A Counterpoint to 'The Da Vinci Code'

It has long been believed that Jesus was single. Every detail of Scripture indicates this. When he was in ministry, there is no mention of a wife. When he was tried and crucified, there is no mention of his having a wife.

After his death, there is no mention of a wife. Whenever Jesus' family is referred to, it is his brothers and sisters who are mentioned, but never a wife. Nor is there any indication that he was widowed.

This is not an argument from silence in the classic sense, as there were numerous opportunities to make the point about Jesus being married had he been. There also are other texts that show Jesus supporting a single lifestyle for some of his followers, an example that seems to have included himself.

Beyond this, it is clear that the Gospels present Mary as an exemplary follower of Jesus and a witness to his resurrection, but she has no authoritative, official ecclesiastical role in the church.

In light of the respect that she held but her lack of any official office of authority, there was no need for the church to "degrade" her role, as some have suggested, as there was nothing to degrade.

Was Jesus Married At All?

As was noted in the ABCNEWS special, we can contrast the marital status of Jesus to the rest of the apostles, Peter, and the brothers of the Lord, all of whom are said to have had wives (1 Corinthians 9:5).

This passage shows that the church was not embarrassed to reveal that its leaders were married — or to suggest that they had the right to be. The same would have been true of Jesus, if he had been married. In fact, had Jesus been married, then there was no better place for Paul to say it than here. It would have clinched Paul's case that he also had the right to be married. Paul did not mention it, because Jesus had not been married.

What About Mary Magdalene?

Attempts to suggest that any of the many women associated with his ministry were, in fact, his wife are empty speculation. This includes the woman with the alabaster container who anointed Jesus (read Luke 7:36-50).

This woman's act was shocking and would not have been nearly so surprising had she been his wife. It is clear the woman here is not his wife, but someone else. Neither is she Mary Magdalene, because Mary is introduced as a new figure in the very next passage, in Luke 8:1-3. Had she been the woman who anointed Jesus' feet in Luke 7, then a reference back to her act just described would have been a natural thing to do, not to introduce her as a seemingly new character in the Gospel as Luke 8 does and make no mention of an act that Luke had just noted Jesus had praised.

One of the most interesting facts about the discussion about whether Jesus was married (and then whether this marriage was to Mary Magdalene) is that the vast majority of liberal and conservative students of the Bible agree that he was not married. This is one of the few points where there is such substantial agreement among biblical scholars.

The first to connect Mary and the sinful women was Gregory the Great in A.D. 591. He did so apparently on a false inference of the juxtaposition of Luke 7 and 8 and perhaps on the basis of confusion by identifying Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany in John 12, who also anointed Jesus' feet during Jesus' final days. (The Bible mentions seven Marys total, making confusion possible).

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