The Da Vinci Code
Apparently there is a special on ABC tonight titled "Jesus, Mary and Da Vinci". According to a CCN article there secret society (that included Da Vinci) that believes that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and that she fled with his child following his cruxifiction.

A spokesperson for the special was quoted as saying "For me, it's made religion more real and, ironically, much more interesting -- which is what we're hoping to do for our viewers,"....

I was just wondering if anyone had thoughts on this...
Stephanie, Monday, 11-3-03 4:50 PM
Spurious
The "Da Vinci Code" is actually a novel that a lot of people are taking WAY too seriously. Revolves around the old "Knights of Templar" myth, which is one of those old conspiracy theories going back for centuries.

That said...

There is a long and old tradition in orthodoxy (predating orthodoxy, actually) that believed the Jesus was married to Mary Magdelene (the idea that she was a hooker didn't get incorporated into the tradition until the writings of Eusibius in the 3rd/4th centuries, part of an effort to mitigate the doctrinal effect of the gospel tradition that Jesus' accepted women as his disciples). Jesus was a man living in a culture that expected/arranged marriages by the age of 16-20 for men and 14-16 for women. It would have been highly unusal (and more than a little weird) had he not been married, unless he was a member of one of the anti-marriage Jewish sects (such as the Essenes). So, the idea that Jesus was married is not that far out there from a socio/historical point of view.

Was he really married to Mary M.? Was he really married at all? We'll never know. There are too many centuries intervening between now and then that were dominated by various patriarchal and virginity-oriented cults in the Catholic church for us to ever know whether the tradition that survives is a fiction invented for political reasons (like that of Mary M. being a prostitute) or a historical fact that has been nearly lost.

I, myself, remain agnostic on the issue, though I do think it's a useful issue to ponder. If Jesus was married, what would that do to our view of sexuality as it connect to the faith? For some people it wouldn't do a lot, for others, it would change their outlook a great deal. But in either case, the sexuality of Jesus that most Christians have historically avoided, because we are generally uncomfortable with it (for long involved reasons that are too cumbersome to go into a lengthy historical discourse here). But, if Jesus was fully man, then he was also a fully sexual creature, whether he actually had a sexual relationship or not. It's something worth thinking about, if for no other reason than it may give us a greater understanding of what being a god-man meant to him, and what being human means to us. It would certainly put a lot of views on sexual desire and temptation (which is often wrongly equated directly with "lust") into serious jeopardy, and might even occasion a spirit of greater grace and forbearance in us when we deal with people having sexual problems.

An interesting book which touches lightly on the topic in its introduction is "Embodiment" by James B. Nelson. Written in the late 1970s, it's a very good attempt at formulating a Christian theology of sexuality, approaching it from a standpoint of creation and part of our humanity and working from that toward ethics, rather than starting with ethics or preaching ethics alone. A much more holistic approach, highly recommended!
-Lokmer
Lokmer, Monday, 11-3-03 6:45 PM
Surprise! I dissagree with Lokmer!
Actually, not 100%. I agree that "The Da Vinci Code" is spurious! ;)
But I'm not going there on the marriage bit.
Something tells me that if the Son of God had during his incarnation been married, it would have been mentioned somewhere in the canonical scriptures. The fact it is not mentioned makes me consider the posibility that he was to be highly remote at best.
And to suggest that he probably was married because it would have been outside the cultural norm not to be is pretty weak reasoning. By that logic I must be married too! (yeah, yeah, I know our current culture isn't nearly as big on marriage at a young age - gimme a break, I'm just making a point!) ;)
Anyway, since when did Jesus go out of his way to be within the cultural norm?
This isn't, of course, to dispute that Jesus did not experience sexual urges and desires right along with the rest of us: he was fully human during his time on earth, and therefore subject to such things. It's just that, being perfect, he didn't have to give into them.
ROUS  Annette Collins, Monday, 11-3-03 8:15 PM

?Something tells me that if the Son of God had during his incarnation been married, it would have been mentioned somewhere in the canonical scriptures.

