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Was Jesus married?


Rob Bowman

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The only evidence i've ever heard to support Jesus being married was that it would be almost riduculously odd for a Jewish man of His age not to have been married and that it would have been unacceptable for a Jewish man to be considered a rabbi or teacher if He was still single.

I have no idea if those evidences are accurate though. I don't know enough about Jewish customs with marriage at that time to say either way.

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Since this is speculative, a couple of fun things:

1. Joseph Smith pointed out an individual who was a descendant of Christ. (don't have the reference, just from memory)

2. I ran across this on the internet, "Bachelorhood was rare in Jewish males at the time of Jesus and they strongly believed in the idea that one should make their life fruitful by having children which is a law of nature. Jesus being a Jew would not have been accepted by Jewish community if he was unmarried."

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Since this is speculative, a couple of fun things:

1. Joseph Smith pointed out an individual who was a descendant of Christ. (don't have the reference, just from memory)

2. I ran across this on the internet, "Bachelorhood was rare in Jewish males at the time of Jesus and they strongly believed in the idea that one should make their life fruitful by having children which is a law of nature. Jesus being a Jew would not have been accepted by Jewish community if he was unmarried."

When I was a member, I understood that Christ would not ask of his followers to do that which he himself had not done. At the time, I presumed this included marriage and children, as this is certainly a cornerstone of the religion that he practiced while on earth (that being Mormonism).

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1. There is no mention of this idea in any of the four Gospels, despite the fact that they are written in the style of ancient Greco-Roman biographies (see Burridge's book What Are the Gospels?), in which some mention of his wife would be expected.

Actually, this could be taken as evidence FOR marriage.

As has been mentioned, to be unmarried was the rarity. Histories most often describe the unusual not the usual.

So I don't see this as supporting your claim.

Edited to add.

Same goes for #2

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The only evidence i've ever heard to support Jesus being married was that it would be almost riduculously odd for a Jewish man of His age not to have been married and that it would have been unacceptable for a Jewish man to be considered a rabbi or teacher if He was still single.

I have no idea if those evidences are accurate though. I don't know enough about Jewish customs with marriage at that time to say either way.

It was odd to be unmarried, but the office of rabbi did not exist and I can happily provide an example of a reknowned teacher who remained single.

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Good call, Vance.

He was accepted as a Rabbi, teaching in the synagogue. If he were unmarried, it would require an explanation how he was so readily accepted in this role.

Rob is looking at this through modern eyes, rather than through the historic narrative. The authors gave clear hints that Mary, if not his wife, they had a very special relationship.

I would think they did not explicitly mention her was for her protection and to protect the children.

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Volgadon writes:

It was odd to be unmarried, but the office of rabbi did not exist and I can happily provide an example of a reknowned teacher who remained single.
But therein lies the crux doesn't it? We know of men who didn't marry - but we know it because we are given statements that they didn't marry. It is explicitly stated. Not so with Jesus. Rob's point is simply that based on the style of the Gospels (following Burridge), that we should expect a statement of marriage if he were married. But the opposite might also be said - that perhaps we should expect a statement of non-marriage. I might also suggest that the notion that the Gospels as Greco-Roman biographies is hardly unchallenged. Larry Hurtado, for example, has been a vigorous critic of Burridge and his predecessors (particularly Aune and Talbert).

Ben McGuire

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Was Jesus married? More specifically, was he married to Mary Magdalene? Some people think so, but I will argue that this idea should be abandoned.

In historical Jesus research, all sorts of claims get made for which there is no real evidence. Perhaps Jesus was an Essene. Perhaps Jesus spent his youth in Tibet studying reincarnation and meditation. Perhaps Jesus started a cult whose members got high on a hallucinogenic drug. I

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Rob, your reasoning is sound and arguments are well articulated.

However, this is my question:

Is the idea of Christ being married somehow threatening to traditional christianity?

Does Christ being married undermine christian truth claims or biblical authority in some way?

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Volgadon writes:But therein lies the crux doesn't it? We know of men who didn't marry - but we know it because we are given statements that they didn't marry. It is explicitly stated. Not so with Jesus. Rob's point is simply that based on the style of the Gospels (following Burridge), that we should expect a statement of marriage if he were married. But the opposite might also be said - that perhaps we should expect a statement of non-marriage. I might also suggest that the notion that the Gospels as Greco-Roman biographies is hardly unchallenged. Larry Hurtado, for example, has been a vigorous critic of Burridge and his predecessors (particularly Aune and Talbert).

