Was Jesus Married?

A new novel forces people to confront a biblical puzzle. Was Mary Magdalene Mrs. Jesus?

Before the

"Left Behind"

series catapulted to the top of the bestseller list, the idea that Christians could be lifted bodily into the clouds during the Rapture was an idea that only obscure theologians studied. These days, of course, lots of people believe that's what will happen the day the world ends.

Now a new novel is forcing people to confront another biblical puzzle.

The DaVinci Code

, a thriller by Dan Brown, tells the story of a Harvard professor summoned to the Louvre Museum after a murder there to examine cryptic symbols relating to DaVinci's work. During the course of his investigation, he uncovers an ancient secret: the claim that Mary Magdalene represents the divine feminine, and that she and Jesus had a sexual relationship.


Is it possible Jesus had this kind of relationship with her or that they were, as some suggest, married?

Karen Leigh King

, a Harvard professor who is the world's leading authority on early Christian texts about Mary Magdalene, gives "The DaVinci Code" a thumbs-up--but only as fiction. ("It's a good read but historically way off.")

"The book certainly fits our times.. Since the 1960s there has been a hostility toward traditions in Christianity that are anti-sexuality," says King, adding that the novel also plays to interest in women's issues.



But, she says: "there's no historical information whatsoever that either of them was married, let alone to each other. When there's an argument from silence, you can jump either way. On one hand, why not? Why shouldn't they have sex? On the other hand, why every time you put a man and woman together do they have to have sex?"

The possibility of Jesus' marriage fascinates people; biblical scholars say they are often asked by audiences and readers about it. In general, only the most liberal scholars even bother to entertain the question.

Here is what we can say about Jesus' sex life:

  • Most mainstream biblical scholars do not believe Jesus was married to anyone, because the Gospels don't mention it.

  • A few biblical scholars argue it's likely Jesus was married--even though the Bible doesn't mention it-because Jewish men at that time nearly always married. These scholars tend not to care one way or another whether his wife was Mary Magdalene.
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