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Was Mary Magdalene The Wife Of Jesus?

Factors That Indicate She Was Not

There is no record anywhere of Mary Magdalene being married to Jesus or of having a child. Asbury Theological Seminary Bible scholar Ben Witherington III states “”There is absolutely no early historical evidence that Mary’s relationship with Jesus was anything other than that of a disciple to her Master teacher” (1).

Even if Jesus did have a wife, instead of being an embarrassment, it would have been something to be celebrated. And if he did have children they would have held positions of honor in the church. There is nothing in the second century Gnostic Gospels of Mary and Philip that endorse this claim (2).

Even if these Gnostic accounts allude to a relationship that was more than just teacher-disciple these claims cannot be relied upon as they are said to have been written by people at conflict with orthodox Christianity and discarded as heretical (3). Besides, these Gnostic allusions are in no way supported by the Canonical Gospels or Josephus (4).

According to some sources Judah is said to be the son of Jesus with Mary Magdalene. That son was referred to as the “Beloved Disciple” at the “Last Supper” and he was also said to be the young boy who ran away naked from the garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:51). Judah was said to be 10-13 years at that time. Let us suppose that this is true and that Jesus was crucified in AD 30. This would mean that Judah was born around AD 17 and AD 20. If this is so then Jesus and Mary Magdalene would have been married some time between AD 16 and AD 19. This would mean that Mary Magdalene would have been about 16 and 18 years old at the time of her marriage and that she was born around 1BC and 4 AD.

As per the Acts of Philip which is generally thought to be authentic, the episode relating to the martyrdom of Philip, the brother of Miriamne, would have taken place in the 8th year of Emperor Trajan. This would mean that the martyrdom took place around AD 104. Eusebius states that the burial of Philip at Heirapolis took place around AD 100. If Mary Magdalene is the Miriamne of this story she would have been between 100 and 106 years of age when she went away to the Jordan River.

While some scholars assume that she died and was buried in Jerusalem, others think that she would have proceeded to Galilee and then onto her hometown Magdala. The argument here is that if Miriamne of the Acts of Philip is Mary Magdalene then this is not her ossuary since ossuaries ceased to be used from AD 70 (5).

If as some scholars contend, Mary Magdalene was the wife of Jesus, the Romans would have executed her when she was there at the cross during the crucifixion of Jesus since the Romans were known to have executed the heirs of anyone who tried to usurp the throne of the emperor in Rome. Even if she was not executed at the spot of the crucifixion she would have been executed by one of the host of Roman emperors through whose reign Mary Magdalene would have lived – if she is the Miriamne of the Acts of Philip she would have lived for 75 years more after the crucifixion of Jesus. Her execution by the Romans was highly likely considering that they “were very good at hunting down sons, daughters and wives.” (6)

Factors That Indicate She Was The Wife Of Jesus

The claim that Mary Magdalene was Mariamne is not totally without basis. In the 4th century Acts of Philip a woman who many think is Mary Magdalene is consistently referred to as Mariamne. So much so François Bovon, Research Professor of the History of Religion wonders if she is the sister of Philip. This version of the Acts is claimed to be “the earliest and most complete one known and is also one of the earliest known historical sources explicitly citing Mary Magdalene’s name.” According to these Acts Mary Magdalene died in Palestine, making it possible for her to have been buried in Jerusalem.

It appears that James Tabor has recently come across an even earlier source – Refutations 5.2 by Hippolytus, a second century Christian writer. He wrote “These are the heads of very numerous discourses which the Nassenes assert that James the brother of the Lord handed down to Mariamne.” This was written around 175 CE some 100 years after the destruction of Jerusalem and suggests that “Mariamne” was, at one time, the head of a ministry thereby entitling her to be addressed as “lord” or “honorable lady.” (7). Hippolytus also mentions that a group Jewish-Christian Nassenes taught “that James the brother of Jesus had handed down the secret traditions of Jesus to Mary Magdalene, who presumably carried on the mission after the death of James.” (8)