The canonical scriptures completely gloss over Jesus'entire life from 12-30. The very existence of his siblings are mentioned only once in passing the gospels, and one of his brothers is mentioned by name elsewhere. There is much about his life that which was not written about or commented on. Could not marriage be one of those things, particularly if the the writers of the gospels are coming from a society where marriage is the norm, and therefore the state of being married not particularly noteworthy in and of itself?

>And to suggest that he probably was married because it would have been outside the cultural norm not to be is pretty weak reasoning. By that logic I must be married too! (yeah, yeah, I know our current culture isn't nearly as big on marriage at a young age - gimme a break, I'm just making a point!) ;)

That's a very weak example to make a point, and your next comment makes it clear you know why. Marriage is only barely a majority practice, it is not even close to being an cultural norm. Our society's average age of marriage of first marriage is in the late 20s. Nonmarital cohabitation of adult couples have doubled in the last 20 years. 35% of adults aged 25-34 have never been married (in some populations that is as much as 53% never married). More than a quarter of all adults are single living alone, and 48% are single or unmarried. The current demographic trends indicate that cohabiting and single households will exceed traditional married households in time.

Now, ours is a vastly different society than one in which the norm is to marry in one's teens and one does
not marry *only* if one has consecrated oneself to celibacy.

A far better case against Jesus having ever been married than either "it was never written so it never happened" and "just because most people were doesn't mean he was" would be to show strong evidence that Jesus was part of a group which was celibate. (There are, for example, some who believe that Jesus was an Essene, which did have celibacy oaths.)

And an even bigger question... does it really matter if Jesus was married? Why?
Kristine, Monday, 11-3-03 11:56 PM
:-)
> And to suggest that he probably was married because it
> would have been outside the cultural norm not to be is
> pretty weak reasoning. By that logic I must be married
> too! (yeah, yeah, I know our current culture isn't nearly
> as big on marriage at a young age - gimme a break, I'm
> just making a point!) ;)

Actually, I was going to point out that only an American or Western European could say this. We have been used to controlling our own destinies on the subject of marriage for a little over 150 (in the upper classes) to 250 years now. The lot in the ancient near east was very very different. When you use the term "cultural norm" it means "a normal thing for people to do." But in this context, a Jewish cultural norm in the first century was "99% of the people were compelled to do it". Since Jesus did not receive his annointing/calling until the age of 30 or so (at his baptism, according to Mark), and since we have no record of him being consecrated as a Nazerite (which is more likely to have survived than any marriage he may have been involved in), it would be REALLY WEIRD for him not to have been married - unless he was an Essene or belonged to one of the other anti-marriage sects in Israel at the time.

As I said, there is not enough evidence either to dismiss it, or to accept such a possible marriage as fact.

> Anyway, since when did Jesus go out of his way to be
> within the cultural norm?

He was baptized, he preformed temple sacrifices, he prayed, he participated in passover, etc. etc. etc.

> This isn't, of course, to dispute that Jesus did not
> experience sexual urges and desires right along with the
> rest of us: he was fully human during his time on earth,
> and therefore subject to such things. It's just that,
> being perfect, he didn't have to give into them.

Ah! Here we get to the interesting part. Giving into sexual urges is sinful? Is it a mark of imperfection? Since when? I seem to recall a goodly bit of pre-fall boinking in Eden (A&E were, after all, blessed with fertility long before the fall). God designed sex to be pleasurable, he designed the sex drive to be powerful. If Jesus was married, he would certainly not have been sinning if he "gave into" his sexual desires. If he was single, he either masturbated or had wet dreams (all men do one or the other - bodies are designed for it). In any of the three cases, he had a perfectly legitimate (holy?) outlet for his genital-sexual urges. The ethic of fear and suspicion regarding sex is not one that honors God's creation - everything in creation, with the exception of most microbes, is very sexual. It's one that, unfortunately, still pervades the Evangelical experience (though it has been getting better in recent years). Questions like this one are useful primarily because they expose unacknowledged prejudices like this one.

And, let's not forget that the gospels (particularly John) record him as being a deeply physically intimate and touchy-feely person. His sexuality played a great part in his ministry (please do not confuse this with saying that he slept with his disciples or some other nonsense like that). He bonded physically with people. He snuggled them, he hugged them, he touched them tenderly. The gospels paint a portrait of a deeply vulnerable, tender, intimate man. This is a man who, whether involved in a sexual relationship with a hypothetical wife or celibate, bonded deeply and sincerely through his physicality, even if it did not include any genital-sexual bonding with a wife (and we will never know whether or not it did).

