Was Jesus Really Married?

Dan Brown’s novel “The Da Vinci Code” certainly is a best seller with more than 40 million copies sold so far and has too many of the Christians fuming. For two thousand years Christians are used to believing that Jesus lived a strict bachelor life in keeping with His divinity conferred on Him, that they […]

Dan Brown’s novel “The Da Vinci Code” certainly is a best seller with more than 40 million copies sold so far and has too many of the Christians fuming. For two thousand years Christians are used to believing that Jesus lived a strict bachelor life in keeping with His divinity conferred on Him, that they simply are unable to digest even the very suggestion of Jesus being married. Their conviction is so powerful that one is forced to believe that marriage is a deadly sin.

The fate of Mary Magdalene is still horrible as she was painted a prostitute by the Orthodox Church for more than thousand five years contrary to what the Gospels tell us about her. The Catholic Church in a sermon by Pope Gregory in the year 591 A D labeled Mary Magdalene a prostitute which was diligently followed by the Catholic Church until the year 1969 when they officially repealed this label from her. Even to this day the male believers are unwilling to accept the purity and sincerity of Mary Magdalene’s devotion to Jesus and the love and affection returned to her by Jesus Himself.

Here are a few samples from the Gospels.

Mathew:28:1: In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

Mark:16:9: Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

Luke:24:10: It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.

John:20:18: Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

If you read the four Gospels, no where you will find that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. On the contrary wherever her name is mentioned, it comes first, signifying the great love and affection Jesus had for her and the important role she played in His ministry. Even the authors of the four Gospels acknowledged her important role in the life of Jesus by citing her name first always. This love and affection is often misunderstood, especially by the sceptics.

In the Gnostic Gospel of Phillip which was rejected by the Orthodox Church, it is mentioned that “There were three who walked with Jesus. His mother, his sister and his spouse were each a Mary.” It is interesting to note that the Greek word “koinonos” is here translated as “spouse” while it also means “intimate companion”. The Gnostics were also followers of Jesus but were persecuted and chased to hide by the Orthodox Church since their views and books were unacceptable to the Orthodox Church.

The importance of Mary Magdalene in the Life of Jesus was first rejected by the instigation of Ireneaus, the Bishop of Lyons, France who lived in the later half of the second century A D from the Gospels. Later during the early fourth century, Anthansius, the Bishop of Alexandria (The 325 A D Nicene Creed fame) banned all the books of the Gnostics.

During the early period of Christianity, it was due to the jealousy of the male disciples that Mary Magdalene was sidelined although anyone who is conversant with the four gospels will realize that she was a beloved friend and confidante of Jesus during His three years of ministry in this world. We must note here that Jesus had no discrimination between the Jews and the gentiles, the sinner and the righteous or the male and the female. He treated everyone equally and was amiable to all of them. Therefore it is not at all strange that Jesus had so many women following Him and adoring Him. Read what Paul has to say on this:

“Epistle to Galatians:3:28: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Some of the banned Gospels of Gnostics were the “Gospel of Mary Magdalene, The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Phillip, The secret gospel of Mark, Gospel of Peter etc. Many women were apostles of Jesus including Mary Magdalene, Salome etc but were sidelined by the male apostles and the Churches who declare themselves the followers of apostles(even in jealousy, they are following the apostles, it would seem).

Coming back to the novel of Dan Brown, the Da Vinci Code, if you have read the book you would have noticed the few historical facts and French legends he mentions on which the fiction is based. Yes, this book is a fiction, a very cleverly woven creative fiction at that. It is unfortunate that most of the readers of this novel have taken all Dan Brown says in his FICTION as literal truth and do not give credit to his creative imagination and the clever conceptualization of a few chosen historical facts and legends.

The facts he mentions are the existence of the Knight Templers, the secret societies such as “Priory of Sion” and the unending search for the “Holy Grail”. The legends of France speak of “Mary Magdalene brought the blood Royal” to France with her. Now this legend is based on the French spelling of “Holy Grail” which is Sangraal. The peculiarity of this word is “San Graal” is “Holy Grail” while “Sang raal” is “Blood Royal”. The French legends also speak of a child in the boat that carried Mary Magdalene and her group to Provence in France. This girl child’s name was “Sarah” which in Hebrew means “Princess”.

Of course added to this is the custom of the Jewish people during the period Jesus lived, when it was the responsibility of every Jewish parent to get their children married by the age of twelve. Now Dan Brown in his novel asserts that because of this custom among the Jewish people, it is mandatory that Jesus was also married at this age.

But does this custom mean that all Jewish people both male and female were married by this age? I think not if we are to believe the history of, first, John the Baptist and second, the existence of “Essenes” a pious and strict community of Jewish people who chose to live away from the urban society in seclusion in the wilderness. Most of these Essenes did not get married and lived a very strict spiritual life. We all know that John the Baptist was not a married man and he was certainly a Jew. The Bible itself proclaims him as the “voice from the wilderness”.

In the gospels, Jesus is called as a “Nazerene. Generally it is assumed that Jesus was called “Nazarene” because he lived in Nazareth. But consider the following where Tertullus, the orator for the Jews accusing Paul as the ring leader of the SECT “Nazarenes”.