Last Supper

John 20:1 then names Mary Magdalene in describing who discovered the tomb to be empty. Mark 16:1 says she was accompanied by Salome and Mary the mother of James, while Matthew 28:1 omits Salome. Luke 24:10 says the group that found the empty tomb consisted of “Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them”. Mark, Matthew, and John say that Jesus’ first post-resurrection appearance was to Mary Magdalene. Because of this and her later missionary work she was also referred to by the title “Equal of the Apostles.” (9)

Esther A. de Boer author of the book Mary Magdalene, beyond the Myth compares the role of Mary Magdalene and concludes that “in the Gospel of Mary it is Peter who is opposed to Mary’s words, because she is a woman. Peter has the same role in the Gospel of Thomas and in Pistis Sophia. In Pistis Sophia the Mary concerned is identified as Mary Magdalene.” The last scene of the Gospel of Mary shows Levi coming to the defense of Mary telling Peter “Surely the Savior knows her very well. That is why he loved her more than us.” (10)

Fragments of bone from the “Jesus son of Joseph” ossuary and the “Mariamne” ossuary were tested and the results showed that the two were no blood relatives. From this finding the makers of the documentary “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” draw the conclusion that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were husband and wife. The probable reasoning could have been that otherwise the two would not have been buried together in a family tomb. Opponents of this reasoning argue that the finding only showed that the two were not born of the same mother. They further argue that “the remains were not dated using radiocarbon to further sustain this supposition, neither was any announced DNA testing done on the other ossuaries to see if any familial relation existed there.” The other reason for disagreement with the makers of the documentary is that the two individuals tested could have been related in any of a number of ways including father/daughter, cousins or half brother/sister (11).

In his book Simcha concedes that there is no mention in any of the gospels or elsewhere of Jesus being married and fathering children. However based purely on the ossuaries of these two individuals and their contents, he insists that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were husband and wife and that details of this must have been recorded in code (12).

Mitzwâh Be Performed Only By Women Who Are Mother, Sister Or Wife

If there was no special relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, why would the two have been interred in the same family tomb (is there any law or tradition that requires this?). Besides this “Pharisaic rules of modesty” require that mitzwâh be performed only by women who are mother, sister or wife. One of the women performing mitzwâh in Mk. 16.1 was Mariamenou Mara. How would she have been allowed to do this if she wasn’t the wife of Jesus or perhaps even his sister? (13)

The fact that the Gospels of Matthew, John and Mark state that it was Mary Magdalene that Jesus appeared to first, is considered to be significant for several reasons. While she was considered a principle figure in Gnosticism, she was also considered to be the next most important teacher only to Jesus. Some scholars believe that Jesus chose to appear to Mary Magdalene first because of a special relationship.

The Nag Hammadi Texts Tell Us Jesus Loved Mary Magdalene More Than All The Disciples

The Nag Hammadi texts tell us that Mary Magdalene was the companion of Jesus and that he loved her “more than [all] the disciples, and used to kiss her [often] on her [mouth]”. We also learn from these texts that the other disciples were offended because of this and asked Jesus “Why do you love her more than all of us?” The Savior answered and said to them, “Why do I not love you as (I love) her?” (14)

In further support that Jesus was a family man, it may be mentioned that it was a “Pharisaic expectation that a Ribi be married.” (15)

As it was expected of Jewish ribis to marry, why would there be any mention of Jesus being married, unless there was special reason to record it. And those who argue against this have the burden of proving their point and the onus is not on those who endorse what was customary to Judaism (16).

In Sept 2012 Harvard University released a photo of a fourth century fragment of papyrus that quotes Jesus clearly referring to having a wife. According to divinity professor Karen L. King this is in all probability the only ancient text on this subject.

Carbon dating of this so called “Jesus Wife” fragment dates it to the 8th century, some five hundred years after the contents of the official Bible was agreed upon. While many of us think of the Bible as one “cohesive book” its contents were chosen from hundreds of texts.

While these hundreds of texts do not from part of the scriptures they at least tell us “about how communities worshiped and what was important to them.” (17)

Jesus wife fragment

“Jesus Wife” fragment


(1) Mary Magdalene (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Magdalene

(2) Craig Evans, Craig & Feldman, Steven. (2007). The Tomb of Jesus? Wrong on Every Count. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.bib-arch.org/scholars-study/jesus-tomb-02-b.asp

(3) Price, Randall. (n.d.). Jesus Family Tomb Fact Sheet. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.raptureready.com/featured/price/tomb.pdf .

