Was Jesus Married?
The last several days have been filled with news reports that a Harvard scholar has come up with a 4th century fragment of papyrus that authenticates the claim that Jesus was married, presumably to Mary Magdalene. The findings, among 60 papers presented, were given at the Vatican in Rome. Interestingly, the Vatican made no mention of the claims in the news reports of the event that included more than 300 scholars from around the world. In the theological community, this subject has been a topic of debate for quite a number of years, with different sides digging in and maintaining that their viewpoint is the correct one.
The simple answer to the question raised in the title of this blog is that nobody knows for sure if Jesus was married; and we won’t know until we get to heaven. But the different sides each have “evidence” to support their position. Rather than get really deep into this argument, I thought that an overview may be more helpful. After all, there are men and women who have spent decades of their lives trying to unravel the mysteries of translating fragments and putting together viable timelines about various theological issues in the field of bibliology, the study of the texts and their authenticity.
To begin with, there is great disagreement about which texts are the most authentic, as we don’t have any of the original manuscripts that make up the Bible. Back when the first documents were written by hand, in the first century, they were copied and sent to various parts of the empires for historical recording. General thinking is that those documents that were written in Antioch were probably copied early on and included those that were sent to Rome – eventually ending up in the Vatican archives. Having been taken out of circulation, they would tend to have the fewest errors and therefore, be the most accurate. From that translation, the Latin Vulgate was written and eventually English translations, such as the King James Version, were also made.
Documents that stayed in Turkey were probably copied more often and therefore, would eventually contain more errors from scribal mistakes. Of course, documents that were written as close as possible to the time of Christ would tend to be more accurate than those that were written years, or even centuries later. Stories, passed down orally, would lose detail as time passed.
The earliest known fragments used to establish the authorized Bible (KJV) were from as early as 120-130 A.D. That’s pretty close to the time of Jesus from a historical perspective, especially when John, the last disciple to die, lived until around 95-98 A.D. The next generation would have had stories passed to them directly from people who knew Jesus, perhaps face to face, although life expectancies were much shorter back then than they are now.
The Coptic fragment in the news this week is from, supposedly, the fourth century. That means it was written several hundred years, at least, after the earliest fragments we know of. From a scholarly perspective, that means it would tend to be less accurate than the other fragments we already have. In fact, it would not have been unusual for scribes to add details to fit their own theories of what happened historically, hundreds of years earlier.
Moving back out to a 60,000 ft. view of the situation, Jesus came to earth as a substitutionary blood atonement for the sins of the world. In the Old Testament, there were sacrifices made each week for the sins of the people. Jesus, fully God and fully human, came in human form to die, once and for all, for the sins of the world. The old style of sacrifice was gone forever – Jesus was the way… And since Jesus was fully God, sinless and holy, it does not make sense to me that He was married. After all, whoever He married would have been a sinner (only Jesus was sinless) and that would have been inconsistent with His role as a holy atonement for the sins of the world.
Jesus also said that He came to do the will of His Father. Marriage and a family would have interfered with the prime directive of Jesus – the final sacrifice, once and for all; thus providing as way for man to return to communion with God, as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden. Another thing – even though God created Adam and Eve, and supported the idea of marriage and family, He did not have to be married or have His own “family” to demonstrate His love for Man.
So, in summary, I personally don’t see any evidence to support the allegation that Jesus was married. And the Bible certainly doesn’t mention any marriage of Jesus. Since the Bible was inspired by the Spirit of God, and marriage is an important part of God’s plan for His people, it would seem reasonable that the marriage of Jesus would warrant some mention in the holy Scriptures. And it’s not there…
So, whether you believe Jesus was married or not, one thing is for sure. It doesn’t change the mission of Jesus or how effective His mission was. And that’s the most important part of this whole post. Jesus accomplished the will and the mission of His father. And that’s great news for us – it provides a way for us to spend eternity with God.
The verse tonight is from Paul’s letter to the Romans. In Romans 3:22-25, we are told, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.”
My encouragement tonight is that Jesus provided a way back to the Father and God loves you. My prayer is that you will realize the sacrifice that Jesus made for all of us and that you will rest in the knowledge that an eternity with God is yours for the acceptance of His free offer. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…