-Lokmer
Lokmer, Tuesday, 11-4-03 8:51 AM
Why do I let myself get sucked into these things?
First, on the specific subject Stephanie raised about The Da Vinci code, there's an article posted below.

Second, here are a few more reasons I find it *highly* unlikely Jesus was married. (Keep in mind I've got to finish this post in my lunch hour)

1) If tradition is accurate on the subject of Mary Magdalene, before she met Jesus she was - as they say - a working girl. Jesus is later identified in the epistles as our High Priest. But priests are specifically prohibited from marrying a non-virgin, be she a widow, prostitute, or whatever. I think, therefore, Magdalene at least is pretty much out of the question. I know no-one in this forum is arguing a specific identity for this theoretical wife, but there it is anyway.

2) When on the cross, Jesus specifically made provision for his mother's future care. Since Joseph was dead by this time, as the eldest son Jesus had responsibility for Mary. How much more would he have had responsibility for a wife! And yet he mentioned none, nor any offspring. OK, you could buy into a conspiracy theory about editing of the gospel accounts, but that brings up a whole host of additional and even more severe theological issues not worth addressing. (Note that despite the continued insistance of the Catholic church that Mary remained a virgin in perpetuity, several of the gospels make reference to Jesus' brothers. If there was a lot of whole-sale chopping out of "unhelpfull" bits back in the beginning, I suspect those would have gone as well.)

OK, I'm going to quit while I am still (marginally) ahead. Again, I don't see a single shred of evidence that Jesus was married, I see quite a lot of evidence against the fact, and I don't see the point in making up theories about what may have been. It's kind of like arguing about a "Pre Adamic Race" or something equally essoteric. Jesus' celibacy does *not* state anything about the rightness or wrongness of sex in general. It's a non-issue.
Link: Slate on The Da Vinci Code
Annette, Tuesday, 11-4-03 2:21 PM
Provisions...
As to Annette's comment on provisioning for the mother but not a wife, we must remember that people didn't always live extremely long back then. In fact, it's possible that Jesus married and his wife died in childbirth, along with the child. Maybe Jesus needed to go through such pain before starting his ministry. Maybe there was no wife. At the end of the day I question what difference this conversation makes.
Anonymous, Tuesday, 11-4-03 4:27 PM
The difference this discussion makes
As a person who knows very little about biblical history and or/culture during Jesus' time this conversation serves to enlighten me and bring about a better understanding of the controversies that exist surround faith and biblical context.
Anonymous, Tuesday, 11-4-03 8:11 PM
That's because....

>Why do I let myself get sucked into these things?

Perhaps your nacent curiosity is stronger than your desire to avoid contraversy?

> 1) If tradition is accurate on the subject of Mary
> Magdalene, before she met Jesus she was - as they say - a
> working girl. Jesus is later identified in the epistles as
> our High Priest. But priests are specifically prohibited
> from marrying a non-virgin, be she a widow, prostitute, or
> whatever. I think, therefore, Magdalene at least is pretty
> much out of the question. I know no-one in this forum is
> arguing a specific identity for this theoretical wife, but
> there it is anyway.

First, tradition re: Mary Magdalene is not accurate in the slightest. She was not a hooker. All the evidence in the Gospels point the other way - she was either a spinster, a widow, the wife of one of the disciples, or a groupie. She is never mentioned either as a hooker or as having any of the accoutraments of a hooker during that time (spice bags, perfume, etc.). The tradition was invented in the 4th century by Eusibius, a fairly dishonest apologist and historian who is well known for his rank misogyny, and it was invented to discredit feminists within the church who were pointing to Mary as a model female disciple.

Second, Paul identifying Jesus as our "High Priest" doesn't do a thing to the argument either way. Jesus was not a priest in the Jewish tradition - on one occasion he went to great lengths to exhonerate his disciples never to let anyone accord them that title. Paul was not talking about Jesus' life (of which he knew precious little), he was talking about Christ's role in the heavenly scheme of things. Taking things out of context like this does not help your case.