(4) Pfann, Stephen J. (n.d.). Mary Magdalene Is Now Missing:
A Corrected Reading of Rahmani Ossuary 701. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.sbl-site.org/assets/pdfs/Pfann.pdf

(5) Franz, Gordon. (2007). The So-Called Jesus Family Tomb ‘Rediscovered’ in Jerusalem. Retrieved 2011, from https://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2007/03/17/The-So-Called-Jesus-Family-Tomb-Rediscovered-in-Jerusalem.aspx

(6) Franz, Gordon. (2007). The So-Called Jesus Family Tomb ‘Rediscovered’ in Jerusalem. Retrieved 2011, from https://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2007/03/17/The-So-Called-Jesus-Family-Tomb-Rediscovered-in-Jerusalem.aspx

(7) Feuerverger, Andrey. (2008). STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF AN ARCHEOLOGICAL FIND. The Annals of Applied Statistics, Vol. 2, No. 1, 3-54

(8) Feuerverger, Andrey. (2008). STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF AN ARCHEOLOGICAL FIND. The Annals of Applied Statistics, Vol. 2, No. 1, 3-54

(9) Mary Magdalene (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Magdalene

(10) Gospel of Mary. (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Mary

(11) The Lost Tomb of Jesus. (2012).Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lost_Tomb_of_Jesus

(12) Franz, Gordon. (2007). The So-Called Jesus Family Tomb. Retrieved 2011, from

(13) Ben-David, Yirmәyahu. (2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Talpiot%20Tomb.htm

(14) Pagels, Elaine. (1979). The Gnostic Gospels. Vintage Books. New York .pg 17.

(15) Controversy Erupts—Again. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.bib-arch.org/scholars-study/jesus-tomb-01.asp

(16) Ben-David, Yirmәyahu. (2008). Burning Issues: Talpiot Tomb Complex. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.netzarim.co.il/Museum/Sukkah03/Burning%20Issues%20Talpiot%20Tomb.htm

(17) Jesus fragment article. Retrieved 31/10/2015 from    http://time.com/57705/jesus-wife-parchment-women-church/

Picture Credits:

(Fig 1) The Last Supper http://commonsenseconspiracy.com/2014/04/does-it-really-matter-if-jesus-christ-had-a-wife/

(Fig 2) “Jesus wife” fragment


Mysterious Joseph Of Nazareth – Facts And Myths

The Family of Jesus is a simple nuclear family. We are told that Mary is his mother and that Joseph is his foster father. At first blush this seems straightforward.

But not if you look at the story of Joseph of Nazareth from the perspective of the Talpiot tomb.

In March 1980 construction workers uncovered part of a burial cave belonging to the Second Temple period in the south of the Old City of Jerusalem, in the vicinity of East Talpiot. Based on the names inscribed on the ossuaries (bone boxes) excavated from this tomb some scholars claim that this is the family tomb of Jesus.

Other scholars vehemently oppose this claim. One of the principal reasons they cite as to why the Talpiot tomb cannot be the Family Tomb of Jesus is that the ossuary of Joseph the foster father is not among those excavated from this tomb.

Could there be a reasonable explanation for this?

The seemingly straightforward Joseph of Nazareth is actually ambiguous.

Matthew And Luke Are The Principle Source Of Information About Joseph

The principle source of information about Joseph the patriarch of the family of Jesus is from the first chapter of the gospels of Matthew and Luke. They are also probably the only reliable source. However apocryphal literature abounds with information about Joseph. Yet the reason they have not found their way into the Canon of the Sacred Books could be because they are not considered to be reliable. Besides this, even though some of this literature is based on dependable traditions they are considered too fantastic for a place in the Sacred Books.

The apocryphal literature concerning the life of Joseph include the “Gospel of James”, the “Pseudo-Matthew”, the “Gospel of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary”, the “Story of Joseph the Carpenter” (Fig 1), and the “Life of the Virgin and Death of Joseph” (1). To make matters worse not all of this little information is consistent. There are differences in the accounts of Matthew and Luke.

