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Jesus Married? Not Surprising For a Dedicated Jew

September 21, 2012 1:22 pm 8 comments

Billions of Christians around the world revere the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (pictured) in the Old City as Jesus's burial place, but a recently aired film on the Discovery Channel casts some doubt on that belief. Photo: Berthold Werner.

Whether authenticated or not there is nothing totally new in the “discovery” by a Harvard scholar of a fourth- century papyrus fragment indicating that Jesus was married. The so- called “Gnostic Gospels,” which were written by early Christian sects and uncovered in the Egyptian desert in 1945 (“Nag Hammadi Library”), also reported a romantic relationship — and possibly marriage — between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. The Gospel of Philip says: “There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion.”

Another passage from this Gospel is even more explicit about Mary Magdalene: “[Jesus] loved her more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her mouth. The rest of the disciples said to him, why do you love her more than all of us?”

The Gospel of Mary, found in the 19th century near Akhmim in upper Egypt, also describes a special relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene: “Peter said to Mary, Sister we know that the Savior loved you more than the rest of women. Tell us the words of the Savior which you remember which you know, but we do not, nor have we heard them.”

That these documents may well be authentic is reinforced by the fact that there is no tradition of celibacy in Judaism. Throughout history Jews have embraced the Old Testament dictum: “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 9:7). All the great rabbis were married and had children. And Jesus and his disciples were dedicated practicing Jews. The notion that Jesus and the 12 disciples would appear, for example, at the wedding in Cana (the occasion of Jesus performing his first miracle — turning water into wine) as single men and avowed celibates would have been scandalous. But were they unmarried? We know for sure that Peter was married. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us that Jesus visited Peter’s mother-in-law and healed her: “And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid and sick of a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them” (Matthew 8:14-15; similar citations in the Gospels of Mark and Luke).

It’s curious that Matthew, Mark and Luke casually drop in this reference to Peter being married, with no elaboration. If he were the only disciple who was married wouldn’t this be the perfect spot to say that — and explain why? And if Jesus and the other disciples were unmarried and celibate, the Gospel writers could have easily omitted this brief reference to Peter’s mother-in-law so as not to beg the question about marriage and celibacy. But looked at another way, they may not have thought it necessary to explain or elaborate. In the context of Jewish culture and practices they would assume that the readers would know that all the disciples were married. And isn’t it interesting that the married Peter was designated by Jesus as the one who would lead the disciples: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church” (Mathew 16:18).

Even more mysterious are the 18 years missing from Jesus’s biography. In the New Testament Gospels we encounter Jesus at his birth. After that, we find the 12-year-old Jesus debating the scholars at the Temple in Jerusalem during the Passover celebration. His next appearance, at age 30, is at the River Jordan where he is baptized by his cousin John the Baptist.

Where was Jesus and what was he doing during those missing years? The huge information gap has invited spin and speculation about his life and marital status. It enabled Dan Brown, in his novel “The DaVinci Code,” to weave a story about Jesus, his wife Mary Magdalene and their child Sarah.

The discovery of the lost parchment, along with the earlier documents that suggest that Jesus was married, resurrects a subject that demands reevaluation by the Catholic Church. We can only hope that the deserts and caves will eventually yield lost Gospels that will give us indisputable evidence about Jesus’s marital status and his views on celibacy.

But will a critical mass of documentation prompt the Catholic Church to reconsider celibacy, marriage of priests, and the role of women in the Church hierarchy? One wonders.

Bernard Starr is the author of a forthcoming book, ‘Jesus Uncensored: Restoring the Authentic Jew.’

8 Comments

  • is not ture jesus is maried he never got maried he is the son of God he is not human and he did not have nessary

  • WHY THE AUTHOR FEELS IT nessasary to make an irrelevant character relevant is probably the same reason paul said G’D spoke to him while riding to damascus on a donkey that he should follow jesux.The answer is money! Harvard trained by other overeducated idiots posted in or at least I thought is a Jewish media outlet doesnt impress me.It is more disappointing that a Jew would learn more about what doesnt concern us then what does.
    Jesux and xtianity is after my own research has proven to me to be the biggest fraud and con perpetrated upon mankind and anyone who did a little research will find that to be so.
    The created time lines, the created miracles, the created words written hundreds of years after his death is an absurdity. There were illogical and unreasonable to state much of the so called gospels by people who mostly never wrote thier own ‘gospels but hired poets to write them and to top it off used hebrew phrasing and quotes in many cases attributing the quotes to jesux with a little twist of the words to make it ”original.

    What I stated should be the basis of research if anything in order for the world to realize that jeusx did promote war and murder…luke 19:27…”kill those in front of me who dont accept me as their ‘king messiah’ so I may see them die”
    I have not come to make peace I have come with the sword.
    may you fig tree die for not giving me fruit when I want it now.
    xtianity is a fraud.The church is the biggest landowner in New York City.

  • Just another lie that someone has made up…

  • I’m a Christian and I see no reason to be bothered by the possibility that Jesus was married. In fact, marriage and family would be appropriate for a devout Jew seeking to live by the commandments in Torah.

  • Even if this find turns out to be real, does that make it so? It is, if real, it’s 250-300 years after the event.
    By the way, it looks to my amature eyes to be an old papyrus with new writing. Just saying.

  • Fairy tales invented in Egypt, for which they incurred the wrath of God in the curse of Islam…

  • gnostic is not the bible

    This is not news.
    There are all kinds of claims or stories, supernatural event, and tales in Gnostic texts that are completely absent in the Christian Bible.

    Not ONE Gnostic text is included in the Christian bible, even though they were available at the time the Christian bible was assembled, so they were never taken as inspired works, or even related to Christianity.

    The Coptic/Gnostic works are basically completely unrelated and seperate from the traditional Christian Bible and even to Byzantine and Eastern Roman / Orthodox Christianity… NO ONE even considered the Gnostic texts as anything more than a lot of stories made up in Egypt that were in no way derived from real events or actual biblical accounts from the Levant.

    The gnostic texts accuracy or relevance to Christianity would be similar to reading the made up tales from Joseph Smiths writings,
    written in 19th century Missouri about claimed events he claims to recount from 2nd century B.C. Levant.

  • Interesting. However, I believe too much attention is focused on such superficial concerns such as Jesus’ celibacy or not. His teachings, as they have come down to us, are what is important, not these peripheral considerations.

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