That “Jesus was married” theory posited by The Lost Gospel is still kicking around the internet, with traditional believers discounting the claims and the more “liberal” believers saying, “So what if he was?”
However, a new reading of The Bible seems to indicate that you don’t even need the new “gospel” to draw a correct conclusion that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene.
While there is nothing new about the theory, the best evidence, one scholar suggests, lay within the Scriptures themselves.
In a recent piece for the Huffington Post, author and biblical scholar James D. Tabor (Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity) takes a look at the Scriptures and how they offer ample evidence for a married Jesus.
Tabor notes that “there is strong textual evidence that at least hints if not affirms that Jesus was married — and most likely to Mary Magdalene.”
“First, there is the apostle Paul,” he writes, “who is our earliest literary witness to any form of ‘Christianity,’ who strongly advocates and encourages celibacy or the non-sexual life — but only mentions himself — not Jesus — as an example thereof.”
Pointing to 1 Corinthians, where Paul mentions other apostles “traveling with their wives (even though these ‘phantom’ wives are never named in any of our texts), and quotes Jesus to support his views on forbidding divorce. If Jesus had been celibate Paul would surely have appealed to him as his main example.”
But the most convincing evidence that Jesus was married, at least concerning what comes from the Gospel accounts?
For Tabor, it’s our earliest record of Jesus’ burial in Mark, where “the mysterious Mary Magdalene shows up out of nowhere, not only listed with Jesus’ own mother and a group of Galilean women, but clearly given first place and prominence.”
Tabor adds that it is Mary Magdalene “above even Jesus’ mother or sister,” who takes lead in Jewish burial rites for Jesus’ body, which included “both washing and anointing his naked dead body.”
“This is not the position of an outsider, or even a close ‘insider,’ in terms of disciples or followers. This is an intimate honor and a duty reserved for ones closest relatives — particularly one’s wife, mother, aunt, or sister. She appears and then disappears — though in John she is clearly the lone ‘first witness’ to Jesus’ resurrection as well. Her disappearance is as strange as her sudden appearance. But then Mary Magdalene surfaces again in some of our second and third century gospels, as a prominent female leader, intimate companion of Jesus, and bearer of ‘secret’ revelations. How is this to be best explained?”
Tabor’s reading of The Bible is compelling in how much sense it makes from the standpoint of logic and a respect for what historians know about First Century Jewish culture.
Interestingly, many commenters saw Tabor’s interpretation as downright “blasphemous,” and insisted that he “go pick on Muslims instead.” How a married Jesus is in some way wrong or sinful is a head-scratcher, especially since many of these same people would talk about the “sanctity of marriage.”
If Jesus was married, does that really change so much? And what do you think of Tabor’s interpretation?
[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]