagine it will have a very, very high commercial value. The difficult decision I have got to take is whether I am willing to exploit that.”