NEW HAVEN, CT—In a startling discovery that sheds new light on the woman Christians revere as the mother of their Lord and Savior, researchers at Yale Divinity School announced Monday that the Blessed Virgin Mary was in fact God’s second choice to bear His only son.
A nearly 2,000-year-old Aramaic scroll unearthed last month in Nazareth reportedly describes a peasant woman named Erica with whom God is thought to have entered into a relationship around 5 BC, hoping that in her womb His divine essence might take on human form.
“According to this ancient text, when God first broached the idea of a child, Erica broke down and told Him she just wasn’t ready for the Incarnation of the Messiah,” theology professor Michael T. Freyland said of the parchment found in a cave near the Church of the Annunciation, the site at which the archangel Gabriel is believed to have appeared and spoken to Erica in an effort to change her mind. “They’d been together a few years at that point, and God was devastated. She was smart, caring, and beautiful—not that Mary wasn’t, but with Erica things were apparently just different. She was the whole package.”
“The author of this ancient account makes it clear that God made several desperate attempts to win Erica back, promising her heaven and earth, and reminding her that even though He was the Creator and Supreme Ruler of the Universe, He would still be willing to change for her.”
“The scroll leaves little doubt as to what happened,” he added. “The timing was just wrong for the two of them.”
Biblical scholars noted that while God certainly appreciated Mary’s remarkable obedience, humility, and purity, He saw Erica as His soulmate, the only one who truly made Him feel understood. The lowborn daughter of an olive grower, Erica is said to have been flattered by God’s advances, and according to the texts, did not rule out the possibility of one day having His child. But she continually put it off, reportedly saying there were still many things she wanted to do with her life before she could settle down to raise the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
There came a time, the parchment suggests, when God confided to Erica that He couldn’t “wait around forever,” at which point she finally gave Him a definitive no, a response she qualified by telling Him, “Maybe someday.” Researchers suspect this was more about letting the Almighty down gently than it was a true assessment of her feelings.
“The author of this ancient account makes it clear that God made several desperate attempts to win Erica back, promising her heaven and earth, and reminding her that even though He was the Creator and Supreme Ruler of the Universe, He would still be willing to change for her,” said Freyland, adding that God was “a complete wreck” years later when Erica eloped to Judea with a stranger called Matthias. “Maybe this rejection was a good thing, though, because He emerged even more determined to find a partner, and when asked, Mary immediately accepted with the words, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! May your word to me be fulfilled.’ So she was clearly impressed by Him.”
“Did God grow to cherish the dutiful Mary—with her eyes gazing heavenward, her arms crossed over her bosom, her head always covered—as deeply as He treasured Erica?” Freyland continued. “Probably not. But as they say, you can learn to love another, and that’s what God clearly tried to do.”
Christian theologians generally agree that God found in Mary a stable presence and an attentive mother to care for the heavenly son made flesh within her earthly body. As for Erica, accounts suggest she and God stayed in touch and remained on friendly, if awkward, terms, speaking on and off until her death in AD 12.
Freyland pointed to a well-known reference in the Gospel of Mark to a pheugati, most commonly translated from the original Greek as “the one who got away.”
“We can only guess how many times God has looked at a depiction of the Nativity or a stained-glass window and imagined Erica there instead of Mary,” Freyland said. “But what’s done is done, and in the end, perhaps it was for the best.”
“After all, if His only begotten son had been Erica’s, God might have been a lot less willing to send him to die for the world’s sins,” he added.