In an age of historical and biblical illiteracy it has become increasingly popular to perpetuate the notion that Jesus was married. The role of “Mrs. Jesus” in these fanciful depictions is most often played by Mary Magdalene. Most recently Dan Brown’s bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code (Doubleday, 2003) has received much attention for its iteration of this tired tale. In contradiction to the claims of sensationalistic scholars, a survey of the evidence demonstrates that the married–Jesus myth is nothing more than radical historical revisionism.
First, there is not a scintilla of evidence in Scripture, in the writings of the early church, or in the extra–biblical accounts of Jesus’ life that he was ever married. Contrary to the offhanded mention by Brown’s character Teabing of “countless references to Jesus and Magdalene’s union” (247), there are absolutely none.
Furthermore, the two documents most often cited in support of the married–Jesus myth––the Gospel of Philip and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene––were not only written too late to be considered reliable, but neither specifies nor implies that Jesus and Mary were actually married.
Finally, while no evidence from the historical record supports the notion that Jesus was married, the New Testament contains powerful evidence that Jesus was not. In 1 Corinthians 9:5 Paul defended his right to have a wife by appealing to the fact that Peter and other apostles had wives: “Don’t we have a right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?” If Jesus had been married it is unthinkable that Paul would have neglected to appeal to Jesus as the ultimate precedent. For this reason Paul Maier, professor of ancient history at Western Michigan University, aptly refers to 1 Corinthians 9:5 as “the graveyard of the married–Jesus fiction.”
For further study,see Hank Hanegraaff and Paul L.Maier, The Da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction? (Wheaton,IL:Tyndale House,2004),15–21.
“Jesus replied, ‘Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.’”