Last week, we talked about the case FOR Jesus being married. This week, we’ll tackle the case against Jesus being married. Modern novels like Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code” make the case that Jesus was married. Polygamy experts Anne Wilde and David Patrick believe Jesus was not only married, but had children as well, and speculate as to what might have happened to the family of Jesus.
Anne: Joseph of Arimathea, who was the great uncle of Christ, the uncle of his mother Mary, took his immediate family, which could include his mother. It definitely included her and any wives or children that he might have had. He took the immediate family. And that’s where you get these stories of them taking a boat, and some say it was even set adrift without oars. But the other one was it Joseph of Arimathea was going to protect and save this family. So he took him to England, on the way he went through other countries. So that would explain the answer to your question. They were not around. They were being protected.
David: There are legends that Christ was in other places.
GT: We have The Da Vinci Code.
GT: Did he go to France?
Anne: Yes, it was Gaul at the time. And yes, he definitely went there.
However, most Christians balk at the idea that Jesus was married, and even fewer accept the Da Vinci Code novel. I’m going to channel my inner evangelical and try to push back on this idea that Jesus was married. We will also talk about modern scholarship that has uncovered the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife!
David: In 2012 Karen King, she is a very high ranking scholar at Harvard Divinity School, and she ends up receiving this papyrus. And the person who owns it wanted to remain anonymous. But he said, you should review this and go through it and so she presents this in Rome, among her peers. And she they call it the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. And so it’s this little papyrus about this big [about the size of a credit card.]
Let me read the words that they found in it so that I get it exactly right. It says, “Jesus said to them, my wife.” And then the next line says, “she will be able to be my disciple.” And so they get this and it’s like the first time anybody has any discussion about Jesus being actually married, and uses the word wife. And when they did the research on this, of course, right after she comes out with this, some of the Vatican newspapers come out and say, “Well, it must be a fake. It must be a forgery.” It must be inaccurate, right? So they did all their tests upon the papyrus that they found to determine if it was forged or not. And of course, the person that gave it to him want to remain anonymous, so that’s suspicious. And so the provenance or the origin story is pretty weak on where this came from. But they tested it, and it doesn’t appear to be inaccurate. And the papyrus appears to be from about 700 to 800 A.D. So it’s old.
GT: So it’s at least 700 years after Jesus lived, though.
David: That’s right. So it was it wouldn’t have been contemporary with his his time, but it shows is people were talking about it. And that’s interesting. Conclusive? No. Interesting? Yes.
In 1 Corinthians it says it is better to marry than to burn, and Jesus says there is no marriage in heaven. How do they handle those scriptures?
GT: Paul says you should remain celibate even as I am. But if you can’t contain, okay, go ahead and get married. You know, because it’s better to marry than to burn. I mean, that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement of marriage.
David: Well, Paul was married.
Anne: Yeah, I was just gonna say that.
David: Yeah. And so, that’s the only that’s the only real scripture that they can hang on to call for celibacy, I guess.
David talks about other apocryphal documents that make the case Jesus was married. What do you think? Does it seem like wishful thinking to accept The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife and theories found in The Da Vinci Code to bolster their arguments that Jesus was married?
This was a very interesting discussion. I appreciated the way you put traditional Christian arguments in front of Anne and David, giving them room to respond. And I felt they did a pretty good job of being upfront where their reasoning relied on speculative/apocryphal sources. Though I think they are guilty of cherry picking sources that serve their doctrinal sensibilities. Aren’t we all to some extent?
As someone who has read all of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon novels, and enjoyed most of them, I think it’s very wishful thinking to use his novels to buttress a historical argument. The novels are themselves wishful works of fiction, taking pleasure in developing elaborate and highly contrived conspiracies (which have increasingly been sculpted to popularize Brown’s worldviews on everything from the historical Jesus to overpopulation).
Coincidentally, I rewatched The Da Vinci Code movie adaptation with my folks over Thanksgiving as part of a Tom Hanks marathon. I like the movie a lot. In an extended Mormon family context, we watched the film thinking, what’s the big deal? For Mormons it’s more problematic to imagine Jesus as never marrying. That said, when the notion comes up of Jesus perhaps being a polygamist, mainstream Mormons often react with the same disgust traditional Christians express toward Jesus being married at all. Engrossing topic, albeit a bit of mine field depending on who you’re talking with.
This is so plain to me. Someone cast some doubt on my reasoning in a logical way. Will all the insulting of Jesus Christ and the wierdity and oddness of a Jewish Prominent Male teacher to not be married. I cant stress this enough…A prominent male leader…to not be married and even to be asked questions about marriage. BUT LO, never is it questioned by the crowd, never is it even brought up, never is one pot shot at him taken for being single..never. the easiest slander to a male leader..your not married. Why don’t you have a wife? Why don’t you have a family? was never , ever, ever mentioned anywhere in the NT…why not? Forget the fact for one moment his wife was not mentioned but consider this….why was the absence of a normal family life including a wife not targeted? Wouldn’t the very culture that considers seed a blessing, a King’s sons his most valuable treasure, and in a religion where Marriage and Family are the pride and joy of life…wouldn’t someone somewhere have said…..Hey you over there..your a loser..you dont even have a wife! what a joke you are with no family whatsoever….leave us you idiot of manhood. Not only was it expected for a male teacher to be married within the culture…but to be married wayyyy younger than in his thirties. The absence of a snide comment or question concerning his marital status is more telling than the absence of its mention. Not only that but would not it be taboo to discuss the sonship and lineage of a potential King for fear of that very lineage being hunted down and killed and in danger? Isn’t this a more logical reason for silence among followers of this issue. Wow, to me this seems so obvious. No statement, no comment, nothing….Hey you over there…supposed Messiah…why don’t you have a family? Never questioned. Why? because he had a family imo.