Were Jesus and Mary Married?

The Da Vinci Code created a bit of a stir in making the claim that Mary Magdalene and Jesus were married.  How do LDS handle the issue?  Dale Bills, a spokesman for the Church, said in a statement released Tuesday, 16 May 2006:

The belief that Christ was married has never been official church doctrine. It is neither sanctioned nor taught by the church. While it is true that a few church leaders in the mid-1800s expressed their opinions on the matter, it was not then, and is not now, church doctrine.[2]

According to the Foundation of Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR),

“Several early LDS leaders believed Jesus was married, and said so from the pulpit on occasion. Here is one example from Apostle Orson Hyde:

Now there was actually a marriage [at Cana (John 2:1–11 )]; and if Jesus was not the bridegroom on that occasion, please tell who was. If any man can show this, and prove that it was not the Savior of the world, then I will acknowledge I am in error. We say it was Jesus Christ who was married, to be brought into the relation whereby he could see his seed (Isaiah 53:10 ), before he was crucified. “Has he indeed passed by the nature of angels, and taken upon himself the seed of Abraham, to die without leaving a seed to bear his name on the earth?” No. But when the secret is fully out, the seed of the blessed shall be gathered in, in the last days; and he who has not the blood of Abraham flowing in his veins, who has not one particle of the Savior’s in him, I am afraid is a stereotyped Gentile, who will be left out and not be gathered in the last days; for I tell you it is the chosen of God, the seed of the blessed, that shall be gathered. I do not despise to be called a son of Abraham, if he had a dozen wives; or to be called a brother, a son, a child of the Savior, if he had Mary, and Martha, and several others, as wives; and though he did cast seven devils out of one of them, it is all the same to me.[1]

What do non-Mormons think about this issue?  Michael Griffith, author of “A Ready Reply: Answering Challenging Questions about the Gospel” references Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln (authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail) as being in favor of Jesus being married.  According to Griffith,

Several early Mormon leaders suggest that the wedding at Cana was Christ’s wedding.  A number of non-Mormon scholars have studied the wedding account in John 2:1-12 and come to the same conclusion.  For example, Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln say “In the Fourth Gospel, there is an episode related to a marriage that may, in fact, have been Jesus’ own. (331)

There are indeed elements in the wedding account that suggest it was the Savior’s wedding.  For instance, scholars have noted that Mary behaved as if she was the hostess.  Also, the fact that Mary asked Christ to replenish the wine indicated He was responsible for catering, which in turn suggests he was the bridegroom.  Furthermore, after the governor of the feast” tasted the replenished wine, he addressed “The bridegroom” saying, “thou hast kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:9-10)  Since Jesus had just replenished the wine, the obvious and logical implication is that He was the one being spoken to and hence the bridegroom. Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln observe, “These [the governor’s] words clearly seem addressed to Jesus. (322-323)

Not everyone agrees so strongly with this sentiment.  In the National Geographic documentary called “The Real Mary Magdalene”  (part of a 3 DVD set of Science of the Bible on disk 3), shows a diversity of opinion.

Professor Karen King, Harvard University “It would have been plausible that Jesus as a Jewish man was married.  What I cannot believe was that Mary would not have been referred to as the wife of Jesus in a text where she’s standing next to him.  That would be unique in all of ancient literature.”

None of the gospels we have examined calls her by any other name than Mary of Magdala.  This is strong evidence that she was not the wife of Jesus, but even biblical scholars disagree on this issue.

Professor Marvin Meyer, Chapman University, “The evidence is more subtle, and Is harder to interpret, but what is clear is that Jesus may have been married.  And if Jesus was married, I am sure that he was married to Mary Magdalene and to nobody else.”

Karen King of Harvard University feels that Mary was a widow.

King, “It would have been plausible that Jesus as a Jewish man was married.  What I cannot believe was that Mary would not have been referred to as the wife of Jesus in a text where she’s standing next to him.  That would be unique in all of ancient literature.”

She believes Mary Magdalene was a widow.

Professor Carolyn Osiek, Brite Divinity School, “Mary Magdalene is described as a woman with a certain number of possessions, and a woman of substance as it were.”

King, “Perhaps she had an inheritance.  But I don’t think we should think of enormous wealth.  I think we should think of something much more modest.”

Her apparent means, her name with no connection to a man, and her freedom to travel around Galilee start to build a picture of the real Mary Magdalene.”

Osiek, “My assumption is that she is a widow.  Usually when you have someone in this culture, women moving somewhat independently and with a certain amount of goods, it’s usually a widow.”

In discussing the name Magdalene,

King, “We think that this is a place name, that she is from a town called Magdala, which is located on the Sea of Galilee.”

During the first century, Magdala was a fishing village on the Sea of Galilee’s western shore.

Professor Jonathan L. Reed, University of La Verne, “Magdala is a small fishing village, a town maybe of a thousand people.  It literally means ‘dry fish-ville’.  It’s where you go to dry fish.  It’s where fisherman work.  It’s not an elegant, nice place to come from.”

It was just 2 hours walk from Capernaum, where the gospels say that Jesus based his ministry.  It’s likely this is where Mary first heard Jesus speak.  But the very fact that the gospels name Mary after her town, just as they wrote Jesus of Nazareth, gives us a clue to who Mary was.

King, “It would be extremely uncommon to refer to a married woman by her place. The more usual thing is to refer to her by the man she is attached to, usually a husband, a father, a brother.  So this indication of calling her Mary of Magdala is for me the strongest indication that she was not married.”

Since her village identified Mary, she most likely had neither husband nor children.

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3 comments on “Were Jesus and Mary Married?

  1. I have always wondered about these verses from D&C 113 –(3 What is the rod spoken of in the first verse of the 11th chapter of Isaiah, that should come of the Stem of Jesse?

    4 Behold, thus saith the Lord: It is a servant in the hands of Christ, who is partly a descendant of Jesse as well as of Ephraim, or of the house of Joseph, on whom there is laid much power.)
    It would seem to me that one can draw the inference that Joseph Smith is a descendant of the Savior.

    I realize that it might sound heretical to some, but to me it makes a bit of sense and I really don’t have any problem with the notion fo the savior being married and having a family.

    anyone want to comment?

  2. Are you saying that the Savior had a child? Did the Da Vinci Code have it right?

  3. […] also talked about speculation that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene.  What are your feelings regarding a possible marriage of […]

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