Ben McGuire

Indeed. Personally I believe that Christ was married, I just am not sure it was to Mary, nor do I think the gospels mention any marriage feast of Christ himself.

Want I am trying to do is point out that a famous rumour, that one had to be married to preach, is unfounded.

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Jesus was a first-century apocalypticist who came from the community of and traditions of John the Baptist. Jesus preached of the imminent coming of the Kingdom of God. Remember John the Baptist was also a unmarried Jewish man completely contemporary to Jesus in many ways. However, John was the ascetic living in many ways that had him also labeled as crazy. The Qumran Essenes also show us the existence of celibate Jewish males contemporary with Jesus' time.

It may have been his beliefs, but in my opinion Jesus was likely not married because he was a essentially a peasant displaced by the Romanization happening in Judea. Under Herod the Great lower Galilee was essentially left alone but under his son Herod Antipas the large project of building of Tiberius on the western shore of Lake Gennesaret began. This was in Jesus' early 20's and coincidental to the age he would be looking to marry.This project would have been a disruptive event that would have put many families in the area either into full employment or essentially dislocating the rest from the region.

So unlike the Essenes who chose not to marry for eschatological reasons my guess is that is was the geographical, political, economic circumstances that started his bachelorhood and by the time he reached the age where he began his public ministry he had given up the idea of marriage to be the preacher following in the footsteps of John the Baptist.

Phaedrus

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The body of evidence on neither side is overwhelming enough to dismiss the other.

The default condition for a rabbi was marriage, which could be argued to shift the burden of proof, but I don't think either side can reasonably saddle the other with the impossible-to-satisfy "burden of proof".

Anyway, here are my replies to Rob Bowman's points:

1. Jesus being married may have been suppressed by the early Christian church for two reasons: First, that would have given greater status to women than they wanted to concede, and second if Jesus had descendants they would have been rivals to the Roman church as far as authority goes. Suppression could have initially been for protection: The Romans executed Jesus for sedition, and they might have wanted to eliminate family members who could take up the banner of the fallen "King of the Jews".

2. While there is no mention of Jesus being married in the apocraphal gospels, he did annoy the disciples by kissing Mary on the mouth a lot. The saying "where there's smoke, there's fire" comes to mind.

3. Jesus' mission probably could have been filled by a married man or a single man; I don't see it as excluding either possibility,

4. The gospels have Mary Magdalene present at an awful lot of important events, and I think she's listed first every time there's a list of women by name. By the way, her name is very interesting. She is not "Mary of Magdala"; in fact, there is no such place. It's a title of some kind. The root might be migdal-eder, or "high watchtower." Thus "Mary Magdalene" might imply something like "Mary the Guardian" or "Mary the Great".

5. I have read that "rabboni" was a term of endearment. Of potentially greater interest is what happend just moments before: Supposing he was the gardener, Mary says that she will come and take Jesus' body away. My understanding is that, under Jewish law, only immediate family members could lay claim to a dead body.

A few other circumstantial evidences (not claiming these are proofs):

- My understanding is that under Jewish custom one of the duties of a king was to sire two sons, basically an heir and a spare. If Jesus was indeed fully qualified to be called "King of the Jews", fulfilling those requirements may well have been on his agenda.

- The anointing of a dead body with oil for burial was something that a wife did for her husband. Mary was in that role twice, once at the tomb and once in a prophetic anointing about a week before Jesus was killed. Jesus' remarks on that occasion were rather interesting, and I don't think the Christian world has followed his injunction to relay the story of that event "whersoever this gospel shall be preached". Perhaps we've been preaching a somewhat different gospel - the gospel of an unmarried Jesus, omitting his priestess wife? See John 12:1-8 and Mark 14:3-8 (different versions of what many scholars believe is the same event).

- When Paul was extolling the advantages of the celibate life, why did he use himself instead of Jesus as the example?

So my position is that there's enough evidence on both sides that neither deserves to be dismissed.

stYro

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And you "know" this how?

John the Baptist was a preacher who was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. His behavior and description is consistent with that of the Jewish ascetics of the 1st

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John the Baptist was a preacher who was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. His behavior and description is consistent with that of the Jewish ascetics of the 1st

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