Joseph the carpenter

Joseph Of Nazareth Is A Controversial Biblical Character

Joseph of Nazareth is probably one of the most controversial biblical characters. The controversy begins with his very genealogy. While Matthew refers to him as the son of Jacob (2), Luke refers to him as the son of Heli (3). Although these two claims are different they both attempt to trace the lineage of Joseph to David

There are quite a few explanations for the difference in the genealogies of Joseph as per Matthew and Luke:

Matthew was Jewish and wrote for a Jewish audience. Therefore if he is to present Jesus as the king of the Jews, his descent from David was paramount. This is why he begins verse one in 1:1-17 by describing Jesus as the “son of David, the son of Abraham.” In his statement Matthew gives more importance to Jesus’ kinship to David the king of Israel than to his descent from Abraham the father of Israel (4).

Tracing The Lineage Of Jesus Through Joseph

If the bloodline of Jesus is to fulfill the condition that he is the son of David and the son of Abraham (5), then his lineage must only be traced through the legal father of Joseph i.e. Jacob. Doing this was important from Matthew’s perspective because he was trying to project Jesus as the heir to the throne of David – the new “King of the Jews”. In an attempt to emphasize this Matthew refers to Jesus as the “son of David” seven times in his gospel (6). And it is only in his gospel does Jesus refer to the “The throne of his glory” (19:28, 25:31). By tracing the lineage of Jesus through Joseph the adopted father, Matthew was following Jewish tradition since it was the practice then for an adopted son to be given the lineage of the adopted father (7).

One explanation as to why Matthew refers to Joseph as the son of Jacob is that of Julius Africanus (Epistle to Aristides, c. 200-225). According to him a woman named Estha (the name according to tradition) was married to Matthan a descendant of Solomon (Mt 1). She bore a son named Jacob. After the death of Matthan, Estha married Matthat a descendant of Nathan (Lk 3). She bore him a son called Heli. This made Jacob and Heli half-brothers. When Heli died without any heirs, his half-brother Jacob took his widow as his levirate wife. Joseph was born of this union. Thus Joseph became the biological son of Jacob while being the legal son of Heli. Julius Africanus claims that his account is based on information given to him by the descendants of James the brother of Jesus (8).

However this explanation does not pass Jewish tradition. According to Jewish tradition the genealogy of a levirate son would show him as the natural son of his deceased father and not as the son of his natural father. The author of the gospel of Matthew was either fully aware of Jewish tradition or tended to ignore it as otherwise he would have had to reproduce the genealogy of Joseph on similar lines as that of Luke. However this explanation will be true if Jacob was the legal father of Joseph and Heli the biological father. It is quite likely that the relationship of Joseph to Heli and Jacob was misunderstood by Julius Africanus or an error of textual tradition.

Tracing The Lineage Of Jesus Through Mary

Luke on the other hand not being Jewish did not concern himself with details and limited himself to tracing the genealogy of Jesus from Nathan. Besides this Luke was writing for a non-Jewish audience and was more concerned with showing Jesus as descended from God. He had to do this, since being a descendant of King David was not of any great significance to non-Jews. Therefore he traced the genealogy of Jesus through Mary who was the daughter of Heli. Had he traced the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph and Jacob, then Jesus would not qualify as the son of God. The genealogy of Luke was inspired by the baptism of Jesus when God cried out from heaven that “This is my beloved son”. By doing this not only did Luke show that Jesus was a descendant of David through Nathan, but that he was also the son of God (9).

Even though it was Jewish custom to trace only male genealogies, Luke did not commit an error by tracing a female genealogy. There were two conditions under which it was proper to trace female genealogies. One “If a man dies without leaving a son, you shall let his heritage pass on to his daughter” (10), and two “This is what the Lord commands with regard to the daughters of Salphahad: They may marry anyone they please, provided they marry into a clan of their ancestral tribe, so that no heritage of the Israelites will pass from one tribe to another, but all the Israelites will retain their own ancestral heritage” (11). Mary satisfied these two conditions: her father had no sons and she married within her tribe: the tribe of Judah (12).

Are Joachim And Heli The Same Person?

