This article is posted on The Religion Forum in response to my friend, Chris, and you can comment here and/or there. I have to confess that I take something of a "much ado about nothing" approach to the question while a cautious approach to the agenda behind the resurgence of the question.
Inasmuch as it is timed to bring disrepute upon the scritures and further a position of relativism or advance a conspiracy theory, I feel that it needs to be addressed. I did some quick research and have cited some of the viewpoints I found, agreeing with some, leaning toward others, and at odds with one or two:
>>The one bit of the background I do take reasonably seriously is that I think Mary Magdalene was far more important than she tends to be made out to be, and if Jesus had a wife, she's the best candidate, and the wedding at Cana story could just be his own wedding. That by itself is quite upsetting enough to a lot of people <g><<
I am sure that Mary M. was important or she would not have been mentioned so much - and she was most likely well known in the early church. When names are used in the gospel accounts, that is often the case.
As for Jesus being married or not, the Bible is pretty silent.
One might react to the suggestion with as much offense as that taken by Hal Lindsey or wiht the reasoned approach of Mark Roberts.
Dr. Mark Roberts, an evangelical pastor and author has an article on his blog which states:
"Finding the facts isn't easy, however, because we have very little overt historical evidence for or against the marriage of Jesus. The earliest and most reliable records of his life - the New Testament gospels - do not tell us explicitly whether Jesus was married or not. They don't mention his having a wife. Nor do they state that he was unmarried."
Roberts takes a rather unimpassioned tone as he tracks some of the argujments for and against the notioned of a married Jesus:
"Although almost all scholars of all religious persuasions take this as strong evidence of the singleness of Jesus, a few have proposed that, in fact, Jesus was married. In 1970, for example, William E. Phipps published Was Jesus Married? The Distortion of Sexuality in the Christian Tradition. In this book Phipps argued that the silence of the New Testament about the marital status of Jesus indicates that Jesus was in fact married. Why? Because virtually every Jewish man in Jesus' day did marry, especially those who were considered to be Rabbis."
Belief Net also tackles the issue in this article.
Since I leadn toward a rather conservative approach to the Bible, this follow quote from the Belief Net article fits me fairly well:
" Conservative biblical scholars think the entire question is silly, since the notion simply isn’t in the Bible. “Mary Magdalene was one of several women who contributed to Jesus’ ministry and supported it,” says Darrell Bock, New Testament professor at Dallas Theological Seminary."
Returning to Roberts: He spends a great deal of time analyzing both canonical and non-canonical literature and explains his approach thusly:
"most proponents of the marriage of Jesus thesis have an agenda. They are trying to strip Jesus of his uniqueness, and especially his deity. They want a Jesus who was a mere human being, one with spiritual insight, but otherwise ordinary. The supposed marriage of Jesus is taken by many to be proof that he really wasn't God in the flesh, but only a mortal man."
A more supportive view is held by this author, James.
He descrble his religion as "
"The Grail Religion can be described as a composite religion of Christianity, Judaism, and Paganism (paganism in its most positive form)."
I suppose that most Evangelicals will take that with a "grail" of salt.
Darrell L. Bock weighs in on the question . Bock is a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, a trusted bastion of conservative Christian scholarship:
"It has long been believed that Jesus was single. Every detail of Scripture indicates this. When he was in ministry, there is no mention of a wife. When he was tried and crucified, there is no mention of his having a wife. After his death, there is no mention of a wife. Whenever Jesus' family is referred to, it is his brothers and sisters who are mentioned, but never a wife. Nor is there any indication that he was widowed."
Al Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is more direct:
There can be no serious question about the marital status of Jesus. The canonical gospels, (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) preclude any option of understanding Jesus as married. He operates as an unmarried teacher with a band of devoted disciples. He is not the head of a household, but builds a household of faith--the church. At the crucifixion, he assigns John responsibility for caring for Mary, his mother. There is no mention of any wife, certainly no mention of children.
One more citation would be that scholarly journal, About.Com. All snide comments aside, guest author Austin Cline on the Atheism/Agnoistics pasge does a pretty good summary of the arguments and concludes:
"Is it possible that Jesus was married? Yes, there is nothing which completely excludes the possibility and there are reasons to think it possible. The arguments in defense of this idea are not strong, however, and cannot justify concluding that Jesus was definitely married."
What do I think? I really don't think there is enough of the sort of evidence upon which I rely to lead me to believe that Jesus was married. If Jesus was married, it would not shake my faith. I would probably wonder if his wife was happy either following him around in his transient existence or being left behind. Mine would not. I see no reason for the church to have kept something like that a secret since there is nothing in the teachings of Jesus or Paul which would have demeaned the institution or suggested that marriage would have negated Jesus' divinity.
It is an interesting question, but not an extremely important one from a doctrinal point of view.
I would never disfellowship myself from a believer who differed with me on that point <s>.
I think that Jesus' message of love is much stronger than eros. He sacrificed many things for humankind that were not evil or undesirable for living a holy life. Neither the gospel writers nor the early church fathers had any vested interest in a cover-up for a celibacy of Jesus position.
My feeling is that the silence of the scriptures is a pretty strong argument for Jesus just never getting around to marrying and focusing on his mission instead.
As for Mary Magedeline, she was a very impressive woman.
P.S. - I am using this as an example for members and staff as to how to incorporate brief quotes, links, and attributions into a discussion message that includes ones own views and supporting material used to halp make ones points.