Ask Augustine with Dr. Paul Tambrino
Ask Augustine is a weekly column where professor/author Dr. Paul Tambrino discusses various theological questions with wit, clarity and substance.
Question #18 – Did Jesus Ever Get Married?
To paraphrase our 40th president, Ronald Reagan, there they go again!
False doctrines have always been more popular to our fallen human nature than are the doctrines we find in Scripture.
This particular question of whether Jesus married has been a subject of special interest over the past fifty years and especially so since Dan Brown wrote his fictional novel, The Da Vinci Code, back in 2003.
Take for instance, in 2012 when Harvard Professor Karen King identified a scrap of papyrus, smaller than a business card written in Coptic in the fourth century containing the phrase, “And Jesus said to them, ‘My wife—.’” “The Christian faith is based squarely on history not mythology, on fact and not fiction.”
Just below that line there was a second clause that said, “she will be able to be my disciple.”
Much of the content and thus context was missing from the fragment, but there were a few snippets from the non-canonical and Gnostic (basically meaning having a superior and special knowledge revealed to a select few) Gospels of Thomas and Mary. It further assumed that the marriage at Cana was in fact Jesus’ marriage.
Yet, the text beyond “my wife” was cut off so even if the document was authentic its words might even have been a reference to the church.
Of course, years later King’s document was proved to be a forgery.
Back in 2012, the phrase regarding her being able to be Jesus’ disciple was emphasized to support desperate calls for the Vatican (and I suppose many conservative protestant churches) to allow women and married men to become priests.
Curiously the article and King were silent on the words of Paul in his letters to Timothy and Titus which also preclude women.“Too often we want to develop our own theology from below rather than believe that which has been revealed from above.”
Anyhow, such examples remind us that the Christian faith is based squarely on history not mythology, on fact and not fiction.
Too often we want to develop our own theology from below rather than believe that which has been revealed from above.
Yes, while we do know that most Jewish men did get married before age 30, which, according to Luke 3:23, is about how old Jesus was when He began His ministry; it is not true that all Jewish men married.
Archeologically we know from the ruins of Qumran and Biblically we know of special cases like John the Baptist that there were various exceptions.
We also have Jesus’ own teaching for His disciples in Matthew 19:10-12 that it is fine to be celibate for the sake of the coming Kingdom of God, especially if one cannot handle life-long fidelity in marriage.
Most who argue that Jesus got married will point to the marriage at Cana.
But that has to be a weak argument from silence unless John 2:1-12 specifically says so.
John 2:1 tells us that there was a wedding in Cana and that not only were Jesus’ brothers and disciples there, but also His mother was there.“Even the less historically accurate Gnostic gospels do not tell us that Jesus was married, much less to Mary Magdalene. This is not because there is a theological problem with His being married but because historically it never happened.”
This is an odd statement if she was in fact the mother of the groom. It would not be necessary to emphasize that she was present if this was a wedding in which she had an important role to play.
Verse 2 says that His disciples had also been invited to the wedding. Again, this is very odd language if this is a story about Jesus’ own wedding or even a wedding of any of His siblings.
Then in verse 3, when the wine runs out, Mary tells Jesus that they have no wine. To which Jesus replies, in verse 4, “What is that to you and to me?”
Clearly neither Mary nor Jesus has any obligation in the catering affairs of this event, which they would have had were it His or a family member’s wedding.
But the clincher for me that the story is not about Jesus’ wedding is found in verse 12.
We are told that Jesus went down from Cana to Capernaum after the wedding celebration WITH HIS MOTHER, His brothers AND His disciples.
Now whatever else secular “scholars” might say about early Jewish weddings one thing is sure; when it is over the groom does not go home with his mother, his family and his friends!!!
Thus, we are not dealing with Jesus’ wedding in John 2:1-12 or anywhere else in the New Testament, or in early Christian tradition, or in fourth century non-canonical Coptic writings.
Even the less historically accurate Gnostic gospels do not tell us that Jesus was married, much less to Mary Magdalene.
This is not because there is a theological problem with His being married but because historically it never happened.
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