On the surface this explanation to reconcile the difference in the genealogies of Jesus by Matthew and Luke seems reasonably satisfactory. But this gives rise to another controversy. According to the Protoevangelium of James, an apocryphal Gospel written sometime during the end of the second century, the Gospel of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, and the Book of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the parents of Mary are given as Joachim and Anna. So are Joachim and Heli the same person? Many scholars answer this question in the affirmative. They say that Joachim is just a variation of Joakim or Eliakim. The following two verses tend to support this line of thought:

Kings 23:34, “And Pharao Nechao made Eliakim the son of the Josias king in the room of Josias his father, and turned his name to Joakim…”

Chron 36:4, “And he made Eliakim his brother king in his stead over Judah and Jerusalem; and he turned his name to Joakim…”

It is probable that over the centuries the name Eliakim was shortened to Eli or Heli, after all, what is Heli in Greek is Eli in Hebrew. For instance the high priest in Sam 1:3 is called Heli in the Challoner-Rheims, but is referred to as Eli in the New American Bible and in Mark 2:14. Joachim and Heli seem to be the same person (13).

The Controversy About Joseph’s Hometown

The other principal controversy relates to Joseph’s hometown. Joseph is supposed to have descended from a Bethlehem family in Judea. This is also the birthplace of King David. Although by profession Joseph was a carpenter he was said to be a wise and learned man who was also a priest of the temple of the lord. He was a good-natured man, hard-working and a strict adherent of Jewish religious principles and observances (14). Even though it is generally understood that Joseph was from Bethlehem a town in Judea, there is nothing known about how he then finds himself in Nazareth in Galilee. It is quite likely that the skimpy means of his family and the rebuilding of Sepphoris and the ample work that was available there may have prompted Joseph to shift to Nazareth which was in proximity to this bustling town. Joseph was a carpenter by trade a skill that was in demand in Sepphoris. Whatever the reason we learn from the scriptures that Joseph is settled in Nazareth a short time before the Annunciation.

However from the lengthy stories relating to Joseph from apocryphal sources it would seem that Joseph was in Nazareth long before the Annunciation. According to apocryphal sources it appears that when he was forty years, Joseph married a woman named Melcha or Escha. Other sources name this woman Salome. In any case it is said that they were married for forty nine years and that the couple had six children – two girls and four boys.
More about the hometown of Joseph of Nazareth later.

Please also read my blog “Is The Introduction Of Nazareth Retrospective Prophecy?” at bit.ly/1NkO85k


(1) Souvay, C. (1910). St. Joseph. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 2011, from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08504a.htm

(2) Matthew 1:16 (New American Standard Bible)
“Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.”

(3) Luke 3:23-38 (New International Version, ©2011)
“Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli”

(4) The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah. (1973, 1978, 1984, 2011). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+1:1&version=NIV

(5) Pursiful, Darrell. (2010). The Genealogy of Jesus 6. Retrieved 2011, from http://pursiful.com/2010/10/the-genealogy-of-jesus-6/

(6) The Genealogy of Christ. (n.d). Retrieved 2011, from

(7) Genealogy of Christ. (n.d). Retrieved 2011 from http://www.geocities.ws/christiantriviaworld/GenealogyofChrist.htm

(8) Pursiful, Darrell. (2010). The Genealogy of Jesus 6. Retrieved 2011, from http://pursiful.com/2010/10/the-genealogy-of-jesus-6/

(9) Unique Placement of the Genealogy. (2010). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.lifeofchrist.com/life/genealogy/luke.asp

(10) Laws Concerning Heiresses.(n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.usccb.org/bible/numbers/27/

(11) Stanley, Bob. (2000). The Genealogy of Jesus Christ Through Mary… Retrieved 2011, from http://home.inreach.com/bstanley/geneal.htm

(12) Stanley, Bob. (2000). The Genealogy of Jesus Christ Through Mary… Retrieved 2011, from http://home.inreach.com/bstanley/geneal.htm

(13) Stanley, Bob. (2000). The Genealogy of Jesus Christ Through Mary… Retrieved 2011, from http://home.inreach.com/bstanley/geneal.htm

(14) The Urantia Book, BIRTH AND INFANCY OF JESUS. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.truthbook.com/index.cfm?linkID=1374#U122_1_1

Picture Credits:

(Fig 1) Joseph of Nazareth – the carpenter https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:La_Tour.jpg