> 2) When on the cross, Jesus specifically made provision
> for his mother's future care. Since Joseph was dead by
> this time, as the eldest son Jesus had responsibility for > Mary. How much more would he have had responsibility for a
> wife! And yet he mentioned none, nor any offspring.

This is perhaps the best piece of inferrential evidence against him having a living wife at the time of the crucifixion.


> OK, you could buy into a conspiracy theory about editing
> of the gospel accounts, but that brings up a whole host of
> additional and even more severe theological issues not
> worth addressing.

Um..."severe theological issues not worth addressing"? That's an unfortunate attitude to take. BTW, there doesn't have to be a "conspiracy" about the editing of ancient documents (though conspiracies did happen we have manuscript fragments that survive from before the time when the church was organized) - it was not an unusual practice, although usually things were added rather than taken away (the long ending of Mark, for example, was added in the 2nd century - check the footnotes in your Bible).

If an issue is "severe," then by definition it needs to be addressed.

> If there was a lot of whole-sale chopping out of
> "unhelpfull" bits back in the beginning, I suspect those
> would have gone as well.)

As would the unfulfilled prophecies of Jesus, one would think. But by the time the councils started meeting, the church was pretty big. They selected the cannon to fit a particular theological position while attmpting to unify Christianity (which they had only marginal success in doing). The gospels came from different communities with different theological emphases. They were well known enough by that time that major edits were not feasable. Any editing that did happen would have happened between 50 and 150 CE, long before the canon was established, or before 50 CE when it was only oral tradition that kept the story alive. Moreover, it is unlikely such editing would have been conscious. More likely it was a matter of people keeping what they considered to be important and ignoring the rest - doesn't everybody do that with every story we hear?

> Again, I don't see a single shred of evidence that Jesus
> was married, I see quite a lot of evidence against the
> fact, and I don't see the point in making up theories
> about what may have been.

I don't see compelling evidence that he was, either. But it's a good mental exercise for the reasons I detailed above: it forces us to deal with Jesus' sexuality and human-ness.


> It's kind of like arguing about a "Pre Adamic Race" or
> something equally essoteric. Jesus' celibacy does *not*
> state anything about the rightness or wrongness of sex in
> general. It's a non-issue.

I agree that Jesus' celibacy does not directly influence sexual morality, but thinking about Jesus as a sexual being can and does force us to examine deeply held attitudes about sex. That's a good thing.

"Pre-Adamic race"? I've never heard that one. Could you explain?
-Lokmer
Lokmer, Wednesday, 11-5-03 8:50 AM

>I think, therefore, Magdalene at least is pretty much out of the question. I know no-one in this forum is arguing a specific identity for this theoretical wife, but there it is anyway.

Setting aside for a moment that the Magdalene as prostitute "tradition" comes out of a fourth century anti-feminist theology rather than early church tradition, the argument above only addresses whether Mary Magdalene specifically was his wife, not whether Jesus ever had *a* wife.

>When on the cross, Jesus specifically made provision for his mother's future care. Since Joseph was dead by this time, as the eldest son Jesus had responsibility for Mary. How much more would he have had responsibility for a wife! And yet he mentioned none, nor any offspring.

Considering that 18+ years of his life were missing, it is possible that a) Jesus married, and had a grown son by this time who would have had the responsibility for the wife, or b) Jesus had married, and lost his wife to illness or in childbirth as so very often happened in this time period, indeed, through most of human history until the advent of modern medicine less than 200 years ago.

If there was no living woman to whom he was married at the time of his death, that does not invalidate the possibility that he was married at some point in his life.
Anonymous, Wednesday, 11-5-03 10:52 AM
:-)
Good points :-)
Perhaps you'd like to join in on some of our other scrap matches (Points to Ponder and Pot Use In The Bible) on this board.
-Lokmer
Lokmer, Wednesday, 11-5-03 11:56 AM