Mathew:2:23: And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

Act:24:5: For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes

It is interesting to mention here that the Essenes were also known as Nazoreans in the first century, which suggests the possibility of Jesus belonging to this sect of the Jews.

Jesus who displayed an inclination towards spirituality from His very early age could have followed suit and opted not to marry. This will even account for His life between the age of twelve and thirty, when in all probability He was among the Essenes learning and preparing Himself for His ministry. But that subject will be treated in another article in detail.

Whether you are an Orthodox Christian, just a believer or a non believer, you will still agree that from the ancient times, the holy men and women preferred to be independent and not tied to family life. It was not because they were against family life but just that they wanted to pursue their spiritual life without the encumbrances of family ties. Jesus was holy both by his life and His teaching and it is not surprising that He was not married. Some of the disciples of Jesus, who were also Jews were also not married, as we know.

What about the women around Him, you may ask and it is reasonable enough. In our own life we see holy men always surrounded by devotees of both sexes. In the case of women they are simply more demonstrative of their affection/devotion than men which we all will agree. Also humanity longs for love and compassion and both these qualities have the properties of magnetism in them that attracts everyone to them. So it is only natural that both men and women flocked to Jesus who was an epitome of love and compassion in all He did. Jesus certainly was and still is a charismatic person.

Considering the above facts it is safe to conclude that it is not necessary to deem Jesus as a married man purely on the basis of a custom which had its exceptions or a novel which is purely a fiction conceived by the cleverness of a creative writer.

~*~

Copyright © 04/08/2006 Joel Raja Kumar J (a k a) Poet Raja

Some references relevant to the above:

Church History by Eusebius Pamphilius, bishopric of Cæsarea,

Translation by Dr. Arthur C. McGiffert and Dr. Ernest C. Richardson,

(New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1890)

Completed some time in the year 324 A D.

Chapter XXV

4. Among the rejected writings must be reckoned also the Acts of Paul, and the so-called

Shepherd, and the Apocalypse of Peter, and in addition to these the extant epistle of Barnabas,

and the so-called Teachings of the Apostles; and besides, as I said, the Apocalypse of John, if it

seem proper, which some, as I said, reject, but which others class with the accepted books.

5. And among these some have placed also the Gospel according to the Hebrews, with which

those of the Hebrews that have accepted Christ are especially delighted. And all these may be

reckoned among the disputed books.

6. But we have nevertheless felt compelled to give a catalogue of these also, distinguishing

those works which according to ecclesiastical tradition are true and genuine and commonly

accepted, from those others which, although not canonical but disputed, are yet at the same

time known to most ecclesiastical writers-we have felt compelled to give this catalogue in order

that we might be able to know both these works and those that are cited by the heretics under the

name of the apostles, including, for instance, such books as the Gospels of Peter, of Thomas,

of Matthias, or of any others besides them, and the Acts of Andrew and John and the other

apostles, which no one belonging to the succession of ecclesiastical writers has deemed worthy of

mention in his writings.

7. And further, the character of the style is at variance with apostolic usage, and both the thoughts

and the purpose of the things that are related in them are so completely out of accord with true

orthodoxy that they clearly show themselves to be the fictions of heretics. Wherefore they are

not to be placed even among the rejected writings, but are all of them to be cast aside as absurd

and impious.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf201.html

The Essenes – http://www.essenespirit.com/who.html

The Essenes – http://essenes.net/bnei1.htm

Since the archaeological discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1946, the word “Essene” has made its way around the world–often raising a lot of questions. Many people were astonished to discover that, two thousand years ago, a brotherhood of holy men and women, living together in a community, carried within themselves all of the seeds of Christianity and of future western civilization. This brotherhood–more or less persecuted and ostracized–would bring forth people who would change the face of the world and the course of history. Indeed, almost all of the principal founders of what would later be called Christianity were Essenes–St. Ann, Joseph and Mary, John the Baptist, Jesus, John the Evangelist, etc.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05546a.htm – The Catholic Encyclopedia on Essenes

Church History by Eusebius Pamphilius, bishopric of Cæsarea,

Chapter XXX.-The Apostles that were Married.

1. Clement, indeed, whose words we have just quoted, after the above-mentioned facts gives a

statement, on account of those who rejected marriage, of the apostles that had wives. “Or will

they,” says he, “reject even the apostles? For Peter and Philip begat children; and Philip also

gave his daughters in marriage. And Paul does not hesitate, in one of his epistles, to greet his wife,

whom he did not take about with him, that he might not be inconvenienced in his ministry.”

2. And since we have mentioned this subject it is not improper to subjoin another account which

is given by the same author and which is worth reading. In the seventh book of his Stromata he

writes as follows: “They say, accordingly, that when the blessed Peter saw his own wife led out

to die, he rejoiced because of her summons and her return home, and called to her very encouragingly

and comfortingly, addressing her by name, and saying, ‘Oh thou, remember the Lord.’ Such was

the marriage of the blessed, and their perfect disposition toward those dearest to them.” This account

being in keeping with the subject in hand, I have related here in its proper place.

“Mathew:8:14: And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever.”

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