I am currently reading Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” and he makes a
convincing claim of the possibility that Jesus was married to Mary
Magdalene. Is there any possibility of truth in this? (I am a dedicated
Christian, and an answer either way wouldn’t shake my convictions about
following Jesus’ teachings, but I was just curious.)

Having read a number of Brown’s arguments, I find them to be
totally unconvincing. He argues according to a closed logic which will
break down immediately upon very simple questioning by anyone who has a
general awareness of the biblical background to Jesus. This (the idea
that Jesus would have had sexual contact with a woman) is a really
interesting idea and it certainly has earned Mr. Brown a lot of money.
What the idea is missing is a single shred of evidence which will support
it. All Mr. Brown can offer is some interesting speculative
interpretation of some passages which lend themselves far more easily to a
less sensational (and therefore less profitable) interpretation. It would
seem that if Jesus had been married, the apostles certainly would have
been aware of it. It seems beyond the possibility of belief that they
would not have noted that Jesus was married. That sounds like a cover-up,
which is not consistent with the character of the apostles as we can read
about them in the New Testament. I realize that this is an argument based
on logic, not evidence, but one should be aware that Brown has absolutely
no external evidence that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, other than
his own speculations and quotes from others with similar speculations. If
Brown is going to make such a seemingly outlandish claim which seems to
violate common sense, ie that Jesus would have been married, knowing that
he would be killed soon after turning 30, he should have some direct
evidence, or one would do well to dismiss the allegation. Again, showing
that Brown’s claims are illogical and outlandish does not, in and of
itself, disprove his claims, but it shows that he better have really solid
proof, such as an historical reference from the first or second century,
which he does not.

There are a great number of reasons it would not make sense to
believe Jesus was married. The Bible describes the Church as the bride of
Christ. This would be a strange metaphor if Jesus was actually married to
Mary Magdalene. Jesus certainly never seems to have acted as a husband if
one looks at his lifestyle during his three years of ministry. It is hard
to believe the son of God would have been anything less than a stellar
husband. The idea of Jesus having sexual intercourse is pretty hard to
imagine, given his ministry and the suffering and death which God knew
were in store for him. Let me say for the third time that proving that
Brown’s conclusions seem outlandish does not disprove his claim, but they
cause one to demand proof. It is fairly easy to “prove” almost anything
one wants to if one takes a few references out of context and quotes from
others who already agree with you. This is a familiar bogus method of
research which has led to all kinds of interesting, titillating and
profitable conclusions, but one would do well to hold to a healthy
skepticism and to ask for information from primary sources before
accepting such ideas.

Please do not accept my comments as the final word on the
subject. I am trying to be humble and careful here, but this is the
rather strong impression I have gotten from what I have seen and heard
concerning the Da Vinci Code.

John Oakes, PhD

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