I'm already on the other scraps (just forgot to sign-off).
Kristine, aka "Anonymous", Wednesday, 11-5-03 12:17 PM
shewt
Oh, darn.
Lokmer, Wednesday, 11-5-03 12:20 PM
Pre-Adamic Race
Might actually be spelling that wrong. Seems like I've heard it pronounced "Ademic," but I'm hardly an authority on spelling or pronunciation.
Anyway, it's the theory there was a race of people around previous to Adam - in fact, previous to the whole creation story including the formation of everything out of the void.
You might lump it in with any theory concerning alien races. It is by definition an absolutely unprovable theory - in the affirmative or negative. And while possibly amusing to discuss the theological implications (and certainly fun to write fictional stories about them - i.e. Perelandra, Out of the Silent Planet), it doesn't seem very usefull as a general rule. There can be no definitive answer, and neither one position or the other in my estimation has any real bearing on our current situation. Falls into the category of "useless arguments."
Annette, Wednesday, 11-5-03 2:23 PM
Deeply Silly
Sounds, on the face of it, to be deeply silly by any set of standards you apply to it - whether biblical or scientific.

Scientifically speaking, of course, anthropoloogical history reaches back eons before the creation of Adam was supposed to have taken place, and despite the noble attempts of people like Hugh Ross, there isn't really a way to reconcile the Eden story with the current anthropoligical/mitochondrial/fossil evidence of the genetic and cultural history of humanity.

Biblically speaking, such an argument seems not only meaningless, but far more disrespectful to the account than chalking it up as profound myth that communicates God's truth about our nature.

-Lokmer
Lokmer, Wednesday, 11-5-03 4:00 PM
I am NOT going to be sucked into an Evolutionary discussion here
I don't want to argue about this, as it could quickly subsume the entire board, let alone this individual discussion. And, I'd like to pretend I learned *something* from FoxMail. ;)
I simply want to state for the record that I personally have no difficulty reconciling the fosil / anthropological / geographical record with a literal interpretation of the Creation story in Genesis 1, and although I don't in any way pretend to be able to offer absolute proof on the subject, I am not "a lone voice calling in the wilderness" on this point.

I know you don't interpret Genesis 1 literally, Lokmer, but for the sake of this topic I'm willing to agree to disagree.

Anyone who wants to discuss this particular topic offline, you know where to find me.
Annette, Wednesday, 11-5-03 5:48 PM
Or...
...you could take it to the "When Worlds Collide" thread. :)

But, I agree, lets get back on topic to the exceedingly interesting life and times of Jesus.
Kristine (no longer anonymous), Wednesday, 11-5-03 5:59 PM
Trying to boil this down
Back on the Jesus' Marriage or Lack Thereof topic...
Let me ask a question here
"What Difference Does it Make?"

I'm serious. I know that someone commented that the discussion helps shed light on historical controversies.
But past that, what would it mean to us *now* if Jesus had been married to a woman while on this earth?

Would it force us to acknowledge his identity as a sexual being? I don't think there's any real dissagreement on that point. The fact he was fully human is more than enough evidence.

Would it force us to admit that sex isn't wrong? Again, who's seriously arguing otherwise? We're not puritans here. We know that sex inside a marriage relationship is permitted - even commanded!
And honestly, I fail to see what other impacts on our understanding of sex this might force.

Would it force us to acknowledge that there are missing pieces in the historical account of Jesus? No argument there. Of Jesus' 33 years on earth we have detailed information about only 3. Aside from one story at the age of 12, we have no details between the age of 2 or 3 and the age of 30.

Look, we could go on ad infinitum about what may or may not have happened in the omitted 30 years. Did he have a best friend as a child? A favorite color? Was he a good carpenter? What color were his eyes? Did he really wear his hair long? No-one wrote it down.
Now, I'm going to really go out on a limb here, and suggest that if those details weren't important to his biographers (who, I Must believe, were *inspired* in their authorship of their gospel accounts), maybe they aren't important now and we're all wasting our time "deep ending" on them.

Annette, Wednesday, 11-5-03 6:20 PM
Jesus - the missing years
> Did he have a best friend as a child?
Jacob.

> A favorite color?
Black.

> Was he a good carpenter?
Only moderately acceptable.

> What color were his eyes?
Brown.

> Did he really wear his hair long?
Yes, to cover a burn on his neck he got when tripping over a stool.

Obviously these are meaningless answers (other than the favorite color ;>).
Anonymous, Thursday, 11-6-03 12:12 PM
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