In the wake of the success of "The Da Vinci Code," a rash of novels have been published offering their own fictional speculation on the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene and the fate of offspring they may have had. Among them, Kathleen McGowan's "The Expected One" stands out for the author's claim that the main character, a journalist who uncovers the truth about Mary Magdalene, is based on her own experiences--including the discovery that her family is connected with the bloodline of Jesus and Mary. In an interview with Beliefnet, McGowan clarifies that claim about her ancestry, describes the spiritual implications of believing Jesus was a father, and discusses her fascination with Mary Magdalene.

Why you think so many people are so interested in Mary Magdalene? I think that there are two reasons. The first is what Mary Magdalene can teach us about Jesus. I think there’s an intense curiosity about this idea because if this is true, what insight does this give us into who Jesus really was? When you think about it, there’s so little that we have definitively about who Jesus really was. And so, I think this idea of who Mary Magdalene could have been in his life really makes everyone start asking a lot of "what if?" questions: What does this tell us about Jesus, and does this change anything about what we believe about him? Does it enhance it, which is what I certainly believe, or not?

The other piece of it, which I think is also extremely important, is who Mary Magdalene is and what she can mean to all of us. For me, Mary Magdalene became unequivocally my hero. If we look at these things as true, which, of course, I certainly do, and believe with all my heart that she was married to Jesus, that she was his legal wife, that she was his partner spiritually and the mother of his children--then what does that tell us about her as a woman, what she had to go through during this period of time, a woman who watched her husband murdered, a woman who then had to raise children on her own.

She’s the iconic spiritual single mother. A lot of what this book is about is this idea that Mary Magdalene landed in France and really formed the first Christian communities in Western Europe. And that, to me, just turns her into this incredible female heroic figure.

And I think a lot of women, specifically, are identifying with this, that Mary Magdalene represents this idea that women have been powerful forces in the spiritual world for thousands of years and it’s time to remember that and to let them come back into the light because they were kept in the darkness for such a long time.

What does all this teach us about Jesus? You said it raises the question of "does it change anything?"--does it?

Where my book is unique from the other Magdalene literature out there is I take the point of view that if Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, it doesn’t change anything in terms of how we think of him today. There has been a trend in Magdalene scholarship and literature that if you believe that Mary Magdalene may have been married to Jesus, then you also believe that Jesus was just a man and, therefore, that Jesus survived the crucifixion. Those theories have tended to go together.

But I want to say emphatically that I do not believe that. I believe that Jesus is all of these things that we celebrate in terms of Lord and Savior. I believe that Jesus performed miracles, and I certainly believe and celebrate in the book the power and the importance of the resurrection.

So for me, this idea of Jesus being committed and in love with someone who is his partner and a loving father just enhances everything that we know about him. And the same is true for my very Catholic husband. And I’ve had some very interesting conversations with Catholic men recently when I was in Ireland about this idea and they all said this idea that Jesus may have been as committed to his wife and his family as they are makes him more acceptable to them and they don’t believe it in any way threatens their faith.

So, you’re presenting a very different, a different take on it than what Dan Brown offered.

A very different take. I believe I am the first person to ever say in writing that Jesus was married, Jesus had children, and yet, Jesus is still Jesus, and, he still died on the cross and he still was resurrected. And the basic premises of Christianity are completely intact within this story.

Why present the story as a novel as opposed to as history? To what extent is it fiction?

In 1997 I wrote a book proposal to present this book as non-fiction and people literally laughed at me in the publishing world and said, first of all, no one is ever going to publish a book about the idea that Mary Magdalene was married to Jesus. Which, of course, now is kind of funny. And two, the only way you’re ever going to get a book like this published as non-fiction by any reputable publisher is if you are lecturing at a university or you have a doctorate after your name.

But the interesting thing about this, and the poetic irony in all of it, is once I made a decision to write it as fiction, I had so much more freedom to tell the truth, because there were things that I could include in fiction that I could never include in non-fiction.

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